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Executive Turntable: Merlin Swarms Data and Member Teams With New Hires; Moves at Reactional, Noble Steed & Pophouse

Mr. Nimbus | 02/09/2024

It’s time for another quick whirl around the Executive Turntable, Billboard’s comprehensive(ish) compendium of promotions, hirings, exits and firings — and all things in between — across music. Are you asking yourself “Hey, Wha’ Happened?!” amid this week’s overhaul at Capitol Music Group? Here’s a rundown. When you’re done processing that — and bracing for what cometh at WMG — get a readout of the most powerful people in the music biz with the latest Power 100 list.

Merlin, the global digital licensing agency for the independent music industry, has spent the last few months enhancing its finance, data analytics, software and member operations teams with numerous new hires and promotions.

Experienced financial controller Carol Zuma-Hall, formerly finance lead at Platoon and head of finance at The Orchard, joined Merlin to oversee its technical accounting and compliance related finance activities. Merlin’s new director of insights is Martin Vovk, following a dozen years at Sony Music. He’ll conduct in-depth data analysis and manage insights communications. Following a lengthy stint consulting for Merlin, Gary Watson made it official by taking the director of data operations role, where he’ll manage data flows and data visualization projects. Reporting to Watson will be Maria Lavric, who was appointed manager of data operations. She’ll handle non-financial trends data and other reporting. Matthew Price was right for the data engineer role and will develop what Merlin calls its “Data Lake,” which processes nearly 1 billion rows of data daily (FUN!!!). Joining the team as a paralegal is Emillia Walsh, who’ll scrutinize copyright infringement claims and just overall enhance the organization’s legal apparatus. Molly Kempen is the new royalty reporting coordinator, responsible for processing statements and keeping deadlines.

“The expansion of our multi disciplinary data analytics team this year is a testament to Merlin’s ongoing commitment to delivering value,” said Charlie Lexton, Merlin’s COO. “Each new Merliner brings a unique set of skills that are instrumental in our evolution. We are excited to see their contributions enhance our operations, improve our data capabilities, and further strengthen our relationships with Merlin’s global membership and digital partners.”

Data crunchers aside, Merlin also welcomed Simon Stride last year as a development manager, overseeing software projects from soup to nuts. Over at member operations, Alice Moss joined as senior manager, focusing on day-to-day support of Merlin’s members and working on ways to address operational issues between members and digital partners. Finally, Mariah Mu and ex-intern Ben Sperling have joined as coordinators on the member and partner success team. It should be noted that Mu is based in Bangkok and serves as the Merliner contact for members and partners in the entire Southeast Asia region.

“The integration of Alice, Mariah, and Ben into our Member & Partner Success team marks a significant enhancement in our capability to serve our members effectively,” said Jim Mahoney, svp of member & partner success. “Alice’s experience, coupled with Mariah’s knowledge of the digital and Southeast Asian marketplace and Ben’s keen approach to process improvement and communications, creates a dynamic synergy. This team embodies our commitment to excellence, ensuring that each member and partner experiences the full benefit of Merlin’s expansive network and resources.”


Warner Music Denmark promoted industry veteran Karen Vincent to general manager of the Copenhagen-based imprint. She reports to Mark Fry, president of Warner Music Nordics. In her capacity as marketing director, a role she’s held since 2017, Vincent has worked campaigns for regional artists including Christopher, Gobs and Nicklas Sahl, among others, and also has assisted in global releases from the likes of Bruno Mars and Dual Lipa. Prior to WMG, Vincent was senior product manager at Copenhagen Records while concurrently working as the global publicist for Danish rockers Volbeat. At the dawn of her music career, Vincent held gigs at Sony Music and EMI Music as well. “It’s great news that Karen has agreed to run Warner Music Denmark,” said Fry. “She’s been an indispensable part of the team, crafting incredible campaigns for local, regional and international artists, and I can’t wait to work with her as we continue to support the best Danish creative talent.”

Reactional Music, the maker of an interactive music engine for video games, hired Epic Games veteran Ben Lumsden as head of business development, Unreal. In his new role, Lumsden will oversee Reactional’s work developing partnerships across music, games and creator worlds, focusing on use cases built on the Unreal games engines developed by Epic Games. Speaking of… at Epic, he rose to senior business development lead in support of the company’s media and entertainment operation in Europe. Prior to Epic, he worked in virtual production on films and games such as District 9, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Godzilla, among others. He is also an accomplished composer for films. “Music and creativity needs great tech and creative minds to enable the new generation of music delivery, consumption and creation,” said Lumsden. “The consumer is more sophisticated, more creative and they spend more time in digital worlds. Music and audio has such an important role to play in the new era of gaming and creator worlds as consumption habits change to become part of these digital worlds.”

Noble Steed Music, the artist management company and label that boasts an “intuitive and patient approach to artist career development,” hired industry veteran Evan Levy as senior manager and content director. He arrives from Amazon Music, where he managed audio content for the last two years. Levy is tasked with building out the company’s content team, which will develop music-centric media, podcasts, social content and more. He’ll report to NBS founder Jason Spiewak. Prior to Amazon, Levy held key leadership positions at SiriusXM Pandora, CBS Radio, ABC News Radio and MTV Networks. “We are thrilled to welcome Evan to the Noble Steed Music family,” said Spiewak. “Evan’s expertise and creative vision will undoubtedly elevate our content and reinforce our commitment to delivering exceptional entertainment experiences to the masses.”

Curb Records‘ national director of promotion Mike Rogers is set to retire, effective March 1. Rogers, a 35-year radio promotion veteran, has been with Curb Records since 2002 and was previously part of the promotion team at CBS/Sony. Rogers shared: “[Curb Records chairman] Mike Curb’s belief in me these last 21 years was unparalleled. I was and always will be proudest of all we have accomplished in my time at Curb. You entrusted me to give your music its best shot and I hope I made you proud. To have actually learned from a legend will always be a crowning achievement in my career. Now, it’s time to ‘do some life’ with my wife, Laura, and our two daughters, all of whom sacrificed a ton as I lived out that road life as a radio promotion rep.” –Jessica Nicholson

UTA promoted 104 individuals across 25 departments, including music and comedy. In the interest of brevity, let’s stick to music, where the agency upped Grace Cunningham, St. John Faulkner, Sammy Gardiner, Anastasia Klochkivska, Taylor Krebs, Joe Marino, Matt Popper, Ashley Ramos, Katie Sexton, Evan Steinberg, Tyler Stimmel and Kingsley Williams to coordinator. UTA also promoted Tom Grainger, Alexis Lesko, Tom Matthews, Lolo McCluskey, Sheq Milli and Jamie Waldman to agent. The company stressed that a majority of those elevated to agent emerged from UTA’s Agent Training Program, adding that women constituted more than 50% of the promotions announced.

RADIO, RADIO: Warner Music Nashville bumped Andy Flick up to national director of radio, effective immediately. Flick, a longtime Sony pro who joined WMN in 2021 as regional manager, radio (North), will continue reporting to vp of radio Anna Cage. In the last three years, Flick has worked campaigns for Dan + Shay, Gabby Barrett and Zach Bryan, among many others … Happy retirement to NPR OG Linda Wertheimer … Canadian media conglomerate Bell Media is selling 45 of its 103 radio stations across the country because it lacks viability.

Lina Tebbs was named director of UK Production Music for Warner Chappell Music, reporting to UK managing director Shani Gonzales. She takes over for Kate Alderton, svp of operations and finance, who has been running the department for the last two years. In her new role, Tebbs will be tasked with scouting ways to service WCMs giant catalog to the film, TV, radio and advertising industries in the UK. She and her team will also work with other like-minded teams around the globe on cross-market opportunities. Tebbs arrives from Felt Music, where she was global head of business development and marketing. Prior to joining Felt in 2019, Tebbs held leadership roles at Audio Network and EMEA. “With Lina at the helm of our operations in the UK, the team will have a fresh outlook and exciting new ideas for how to build on our brand and further grow our roster and relationships,” said Gonzales.

Stem, the 9-year-old music distribution and payments platform, awarded four of its key leaders with promotions this week. Atop the table is Seth Faber, who was upped from svp of artist & label strategy to general manager of the company. In his elevated role, Faber will oversee artist marketing/development, commerce, international, customer success, content operations, brand marketing and product. Todd Perry is now vp of artist and label relations, hip-hop & R&B. Previously head of artist & label relations, hip-hop & R&B, Perry is credited with signing Veeze and for his work Jeezy’s latest album. Natalie Sellers, who joined Stem in 2018, is assuming the role of senior director of artist & label commerce & partnerships, where she’ll work to expand the company’s network of partners and create marketing and development opportunities. Finally, Lexi Roney was promoted to director of brand marketing following her time as marketing manager at Stem. As director, Roney will be responsible for leading and expanding all branding and partnership initiatives for Stem Distribution. The company said Faber and Perry will continue to report to president Kristin Graziani, while Sellers and Roney frame up to Faber.

CSW Publicity amped up its music division with the hiring of Heidi Anne-Noel as senior vp of music publicity. She’ll work alongside evp and founder Cara Woodnicki on all things music. Anne-Noel joins CSW from BMF, where as a vp she oversaw campaigns for clients including ONErpm, Awich, Abigail Barlow and others. Prior to BMF, she was at SiriusXM/Pandora and earlier at Capitol Records, where she worked closed with Katy Perry, Capital Cities, Sky Ferreira and others. Woodnicki comments, “Heidi is an incredible asset to any team and one of the best publicists I know, I’m beyond thrilled to be working alongside her again, this time at CSW.”

Derek Patten has returned to agency EastCoast Entertainment as director of artist services. Patten’s first spin at ECE was in 2018, when he helped lay the framework for the department he now leads. His background experience covers several professional areas including film (The Foot Fist Way) and live entertainment (Royal Caribbean Cruise Line). “We are delighted to have Derek with us again,” shares ECE’s President, John Wolfslayer. “His wealth of experience and unwavering dedication to the success of artists make him an invaluable asset to our team.”

Pophouse Entertainment, the creative production company co-founded by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, announced a slew of promotions and new hires. Linda Höljö has been named COO, Natalia Fontecha is head of capital raising and investor relations, Sophie McKibbin is head of business and legal affairs, while Ryan Amstad is head of new production development, and Jon Spalding commercial director. Over at Mamma Mia! The Party, the souped-up uber-immersive dinner theatre production in London, Sophie Arendt has been appointed managing director.

BOARD SHORTS: Worldwide Independent Network, a support group for independent music trade groups, welcomed five new members to its board: Dario Draštata (Dallas Records, Croatia), Fran Sandoval (IMICHILE, Chile) and Marty Ro (Sound Republica, South Korea) as directors, together with Alejandro Varela (S-Music, Argentina) and Sridhar Swaminathan (SIMCA, India) as observers. Zena White and Maria Amato were reappointed as Chair and Treasurer, respectively … Dewei Zheng resigned as a non-executive director of Chinese music platform Cloud Music (formerly NetEase Cloud Music), effective Feb. 15.

David J. Krystal, whose orchestration work can be heard in The Flash, IT, Shazam! and Hidden Figures, among others, recently launched his own company to support his work: David Krystal Music Service. In an announcement, Krystal’s company looks to “synthesize the rich tradition of classic Hollywood scoring and orchestration with the fast-paced and powerful blockbuster film scores of today” and pledges “meticulous attention to detail.”


Lillia Parsa

Capitol Music Group chief Michelle Jubelirer announced her abrupt exit this week … and a day later Tom March, then-president of Geffen, was named her successor. Lillia Parsa (pictured) was also brought in from UMPG as co-president of CMG … Warner Music chief Robert Kyncl telegraphed a 10% staff reduction … which resulted in the exit of Warner Chappell Australia’s longtime managing director … Ricardo Chamberlain was been named COO of Marc Anthoney’s Puntilla Music … The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) selected its leadership for the coming year … and Eliza Tew is director of brand partnerships/talent manager for Clay Busch’s new agency, SiX18 Media.

Last Week’s Turntable: Arena Is Secure

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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