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Warner Music Canada Hires EVP and GM: Executive Turntable – Billboard

Andy West was named executive vp and general manager of Warner Music Canada (WMC), effective Feb. 14 out of Toronto. West will report to WMC president Kristen Burke.

West joins WMC after seven years at Apple Music, where he served as country manager.

In the new role, West will lead WMC’s strategic teams across marketing, digital, commercial revenue, publicity, promotion and licensing. His hire comes amid an effort by the label to expand its roster, including a focus on signing acts from a range of genres. The label is also working with a wider range of partners to help tell its artists’ stories and connect them with fans.

West launched his career as a digital marketing manager at Sony Music Canada in 2002. In 2005, he joined Yahoo! Music as a content producer before being promoted to senior manager, which entailed working on licensing deals for the website and developing brand partnerships. He moved to Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2009, serving as director, digital distribution and marketing, then joined Apple in 2011, where he initially served as country manager for iTunes Movies, TV and Music. He was tapped as country manager for Apple Music upon its 2015 launch.

“I’ve worked with Kristen over many years and have a huge respect for her leadership and strategic mindset,” said West in a statement. “I’m so excited that she’s asked me to be part of her ambitious plans for growth at Warner Music Canada. For us, everything starts with the artists and the music, and we are passionate about harnessing all the tools at our disposal to help artists build relationships with fans and develop careers in this fast-changing business.”

Added Burke, “Andy is a hugely respected exec who has worked with labels and managers to help put Canadian artists on the map. He combines an enthusiasm for all genres of music with a business brain that enables him to put the right artists in the right places to connect with fans. He’s the perfect choice to help me grow and diversify our artist roster and tap new opportunities for them in addition to the still-growing streaming model.”

ASCAP elevated three executives to senior vp level: Elizabeth Rodda, promoted to senior vp, international affairs; Matt DeFilippis to senior vp, licensing; and Alex Grout to senior vp, membership and business and legal affairs.

Based in Miami, Rodda will report to ASCAP executive vp, international affairs Tony Dunaif. In her new role, she’ll be tasked with optimizing international revenue for ASCAP members while continuing to lead the organization’s international analyst team in assessing and improving data collection and accuracy. Rodda has been with ASCAP since 2013, when she joined the organization as regional relationship manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. She previously worked as an independent consultant and also served in publishing and licensing positions at Planet Records and Caribe Sound and Music Publishing.

DeFilippis is based in New York and will report to ASCAP executive vp, licensing Stephanie Ruyle. He’ll be responsible for revenue from some of the industry’s biggest platforms, including digital audio and audio-visual streaming services as well as traditional audio-visual and audio. He’ll also help develop overall growth strategies for existing and potential licensees and generate new licensing opportunities for ASCAP members. Before joining ASCAP in 2001, DeFilippis worked in strategic planning at the National Music Publishers Association/Harry Fox Agency.

Grout, who is also based in New York, will report to ASCAP chief legal and business affairs officer Clara Kim while also working closely under the direction of chief creative officer John Titta. He’ll continue to be responsible for complex membership, copyright, licensing and transactional issues impacting ASCAP members while serving as a key negotiator with top-tier ASCAP songwriter and composer members with respect to affiliation and distribution issues. Grout joined ASCAP in 2012.

Masur Griffitts Avidor (MGA) brought on Elliot Resnik as partner and chair of the firm’s new entertainment group.

Resnik joins MGA from Herbsman Hafer Weber & Frisch, where he served as senior counsel since 2009. He brings clients including artists Run the Jewels, Shordie Shordie and Gattuso; songwriters and producers including Dave Sardy, Keith Harris, Dre Skull, Kill Dave and Pat Morrissey; the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA); and companies including All Things Go Music and its Fall Classic festival, Defend Music, Ad.Ventures, Heard Entertainment, Giant Step Marketing and Convicts Agency.

In addition to those clients, Resnik and MGA’s entertainment group will center its efforts on servicing a roster of artists, producers, and production companies; independent record labels and publishers; digital content creators and distributors; festivals, live entertainment venues and concert promoters; marketing and creative agencies; management companies and talent agencies; international brands in the entertainment and hospitality fields; beer and spirits ventures; trade organizations; charitable foundations; and other entertainment-related companies.

“We have been working to attract Elliot to our firm for several years, and are thrilled to have him join and further build out our firm’s intersection of entertainment and technology,” said Steve Masur, MGA co-founder. “What our Blockchain Group is doing in the NFT space alone will have long-term impact on the entertainment industry and the way in which we deliver music and content to fans.”

Added MGA co-founder Robert Griffitts, “We have a substantial intellectual property transactions practice at MGA and believe Elliot will help us supercharge and take it to new heights.”

“It is with great pleasure and a view towards the future that I join my new colleagues at Masur Griffitts Avidor and look forward to growing their current transactional entertainment practice group,” said Resnik. “MGA is on the cutting edge of legal representation for new and disruptive technologies and other developments that will fundamentally transform the way we consume and experience music, videos, and art in addition to their wealth of experience in other areas of representation.”

Resnik is a graduate of New York Law School and McGill University. He was named a Billboard Top Music Attorney in 2021.

Soundtrack Your Brand, which provides digital music streaming for businesses, named Lisa Farris as CMO, reporting directly to founder and CEO Ola Sars. In her new role, Farris will oversee the company’s global marketing function and focus on the growth potential of music for businesses worldwide.

Farris previously served as chief marketing and innovation officer at the Recording Academy, where she led “the evolution of the organization’s marketing, insights, and innovation that are reflective of the changes in music and its creators,” according to a press release. She has years of experience using technology to transform how brands, music and audiences engage.

Additionally, Farris has held brand and marketing executive roles at MetricVision, Move, Inc./, Universal Music Group’s eLabs and MCA Records. She also founded Get This, “a technology that leveraged audio recognition to shop television and video entertainment,” according to the release.

“I’m thrilled to join Soundtrack Your Brand, working closely with Ola and the executive team, to unlock greater value for music creators and businesses so that they can leverage the power of music to enhance customer experiences and increase sales,” said Farris in a statement. “Soundtrack’s incomparable on-demand music streaming offering licensed for business use, not only captures lost income for artists, but delivers the finest background music experience for global brands and businesses of all sizes.”

The Recording Academy tapped John Loken as executive vp, marketing, effective immediately.

Reporting to COO Branden Chapmen, Loken will be responsible for expanding the academy’s reach and influence through elevated brand storytelling. He will also oversee creative services, brand communication, social media, email marketing, merchandising, analytics and advertising, with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness of the academy’s mission to use the Grammys as a platform for social impact.

Before arriving at the Recording Academy, Loken served as senior vp, consumer marketing at Endeavor/IMG Events, where he helped reshape product, pricing and go-to-market strategy for a global portfolio of over 300 entertainment and sporting events. He also served as executive vp, marketing & distribution at Ticketmaster; as Live Nation Concerts’ first senior vp, tour marketing; and led international product marketing at Warner Records, Motown Records, Discovery/China Records and Fearless Records. He also co-founded the creative agency Brands+Music and runs an events workshop called The Experience Factory, which creates immersive experiences that invite participants to take personal action on social issues.

Lucas Thomashow was promoted to senior vp at Avex USA, where he’ll lead overall strategy and operations at the American division of the Japanese music and entertainment company.

In the role, Thomashow, who has been with the company for over a year, will spearhead Avex USA’s operations pertaining to the label and publishing divisions as well as tech investments. He was previously music head at Brat TV and has also worked at Google.

During his year-plus stint at Avex USA, Thomashow founded the “next-generation” record label SELENE, which boasts emerging artists such as Sadie Jean, Austin George, Sophie Holohan and Zach Hood on its roster. For the publishing division, he’s managed multiple successful partnerships, including between Avex USA and S10 Entertainment. The two companies jointly represent songwriters and producers Harv (Justin Bieber), Cxdy (The Kid Laroi) from Internet Money and KOSA.

Leading global publishing administration service Songtrust announced several new hires and promotions: Virginie Berger, hired as senior vp, global publishing & society relations; John Levy, hired as senior vp, technology; and Darren Briggs, promoted to executive vp, rights administration, product & technology.

Berger was previously CEO of European rights hub Armonia and also founded digital rights advisory firm DBTH. She brings more than 20 years of rights management experience and society relationships to Songtrust. Her mission will include expanding the platform’s footprint internationally.

Levy, a more than 30-year information technology veteran, arrives at Songtrust following a decade-plus role as a Songtrust consultant.

Briggs’ elevation effectively brings the rights administration, product & technology teams under a single leader. His promotion is described as a way to strengthen Songtrust’s “speed and efficiency in registrations and royalty collections, responsiveness and adaptability to the dynamic global music market, and industry leadership in music rights products and services,” according to a press release.

Manatt Entertainment welcomed experienced music and entertainment industry litigator Nathaniel Bach as a partner in Los Angeles.

“Nat’s stellar industry experience and ability to work alongside corporate and transactional counterparts make him a great fit for our team, especially as we help both emerging and global entertainment creators, executives and institutions advance their respective business objectives,” said Manatt Entertainment leader Jordan Bromley in a statement.

“Our Entertainment group regularly supports the increasingly complex litigation needs of our clients as they undergo fundamental changes in the industry, and we’re thrilled to add Nat’s experience to our team’s offerings,” added Robert Jacobs, leader of Manatt’s entertainment litigation practice.

Also joining Manatt Entertainment are new associates Chris Chatham and Sandra Bignone, who also join the firm’s Los Angeles practice.

Elsewhere, Manatt promoted Joe Anderson and Beau Stapleton to partner, also out of Los Angeles. Anderson’s practice centers on corporate transactional matters within music and entertainment, as well as potential issues arising from intellectual property, copyright and corporate law. Stapleton works at the intersection of the music, film, television and digital industries.

Atlantic Records named Justin Grant vp, digital marketing & sports partnerships.

Grant’s promotion was announced by Michele Cranford, who serves as Atlantic’s senior vp, digital marketing, in an internal note to employees. In the memo, Cranford noted Grant’s work on campaigns for Atlantic artists including Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert and YoungBoy Never Broke Again/NBA YoungBoy, among others.

“I am extremely proud of Justin’s growth within Atlantic – starting with us as an intern and now holding a leadership role on the Black Music Digital Team,” said Cranford in the staff announcement. “In addition to bringing in new opportunities with the top creators and partners in the Black Music digital space, he has and continues to bring in first-of-their-kind digital sports partnerships with Overtime, INFLCR, and Opendors to name a few.”

Amazon Music hired 30-plus year design industry veteran Byron Merritt as vp, design.

In his new role, Merritt will lead a global multidisciplinary design team for Amazon Music across brand, UX, marketing, and voice, all while guiding a strategy to evolve Amazon Music from a streaming service into a “leading audio-first entertainment service” that includes music, podcasts, video and more, according to a press release. Merritt is based in Los Angeles and will report to Amazon Music vp Steve Boom.

“I’ve been fortunate to work in very different places in my career – from sports, to travel, but the sonic aspect of what Amazon Music has to offer across voice, podcasts, video and music, and how we can create new ways to pull all of those together to bring unexpected experiences to customers, is so exciting,” said Merritt in a statement.

Merritt was most recently vp, customer experience at Delta Airlines, where he led the development and implementation of the airline’s passenger experience, including aircraft interiors, inflight entertainment and connectivity, the use of biometrics at airports and digitally-enabled personalization features. Before that, he spent over 13 years at Nike, where he held a variety of leadership positions in marketing, design, digital product and innovation before finally ascending to vp, global retail innovation. He also held a leadership role at the design and innovation firm IDEO.

Bryant Jacques has been named vp, A&R at Joie Manda’s Encore Recordings, which launched in November.

Jacques arrives at Encore from Polo Grounds Music, where he worked in music and publishing for over four years and eventually worked his way up to the role of director, A&R. While there, he signed Jay Gwaupo, King Staccz and Abra. He also played a key A&R on all other projects at the company.

Digital music education company Yousician announced three new executive appointments: Chase Smiegiel, who will serve as licensing head, a newly created role; Hadley Spanier, who was named brand marketing and artist relations head; and Jennifer Bonita, who will serve as senior manager, artist relations.

Smiegiel will lead licensing discussions and negotiations with music publishers, PROs, collection societies, record labels and other licensing collectives out of Yousician’s New York City offices. He was most recently associate director, licensing at Spotify and previously held executive roles at Twitter.

Spanier comes to Yousician from Verve Label Group (Universal Music Group), where she served as marketing head, leading the marketing, digital, press and creative departments for the group’s 10 labels.

Bonita most recently worked at Sony Music subsidiary The Orchard, where she served as associate director, international label management.

Podimo, a subscription service for audio entertainment and podcasts, hired Sachin Doshi as chief content officer. Doshi joins the company following the sale of his reading subscription service Scroll to Twitter in May 2021.

In his new role, Doshin will be tasked with unlocking new audio experiences and helping Podimo scale to new users in both new and existing markets. Earlier in his career, he served as vp content at Spotify; director, product at Twitter; and director, business development at Universal Music Group.

“Podimo has thrived with a strategic focus on content in local markets and native languages,” said Doshin in a statement. “With that focus in place, I look forward to working across the organization, to marry content and product and unlock the full potential of a premium audio experience.”

Warner Chappell Music named Sophie Hopkins as director, synchronization for its Nashville operations. Hopkins will oversee and develop new business in the Nashville market across the television and film industries, as well as the full digital media landscape.

Ben Vaughn, president & CEO, WCM Nashville said, “Sync is a vital part of our business – it opens up some incredible opportunities for our songwriters to be heard by entirely new audiences and we’re committed to growing and strengthening those efforts here in Nashville. Sophie’s extensive experience with creatives of all types makes her an excellent addition to the team and I know that she’ll put our songwriters first and always remain focused on their best interests.”

Hopkins added, “I’ve spent the better part of my life obsessed with the perfect pairing of song and scene and can’t imagine a better place than Warner Chappell to continue my career doing so. I am over the moon to be working not only with this incredible catalog of songs, but to join a team that is so passionate about putting the songwriters first!”

Hopkins spent the past four years working as part of the sync team at publishing/label/artist development company Big Yellow Dog Music. She previously worked at indie sync shop Heavy Hitters Music. – Jessica Nicholson

Chris Ferren was promoted to vp, artist and business development at Fusion Music. In the role, Ferren will continue leading management duties for artists Martina McBride and Jeffrey James while also leading company operations and offer guidance for the artist management roster, with an emphasis on lifestyle business extensions and brand partnerships.

“Chris’ passion for music and compassion for artists have molded him into a very savvy strategist and marketer,” Fusion Music managing partner Daniel Miller said. “Our team and artists have come to lean on him for guidance and inspiration. He has earned this new position all on his own and will be instrumental in leading us into our new endeavors ahead.”

“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to step into this new position,” Ferren added. “The team and culture that Daniel has built at Fusion Music is truly special and one of a kind. I’m excited to play a role in Fusion’s continued growth and actively work to serve both our clients and our exceptional team.”

Ferren began his music industry career as Fusion’s first intern in 2014 and is now the company’s first promotion to an executive level.

In addition to McBride and James, Fusion Music — in association with Red Light Management — represents Riley Green (co-managed with Red Light’s Zach Sutton), Cassadee Pope, Laine Hardy and Lily Rose (co-managed by Back Block Music’s Rakiyah Marshall). – Jessica Nicholson

Content and services company Anthem Entertainment hired Nick Di Fruscia as director, sync & licensing and Angela Persaud as global head, people and culture.

Di Fruscia arrives at Anthem from the songwriter collaboration app RMusic, where he served as a development executive. Prior to that, he served as director, awards at the Recording Academy; vp, awards & membership at the Academy of Country Music; and creative director and manager at Chalkboard Music.

Persaud most recently worked at G/O Media, where she served as head, people. During her time there, she helped lead the company through several strategic change initiatives, including mergers and acquisitions. She also previously worked at Dentsu Aegis, where she worked her way up to human resources head. She served in the same role at Thomson Reuters following its acquisition of her previous company, FX Alliance.

Nashville-based independent music publishing company Sea Gayle Music promoted Brandon Gregg to senior director, operations, artist services. Gregg will work with Sea Gayle Music CEO Chris DuBois to help oversee day-to-day operations and business affairs. He’s been with Sea Gayle Music for 19 years, first joining the company as a catalog manager and then rising through the ranks.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with tremendous talent and friends at Sea Gayle Music,” shared Gregg. “I look forward to stepping into this new role and accomplishing great things with our writers and staff.”

Gregg’s promotion comes amid the departure of Sea Gayle executive vp and general manager Marc Driskill, who exited the company after nine years to join FirstBank in a senior vp role.

“Brandon has been instrumental in the daily functions and growth of Sea Gayle over the past 19 years,” said DuBois. “I am thrilled to promote him to a new role. I would also like to thank former executive vice president/GM Marc Driskill for his hard work and leadership over the past nine years. Marc’s contributions on both the creative and business sides have played a crucial role in the growth and success of our company. As difficult as it is to lose someone like Marc, his departure has created exciting new opportunities within the company.”

DuBois, Brad Paisley and Frank Rogers founded Sea Gayle Music in 1999. The company represents the song catalogs of Paisley, Chris Stapleton, Bobby Pinson and more, and was named ASCAP country publisher of the year in 2010 and 2011. – Jessica Nicholson

Charly Salvatore launched underscore works, a new Nashville-based company focused on artist management, development and marketing, with a roster of artists who bridge traditional music models and the modern digital revolution as exemplified by platforms like TikTok.

“Nashville is the new hub for music, and with the uptick of talent unconventionally rising to fame, we aim to pave the path for artist-creators to thrive in the direct-to-fan relationship while also building a successful and lasting career,” said Salvatore in a statement. “We are building a unique and diverse roster of talent who are re-defining Music City’s definition of success in music, and we cannot wait to continue highlighting our clients’ creativity and artistic work in 2022.”

Signees to underscore works at launch include Priscilla Block, Dalton Dover and Warren Zeiders, all discovered by the veteran executive on TikTok, as well as Logan Mize, whom Salvatore has managed since 2009.

Over the course of his career, Salvatore has managed artists through his own company, Salvatore Entertainment, as well as at Dennis Entertainment. He’s also served in roles at Crom Tidwell Merchandise, FlyBack Music and Rainmaker Sports & Entertainment.

Taj Corinaldi joined interactive social broadcasting platform Caffeine as vp, product.

Corinaldi has worked in all areas of product development, from strategy, consumer data analysis and synthesis to developing and launching new businesses with a focus on cross-functional team building and leadership.

Before joining Caffeine, Corinaldi worked in product roles at Facebook, Hulu, Fullscreen Media and SNAP Interactive. He launched his marketing career at Google.

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