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Hitmaker, Virgin, ASCEND4M, Gibson – Billboard

September 1, 2023 - News

If it’s Friday that means another spin around the Executive Turntable, Billboard’s comprehensive(ish) compendium of promotions, hirings, exits and firings — and all things in between — across the music industry.

Gabrielle Peluso joined Hitmaker Distro / Hitmaker Music Group as general manager, overseeing distribution, artist development strategy and day-to-day operations for the Tony Bucher-founded music company. The 2017 and 2022 Billboard Women in Music honoree previously served as co-president of the re-launched Asylum Records, where she built up a roster that included Seddy Hendrinx, Ken the Man, Jay Loud and Detroit rapper Sada Baby. Prior to that she was vp of urban music at eOne Music, and before that a senior partner at the Kevin Liles-led KWL Enterprises. But for the first 15 years of her industry career, the NYC-based Peluso worked at Def Jam, where she rose to general manager and guided campaigns for a superstar roster that included Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Frank Ocean, among others. “Her years of experience inside the major label system, to her most recent years navigating the indie space, has made her a perfect fit for this role,” said Bucher. You can reach her at Gabrielle.peluso@hitmakerdistro.com.

Virgin Music Group hired Olukorede “Kay” Ikazoboh to lead the Universal-owned artist and label services company’s expansion into Nigeria. Ikazoboh will oversee Virgin’s operations in the region from the company’s new office in Lagos. As an artist manager, Kay has worked with such artists as Odunsi the Engine and Mowalola, and she previously held several roles working in emerging markets for Warner Music Group. “Kay is known throughout Nigeria as a champion of independent labels and artist development, said Michael Roe, managing director of Virgin Music International. “Her relationships, expertise and insight into the local market make her the perfect executive to lead our operations in this very important music market.” Virgin has had a presence on the continent since the 2021 acquisition of South African indie distributor Electromde, and last year the company launched a dedicated label services division there with more than 50 label partners.

Joel Klaiman

Joel Klaiman

Music industry mainstay Joel Klaiman officially cut the ribbon on ASCEND4M, his new multi-discipline agency focusing on music, media, marketing and management, in addition to a record label. ASCEND4M’s roster already includes pop band North Star Boys, singing sisters Sorelle and singer-songwriter Casey Baer. Klaiman most recently served as president of HitCo Entertainment, the label launched by Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Charles Goldstuck in 2018 and sold to Concord last year. During its short life, HitCo was home to Big Boi, Dinah Jane, Saint JHN and Yella Beezy, among other artists. Prior to HitCo, Klaiman was a repeat Power 100 list honoree during a six-year run as executive vp and general manager at Columbia Records, where he was responsible for overseeing the label’s marketing, digital marketing, promotion, publicity, branding, sync licensing, video production and content development departments. Prior to Columbia, Klaiman was evp of promotion and artist development at Republic Records for six years, working with such unknowns as Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Amy Winehouse.

UMG Nashville promoted Vipin Reddy to vp of streaming. Reddy, who has been part of the label group’s streaming team since 2018, will now lead the department, overseeing DSP relationships, as well as global audio and video streaming strategy for all UMGN artists. Prior to joining UMGN, Reddy was part of the UMG global streaming marketing team; most recently, he was point on UMGN artist strategy with Apple Music and Pandora. “From the day he joined the company, Vipin has been an integral part of the streaming team,” UMGN evp/COO Mike Harris said. “His deep knowledge of the streaming business has been vital to UMG Nashville’s success.” –Jessica Nicholson

Following the news that Anya Grundmann will step down as senior vp of programming by year’s end, NPR announced this week the unification of its content divisions under one roof. At the top of this structure will be a chief content officer, who’ll oversee all of NPR’s editorial and content operations. Edith Chapin, the public radio giant’s svp of news, will be interim CCO until an executive search can be wrapped. Reporting to the CCO will be vp of visuals and music Keith Jenkins, vp of content (cultural programming) Yolanda Sangweni and vp of content operations Sharahn Thomas, among others. NPR CEO John Lansing said in a staff memo that there will be “no addition or subtraction to headcount” with the implementation of the new structure.

Gibson promoted Mat Koehler to vice president of product — an expansion of his previous duties as head of product development that adds instruments and sound to his remit. That means he’ll be leading research, design and product development for amplifiers and effects across all Gibson family brands, including, Mesa Boogie, Maestro and KRK. Gibson Brands president and CEO Cesar Gueikian called Koehler, who hails from Les Paul’s hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, an “extraordinary custodian of our iconic past” and a “steward of our future.”

Danny Wimmer Presents, the leading independent promoter behind Bourbon & Beyond, Aftershock and other festivals, added a crop of new hires as it looks to build on 12 years of growth. Elizabeth Harsh is DWP’s new evp of brand and experience, following more than 17 years working at brands like Ticketmaster, MySpace and Disney. Johnny Firecloud, formerly of Crave and StackCommerce, assumes the role of director of digital communications. Anson Li joined DWP as the director of insights after a successful new customer campaign at Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Britten Stephenson, with a dozen years of industry experience, is the guest services manager. “These new additions will undoubtedly enrich DWP’s journey,” the company said, “furthering its dedication to curating exceptional live event experiences and building even deeper connections with fans everywhere.”

ICYMI: UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is stepping down after three years at the helm of the British music industry trade body to become director of strategy for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak … Jenn Yacoubian and Stacy Vee were appointed executive vps at Goldenvoice … Venue Coalition has hired veteran entertainment executive Steve Kirsner as vp of booking … and WMG employees have been summoned back to the office.

Range Media Partners‘ music division hired Nashville-based execs William Lowery and Shawn McSpadden. In his new role as svp, Lowery will focus on business development ventures and content opportunities. McSpadden, who joins as managing partner, will focus on growing the music division, talent roster and shared services department. Range Media works with country artists including Midland, Hailey Whitters, Stephen Wilson Jr., Ryan Bingham, Drayton Farley and Brent Cobb. McSpadden was a founding manager at Red Light Management Nashville, where for 17 years he oversaw music publishing, outside business ventures, and managed artists across multiple genres. Lowery previously launched the venture advisory firm Brigade Media Capital. Prior to forming Brigade, Lowery was a senior executive at Endeavor Content, where he ran its faith-based division and identified music and content crossover opportunities. –JR

German live promoter DEAG added a co-CEO to its leadership structure. Going forward, founder and CEO Peter L. H. Schwenkow will share duties with Detlef Kornett, who’ll continue to oversee international business affairs at the firm. Additionally, David Reinecke will take over as chief financial officer from Roman Velke, how is departing after five years in the role.

Nashville Notes: Former Billboard editor and writer Phyllis Stark joined country radio trade Country Aircheck in the newly created role of executive radio editor. She was most recently Nashville bureau chief at the now-defunct All Access, and her byline has been seen on Rare Country, Close Up, Radio-Info.com and MSN.com, among others. She’s at phyllis@countryaircheck.com … Amanda Cates left her position as head of artist services at Maverick Nashville, an artist management and artist services firm … Megan Youngblood is MCA Nashville‘s new director of promotion for the west coast. Staying in the UMG fam, she was most recently the west coast regional rep for Capitol Records Nashville.

Last Week’s Turntable: BMG’s New Legal Affairs Chief and a UMG Nashville Twofer

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