Executive Turntable: WMG Beefs Up Catalog Team

Alicia Yaffe joins WMG from from Jampol Artist Management and The Spellbound Group, where she delivered campaigns for artists including The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin.

Nigel Reeve is a 36-year Parlophone and WMG veteran, most recently serving as vp of catalogue A&R for Warner Music UK, where he oversaw the development of the catalogs of artists including David Bowie, New Order, Joy Division and The Smiths.

Mike Engstrom most recently oversaw marketing & content development for WMG’s global catalog and is also a more than two-decade veteran at Rhino, where he worked with artists including Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and Chicago.

Andrea Craig has been promoted to senior vp of content development & curation. In the role, she will lead WMG Arts Music’s efforts in kids & family, musical theater, jazz and crossover. In her previous role at the company, she worked closely with WMG partners including Sesame Street, Super Simple Songs and Mattel.


Faisel Durrani has joined livestream platform Looped as co-CEO.

In his new role, Durrani will oversee Looped’s strategic initiatives, new business opportunities, marketing strategies and talent relationships.

“We are currently in a movement where creators are looking for new opportunities that steer away from the traditional ad-based distribution model and allow them to maintain their independence while directly monetizing their content,” said Durrani in a release. “Looped’s technology solutions are at the forefront of this movement and our platform makes this process and experience seamless for creators and fans alike. I couldn’t be more excited about leading Looped to innovate in the live digital programming space.”

Durrani comes to Looped with over 25 years of experience in the creative industry, having held leadership positions including executive vp of international marketing at Island Def Jam and president of marketing & senior vp of global touring at Live Nation.

At Def Jam, Durrani managed the label’s fiscal business plans and restructured the business’ marketing, commerce and content creation departments to find efficiencies and increase output. He has been noted for helping break artists Logic and Alessia Cara globally and overseeing Beyonce’s career while serving as president of Parkwood Entertainment.

Since its founding in 2019, Looped has hosted over 300,000 fans and 1,000 creators including Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, BTS, Dua Lipa and Bad Bunny.


Mona Sutphen will join the Spotify board of directors in April 2021, subject to shareholder approval.

Sutphen is a private equity advisor and co-founder/advisor to several technology start-ups. She was previously White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011; she also served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board from 2013 to 2016.

“Mona has built a career in both the private and public sectors advising leaders on international and U.S. domestic policy, technology, macroeconomics and trade, and human rights…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Spotify founder, CEO and chairman of the board Daniel Ek. “Mona will bring a new and highly valuable perspective to the Board as we focus on driving our strategy forward during this time of exceptional change around the world.”

Sutphen is currently a senior advisor at Chicago-based private equity firm The Vistria Group. She was previously a partner at Macro Advisory Partners (MAP), where she led the firm’s U.S practice advising global corporates on emerging risks and opportunities across sectors, including technology platform regulation, market entry strategies and political dynamics and regulatory risks in the U.S., China and Europe. She also served as a managing director at UBS AG, where she developed new tools for political risk evaluation impacting capital markets.

Sutphen is also an independent director for Pattern Energy and a trustee of Putnam Mutual Funds. Additionally, she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves of the boards of the International Rescue Committee and Human Rights First and is a trustee of Mount Holyoke College.


The Recording Academy has hired Ray Starck as vp of digital strategy.

In his new role, Starck will lead the editorial, digital media production and product teams and be responsible for content strategy and website management. Among other duties, he will be tasked with developing digital content strategies across the organization to drive engagement, retention and channel optimization, while also leveraging data to advise his teams and supporting stakeholder initiatives.

Starck comes to the Academy with more than 20 years of digital experience. His previous roles include vp of e-commerce, digital media & retail technology at Trina Turk; vp of product management at Fox Networks Group; and senior product director at Yahoo Media Group. He most recently led e-commerce & digital technology at Fiore Management, advising c-suite executives and consulting on product management, e-commerce and retail trends.

In addition to his executive roles, Starck also serves as an advisory board member at Palomar College, where he helps define course curriculum, technologies, platforms and direction of digital technologies via his role on the school’s digital communication & design board.


PRS for Music has appointed Dan Gopal as chief commercial officer, a role he will assume on Mar. 1, 2021.

Reporting to PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin, Gopal will lead commercial and strategic partnerships at the company, driving digital transformation while leveraging and improving customer relationships and joint ventures. He will be responsible for steering PRS for Music’s licensing negotiations with public performance, TV and radio broadcasters, digital services and recorded media providers.

Gopal most recently served as executive vp & head of sales EMEA at Entertainment One (eOne), where he led the company’s distribution team in the region and implemented local and multi-territory deals for film and TV. At the Walt Disney Company, where he spent ten years, he managed the company’s relationships with international collection societies and oversaw commercial and strategic relationships with global clients including Apple, Sony, Microsoft and Google for the EMEA region.

Earlier in his career, Gopal worked at ITV Studios Global Entertainment, where he was responsible for content distribution and strategy across all platforms and negotiated the company’s first global deals with partners including Netflix, Apple, YouTube and Amazon. He was additionally a board member of Cirkus, the subscription video-on-demand joint venture between ITV and Content Associates.


Why&How Management founder Bruce Kalmick has launched Hazel Street Records, a joint label venture with The Orchard. Kalmick, whose management clients include alt-rockers Kaleo, country-trap artist Breland, Southern rock band Whiskey Myers and singer-songwriter ZZ Ward, will serve as the label’s CEO.

Hazel Street’s day-to-day operations will be led by Laura Bender, most recently of Hard 8 Management/Folsom Records, who will run operations out of Nashville and oversee the company’s managers along with digital marketing and touring personnel. The label’s first signings are alternative rock band Goldpark and alt-pop duo Nox Holloway.

While at Hard 8, Bender worked with Dashboard Confessional, Twin Forks and Dan Layus. Before that, she served as national director, promotion at Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), following more than a decade in promotion at RRP/Warner Music Group.

Other hires at the new label include Lesley James and MJ Marty, who will serve as directors, radio and streaming. James comes from East City Management, where he worked as head of U.S. radio and streaming promotion for two years. Before that, he was on-air talent and program director at WWCD in Columbus, OH. Marty has served in roles at Epic Records, Island Def Jam and Columbia Records and most recently established Realid Records at Warner Music Group. He has been a key player in promotion efforts for artists including Beyoncé, John Legend and Fall Out Boy.

Lastly, Andrew de Torres has boarded the label as director, digital and artist marketing. He joins Hazel Street from Thirty Tigers, where, as digital sales manager, he helped execute streaming strategy across the label’s roster. Prior to that, he toured for years as an artist signed to Photo Finish Records/Atlantic Records.


CD Baby is expanding its international artist services team to Africa, where it has hired music business manager and independent music advocate Sakhele Mzalazala to grow the company in South Africa and other markets across Southern Africa, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia. Mzalazala, who will report to CD Baby vp of international development Heli Del Moral, is CD Baby’s first hire on the African continent.

In the role, Mzalazala will lead strategic partnerships both locally and internationally while building relationships with young and established artists. He will also develop and execute programs to increase the visibility and adoption of CD Baby services in the region and establish strategic industry relationships there.

Over more than 20 years, Mzalazala has worked at companies including Yourself Management, Xhentsa and Koloni; worked directly with artists Mahlatse Vokal and Lisa Good; and overseen the publishing team at South African label Mathaland/Ghetto Ruff. Working as an artist before transitioning to the business side, he has been active in supporting the work of independent artists including Ina Ethe, Sfiso Ncwane, Sizwe Zako, Tshepo Tshola and Lawrence Matshiza.

“Independent artists’ biggest challenges in our region are the lack of information or knowledge, lack of income from their works, and the long-term agreements they sign,” said Mzalazala in a statement. “But artists are becoming independent by owning their masters and getting access to most digital platforms. There is a lot of reason for optimism now.”

Mzalazala joins CD Baby’s growing 22-person international team, which is active in markets across Europe, North America, South America, East Asia and South Asia.


Charlie Adler has been hired as head of booking at Anthony Makes’ concert promotions company Brooklyn Made.

Based in New York, Adler started his career at Bowery Presents in 2012 before taking a role at Live Nation’s West Coast operations beginning in 2018.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Brooklyn Made and returning to my home market of NYC,” said Adler in a statement. “I’ve worked with Anthony throughout my career and look forward to partnering once again to build a new independent voice for live entertainment as we come out of a stressful time for our business.”


Anthemic Agency — the home of FLOOD Media, FLOOD Magazine and Louder Than Bombs Productions — has named San Francisco Bay Area radio veteran Aaron Axelsen as head of programming for its newly launched audio division.

Axelsen will oversee the programming and development of FLOOD FM, a 24/7 digital indie, alternative and electronic radio station, as well as branded podcasting. He joins FLOOD Magazine co-publisher Randy Bookasta as part of the company’s music and culture team.

Prior to joining Anthemic, Axelsen served as music director and an on-air personality for the Bay Area alt-rock radio station Alt 105.3/Live 105 (CBS radio/Entercom). During this time there, he anchored the long-running music specialty shows Soundcheck and Subsonic.

Axelsen also co-founded and manages Popscene, the San Francisco-based indie music club night that is now planning to expand its events to Los Angeles and elsewhere beginning next year.

“I’ve known and worked with Aaron for over 25 years and have always had a great deal of admiration for the work he did with Alt 105.3/Live 105 and Popscene,” said Anthemic Agency and FLOOD Media founder and CEO Alan Sartirana. “FLOOD Media’s mission is to tell the stories often overlooked by other traditional publishers and media outlets. We’ve seen tremendous growth over the past five years and the audio division was the next logical step. I know Aaron will be on the forefront of the audio medium and continue to champion the best artists for discerning music fans all around the world.”


Various Artists Management has promoted Rebecca Dixon to head of marketing and promotions, effective immediately. She will report directly to CEO David Bianchi.

Dixon has worked at Various Artists for five years, during which she has helped oversee the careers of artists including Charli XCX and The Libertines. In her new role, she will oversee the company’s global marketing and promotions activities, splitting her time between its London and Los Angeles offices once travel restrictions around COVID-19 are lifted.

Various Artists’ current roster includes Ashnikko, Tom Grennan, Supergrass, Loyle Carner and La Roux.


Christian/gospel music giant Gaither Music Group has announced a slew of staff promotions and new hires.

Melissa Chambers has been upped to senior director of operations and production. In her new role, she will oversee the ingestion of masters and metadata from all new acquisitions and partnerships into the digital marketplace. She will also continue leading Gaither’s production itinerary.

Celeste Winstead has been promoted to senior director of content and marketing. While continuing as a leader in the company’s artist promotions, marketing campaigns, consumer branding, media and industry communications and digital efforts, she will advance her role to encompass brand partnerships, catalog strategy and digital promotions and content initiatives for the Gaither marketing division.

Hannah Franklin is now digital marketing manager. During her year-and-a-half at Gaither, Franklin has expanded the company’s social media audience, diversified content on its platforms and introduced new editorial and statistical strategies.

Ben Binner, who has led Gaither’s streaming and playlisting initiatives since 2019, has been elevated to digital streaming manager.

Meghann Wright has been hired as director of marketing. In the role, Wright will oversee strategic marketing initiatives and further develop Gaither labels including Green Hill, Rural Rhythms and Club 44, in addition to future label acquisitions. Her previous leadership roles include business and operations manager at Premier Studios New York, artist and label development and marketing and project management at Symphonic Distribution and founder of GrindEthos Records.

Adrienne Kelley has joined the company as social media specialist. She comes from APEX Entertainment Management, where she served as day-to-day manager for artists including Dailey & Vincent and The Singing Contractors.

Finally, Skye Overstreet has been hired as digital streaming specialist. Overstreet previously worked at WME in both the fairs & festivals and publishing divisions and was also office coordinator and day-to-day manager for several artists on the roster at AMFM Management.