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Executive Turntable: Warner Records Ups Promo Chief, Kanye’s Former Manager Joins NFT Firm

Executive Turntable: Warner Records Ups Promo Chief, Kanye’s Former Manager Joins NFT Firm

Mike Chester has been promoted to executive vp, promotion & commerce at Warner Records, a newly-created position.

In his expanded role, Chester will continue spearheading Warner’s promotion department and oversee its strategy across streaming, digital and commercial platforms and accounts. He is based at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles and reports to co-chairman and COO Tom Corson.

Chester joined Warner Records in 2018 as executive vp promotion and has since led a complete revamp of the label’s promotion team and strategy across all formats and platforms. In the aftermath, the label has enjoyed over 30 No. 1 singles and broken such artists as Dua Lipa and Saweetie.

In a statement, Corson praised Chester for his “wide-ranging creative vision and unparalleled drive” and said the creation of the post “reflects the rapid evolution of the media landscape… as fans consume music from multiple sources, from radio to streaming to gaming.”

Added Chester, “Long-term artist development is our top priority, and the avenues to bring more music to more fans are multiplying by the day. I’m looking forward to working with our promo and commerce teams to break records and build careers in a hugely dynamic, expanding musical environment.”

Prior to Warner, Chester served as senior vp, marketing and promotion at Scooter Braun’s SB Projects for four years, where he worked with Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and other notable artists. He previously spent over a decade at Def Jam Recordings, where he rose to become vp of promotion. He launched his career at Arista Records and later moved to Atlantic before joining Def Jam in 2004.

Throne, an NFT marketplace, has appointed Gee Roberson to the role of executive creative director and partner. Roberson previously managed Kanye West, Drake and Nicki Minaj. “NFTs are an artistic medium, changing how we create, giving us tools to reimagine how we resource creative economic communities,” Roberson said in a statement. “I know we are all doing something that will greatly improve the future for artists of every genre, it’s a new world.”

The company, founded in part by music producer Nellee Hooper, has been in “stealth mode for the past year,” according to a press release. The company is expected to launch next month with a lineup of artists and entertainers from various mediums.

At Throne, Roberson will oversee creative output, focusing on developing projects with artists, IP holders and creators “in effort to bring aesthetics on-chain,” the release states. Roberson is also a partner at Maverick Management, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment that manages Madonna, U2, Aerosmith, G-Eazy, Miley Cyrus, Paul McCartney and The Weekend’s career moves.

“What I love about Throne is that it’s for creators at every stage of the journey, whether someone just starting out, or a more established artist,” Roberson said.

Mercury Studios, the music-first content studio from Universal Music Group, has called on Steve Condie to be its new senior vp of content.

Based in London, Condie will lead creative vision directives, while working with producers, writers and directors to establish Mercury Studios as the go-to place for premium music-led storytelling. He’ll work with Frank MacDonald, recently appointed as Mercury Studios’ head of development, to oversee the development of non-fiction titles. “I am thrilled to be joining Mercury Studios and to be part of building a unique creative outfit that will make brilliant content with passion and purpose,” Condie said in a statement.

The longtime producer and director brings with him numerous documentary credits in music storytelling, including an online, TV and radio series called People’s History of Pop, dance music series Can You Feel It and social history series The Story of Skinhead. He also oversaw the BAFTA-shortlisted Thatcher – A Very British Revolution with BBC Studios and is currently working on a follow-up series exploring the New Labor government of Tony Blair.

“This is a great opportunity to be at the heart of a company excelling in multiple genres, collaborating with the very best visual creators and musical artists,” he said. “Mercury has an exciting and ambitious vision and shares my deep love of music and commitment to great storytelling. There has never been a better time to bring audiences the most compelling stories from the world of music and there has never been a better platform to do this than Mercury.”

Condie joins Mercury Studios as they work on the feature documentary If These Walls Could Sing, which is described as the untold story of Abbey Road Studios and directed by British photographer and filmmaker Mary McCartney. The company’s content library includes documentary titles like Miles Davis: Birth of The Cool, That Little Ol’ Band from Texas, the story of ZZ Top and footage from iconic performances by The Rolling Stones, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen and Dr. Dre.

“Steve is a truly exceptional creative leader – his ambition, vision and limitless energy for ingenious storytelling make him the perfect fit for Mercury Studios,” said Alice Webb, CEO, Mercury Studios. “Not only does Steve have an enviable track record in high profile, premium content, but his passion for music-first content is plain for all to see. He’s a true professional and we’re proud and delighted he’s joined team Mercury.”

TT Torrez has been named vp of artist and label relations at MediaCo’s New York-based hip-hop station Hot 97. Torrez is the first woman of color to hold the position.

Torrez has been with Hot 97 since Oct. 2014; she most recently served as the station’s music director and multi-media personality, duties she will continue along with her new position. In the new role, she will be tasked with overseeing MediaCo’s artist event marketing, special events and promotions along with artist audio and digital content strategy and campaigns.

“I’m so excited about this role and the significance of being the first woman of color to hold this position at Hot 97,” said Torrez in a statement. “To look at where I started, earning my business degree during the pandemic and working hard to earn this promotion, I’m fulfilling my dream of representing women of color in the workplace. So often, Black and Brown women are underrepresented in leadership roles, and I’m proud to have a seat at the table. My most important role is to elevate and open doors for the women coming up. As Harriet Tubman said, ‘Every great dream begins with a dreamer.’ Thank you, MediaCo, for allowing me to represent culture and community; where I can be my most authentic self.”

MediaCo senior vp of programming Pio Ferro noted that Torrez “has been a passionate advocate for Hot 97, our culture, our artists, and her relentless devotion to the Hip Hop community” and “has played a pivotal role in taking our prominence in hip-hop to new heights.”

In addition to Hot 97, MediaCo operates the New York station WBLS-FM.

Symphonic Distribution has tapped Tunji Afonja to assume the position of lead creative executive. Formerly the chief digital officer at Mavin Records, Afonja’s hire follows the distribution company’s recent expansion into Africa.

Afonja’s resume includes working as everything from software provider to creative consultant to project lead for artists like DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kevin Hart, Rema and more. He’s credited with generating viral music campaigns and garnering billions of views. In his new role, he’ll work with creators worldwide while assisting Symphonic as they work to “push the boundaries” of music distribution and marketing, according to a press release.

“It is an amazing opportunity to join Symphonic,” Afonja said. “I am thankful to Jorge for giving me this unique opportunity to be radically creative with goal of achieving game changing success.”

The news follows Symphonic’s partnership with Dallas Austin and his distribution company D.A.D., another effort made by the company to expand their genre reach.

Joie Binns is the new vp of operations at Cinematic Music Group, bringing with her more than 20 years of marketing, management, distribution and artist development experience. She previously served as the head of operations at Roc Nation’s independent distribution company Equity Distribution.

Now in a senior management position, Binns has reached a new level in her career as a go-to person for artist management. Her resume includes working with artists like Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Usher, Shakira, Ne-Yo and more for places like Sony BMG. She also assisted the careers of Jordin Sparks, Fantasia and Daughtry at American Idol and consulted for organizations including Boys & Girls Club of America and Cartoon Network.

Going forward, Binns will continue managing rising artists BIA and Justine Skye.

Three senior staff members have climbed higher on the ladder at Missing Piece GroupJoe Sivick is now the company’s general manager, Brett Loeb has been named the label manager of Missing Piece Records and Michelle Steele has risen to director of publicity for the group’s Nashville branch.

“In the 11 years that Missing Piece has been in business, much of our staff has come on board very early in their careers, gathering knowledge and becoming experts in their field, while supporting and training younger team members,” said CEO and founder Michael Krumper. “That supportive environment has helped foster their personal growth and led to these promotions.”

Missing Piece Group is a full-service music publicity, marketing and management company with branches in Newark, Nashville and Seattle. Its record label is distributed by Virgin Music and boasts a roster including Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, Ryan Culwell, SUSTO, Roscoe Roscoe, The Connells, Duncan Sheik and more.

For Sivick, the promotion comes just as he’s celebrating his nine-year mark with Missing Piece. “I am eternally grateful to Michael Krumper and my colleagues past and present for the opportunity to grow within this company,” he said. “As general manager, I look forward to continuing the company’s organic and thoughtful growth, while continuing to stay involved with all aspects of our publicity campaigns. To all of the clients I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years: I truly thank you for trusting Missing Piece Group with your art.”

Loeb, meanwhile, has been with the company since 2014. His promotion comes as part of Missing Piece Records’ efforts to double down on their commitment to build the label division of the company, according to a statement made by Krumper in the release. “Over the past few years I’ve led much of the operations, marketing, and project management for label releases, and I’m excited to take on the new title of Label Manager for Missing Piece Records,” Loeb said. “I look forward to my new responsibilities, growing the label side of the business, while continuing my work with publicity and marketing clients.”

And for Steele, stepping into her new role means representing Missing Piece in her home court. “Having Michelle come on board to help spearhead our Nashville business has been a game changer for the company,” said Krumper. “Nashville has been a second home for Missing Piece since its inception, and with Michelle on board, I’m fully confident about our continued growth there.”

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