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. As the newly retired Charles Martinet likes to say, Let’s-a-go:
BMG promoted Tony Abner to global general counsel and executive vp of business and legal affairs of the music company, often billed as the world’s fourth largest after the three majors. Based in Berlin and reporting to BMG CEO Thomas Coesfeld, Abner manages the firm’s global legal teams and, as GC, advises senior management on all legal matters. Abner has been part of the BMG family since 2018, first as vp of business and legal affairs before adding an “s” to the title two years later. He was formerly based in Los Angeles before moving to Germany a year ago. Prior to BMG, he held executive posts at PMP Records and Loud Records, as well as senior attorney positions at Lenard & Gonzalez and Davis Shapiro Lewit Montone & Hayes.
Universal Music Group Nashville promoted Stephanie Alexa to svp of finance and operations, and Gary Keffer to vp of strategic marketing for the label group, which hems in Capitol Records Nashville, EMI Records Nashville, MCA Nashville and Mercury Nashville. Alexa has “transformed the finance department” during her five-year run as vp of finance, says UMGN evp and COO Mike Harris. Prior to joining Universal, she oversaw finance and business affairs at ATO Records. Keffer has over 20 years of experience in marketing, the seven with UMGN, where he and his team scour for ways to connect UMGN artists with brands, partners and wider audiences. Before pivoting to music, Keffer was director of media and partnerships at arms manufacturer Remington. “His expertise and attention to detail have ensured that our partners and artists are always supported for success,” glowed Lori Christian, the label group’s evp of marketing.
Mark Logsdon has been named vp of publicity at BMG Nashville, succeeding former vp of p Jay Jones, who exited earlier this year. Logsdon reports to evp of BMG Nashville JoJamie Hahr and in his new role, will lead the overall publicity strategy for BBR Music Group’s roster, including Jason Aldean, Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, Dustin Lynch, Chase Rice and Parmalee, as well as guiding BMG Nashville’s corporate communications. Logsdon previously worked at PLA Media, where he began in 2007 as a coordinator and rose through the ranks over the past 16 years to a vice president role. Prior to PLA, his career included time at Sony, RLM/Mission Management, and the Atlantis Music Conference. During his career, Logsdon’s clients have included The Tina Turner Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, Patsy Cline Museum, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Warner/Chappell Production Music, RCA Studio A, Ingram Content Group, and artists including Tyler Williams, Michelle Wright and Lynn Anderson. –Jessica Nicholson
The Orchard hired music marketing mainstay Gita Williams as its new senior vp of artist and label services in the U.S., a role in which she’ll develop and market current roster artists — and sign future ones. She is based in Los Angeles and reports to Mary Ashley Johnson, evp of sales and artist and label services. Prior to joining the Sony-owned independent music distributor, Williams ran her own management and marketing firm, The Mehan Group, and before that held senior roles at Roc Nation, Epic Records, Interscope and RCA Records. “Gita’s experience in artist management and major label leadership roles will prove invaluable as we refine our Artist Services division and strive to achieve the best possible results for our clients,” noted Johnson. You can reach Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Dolak joined the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), where he leads all communication and PR efforts for the music-and-sound trade show. The UCLA alum spent 20 years at Sony Electronics, where he rose to vp and head of communications and, notably, was the point person for participation and activations at major trade shows like CES and NAB. Additionally, NAMM announced the creation of a Member Services team, which consolidates the membership, professional development and public affairs departments. Zach Phillips, previously NAMM’s director of professional development, will now become director of member services. Erin Block, formerly NAMM’s associate director of registration and analytics, has been promoted to associate director of membership. You can reach Dolak at email@example.com.
The International Bluegrass Music Association selected Ken White as the organization’s next executive director. Beginning Oct. 2, White will take over for Paul Schiminger, who held the role for six years before retiring in 2021 — but who then returned in March after Pat Morris’ resignation for personal reasons. White’s bluegrass bonafides include decades of writing and performing the art form in venues including Grand Ole Opry, Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the IBMA World of Bluegrass. For the last 21 years, he has led the Howerton+White integrated marketing agency, building the business to over 40 clients. Over the years he has also served as president of the Wichita Jazz Festival and co-produced a popular season concert series at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas. White will be returning to Nashville for the IBMA gig.
Sound Talent Group hired veterans Jon Pleeter and John Lashnits as talent agents at the five-year-old independent booking agency. The LA-based Pleeter joins STG after working as vp of concerts at ICM, while New Yorker Lashnits arrives from APA. Both have client rosters that lean on the rock side of life, including Saving Abel and Saliva for Pleeter, and Destroy Boys and The Wrecks for Lashnits. STG was formed in 2018 by former UTA agents Dave Shapiro, Tim Borror and Matt Andersen, and boasts a vast — and diverse — roster that includes Calle 13, Clutch, Gwar, Hanson, Hatebreed, Hoobastank, Pierce the Veil, Story of the Year, Vanessa Carlton and many more.
Sony Music Publishing Nashville promoted Kenley Flynn to vp of creative A&R, where Flynn will be responsible for signing and developing talent, as well as driving creative opportunities on behalf of Sony Music Publishing Nashville’s roster. During his tenure at the company, Flynn has helped propel the creative success of breakout talent including Nate Smith (“Whiskey On You”), Trannie Anderson (Lainey Wilson’s “Heart Like A Truck”) and James McNair (Luke Combs’ “Going, Going, Gone”) as well as artists and writers including Madeline Merlo, David Morris, Tim Nichols, and Ben Hayslip. Flynn began his career at Combustion Music, before joining Sony in 2020 as senior director of creative A&R. “Kenley is a songwriter’s best friend,” said Josh Van Valkenburg, evp of creative at Sony Music Publishing Nashville. “Over the last few years, he’s been instrumental in building the careers of some of today’s biggest breakthrough hitmakers. This promotion is so well deserved.” –JN
Lauren Papapietro joined Warner Music Group as vp of communications for Rhino and Warner’s global catalog team. The 15-year PR veteran has the mighty task of helming publicity strategy campaigns for the catalogs of WMG/Rhino’s roster of icons, including one-namers like “Aretha,” “Frank,” “Sabbath,” “Otis,” “Madonna,” “Van,” “Halen” and… the list goes on. Pappapietro most recently served as head of publicity for Crush Music, where she worked with major acts, including WMG/Rhino artists Alanis Morissette and Green Day. Prior to that, she led publicity at Glassnote Entertainment Group. She is based in New York and reports to Kevin Gore, president of global catalog, recorded music at WMG.
ICYMI: Amazon Music’s head of hip-hop/R&B Tim Hinshaw is exiting the company to launch his own agency, Free Lunch … Recently photographed former president Donald Trump hired Gunna’s lawyer in his racketeering case in Atlanta … and longtime NPR programming executive Anya Grundmann is leaving the network after nearly 30 years.
SoundExchange said Tino Gagliardi, the newly elected president of the American Federation of Music, has joined its 18-seat Board of Directors. Gagliardi replaces recently retired AFM president Ray Hair on the board. “Tino is joining the SoundExchange Board of Directors at a pivotal time for the company and the music industry,” said Michael Huppe. “With his first-hand experience as an artist and expertise representing musicians for over 13 years, we couldn’t be more elated to welcome him to the board.”
Monument Records promoted Casey Thomas to director of marketing, publicity and creative. Additionally, Joel Beaver has been promoted to associate director of marketing. In her expanded role, Thomas will continue to oversee publicity and creative services, while taking on a more active role in marketing strategy, while Beaver will be responsible for marketing, brand partnerships, international and sync relations for the label’s roster which includes Alex Hall, Walker Hayes and Pillbox Patti. Thomas joined Monument from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2018, and she previously served at Monument as director of PR and creative. Beaver joined Monument in 2017 as an intern and became a staffer a year later. Beaver has been in the center of marketing campaigns across the artist roster, most notably with Hayes and the buzzy “Fancy Like” campaign for Applebee’s. –JN
Partisan Records promoted Bryant Kitching to global director of communications. Previously director of publicity in the U.S., Kitching joined Partisan in 2018 and over the years has overseen press campaigns across Partisan’s entire roster, including PJ Harvey, IDLES, Fontaines DC, Laura Marling, the Fela Kuti estate, Beth Orton and more. He is based in NYC.
Nashville Notes: Space Colonel bulked up its management division by adding Jesse Schuster, Chris Mueller and Evan Hunsberger to its team. The Nashville-based entertainment company, launched by Adam Barnes and J.R. Denson in 2019, represents over 15 artists and producers, including Shooter Jennings, Jason Boland and new signee Beau Bedford. Space Colonel also launches S || C Records and is gearing up for the release of Lillie Mae’s upcoming third studio album … Black River Publishing hired Sarah Hudspeth as creative coordinator. Hudspeth will provide support to vp of publishing Rebekah Gordon and assist the creative staff in the company’s day-to-day operations … The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hired R.J. Smith, a former editor for Los Angeles magazine and The Village Voice. The museum also promoted Sam Farahmand to director of creative content … Leo33 welcomed Tracy Gibson as director of promotion and marketing. She previously worked as Big Machine regional promotion director.