From making records to protecting rights, negotiating contracts to discovering talent, the female executives included on Billboard’s 2017 Women in Music list represent the best of today’s dealmakers, influencers and tastemakers — starting with our Executive Of The Year, Atlantic Records’ Julie Greenwald.
Chairman/COO, Atlantic RecordsThe first Wednesday in November found Atlantic Records chairman/COO Julie Greenwald at the YouTube Space on Manhattan’s West Side, where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was lobbing questions about the artistic process at Kelly Clarkson before a performance celebrating the release of her new album, Meaning of Life. (“You’re a scientist, but I’ve figured it out,” joked Clarkson.) Backstage, beforehand, Greenwald introduced herself to Tyson, who asked her who the biggest artists in the history of Atlantic Records were.
Tyson, whose normal conversational tone has a boom to it, boomed back, “That’s major!”
“I can’t take credit for the whole 70 years,” said Greenwald. “Just the last 14.”
That’s enough. Under her leadership, Atlantic is experiencing a two-year hot streak of growth that has earned Greenwald Billboard‘s 2017 Women in Music Executive of the Year award. Atlantic led total market share through the first three quarters of 2017, with 10.17 percent as of Nov. 9, a year-over-year gain of 1.1 percentage points. Before Taylor Swift reset the clock with Reputation, the label had the top-selling album of 2017, Ed Sheeran‘s Divide (931,000 copies, through Nov. 16), with Bruno Mars‘ 24K Magic holding down the No. 4 spot (624,000 copies). Sheeran and Mars also scored the No. 2- and No. 4-selling digital tracks of 2017, with Sheeran’s “Shape of You” moving 2.4 million and Mars’ “That’s What I Like” clocking in at 1.6 million.
Read the full story on Greenwald here.
MICHELE ANTHONY, 61
Executive vp/executive management board member, Universal Music Group
Senior vp business and legal affairs, Universal Music Group
Growing the world’s largest label group. Charged a year ago with creating new businesses for the world’s biggest record company, Baltimore has already joined with tech companies to boost UMG’s A&R efforts, built out its budding festival operation, partnered with the University of Michigan to host the school’s SpringFest in April and inked a deal for a documentary on opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. “We’re starting from scratch,” she says. Formerly assistant general counsel at AOL, the salsa-dancing Duke Law grad works closely with Anthony, who since 2013 has overseen UMG’s global brand partnerships, sales, live events, label merchandising, college marketing, and fan and consumer engagement. Anthony has helped UMG’s U.S. labels grow new revenue streams through film and TV projects, produced by its recently rebooted PolyGram Entertainment division. A University of Southern California-trained lawyer-turned-manager who represented Ozzy Osbourne and, after starting her own firm, Prince and Björk, Anthony was named the 2017 UJA-Federation of New York Music Visionary of the Year for her commitment to philanthropy.
Peace-Of-Mind-Activity: Anthony: “Meditation. My getaway this summer was to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in upstate New York.”
BIANCA BHAGAT, 30
Head of West Coast and Film/TV, Glassnote Records
Got “Redbone” in Get Out. A University of California Los Angeles political science major who detoured into the film, TV and commercial synch business, Bhagat used her diplomacy skills to land Childish Gambino‘s hit “Redbone” in Fox’s Star, Netflix’s Dear White People and as the opening-title music to Jordan Peele’s smash horror film, Get Out, which helped propel the song to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, ultimately, to triple-platinum status. Her placement of Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s “In a Black Out” in the global ad campaign for Apple’s iPhone 7 resulted in a weekly streaming increase of 508 percent. She also secured a deal for folk-rock trio Daughter to score the video game for Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, generating enough media buzz to boost the group’s catalog sales 261 percent. “That deal was actually one of the most tricky ones I’ve worked on,” says Bhagat. “The various players had differing objectives and big personalities and opinions. It was a big challenge to find common ground.”
Favorite Getaway With Female Friends: “Renting a house in the desert outside L.A. and never leaving the house. Pool required, phones discouraged, ‘It’s LIT’ playlist recommended.”
NICKI FARAG, 38
Senior vp promotion, Def Jam Records
1-800-MIRACLE-WORKER. With Logic‘s affecting “1-800-273-8255,” Farag was tasked with one of the most far-fetched challenges in her nearly 15 years at Def Jam: pushing an earnest, downtempo rap single about suicide prevention up the Mainstream Top 40 chart. “Every programmer was like, ‘You’ll never get this past the top 20. The message is too dark,’ ” says Farag, whose team started working the song in May. But as spins of the anthem, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, increased, so did distress calls to the song title’s real crisis hotline. When Logic delivered a deeply affecting performance of “1-800” at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, the track soon broke the top 10. In November, after six months of intensive promotion, “1-800” finally reached No. 3 on Mainstream Top 40. Says Farag, a native New Yorker who gave birth to her first child, a daughter, at the end of November, “This was so much bigger than getting a record up the charts.”
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Stop thinking you’ll get the same breaks as your male peers. You won’t.”
MARIA FERNANDEZ, 44
Senior vp operations/CFO, Latin Iberia Region, Sony Music Entertainment
Harnessing technology for Latin stars. Fernandez has been at the forefront of implementing user-friendly systems in Latin America so that Sony’s artists can access all information regarding their music consumption in one spot. “The region in general was behind in technologies; we launched a very aggressive plan,” says the mother of two who’s hoping to adopt a child by 2018. Domestically, Sony Music Latin is the genre’s market-share leader in current music with 34 percent of the pie. Globally, Fernandez has fostered the rise of Maluma, whose “Felices los 4” topped the Latin Airplay chart for two weeks in August.
2017 News Story That Resonated: “How something as [joyous] as going to a concert has been transformed into an opportunity for someone to commit a violent act.”
Executive vp, Atlantic Records
CAMILLE HACKNEY, 47
Executive vp brand partnerships and commercial licensing, Atlantic Records; head of Global Brand Partnerships Council, Warner Music Group
Shape of success. Atlantic not only claims 2017’s No. 2-selling album at the moment — Ed Sheeran’s Divide — it boasts 14 top 10 hits on the Hot 100 this year. Those include three No. 1s: Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” and breakout star Cardi B‘s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” which made her the first female rapper to rule the chart without a featured guest in 19 years. “Artist development is in Atlantic’s DNA,” says Ganis of a diverse roster that pumped out additional hits by Charlie Puth, Gucci Mane, Kodak Black and Portugal. The Man. For Hackney, that diversity sparked an “eye-opening year of doing brand deals,” especially with developing artists like Kehlani (Make Up For Ever), KYLE (UGG and Footaction) and Lizzo (Cadillac).
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being A Woman In The Industry: Hackney: “Being ‘hepeated’ — when a man says the same thing you just said.”
Executive vp A&R, Republic Records
Senior vp marketing, Republic Records
Label “Rockstars.” Ending 2016 with a No. 1 album debut by The Weeknd, Republic has since charted eight Billboard 200 top 10 albums (including Drake’s More Life) plus 16 top 10 Hot 100 singles. The latter yielded four No. 1s: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber), The Weeknd’s “Starboy” (featuring Daft Punk), Taylor Swift‘s “Look What You Made Me Do” and Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage). “Streaming has changed the newness factor,” says the Los Angeles-based Goldstein. “It’s harder to go five or six deep with singles from an album now. So you have to stay nimble.” Tag-teaming from New York, Bynum also helms Republic’s new Urban Collective — meetings involving all R&B/hip-hop staffers. “It’s important to have open conversations on how to steer the ship,” she says.
ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 38
President, Motown Records; president of urban and creative affairs, Universal Music Publishing Group
Sailing Lil Yachty and Migos up the charts. Motown fortified its hip-hop ranks, signing Grammy-winning producer Zaytoven and his Familiar Territory Records, rapper Chaz French and his 368 Music Group, and rapper Rich Homie Quan. Concurrently, Motown’s 2-year-old partnership with Quality Control Music reaped major returns. Lil Yachty broke through with a Hot 100 top 10 (guesting on KYLE’s “iSpy”) and a top five debut album (Teenage Emotions). And “Bad and Boujee” trio Migos officially joined the fold, releasing its first Motown single, “MotorSport” (featuring Cardi B and Nicki Minaj). “Establishing these strategic partnerships is in keeping with Motown’s entrepreneurial legacy, [which is] providing a platform for emerging artists and executives,” says Habtemariam.
ALLISON JONES, 48
Senior vp A&R, Big Machine Label Group
Eight No. 1s and counting. Jones has played a leading role in Big Machine’s big year, one in which the Nashville-based label landed No. 1 singles on the country, pop and Christian charts. She has helped push eight singles to the top of the Country Airplay chart alone, including Florida Georgia Line‘s “God, Your Mama, and Me” (featuring the Backstreet Boys) and Thomas Rhett‘s “Craving You” (featuring Maren Morris). Bonus: Taylor Swift’s Reputation is the first album to sell a million units in its first week since Adele‘s 25 in 2015. “When you hear something on the radio or you hear the artist perform something live in concert, and you know that it has moved people, then I’ve done my job,” says Jones.
Nonmusical Female Icon: “My mother: She was a single mom with two daughters 40-plus years ago. She started a real estate company and, at 73, is at the top of her game.”
MICHELLE JUBELIRER, 43
COO, Capitol Music Group
Driving Capitol gains. Two-and-a-half years into her COO tenure, Jubelirer has her hands in every aspect of Capitol Music Group’s evolution. That includes maintaining the flagship’s pop muscle with Billboard 200 No. 1s from Sam Smith and Niall Horan — “He’s just a great human being,” says the former music attorney about the boy band expat — and nurturing breakthrough act Halsey, whose second LP, hopeless fountain kingdom, became her first Billboard 200 No. 1 in June. She also played a role in repositioning the label group in the urban market, a calculated shift demonstrated by a move to relaunch legendary rap imprint Priority Records and to make Migos CMG-official.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Listen as much as you talk.”
KAREN LAMBERTON, 47
Executive vp soundtracks and film and TV licensing, RCA Records
Secured Insecure for SZA and Miguel. While navigating the residual demands of RCA’s Trolls soundtrack, which has spent 59 weeks so far on the Billboard 200, Lamberton filled a hole in Zayn Malik‘s album-release cycle with two box-office tie-ins: the Fifty Shades Darker hit and Taylor Swift duet “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, and placement of the Sia collaboration “Dusk Till Dawn,” which hit No. 34 on Mainstream Top 40, in 20th Century Fox’s The Mountain Between Us. She also brokered a partnership with the HBO series Insecure that has yielded two soundtrack LPs and in-show track premieres for Miguel and SZA. Says the Penn State grad: “I watched the first episode before it aired, hit ‘stop,’ called the music supervisor and said, ‘RCA needs to do this.’ It wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen.”
I Am Done With: “Being shunned for using real cream in my coffee.”
Executive vp/head of marketing, Columbia Records
NANCY MARCUS SEKLIR*
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Columbia Records
Tamed the digital-age “roller coaster.” After leaving her law firm job for Sony Entertainment in 1993, Seklir mostly worked on traditional album contracts — but then came MP3s, Napster, iTunes and YouTube. Today, she’s handling artists like The Chainsmokers, who put out multiple smash singles in 2016 but held their album until 2017. (Memories…Do Not Open debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April, earning 221,000 equivalent album units in its first week.) “It has been sort of a roller coaster,” she says. “In recent years, with certain artists, it’s more of a track-based focus than an album. We try to be flexible in the dealmaking.” Lombardi, a Sony marketing executive since 2006, helped Harry Styles push in the opposite direction: After breaking out of his singles-heavy boy band, his self-titled debut album hit No. 1 on the June 3 Billboard 200.
2017 News Story That Resonated: Seklir: “The Women’s March on Washington in January. I went with my 16-year-old daughter.”
CINDY MABE, 44
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Presides over the home of Hunt, Stapleton and, now, Underwood. As the “big picture” head of a “fierce and flawless” team of 85 executives across four labels, Mabe started off 2017 strong with Sam Hunt’s single “Body Like a Back Road,” which shattered the record for most weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs (34). The label group continued its momentum with four of the first half of the year’s 10 best-selling country albums, including Chris Stapleton‘s gold-certified From A Room, Vol. 1. Mabe is equally proud of two major milestones with artists she worked with in her days at Sony Nashville — new signing Carrie Underwood and the Country Music Hall of Fame induction of Alan Jackson. “Even before I knew him, his music moved me so much — it was a full-circle moment,” says Mabe.
Best Advice From a Female Executive: “Sometimes it’s important to lead from behind. You don’t have to be the voice or the face of everything.”
Senior vp marketing, Warner Music Latin America; GM, Warner Music Latina
Led Warner Latina into the urban market. As the only woman heading a major Latin music company in the United States and the second in command for Warner’s Latin American operations, Martinez has a holistic approach to the market. In the past year, the fitness fanatic (and mother of two teenage boys) has focused on “Warner’s transformation toward urban music in the entire region,” developing acts Cosculluela and Zion & Lennox (who remixed Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”). She also helped sign Danny Ocean, whose “Me Rehúso” rose to No. 15 on the Latin Airplay chart in September.
GABRIELLE PELUSO, 47
Vp urban music, eOne Music
Bringing Lil’ Kim back. Since Peluso joined Entertainment One (eOne) Music in 2014, the industry veteran’s mission has been to recruit artists who want the support network and business savvy of an established label without A&R interference. That model attracted R&B multihyphenate Tamar Braxton, who left Epic in March to release her top 20 Billboard 200 debut, Bluebird of Happiness. “She wanted complete creative control, and that’s what we gave her,” says Peluso. Deals with DJ Drama acolyte Skeme and viral rapper Montana of 300 affirm the former Def Jam executive’s underground acumen, but the married mother of two’s biggest 2017 coup was getting eOne signee Lil’ Kim in the studio for a 2018 return.
President, Epic Records
Steered Epic through turmoil to triumph. Epic began 2017 with Future‘s historic back-to-back No. 1 album releases in February, only for the label to be thrown into chaos following chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s abrupt departure in May on the heels of sexual harassment allegations. But Rhone stepped up and kept the label on an even keel, landing top five albums from DJ Khaled (No. 1 on the Billboard 200), 21 Savage (No. 2) and Fifth Harmony (No. 4) while shepherding Camila Cabello (“Havana,” No. 2 on the Hot 100), French Montana (“Unforgettable,” No. 3) and Yo Gotti (“Rake It Up,” No. 8) to their highest-charting hits — securing her position atop the label in the process.
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being a Woman In The Industry: “The lack of opportunities for black and female executives, and the scarcity of mentoring and support programs within organizations.”
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M
Senior vp/head of creative content, Interscope Geffen A&M
Slaying with Imagine Dragons and Selena. As IGA’s promotion pro, Romano helped a pair of Imagine Dragons‘ singles reach the top five on the Mainstream Top 40 chart (“Believer” and “Thunder,” which both peaked at No. 3). Meanwhile, An practically lived at Selena Gomez‘s house while running point on the music videos for the pop star’s 2017 Hot 100 hits — the Gucci Mane-assisted “Fetish” and the Talking Heads-sampling “Bad Liar.” The latter’s retro homage featured Gomez wryly playing multiple roles and netted over 200 million YouTube views. “Selena has been an actor her entire life,” says An, who named her 3-year-old son Rhodes after both the piano brand and Ozzy Osbourne’s deceased guitarist, Randy Rhoads. “She’s a music-video dream.”
CFO/executive vp operations, Warner Bros. Records
Executive vp strategic marketing, Warner Bros. Records
Double-digit revenue growth. Snodgrass and Feldman have kept Warner Bros. Records humming in preparation for the arrival of the label’s new leadership, CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and COO Tom Corson, at the beginning of 2018. Snodgrass has helped create a strategic plan that calls for a “redirection for the label, including expansion into other genres, cleaning up the roster” and a hiring plan for strengthening the staff. Feldman’s strategic marketing team, meanwhile, has forged branding relationships with Samsung 837 for Jason Derulo and with Sonos, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Lincoln for Gary Clark Jr. “Gary is the real deal, so he is attractive for brands to work with,” says Feldman.
2017 News Story That Resonated: Feldman: “Up until a few weeks ago, I would have said ‘Trump,’ but with all of the [sexual misconduct] horror stories coming out, we could be on the cusp of a massive change in behavior as a result.”
Executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment
Senior vp commerce/digital, Sony Music Entertainment
JENIFER MALLORY, 40
Senior vp international, Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music’s power trio. Weeks after releasing rapper 21 Savage’s full-length debut, ISSA Album, Joshua’s team learned from streaming data that the record’s second track, “Bank Account,” was drawing the most users. So Joshua pitched Savage on what she calls “a case study in a controlled environment”: resequencing the album exclusively for Spotify with “Bank Account” as ISSA‘s lead track. He agreed, and the move has helped the album rack up over 597 million U.S. on-demand audio streams. “It was a little bit of Moneyball,” says Joshua, adding, “I’m not saying we could do this for everybody — it worked for Savage because of the way his fans behaved.” Meanwhile, Mallory helped break Khalid internationally, notching three top 20 singles on the Official U.K. Singles chart and a sold-out tour in Australia and New Zealand. And Swidler has been working with Zara Larsson since the Swedish pop star was 16; the singer’s “Lush Life” and “Never Forget You” have generated 197 million and 335 million on-demand audio streams, respectively. “She is one of our biggest artist-development stories,” says Swidler, “with hundreds of millions of streams under her belt, and she isn’t even 20.”
COLLEEN THEIS, 48
COO, The Orchard
Built an indie beast. The Orchard became the world’s largest indie distributor in 2017, thanks in large part to Theis. In May, the Dallas native oversaw the acquisition of Germany’s finetunes and Norway’s Phonofile. Then in June, she helped lead two separate, but tandem mergers that rolled Sony-owned distributors Red Essential and RED into The Orchard, which now claims a U.S. market share close to 6 percent. “We’ve covered a ton of ground in a very short period of time,” says Theis, who regularly brings her chocolate Labrador, Buzz, to the office.
2017 News Story That Resonated: “The heightened embrace of [Congresswomen] Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren. They are zero-fucks-giving people.”
SHARON TIMURE, 36
Vp marketing, Island Records
Helped make Mendes. A onetime Island Def Jam intern from Parma, Ohio, Timure has spent over a decade at Island working with Fall Out Boy and American Authors. But she has a particular devotion to Shawn Mendes, whose career she has been championing since his first EP with the label in 2014. Her campaign for his latest single, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” helped launch it to the top of Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart, making Mendes the first artist in the list’s history to earn three No. 1 songs before the age of 20. Timure is looking for the next up-and-comer, and believes she has found it in Norwegian pop singer Sigrid, who just released her debut EP with Island. “She’s poised to break out next year,” promises Timure.
First Female Musical Artist With Whom She Identified: “Cyndi Lauper. As a kid, I thought her look was so creative and owned being a woman without having to be overtly sexual.”
CFO/senior vp operations, Latin America And Iberia, Universal Music Group
Capitalizing on the “Despacito” effect. A CPA with an MBA, Yep oversees the backbone of Universal’s Latin operation and has focused on staying ahead of the curve. The division’s innovations include its management and booking operation, GTS, which this past year added Luis Fonsi and Sebastián Yatra to its roster. But Universal’s big coup has been the global success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente.” “We’re going to continue with this ‘opening up borders’ type of music,” says Yep, who knows all about that: Born in Peru to Chinese parents, she’s fluent in Cantonese and Portuguese.
THE CATALYST: SHELLI AZOFF, 61
Managing partner, The Forum
Super-connected “person.” Married for 40 years to music’s most powerful manager, Irving Azoff, Shelli says she has “always participated in every Azoff business from the background,” handling such tasks as artist relations for her husband’s Azoff MSG Entertainment. After driving the $100 million-plus remodel of the Forum arena in 2013, the poker ace stepped into the spotlight as the building’s managing partner, overseeing marketing, design, sponsorships, ticketing and amenities, and helping it rake in $23 million in the first half of 2017, up from $20 million in the first half of 2016. As she continues to design more venues, the mother of four is planning new comedy projects for Levity Entertainment and the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Azoff considers herself a “person,” not a “woman” in the industry: “When you think of yourself as different, you will be treated differently,” she says.
Best Gift She Could Get For The Holidays: “A week of Irving without his iPhone.”
“Although Irving [Azoff] is my manager, behind every great man is a great woman — with even greater balls! I always saw Shelli as a second mama. She’s a connector of other powerful women, but she also has always provided me with a sense of home. She opens her home and her heart to those around her. And a good heart is more powerful than anything.” — Christina Aguilera
DESIREE PEREZ, 47
COO, Roc Nation
Roc Nation’s rock. The notoriously private Perez has a reputation as a tough negotiator, which she proved again with Sprint’s $200 million investment in TIDAL announced in January. That deal paid off five months later when JAY-Z released his 14th Billboard 200 No. 1 album, 4:44, as a Sprint-sponsored free download to 1 million people, earning the MC a platinum plaque before the album’s official release. It has since racked up 600,000 equivalent album units and served as the crown jewel of an impressive marketing campaign. In April, Live Nation, an equity partner in Roc Nation, signed a new, long-term $200 million touring partnership with JAY-Z ahead of Roc’s 10-year anniversary in 2018; the average gross from his current 4:44 Tour, sponsored by Puma, is 21 percent higher than 2013’s Magna Carter Tour.
Executive vp, Artist Partner Group
Global growth agent. “I’ve had the freedom to reimagine what a label and partnership looks like for our artists,” the industry stalwart — born in Germany and raised in Orange County, Calif. — says of the “genre- and style-agnostic” joint venture with WMG that she joined earlier in 2017. Working alongside founder/CEO Mike Caren, Rogers now leads the burgeoning company’s global marketing and artist development initiatives for a diverse roster that includes Kehlani, ARIZONA, Kevin Gates and Charlie Puth, with the lattermost earning his first solo No. 1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Top 40 chart. With previous roles spanning the live (AEG) and management (Laffitte Management Group) sectors, Rogers credits her vaunted versatility as an executive to her diverse industry experiences. “The aerial view helps you understand where all sides are coming from and how to win together.”
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “No good decision is based on fear. So you break your leg; you heal and you learn.”
DIA SIMMS, 42
President, Combs Enterprises
Can’t stop, won’t stop. With her promotion to president in May, Simms oversees all aspects of Sean Combs’ company, which encompasses film, publishing, wine, marketing, bottled water and, yes, music. An exclusive with Apple Music led to a summer release for Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a documentary on Combs’ 1990s musical heyday, which won a Hollywood Film Award in November and hit No. 1 globally on iTunes. The movie’s success resulted in renewed interest in songs from the Bad Boy catalog, including The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which saw a 566 percent increase in Apple Music plays. “Our team is working tirelessly to bring [Combs’] music to a new generation,” says Simms.
BEKA TISCHKER, 41
Manager/owner, Wide Eyed Entertainment
Managing Julia Michaels. When Tischker left Dr. Luke’s Prescription Songs in early 2017 to become a free agent, she didn’t expect the gamble to pay off so quickly. “Issues,” the debut solo single from songwriter-turned-pop star Julia Michaels, whom Tischker has managed for six years, quickly broke out, climbing to No. 11 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on Mainstream Top 40. “It was a little pat on the back from the universe [telling me], ‘You’re on the right path,’ ” says Tischker, who’s parlaying that success into her own management/publishing company, Wide Eyed Entertainment, which so far counts songwriter Lindy Robbins and Finnish producer Teemu Brunila among its clients. Says the Los Angeles-based married mother: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be happening.”
MIMI VALDES, 47
Chief Creative Officer, i am OTHER Entertainment
Co-founding partner, i am OTHER Entertainment
Pharrell’s dynamic duo. “Transitioning from music to Hollywood isn’t easy,” says Valdes, the self-described “one-person department” for multifaceted artist Pharrell Williams‘ film and TV ambitions. Williams founded i am OTHER in 2012 to support all his multimedia ventures, and Valdes worked with him to produce and score the sleeper-hit film Hidden Figures, which grossed $235 million worldwide and nabbed awards and critical accolades. Not surprisingly, Valdes says she’s now working with a full slate, adding, “I didn’t expect so many of our projects to be greenlit this year.” On the music front, Williams’ trusted adviser Veazey orchestrated a N.E.R.D reunion — in November, Williams and bandmates Chad Hugo and Shay Haley released their first new song in seven years, “Lemon,” featuring Rihanna.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: Valdes: “Embrace the risky.”
BARBARA CARR, 71
Partner, Jon Landau Management
Brought Bruce to Broadway. With glowing critical reviews and grosses exceeding $2.3 million per week — a record for Broadway’s tiny 948-seat Walter Kerr Theatre — Bruce Springsteen‘s sold-out one-man show, Springsteen on Broadway, has been a smash since its October opening. Helping the rocker create another career triumph has been longtime Landau partner Carr, who says deal-making within New York’s insular theater community has pushed her to explore entirely new skills, even after more than 45 years in the business. “New rules, new customs, new people,” she says of the Broadway experience. “It reminded me of a few years ago when Bruce was publishing his book and I had to learn about that industry very quickly.”
ELIZABETH COLLINS, 50
Co-president, Azoff MSG Entertainment
SUSAN GENCO, 51
Co-president, Azoff MSG Entertainment
Righting wrongs for artists. During the past year, Genco and Collins have often worked in tandem to help re-engineer Azoff’s management company, Azoff Music, merging it with his son Jeffrey’s Full Stop Management and Brandon Creed’s The Creed Company. “It was an important step in the Azoff legacy to position the company for the future,” says Collins. Likewise, they were involved in Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s creation of The Arena Alliance, with 28 arenas, through their Oak View Group, which will give the venues collective clout and new income streams. Meanwhile, Azoff’s 3-year-old boutique performance rights organization, Global Music Rights, has come into its own in terms of revenue growth. “We have all seen how the music industry has been disrupted by outside forces, but GMR disrupted the music business in a way that is positive to the artist,” says Genco, while Collins adds, “I love that I get to help work on a list of wrongs that Azoff wants to right, [such as] providing artists with more choices and more transparency.”
VIRGINIA DAVIS, 37
Artist manager/managing partner, G Major Management
She’s got the Rhett stuff. Thomas Rhett‘s win in April for the Academy of Country Music’s male vocalist of the year felt like validation for the 27-year-old country star’s years of hard work. “It was recognition that he was coming into his own as a headliner and an A-level act,” says Davis, who signed Rhett when he was a 20-year-old college student. The win helped set up Rhett’s album, Life Changes, which has logged 402,000 equivalent album units since its September release, as well as his first U.S. headlining arena tour. Davis, an avid runner, and Rhett also established Home Team Publishing with Rhett’s father, noted songwriter Rhett Akins, and partner Roc Nation.
Nonmusical Female Icon: “Brené Brown. She has revolutionized the way I think about my relationships in both work and my personal life.”
KERRI EDWARDS, 46
Founder/President, KP Entertainment
Brought Luke Bryan to the Super Bowl. Though Edwards’ country superstar client Luke Bryan has grossed $52 million from his 2017 arena tour, she says his biggest accomplishment of the year was singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in front of 111 million TV viewers. “It was probably the most nerve-wracking thing we’ve done,” she recalls, adding, however, that it “felt like such a big moment.” Edwards, who has managed Bryan since 2005 and works in partnership with Red Light Management, also helped client Cole Swindell log his seventh consecutive top 10 hit on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with “Flatliner.”
ALLISON KAYE, 36
President of music, SB Projects
One of One Love Manchester’s architects. Kaye’s unflappable nature proved extremely valuable in the aftermath of the Manchester, England, bombing at SB Projects client Ariana Grande‘s concert in May. Kaye got right to work producing the starry and successful One Love Manchester benefit, which Grande hosted. It raised a reported $22 million for victims of the attack. Meanwhile, fellow SB Projects client Justin Bieber became the first artist to score two new Hot 100 No. 1s in back-to-back weeks (“I’m the One” and “Despacito”). Kaye adds that Bieber is “in a really great place” despite canceling the final 14 shows of his Purpose World Tour, which grossed $91 million in 2017.
Her own survival tactic in a tough year: “I’m done sweating the small stuff.”
ALEEN KESHISHIAN, 49
Founder/CEO, Lighthouse Management and Media
Selena’s champion and protector. As manager of Woman of the Year Selena Gomez, Keshishian, who also represents actors Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, was one of the few confidants tasked with keeping Gomez’s kidney transplant operation — due to her battle with lupus — under the radar for three months. “I don’t know how we kept it quiet,” she says. With Keshishian’s help during her illness and convalescence, Gomez was able to land two singles on the Hot 100 as a lead artist (“Bad Liar” reached No. 20 and “Fetish” peaked at No. 27, despite her inability to do much press to promote them) and to successfully book Woody Allen’s latest film project.
Favorite Hangout With Her Female Friends: “Making pizza at Jennifer Aniston’s house.”
TY STIKLORIUS, 42
Founder/CEO, Friends At Work
Managers’ manager. “We’ve got to deprogram artists’ impressions of what a manager should be,” says Wharton MBA grad Stiklorius, whose socially conscious Friends at Work manages the careers of John Legend, Lindsey Stirling, emerging artist Fletcher and even an astronaut, former NASA trailblazer Cady Coleman. “It’s not one dude on the road with you 24/7,” she says of her holistic management strategies. With Legend she also co-founded the #FreeAmerica criminal justice reform campaign, and her game-changing Friends of Friends collective now provides guidance and infrastructure to younger bands and managers. “We’re creating a new model. It’s the kind of access I wanted all along from the big guys but could never get.”
Advice to Up-And-Comers: “Own your ambition. Wear it with pride.”
AMY THOMSON, 42
CEO, ATM Artists
Year of the (DJ) Snake. Thomson, the longtime manager and confidant of Swedish superstars Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, signed a new name to her powerhouse roster in 2017: Hot 100 hitmaker DJ Snake. In their first month, the two secured Snake’s Beats By Dre campaign and an ambitious single launch atop Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. The tenacious London native, who started her career 20 years ago at the city’s legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub, this year brought A&R operations in-house at ATM Artists and added a film division led by Grammy-nominated director Colin Tilley. “It has been a year of really getting into our artists’ stories,” she says.
COO, Ticketmaster Canada
Outsmarting scalpers. Howe oversaw the launch of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan initiative, the company’s algorithm-driven anti-scalping tool, while driving 14 percent growth for the first nine months of 2017. In Canada, Tarlton also has found success signing new clients including Centre Videotron, Senators Sports and Entertainment and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. Ticketmaster is on track to deliver 500 million tickets in 29 countries worth $28 billion in gross transactional value.
BROOKE MICHAEL KAIN, 37
Chief Digital Officer, AEG Presents
AMY MORRISON, 55
Senior vp marketing, concerts West/AEG Presents
Senior vp, AEG Presents
Live from overseas, it’s AEG. Kain, Morrison and Rathwell’s collective efforts have intertwined to expand AEG’s international imprint. Kain, who moved over from Apple Music in fall 2016 for a newly created position, doubled her digital staff and expanded the team’s scope beyond marketing to ops and data, growing AEG’s database from 30 million to 300 million records and building a suite of digital tools to personalize the consumer experience. Morrison developed the marketing campaign for The Rolling Stones’ European tour, and for Katy Perry, “we’ve created a treasure trove of unique, custom, eye-popping content that has set this tour apart.” Meanwhile, Rathwell and AEG’s concert division have thrived, with total grosses reaching nearly $400 million for the first half of 2017, an uptick of 4 percent.
Nonmusical female icon: Morrison “Billie Jean King. Her match against Bobby Riggs was a big deal when I was a kid. It wasn’t that she won; it was, of course she won.”
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment
Wight makes might. Willard has presided over the company’s finances as it prepares to wrap its seventh consecutive year of growth, with 80 million tickets sold to 20,000 shows in 40 countries through October — up 20 percent for the year. Live Nation continued to make key acquisitions in 2017, including ticketing companies in the Czech Republic and Poland, and received a green light from U.K. regulators to purchase the Isle of Wight festival. Earlier in 2017, she organized Live Nation’s three key businesses — concerts, ticketing, sponsorships — into their own segments, as its growing artist management division, Artist Nation, shifted into the concerts division. “The strategy behind artist management,” she says, “is to provide a full range of services related to concert promotion and to expand our concert businesses.”
JENNA ADLER* // CAROLE KINZEL* // ALLI MCGREGOR*
Agents, Creative Artists Agency
Booked One Love Manchester. The terror attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in England weighed heavily on the senior staff of CAA, which represents the singer, but McGregor says she’s proud of Grande’s — and the industry’s — response to the tragedy. The One Love Manchester concert, which McGregor was involved in booking, “deeply touched my heart,” says the agent. “Live music is something that should bring joy to people. We need to fight to keep it that way.” Adler assisted Jennifer Lopez in putting together the all-star One Voice: Somos Live! benefit concert and telethon that raised over $35 million in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico in October. Kinzel helped engineer Tears for Fears‘ comeback tour, in which the duo co-headlined arenas with Hall & Oates.
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Kinzel: “I was a little hippie chick with an acoustic guitar, so the woman I most looked up to was Joan Baez.”