Taylor Swift Performs at The Grammy Museum — Watch

Just this week, Three videos of Taylor swift performing at a mini-concert held at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, California back in September. Taylor performed ‘Out of the Woods,’Wildest Dreams,’ and ‘Blank Space.’

The stripped down, acoustic versions of these songs were a throwback to Taylor’s singer-songwriter days and we loved every second of it.

Out of the Woods


Blank Space


Wildest Dreams

Women In Music 2015: The 50 Most Powerful Executives in the Industry

From Billboard.com


“The trailblazing women executives who are celebrated in these pages aren’t just leading the music industry — they’re transforming it,” writes Hillary Clinton in her introduction to Billboard’s annual Women In Music issue. The people below are leaders across every facet of the industry; consider Marcie Allen’s transformative brand work, Jody Gerson’s historic appointment to the top of Universal Music Publishing’s C-suite, Michelle Jubelirer’s indispensable ears and eyes at the Capitol Tower. Taken together they form the bedrock of the business. Congratulations — and thanks.



Co-head of international touring/co-head of CAA Music London, Creative Artists Agency

Agent, Creative Artists Agency

Co-head of international touring, Creative Artists Agency

Banks and Tsuchii, based in London and Los Angeles, ­respectively, co-­manage international touring for CAA, an increasingly important part of the agency’s business. Banks worked on Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour and guided up-and-comer Hozier to major festival spots, while Tsuchii is plotting Justin Bieber’s 2016 global itinerary, after working in 2015 for such Billboard Boxscore leaders as Foo Fighters and Ariana Grande. Meanwhile, Kinzel helped her client Lana Del Rey set ­multiple venue records on her summer tour of amphitheaters.
wim-exec-agencies-yoh-simon-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SARA NEWKIRK SIMON, 38
Partner/co-head of music department, William Morris Endeavor

Partner, William Morris Endeavor

New York-based Kirby Yoh (left) and Los Angeles-based Newkirk Simon scout opportunities for their diverse clientele on both coasts. Kirby Yoh, who manages WME’s New York music team, cites the recent launch of the M2M fashion channel on Apple TV by WME and its affiliated IMG agency as a new ­exposure opportunity for clients Florence & The Machine, Grimes, FKA Twigs and Alicia Keys. Division co-head Newkirk Simon guides Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams and Selena Gomez with an eye on new career options; client Miguel has just joined the cast of the upcoming crime film Live by Night, starring Ben Affleck.

wim-exec-agencies-nastaskin-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250NATALIA NASTASKIN
Head of U.S. music operations, United Talent Agency

The former CEO of the Agency Group USA spent the ­summer ­negotiating the acquisition of her 2,200-client firm by United Talent Agency. “It’s a major game-changer,” says the New York-based Nastaskin, who opened a Miami office and created a college and casino booking division for her agency.



wim-exec-agencies-vlasic-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MARSHA VLASIC
President, Artist Group International

A veteran agent with a loyal client list of superstars and critically acclaimed acts (Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Muse, Regina Spektor, The Strokes, Band of Horses), Vlasic still seeks out additions to her roster. “There’s always room for one more, especially when you’re a Jewish mother,” says the Brooklyn native. Highlights of her year included Young’s tour backed by Promise of the Real (the band led by Willie Nelson’s son Lukas) and Costello’s Detour Tour.

wim-exec-agencies-yim-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250CAROLINE YIM, 37
Concerts agent, ICM Partners

Under Yim’s guidance, Kehlani Parrish — the 20-year-old former America’s Got Talent contestant — embarked on her first solo tour. The Los Angeles native also has orchestrated road runs for Kendrick Lamar (13 intimate shows), The Internet (40 cities domestically), Earl Sweatshirt (62 cities) and duo Rae Sremmurd (with 155 dates booked). “This is my music,” says the UCLA alumna. “I’ve been a hip-hopper from day one.”


wim-exec-brands-allen-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MARCIE ALLEN, 42
President, MAC Presents

Allen flies weekly between her home in Nashville and office in New York, which helps explain why she saw the potential in an airline-artist partnership. Among the deals her team brokered this year were a Southwest Airlines tour ­sponsorship for Imagine Dragons, including an in-flight ­concert. Thanks to diversification with clients like Microsoft Windows, revenue is up 20 percent over 2014 to a record eight ­figures, and Allen will begin 2016 by rolling out a Sundance Film Festival programming ­partnership in January with the venue Park City Live. She also promises a “breakthrough summer ­festival ­strategy” with a major beer brand.

wim-exec-brands-breithaupt-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JENNIFER BREITHAUPT, 43
Global head of entertainment, Citi

Selling millions of tickets to its credit-card holders, Citi has partnered with more than 1,400 artists and bands and 11,000 events in 21 ­countries in 2015, including a majority of the year’s top tours, says Breithaupt. The brand, which one informed source estimates is working with a $100 ­million budget — Citi doesn’t disclose this ­information — and has seen double-digit year-to-year growth in ticket sales and U.S. ticket revenue, also is focused on creating opportunities for fans “who may never leave the house,” like Yahoo’s concert-a-day series, explains Breithaupt. For 2016, she and Citi are ­working on ­technology to identify card holders in venues and give them ­”special access to artists” as the ­ultimate door prize.

wim-exec-brands-curtis-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250DEBORAH CURTIS
Vp global sponsorships and experiential marketing, American Express

In 2015, Curtis delivered presale access for American Express card holders to tours by The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. With Swift’s team, she created the Emmy-winning Amex Unstaged Taylor Swift Experience app, which included an interactive video of “Blank Space.” (One industry insider put the deal at $3 million to $5 million.) Newer acts have received a boost from Amex Unstaged Artists in Residence, which has showcased Børns, Rae Sremmurd and Pia Mia.


wim-exec-digital-clemens-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SARA CLEMENS, 44
Chief strategy officer, Pandora

Clemens and her team have spent the last year positioning Pandora to better compete in the digital marketplace. In November, the company acquired some of the assets of Rdio for $75 million with the intention of entering the on-demand subscription marketplace with Spotify, Apple and YouTube. In October, it spent $450 million on Ticketfly, which will allow artists to sell concert tickets directly to Pandora listeners. “There was a crew of probably more than 100 people that leaned in to get this done,” the New Zealand native says of the deal.



Director/head of Americas music ­partnerships, Google Play/YouTube

Director/global head of artist ­relations, YouTube/Google Play

Director/head of label partnerships (Americas), YouTube

Through complementary roles at Google, these three women are driving the tech giant’s digital music strategy for YouTube and Google Play. Hrivnak focuses on partnerships with hardware manufacturers, telecommunication firms and retailers, as well as labels and music ­publishers. Lewit prepped the November launches of subscription service YouTube Red and the YouTube Music app. Moosnick, a veteran of digital roles at MTV and Warner Music, secured the label licenses for YouTube Red.

wim-exec-digital-schlosser-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250KATIE SCHLOSSER
Senior director of label relations for North America, Spotify

As Spotify has grown from 15 million to 60 million listeners during the past five years, Schlosser, an alumna of the Berklee College of Music, has worked “to generate meaningful artist success stories.” This year, for instance, EDM group Major Lazer racked up 38 million streams of its single “Lean On” — landing it at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 — after Spotify orchestrated “a concerted marketing push,” she says.


wim-exec-filmtv-escobedo-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MONICA ESCOBEDO, 38
Entertainment producer, ABC News/Good Morning America

Escobedo did her part in the perpetual ratings battle for network morning-show supremacy by amping up GMA’s summer concert series lineup. Jason Derulo’s June 12 gig scored particularly big, attracting 5.1 million viewers — the highest Nielsen numbers of the series — and translated to the kind of exposure that’s increasingly difficult for an artist to get from a single appearance: Sales of his album Everything Is 4 jumped 20 percent afterward. Escobedo also orchestrated special coverage of One Direction in conjunction with the release of its new album, Made in the A.M. Says the UCLA graduate: “It’s all about creating those television moments.”

wim-exec-filmtv-gurovitsch-shookus-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JULIE GUROVITSCH, 33
Talent executive for music, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Producer, Saturday Night Live

When it comes to music, SNL and The Tonight Show are the most influential shows in late night, and Gurovitsch (left) and Shookus are their gatekeepers. Shortly after Gurovitsch booked blues rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ national TV debut on Aug. 5 at Fallon’s request, streaming of the band’s single, “S.O.B.,” jumped 279 percent to 173,000 plays, according to Nielsen Music. And when Shookus, who leads a team of three other bookers, landed Miley Cyrus for SNL’s fall premiere on Oct. 3, the show saw a 14-percent ratings boost over the 2014 season debut. They make it look easy, but Shookus, who has been an SNL producer since 2010, says, “You get one chance to make the right impression. And people have long memories when you make the wrong one.”


Chairman/CEO, BET Networks

Lee acknowledges it has been a tough year, characterized by layoffs and ­restructuring that rocked BET parent company Viacom. “But it hasn’t slowed us down,” she says. Despite a 1.4 million dip in viewers in 2015, music tentpole the BET Awards still ranks as cable’s No. 1 awards telecast. The third annual BET Experience festival was another success: Attendance was up 36 percent (150,000-plus), and the event has been renewed through 2018.

wim-exec-filmtv-moll-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SARAH MOLL, 39
Director of media events, NFL

In February, Super Bowl XLIX made history, and not for anything having to do with football. The glory belonged to the 12-and-a-half-minute halftime show put together by Moll’s NFL team, which featured Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and a resurgent Missy Elliott. A record 118.5 million viewers tuned in at halftime — the largest in Super Bowl history. Although Moll, who resides in Playa del Rey, Calif., isn’t ­commenting, she reportedly has drafted one of her favorite artists, Bruno Mars, whose 2014 halftime appearance ranks second to Perry’s, to curate the music for Super Bowl 50.

wim-exec-filmtv-schreiber-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250BRITTANY SCHREIBER, 28
Music booking producer; NBC News, Today

Although Today’s intense rivalry with Good Morning America means Schreiber must land ratings-getters, she thrives on booking an emerging act and “watching it become a success.” When Wiz Khalifa wasn’t available to join up-and-comer Charlie Puth for an August ­appearance, she booked Puth solo — and will bring him back in January for his album release. Seasoned acts also benefit: After Duran Duran played Today, the band notched its highest Billboard 200 chart debut in 22 years with Paper Gods (No. 10).

wim-exec-filmtv-soler-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250DAWN SOLER, 55
Senior vp music, ABC

Now that ABC’s Nashville has spun off 11 soundtracks and sold more than 900,000 units and 4 million song downloads, Soler plans to build ancillary music markets around other ABC series, including How to Get Away With Murder, Wicked City and Marvel Studios’ Luke Cage superhero series, which is being developed for Netflix. “I’d love to create a musical experience for at least half our shows and have a few more like Nashville,” says the Los Angeles native, who admits to having a special affinity for bass solos.

wim-exec-filmtv-vollack-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250LIA VOLLACK, 51
President of worldwide music/executive vp theatrical, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Pressure is finding a memorable song for the 24th movie in the $7 ­billion James Bond franchise, but Vollack rose to the occasion when she secured Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” for Spectre. On 007’s home turf, the song became the first Bond theme to hit No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. The Colorado native, who calls both Los Angeles and New York home, says the key to her success is choosing her battles. “The trick to this business is knowing when to give up.” Her next challenge: the perfect theme for the summer 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.


wim-exec-finance-badgett-henderson-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250LORI BADGETT, 41
Senior vp/team leader, City National Bank

Executive vp/head of entertainment ­division, City National Bank

Badgett (left) and Henderson, based in Nashville and Los Angeles, respectively, exemplify City National’s deep ties to the entertainment industry, a long-established market strength that led Royal Bank of Canada to acquire the financial institution in 2015. Day to day, says Badgett, “you can be setting up a $5,000 credit card for a touring artist or a $25 million publishing syndicate.” The Royal Bank deal, says Henderson, “gives us a lot more to offer our clients. It’s expanding what we do today.”


Co-owner/vp/business manager, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy

President/co-founder/­business ­manager, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy

The duo helps run one of the ­industry’s top financial management firms, which counts Keith Urban and Blake Shelton among its clientele. McCready’s investments also extend to Nashville itself — she’s a fierce civic booster and co-creator of the Music City Music Council — while Boos, who rose from an entry-level gig to co-owner in 20 years, says she enjoys ­mentoring the firm’s up-and-coming business managers.


wim-exec-labels-anthony-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MICHELE ANTHONY, 59
Executive vp U.S. recorded music, Universal Music Group

At press time, the label group’s artists held the Billboard 200’s No. 1 album spot for 31 of 46 weeks in 2015 and accounted for seven of the 10 best-selling albums. How does Anthony, who oversees the big picture for UMG (and led the 2014 Women in Music list), improve upon those statistics? By growing revenue, she says, “in areas of expertise that we either didn’t have or that needed to be ­reimagined.” To that end, the ­company added branding and ­sponsorship vp Mike Tunnicliffe and a ­playlist strategy team led by Jay Frank, and also took a larger role in developing UMG’s catalogs into film, TV and ­theater projects like the Amy Winehouse ­documentary, Amy.

wim-exec-labels-berry-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250CANDACE BERRY
Executive vp/GM of sales, Universal Music Group

Following Jim Urie’s retirement at the end of 2014, Berry, his ­longtime second-in-command, ascended to the top spot of UMG’s revamped ­distribution unit, which keeps the company pipeline flowing with product from hitmakers Taylor Swift, Drake, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and Nick Jonas. The Indiana native, who says she’s “proud of still having the slight Southern accent” she picked up while attending high school in Atlanta, also manages UMG’s digital distribution — where streaming ­royalties accounted for 51 percent of digital ­revenue in the third quarter.


wim-exec-labels-fernandez-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MARIA FERNANDEZ, 42
CFO/senior vp operations, Sony Latin Iberia Region

The Venezuela-born Fernandez oversees finances, operations and systems at the regional label, which has the largest share of its market. Signings of Enrique Iglesias and Il Volo, and the launch of marketing agency Arcade Latin are among the ­investments that have grown the division’s revenue 15 percent during the last four years. Fernandez, the mother of a 5-year-old son, credits Sony Latin chairman/CEO Afo Verde with another growth sign: Nearly half of her ­division’s employees are women, up from a handful when she started in 2007.

wim-exec-labels-goldstein-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250WENDY GOLDSTEIN
Executive vp/head of urban A&R, Republic Records

“Once you have an artist’s ­confidence, leading him in a new ­direction becomes a lot easier,” says the A&R veteran, who did just that with The Weeknd when she connected him with songwriter Max Martin. The result: The artist’s Beauty Behind the Madness album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single “Can’t Feel My Face,” which Martin co-wrote. An interior-design aficionado, Goldstein is readying a new home in Beverly Hills in ­addition to 2016 albums by Ariana Grande, Hailee Steinfeld and Joe Jonas’ DNCE.

wim-exec-labels-greenwald-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JULIE GREENWALD
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records

Greenwald hates to choose among her label’s successes — “I’m a mother, they’re all my babies,” she says — but she’s in the position of having many ­children to brag about in 2015. Her 11-year stint at the label — which she runs with CEO Craig Kallman — has maintained a ­remarkably steady market share, ­hovering between 5 percent and 7.3 percent since 2005. With hit albums from Ed Sheeran, Twenty One Pilots, Meek Mill, Jill Scott, Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta in 2015 and new or ­forthcoming releases from Coldplay, Missy Elliott, Ty Dolla Sign, Sturgill Simpson, The War on Drugs and Charlie Puth, Atlantic’s hot streak doesn’t show any sign of abating.

wim-exec-labels-habtemariam-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 36
President, Motown Records; president of urban music/co-head of creative, Universal Music Publishing Group

Habtemariam, whose first gig was a LaFace Records internship at 14, ­re-upped global publishing deals with J. Cole, Big Sean, Childish Gambino and Nicki Minaj — and watched signees R. City (“Locked Away”) and Sebastian Kole (Alessia Cara’s “Here”) enjoy chart breakthroughs. Following Ne-Yo’s No. 1 album, Non-Fiction, in 2015, Motown is ramping up newcomer BJ the Chicago Kid’s hotly anticipated LP for 2016.

wim-exec-labels-jones-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ALLISON JONES, 46
Senior vp A&R, Big Machine Label Group

Ever since her first visit to the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 12, Jones has been obsessed with country, and, today, her artist roster includes some of the biggest names in the genre, ­including Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line. Jones, who lives in Nashville with her 10-year-old son Dylan, prides herself on matching artists with future hits. This year, for instance, she brought the Meghan Trainor-co-written “I Like the Sound of That” to the attention of Rascal Flatts. The single is No. 29 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

wim-exec-labels-jubelirer-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MICHELLE JUBELIRER, 41
COO, Capitol Music Group

It has been a good year for Jubelirer. She was promoted from executive vp to COO in May, and CMG artists racked up 49 Grammy nominations and 12 wins. “We’re an artist-development company; that’s at the heart of every decision we make,” says the attorney-turned-label executive, who points to the successes of Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer and Bastille as proof. Jubelirer, who lives with her 17-month-old son Stone and fiance, Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson, in Encino, Calif., credits colleagues Jody Gerson and Michele Anthony with teaching her that “it’s possible to be a strong leader by ­taking charge and ­taking care at the same time.”

wim-exec-labels-mabe-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250CINDY MABE, 42
President, Universal Music Group Nashville

Growing up in North Carolina, Mabe says she owned every Alabama album and made her brother and sister join her in dressing up like members of the ’80s country hit machine. “I was always [frontman] Randy Owen,” says Mabe, who now leads a new generation of country stars who have helped UMGN dominate the genre in 2015 with a 40 percent market share. Sam Hunt’s debut album Montevallo is, to date, the 10th-best-selling digital album of any genre in 2015; Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart; and Chris Stapleton’s surprise sweep at the Country Music Association Awards resulted in his debut LP, Traveller, becoming the first in history to re-enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1.

wim-exec-labels-rhone-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SYLVIA RHONE, 63
President, Epic Records

Rhone shepherded a flock of top 10 Billboard 200 debuts from Epic ­artists Future, Fifth Harmony, Travis Scott, Sara Bareilles and, most ­notably, Meghan Trainor, whose freshman album Title bowed at No. 1. Scott’s Rodeo was innovatively ­marketed with a $150 action figure that also appeared on the album cover. Says Rhone: “No one in hip-hop has ever had a debut album released along with creative, ­interactive merchandise.” The year also yielded a joint venture with Janelle Monae’s Wondaland imprint — which scored a hit out of the box with “Classic Man” by Nigerian-American artist Jidenna, whom Rhone calls a “cultural guru.”

wim-exec-labels-romano-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250BRENDA ROMANO
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M

Romano, the executive behind the consistent radio success of Interscope Records (and its Geffen and A&M imprints), is a 20-year veteran of the label who is well-known within the industry for her unabashed ­competitive drive. This year’s ­successes on the Hot 100 include four top 10 hits: Selena Gomez’s “Good for You” (featuring ASAP Rocky), Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and “Animals,” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.”


wim-exec-labels-saturn-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JACQUELINE SATURN
GM, Harvest Records

Saturn continued to revitalize the storied label that featured Pink Floyd in the 1970s and Duran Duran in the 1980s with successful releases by upstart artists Banks, who, says Saturn, has “amassed 200 million streams”; Glass Animals, which had a No. 1 Spotify track with “Gooey”; and the New Basement Tapes project, producer T Bone Burnett’s all-star-band take on Bob Dylan and The Band’s classic 1975 album. The Los Angeles-based mother of two is an avid runner. And as she says, “The music game is a ­marathon, not a sprint.”

wim-exec-labels-swidler-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JULIE SWIDLER
Executive vp business affairs/general ­counsel, Sony Music Entertainment

Swidler’s planned two-week stay in Nashville lasted three months as she essentially ran Sony’s Nashville ­division — working with ­superstars Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood and releasing albums by Tyler Farr and Old Dominion — while ­conducting an ­arduous search for a new CEO ­(ultimately hiring Randy Goodman). “I got to exercise muscles I hadn’t used in a while,” says Swidler, who came away from the trip with a new pair of cowboy boots. She also supervised Sony deals with Apple Music, Tidal and YouTube.


wim-exec-live-dufine-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250DANA DUFINE, 50
Head of entertainment bookings, MSG Entertainment

Dufine oversees live ­entertainment for MSG Entertainment’s coast-to-coast portfolio of top-grossing venues, including Madison Square Garden in New York and The Forum in Los Angeles. Since joining MSGE in 2014, the Los Angeles native has created the company’s cross-venue touring division, which leverages the booking power of MSGE’s buildings in major cities. On a more personal level, says DuFine, “You get to go on these ­journeys,” which means that the teen who snuck out of the house to see her first concert — U2 in Los Angeles in the ’80s — got to oversee the 13 shows that the band played this year in New York and Los Angeles. “That,” she adds, “was an amazing journey.”


wim-exec-live-ford-howe-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250MAUREEN FORD, 51
President of national and festival sales, Live Nation Entertainment

COO, Ticketmaster North America

Live Nation’s 2015 festival business has “exploded, ­particularly in ­country,” says Ford (left), whose team increased overall festival sponsorship and media by 50 percent. The Boston-based executive secured new multiyear partnerships with Toyota, Hilton and State Farm, while expanding media relationships with Yahoo, Snapchat and Vice. At Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Entertainment, Howe works directly with president Jared Smith on strategy and executive talent, where there has been a lot of ­movement: More than 50 percent of the company’s senior team was hired within the past year. Through key acquisitions and new mobile ticketing technology, Howe says Ticketmaster aims to “transform the end-to-end live event experience” for fans.

wim-exec-live-harnell-leon-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ALI HARNELL, 47
Senior vp, AEG Live

Senior vp Latin talent, AEG Live/Goldenvoice; manager (Juanes, J Balvin)

Harnell, as head of AEG’s Southeast territory, produced some 180 shows in 2015, grossing $36 million — ­including a run of dates by Little Big Town that generated $3.5 million — a $10 million year-to-year increase. The mother of a 15-year-old son, Harnell also plays a role in the Country 2 Country ­festival, which expanded from the United Kingdom to Scandinavia. For AEG’s Latin ­business, Leon reports a 12 percent rise in ­revenue and guided the ­successful Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull/J Balvin tour. As ­manager, she added Balvin to her roster and got Juanes on the Grammy Awards ­telecast. “Our big goal,” says Leon, “is to ­penetrate the mainstream.”

wim-exec-live-rathwell-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250DEBRA RATHWELL, 60
Senior vp, AEG Live

Rathwell has built AEG Live’s New York office into a ­powerhouse that promotes some 1,000 events annually throughout the Northeast. Her proudest achievements during the past year include John Mellencamp’s 80-date theater tour and 65 arena dates with Shania Twain. Next up: Justin Bieber’s spring/summer tour of North America.



wim-exec-live-willard-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250KATHY WILLARD, 49
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment

Willard has watched Live Nation’s numbers tick upward this year as the world’s largest event company took majority stakes in C3 Presents (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Music Festival) and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., and partnered with top German promoter Marek Lieberberg. “The festival deals were huge for the ­business, not only for our overall North American festival base, but also for sponsorships and ­ticketing,” says the resident of Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood. Willard notes Asia and South America are likely areas of future expansion for Live Nation.


wim-exec-management-callahan-longo-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250LEE ANNE CALLAHAN-LONGO, 47
GM, Parkwood Entertainment

After co-producing Beyoncé and Jay Z’s 2014 On the Run Tour, which grossed more than $100 million, Callahan-Longo this year focused on growing Parkwood’s management, production, music and philanthropy divisions. “I’m especially proud of the merger of Chime for Change [of which Beyoncé is a co-founder] with nonprofit Global Citizen, focusing on initiatives for women and girls around the world,” says the one-time Boston College ­communications major. “At Parkwood, we are crazy perfectionists who are never fully satisfied.”

wim-exec-management-kaye-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ALLISON KAYE, 34
President, SB Projects

Returning to work after maternity leave, Kaye this year worked on another comeback — Justin Bieber’s third album Purpose, which yielded the No. 1 single “What Do You Mean?” Of Bieber, she says, “He worked really hard on himself [and showed] the world … that he went through a phase and came out the other side.” She also has guided the careers of Tori Kelly, Ariana Grande and Martin Garrix while preparing for Rixton’s return in 2016.



wim-exec-management-stennett-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SARAH STENNETT
CEO, First Access Entertainment

Stennett invested in the future in a major way in October when she inked a joint venture with Access Industries, owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik (also owner of Warner Music Group). The deal turned her ­management firm Turn First Artists — which counts Zayn Malik, Iggy Azalea and Ellie Goulding as ­clients — into First Access Entertainment, a music, film, TV and fashion concern. “We’re living in a very different, fast-moving, culturally diverse space,” she says, “and you have to have resources for artists to explore those interests.”

wim-exec-management-stiklorius-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250TY STIKLORIUS, 40
Founder/CEO, Friends at Work

Stiklorius declared her independence in October when she departed Troy Carter’s Atom Factory, where she was co-president, to launch her own management firm and brought John Legend and Lindsey Stirling with her. The mother of two credits her career to a break she got during her college years. An English major at the University of Pennsylvania, Stiklorius took charge of the school’s jazz and blues a ­cappella group, which included a young, unknown Legend. His ­performance of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the national finals “made me want to work with musicians like him,” she says.

Performing Rights

wim-exec-live-matthews-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, 47

In January, after two years as executive vp/general counsel, Matthews became CEO of ASCAP at a crucial moment in the performing rights organization’s history. With the U.S. Department of Justice reviewing how PROs license music in the digital age, Matthews will play a key role in the thorny debate. She also is rebuilding ASCAP’s leadership team, the start of a six-year plan to strengthen its efficiency and effectiveness.



wim-exec-live-sweeney-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ANN SWEENEY, 56
Senior vp global policy, BMI

Sweeney sets BMI’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and oversees its relationships and revenue with counterpart PROs in international markets. Seeking to “unlock more value” for BMI writers, she cites the PRO’s support this year for the reintroduction of the Songwriter Equity Act in March, which seeks better royalty rates for songwriters.



wim-exec-live-turner-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250KELLI TURNER, 45
CFO/executive vp operations and corporate development, SESAC

Turner has a key role at the PRO, which is currently on a roll. SESAC’s September acquisition of mechanical rights organization The Harry Fox Agency — and new deals inked during the last 16 months with Mariah Carey, Green Day, Zac Brown and Kurt Cobain’s estate — will boost the music license fees and royalties that SESAC administers by more than 50 percent.


wim-exec-publishing-gerson-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JODY GERSON
CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group

As the first woman to run a major label’s music publishing ­concern, Gerson admits she’s “very conscious of being a woman in power. I grew up in a business that was a boys’ club. Now I feel a responsibility to be in a sisterhood.” At UMPG, she’s in good company. Gerson sees friends Universal Music Group executive vp Michele Anthony and Capitol Music Group COO Michelle Jubelirer regularly for lunch at her office or dinner at her Beverly Hills home. “We talk one another off the ledge,” she says. (Gerson is Billboard’s Executive of the Year — read our full profile here.)

wim-exec-publishing-knoepfle-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JENNIFER KNOEPFLE, 39
Senior vp A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

When Jody Gerson departed Sony/ATV to head Universal Music Publishing Group, Knoepfle deftly juggled her A&R duties while running the Los Angeles office with interim co-head Jonas Kant prior to the arrival of newly appointed U.S. co-president Rick Krim. She also helped Bleachers frontman and Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff form a joint venture with Sony/ATV to sign and collaborate with up-and-coming talent. “He wanted to expand who he was working with, including developing writers and artists,” she says.

wim-exec-publishing-marshall-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250CARIANNE MARSHALL
Partner, SONGS Music Publishing

Marshall drives a lot of business for SONGS, thanks to the efforts of her synchronization team, ­which places its artists’ music in films, TV shows, advertisements and other media. In 2015, her group generated a 110 percent increase in ­revenue over the previous year. Placements from the SONGS catalog include Diplo’s “Revolution” in a Hyundai ­commercial and The Weeknd’s “High for This” in a Hugo Boss ad. Marshall prizes the indie scale of SONGS. “I know all of our writers,” she says, “which, at bigger companies, is ­impossible. Practically all of our ­writers make money from synchronization.”


wim-exec-publishing-metcalfe-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SAS METCALFE, 54
President of global creative, Kobalt Music Group

In 2001, Metcalfe was the first employee hired by Kobalt Music Group founder Willard Ahdritz, and today she guides signings, acquisitions and ­administration ­partnerships with emerging publishers. The Welsh executive, who says she lives by the motto “You’re only as good as your last hit,” has lured Lionel Richie, TV on the Radio and Deadmau5′ label Mau5trap to Kobalt in recent months and helped push the indie publisher to an impressive third-place 12.7 percent market share of the top 100 radio songs in the third quarter.

wim-exec-publishing-katie-vinten-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250KATIE VINTEN, 32
Co-head of A&R, Warner/Chappell Music

Vinten started the year as a ­director and rose to co-head of A&R on the strength of ­identifying hit-making teams of ­songwriters. She signed Julia Michaels and her writing partner Justin Tranter, and the two have collaborated on four top 40 tracks: Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Gwen Stefani’s “Used to Love You,” Selena Gomez’s “Good for You” and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself.” (Both also have penned Hot 100 hits individually.) Vinten’s philosophy: “Put the writers and music first. When I focus on that, results occur.”


wim-exec-radio-besack-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250JESS BESACK, 33
Director of programming; The Spectrum, SiriusXM

Besack programs The Spectrum, one of the most influential ­destinations at SiriusXM, which reports 29 ­million ­subscribers. (It does not break out ­listenership by channel.) Proof: During the week that Adele’s new album 25 arrived and smashed sales records, the pop phenomenon made her first U.S. radio appearance at a Town Hall Q&A session carried on The Spectrum, and a week earlier, gave a rare interview to channel DJ Jenny Eliscu. Besack also championed new act Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, who had a 500 percent sales jump after The Spectrum was first to play its track “S.O.B.”

wim-exec-radio-dastur-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250SHARON DASTUR, 45
Senior vp programming and integration, iHeartMedia

Dastur, a former programmer at New York’s powerful top 40 WHTZ (Z100), celebrated her first year in a national role by bringing in $50 million-plus from advertisers seeking more than just another commercial. “We’re always looking for creative partnerships with brands,” says Dastur, a one-time member of the ­marching band at the University of Texas at Austin. Recent iHeartMedia deals have included Coca-Cola’s First Taste Fridays podcast and Bacardi’s Ultimate House Party Tour.

wim-exec-radio-grundmann-bb37-2015-billboard-250x250ANYA GRUNDMANN
Executive director, NPR Music; interim vp programming, NPR

Through podcasts like First Listen — a prerelease album stream that now includes radio ­interviews and live ­performances — and All Songs Considered — iTunes’ No. 1 podcast — NPR connects artists with an audience of 20 million-plus, guided by Grundmann, who grew up in Baltimore in “a house filled with music.” The 2014 Tiny Desk Concert Contest, devoted to unknown and unsigned acts, had more than 30,000 participants. “Our winner, Fantastic Negrito,” she says proudly, “went from busking in Oakland to ­playing big stages, touring and recording.”

Nashville’s Biggest Songwriters Speak Out About the Lack of Women on Country Radio and the Songs They Wish They Wrote

Nashville Power Players 2015

Originally Posted on Billboard

Hitmakers are the lifeblood of country music. “Songwriting is sort of a 9-to-5 job in Nashville,” says Michael Dulaney, who has collaborated on singles with Tanya Tucker and Jason Aldean. Unlike in other genres, where artists and producers disappear into studios or rented mansions for months, Nashville’s most successful treat the craft more like a profession than a mystical experience. “I write at least 150 songs a year, so there’s really not a ‘writing ritual,’ ” says Rhett Akins, who has 18 career No. 1 singles. “You just hope and pray on the way to the writing session that you’ve got a good idea — or that the person you’re writing with does.”

Billboard’s First-Ever Nashville Top 50 Power Players List Revealed

Songwriters Key

1. Chris DeStefano*
Known for: “Good Girl” (Carrie Underwood); “Kick the Dust Up” (Luke Bryan)
A personal song I’ve written: “ ‘Something in the Water’ [Carrie Underwood]. When I’m singing it, sometimes I get a lump in my throat.”


2. Josh Osborne, 35
Known for: “Take Your Time” (Sam Hunt); “Sangria” (Blake Shelton)
Word I overuse in lyrics: “ ‘Ceiling fan.’ When [Eli Young Band’s] ‘Drunk Last Night’ went to No. 1, Rhett [Akins] sent me a text that said, ‘ “Ceiling fan” must be the new “tailgate.” ’ ”

Luke Bryan on ‘Frat-Boy Music,’ the Confederate Flag and Why He Hangs ‘Onto the Positive’ After Overcoming Loss


3. Luke Laird, 37
Known for: “American Kids” (Kenny Chesney); “Give Me Back My Hometown” (Eric Church)
Why there aren’t more women on country radio: “Some of the best writers are female, but as far as writers in Nashville getting paid to write songs, it’s still more guys. That may have something to do with it.”


4. Nathan Chapman, 38
Known for: “Better Than You Left Me” (Mickey Guyton); “Homegrown Honey” (Darius Rucker)
Why there aren’t more women on country radio: “I don’t know. I’ve had 16 No. 1s as a producer and songwriter — and 12 of my No. 1s have been with female lead singers. It’s an important issue for me.”


5. Lee Thomas Miller, 46
Known for: “Southern Girl” (Tim McGraw); “In Color” (Jamey Johnson)
A personal song I’ve written: “My grandfather was in World War II, and we did a whole verse of ‘In Color’ [“In the middle of hell/In 1943”] about it.”

Dierks Bentley on His Bumpy Road to Stardom: ‘I Didn’t See It Working Out for Me’


6. Barry Dean, 48
Known for: “Pontoon” (Little Big Town); “Where We Left Off” (Hunter Hayes)
Most surprising place I’ve heard my song: “[At] my wife’s high school reunion, they were doing karaoke, and somebody did ‘Pontoon.’ They didn’t know I’d written it.”


7. Marv Green, 50
Known for: “Amazed” (Lonestar); “Who I Am With You” (Chris Young)
Dream collaborators: Tom Petty, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger.”


8. Natalie Hemby, 38
Known for: “Tornado” (Little Big Town); “Automatic” (Miranda Lambert)
I wish I wrote: “ ‘Burning House’ by Cam. It reminds me of something the Dixie Chicks would sing.”

Nashville Power Players: The Billboard Cover Shoot


9. Michael Dulaney, 51
Known for: “The Way You Love Me” (Faith Hill); “Night Train” (Jason Aldean)
I wish I wrote: “[Chesney’s] ‘American Kids.’ The language is very smart, like a little movie.”


10. Nicolle Galyon, 31
Known for: “We Were Us” (Keith Urban featuring Miranda Lambert); “Automatic” (Miranda Lambert)
Why there aren’t more women on country radio: “It’s not a lack of talent. I wish there were more women involved at the high level in record labels to help develop new female artists.”


11. Matt Ramsey, 37
Known for: “Chainsaw” (The Band Perry); “Say You Do” (Dierks Bentley)
Dream collaborator:  “I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, but if I was ever put in a room with him I’d probably cry.”

Stephen Colbert Inducts Toby Keith Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame: Read His Hilarious Speech


12. Jon Nite, 35
Known for: “We Were Us” (Keith Urban featuring Miranda Lambert); “Beachin’ ” (Jake Owen)
Word I overuse in lyrics: “Right now, I am instructed by my publishers not to use ‘truck’ or ‘whiskey.’ The problem is, I drive an F-150 and I live in Bourbon Country.”


13. Heather Morgan, 35
Known for: “Beat of the Music,” “Lose My Mind” (Brett Eldredge)
Word I overuse in lyrics: “ ‘Baby.’ Is that too obvious?”


14. Trevor Rosen, 40
Known for: “Say You Do” (Dierks Bentley); “Sangria” (Blake Shelton)
Dream collaborator: “Eminem. I’m from Detroit, too.”

Nashville Songwriters Hall Adds Rosanne Cash


15. Liz Rose, 57
Known for: “You Belong With Me” (Taylor Swift); “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town)
Most surprising place I’ve heard my song: “I was with a group of girls, and we’d been drinking on the beach all day. ‘You Belong With Me’ came on, so I said to the bartender, ‘I wrote that.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Sure you did, lady.’”


16. Rhett Akins, 45
Known for: “I Don’t Want This Night to End” (Luke Bryan); “Boys ’Round Here” (Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies & Friends)
I wish I wrote: “ ‘Sangria’ by Blake Shelton. All my friends write these songs, so I’m like, ‘Dang, how come we didn’t write that together?’ ”


17. Brad Tursi, 35
Known for: “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” (Tyler Farr)
Dream collaborator: “Pharrell. He’s been a part of so many great modern hits, I’d like to see how that works.”


18. Shane McAnally, 40
Known for: “Merry Go ’Round” (Kacey Musgraves); “Take Your Time” (Sam Hunt); “American Kids” (Kenny Chesney)
I wish I wrote: “ ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry. I’m obsessed with that song.”
Most surprising place I’ve heard my song: “Kacey Musgraves had her album-release party at a Nashville bar called Play. She had drag queens come out and each do a song, so I watched nine of my songs performed by drag queens.”

Big Loud Record Label Hits the Ground Running With One Artist and a Motown-Like Philosophy


19. Josh Kear, 40
Known for: “Need You Now” (Lady Antebellum); “Drunk on a Plane” (Dierks Bentley)
Most surprising place I’ve heard my song: “I was in Sri Lanka last year. I was holding my daughter, waiting in the bathroom line inside a marketplace, and I heard ‘Need You Now’ over the intercom.”


20. Ross Copperman, 32
Known for: “Pirate Flag” (Kenny Chesney); “Tip It on Back” (Dierks Bentley)
Word I overuse in lyrics: “We’re all trying to stray from the bro thing, you know? So ‘truck,’ I guess.”

Listen to songs from Nashville’s biggest songwriters (and more music from this issue) in the Spotify playlist below:

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 1 issue of Billboard.

SoundScan’s 2015 Half-Year Report: Taylor Wins, Strong Streaming Growth Fails to Stop Album Decline


No doubt remains that it is the year of streaming — the format has come to dominate music consumption in the U.S.

In the first half of 2015 streaming nearly doubled in popularity over last year, generating 135.2 billion streams, up from 70.3 billion streams in the same period last year. (Some of this growth can be attributed to improved data capture, according to Nielsen Music.)

Audio-only listening generated 58.6 billion streams, versus 33.7 billion last year, an increase of 74.2 percent. Audio’s growth was topped by video streams, which accounted for 76.6 billion view-listens, an increase of 109.2 percent from the 36.6 billion streams counted in 2014.

Taylor Swift is ruling the year so far, with 1989 the best-selling album of the first half of 2015 (not to mention topping 2014, too). Last year, 1989 grabbed the top spot with 3.66 million units moved. The album has scanned 1.33 million units so far this year, followed by Drake‘s If You’re Reading This… with 965,000 units. In vinyl sales Swift also reigned, selling 34,000 units. A combined tally of album sales, track downloads and streams leaves Swift, yet again, atop the mountain, totaling 2.011 million album and album equivalent units.

Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!” featuring Bruno Mars is this year’s top-selling single so far, scanning 4.9 million units. Drake’s If You’re Reading This… takes the lead on digital album sales, moving (or transferring, if you prefer) 895,000.

Universal Music Group has improved on its industry lead in market share within album plus track equivalent albums (TEA), growing to 39.2 percent of the total market in the first half of the year.

Continue reading

90 Years In The Making: Q&A With the Grand Ole Opry’s Radio Show Runner Pete Fisher

Originally posted on Billboard.com written by 
Phyllis Stark

Lady Antebellum

Come Nov. 28, the Grand Ole Opry will celebrate 90 years on the air at WSM-AM Nashville.

Pete Fisher has been the show’s vp/GM for 16 years — his anniversary was June 28 — and in that time, the Opry has expanded from two nights a week to additional shows on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the season.

The challenge, of course, in an era of great technological change is to ensure that the show does not become a historical artifact. Thus, in addition to bringing in new members who are making current hits — such as Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town,Blake Shelton and Rascal Flatts — the Opry is taking steps to put a new face on the brand. The ABC-TV drama Nashville has helped. Trace Adkins inaugurated an Opry circle throwdown, a marketing effort that brings a little Opry magic to a remote location.

Also new is Opry 9.0: Discoveries From the Circle, a new-artist series that will present live Opry performances from three acts per release. The first volume, featuring Chase Bryant, JT Hodges and Drake White, arrives June 30.

Fisher discussed the Opry’s unique past and hopeful future in a recent interview.

A 90th birthday is really interesting. How do you celebrate something that old — or that established — and have it not seem like it’s dated?

I’ve been in this job 16 years now, and I remember uttering the words, “Legacy can be an anchor or an asset.” I think one of the real testaments to the team here at the Opry is that we celebrate legacy, but we strive for relevance each and every day. We love celebrating the rich history of the Opry and country music, but equally we love finding ways to grow the Opry’s value composition to the music industry and thereby growing a value proposition to the fans that come and see the Opry or listen to us.

In terms of the value to the artists, the weekends are the best time for them to hit the road and maximize their earnings. How do you make it attractive so somebody like Carrie Underwood or Brad Paisley will make the Opry part of their ongoing plans?

It’s really a variety of things. We especially try to develop deeper relationships for the artists who share kind of a common set of values with the Opry, and Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban — those are examples of artists that really share the core values of the Opry. So, there’s that emotional connection. But we also recognize that we can’t live on charity alone, or emotion alone, and so over the past 16 years we have focused on things like improving the production values of the show and creating an environment backstage that meets the needs of a real diverse community of performers. Our programming philosophy for the show is quite broad-based, and I think that broad base serves to celebrate the legacy, but also drive the relevance of the Opry. It’s new stars, superstars  and legends sharing the same stage, presenting music from yesterday, today and tomorrow to the future. We have over 2,000 artist slots that we book in a given year, so we’re able to take chances and have a healthy offering of debuts throughout the course of the year.

What do you define as Opry core values?

I would say honoring tradition, celebrating legacy, respecting elders, certainly values that make America what it is — patriotic values, and in differing ways, values of faith: God, family, country, so to speak. It’s perpetuating a legacy, being involved in something bigger than our own careers.

In addition to being the Opry’s 90th anniversary, this is the fifth anniversary of the Cumberland River flooding the Opry House. It’s impressive that the Opry has in some ways turned what was a really horrible tragedy into an opportunity to build the brand. Was any of that intentional?

We can talk about another core value, and that is resiliency. The Opry throughout its history has had various challenges to overcome, and the flood was probably one of the most significant, but I think it really showed the strong connection that the artists and the employees and the fans have for the Opry … I think that everybody on our team was resolved to overcome this and bring the Opry back stronger than ever. We’re certainly enjoying that silver lining, so to speak, with a very beautiful [renovated] backstage [area], probably the finest of any venue in the world in terms of accommodations.

Your boss, Steve Buchanan, is executive producer of the Nashville TV show. What kind of impact has that had on the Opry?

We sought out a hit television series to help grow the Opry as a business. We recognized that if demand for the destination of Nashville grew, that could really help transform the business, and it really has. We have seen transformational attendance growth, starting with the first episode. More people started coming to Nashville, and then the ripple effect of the Nashville show has been tremendous when you think about the cast of performers who have graced the Opry stage. It’s really helped shine a spotlight on country music as well and shown that there’s a little bit of country music in everybody.

I’m not sure that the show’s characters have the type of values that you necessarily would want in the real, live Opry.

I think what you see are characters who are human, who make mistakes, and most of the time they come back with some sort of resolution or reconciliation about that … There are many artists in the country format who have similar stories. And there’s nothing like dialing up the drama a little bit to keep the audience engaged, too. I think it does a remarkable job of representing the industry side. I really commend Callie Khouri and the writers, who really have hit a stride this year. A fourth season has been the reward.

Will a new Opry member be welcomed between now and the official 90th birthday?

I honestly do not know. It’s really interesting how the next member candidate kind of shapes up. The right people at the right time have come to meet the Opry. One thing that doesn’t change is we continue to reach out to the new artists in the community and nurture that relationship, and as their career grows, we hope that they grow even closer to the Opry, [but we recognize] how demanding that can be with all that an artist has to do to sustain their career. I remember back with Brad Paisley or Carrie making their debut on the Opry, or Taylor Swift even, and seeing them all fill stadiums now, so it’s fun to see that maturation of careers and to know the Opry’s played a part of it.

Instagram Launches Dedicated Music Channel @Music

The Facebook-owned social network’s first category-specific vertical will showcase popular and emerging artists.

In a first for Instagram, the photo-sharing social network will use its considerable resources to promote a specific kind of content on the platform: music. The Facebook-owned company has launched a new, internally operated account,@Music, that it will use to showcase musicians and music lovers in the Instagram community.

Among the more than 300 million people who use Instagram, the company says more than 25% of the most popular accounts belong to musicians. Since it launched in 2010, the platform has become an integral promotions and communications tool for artists, and a go-to source of news and entertainment for fans. It’s where Taylor Swift shared a candid celebratory moment after first going No. 1, and where Beyoncé, the most-followed person on Instagram with 31 million followers, spoke out during Ferguson.

“Artists are using Instagram as a companion to the art that they’re making,” said Jonathan Hull, Instagram’s head of music partnerships, in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “Musicians lead really interesting lives, and Instagram has become a way for them to show their fans who they are and to give them a look inside of their world.”

After today, the @Music account will update once daily Tuesday through Sunday. Content will include short profiles of featured artists and a mix of editorial series, including one offering 15-second music lessons and another spotlighting independent artists in cities around the world. Beyond drawing attention to the A-listers among its ranks, representatives for Instagram said a primary goal of @Music will be spotlighting dynamic emerging talent.

“We’re looking to break artists,” said Alex Suskind, music editor at Instagram. “One of the things we’re focusing on is emerging and unsigned talent who are using the platform to share their music and their stories in a unique way.”

Two profiles will be launching on the account today that will telegraph the breadth of Instagram’s ambitions for the program. One will be of Questlove, drummer for The Roots and well-known music personality, and another will be of Tricot, a nascent math-rock band from Japan. Short blurbs will appear below photos sourced from the artists’ own accounts, with more in-depth profiles available at Instagram’s blog.

By creating exclusive editorial content, Instagram hopes to become a full-service destination for music lovers, and to enhance its position as a critical ally for artists and labels. Right now, users spend around 21 minutes per day on the app on average, a figure that it that it believes can be improved with high-quality editorial offered at dedicated channels. @Music will essentially act as a spin-off of the official @Instagram account, which boasts an enormous 65 million followers and similarly spotlights noteworthy existing content on the platform. Channels based on other topics may follow.

“If we can help more members of the Instagram community find these great accounts, that’s going to make their experience on Instagram more rich,” said Hull.

Instagram isn’t the first social network to try to harness the reliable popularity and prestige of the music industry. In 2013, Twitter launched #Music, a short-lived effort to corral music-related tweets and trending artists into a discrete destination for fans. But users never adopted the #Music app, or made much use of the #Music Twitter account, and the company backed away from the initiative just six months after launch.

Instagram says it’s taking a different approach with @Music.

“This is not a new product that we’re building,” said Hull. “We’re just extending the great work that our community has already done.”

In the coming days, other artists to be showcased on Instagram Music include British synth-pop trio Until the Ribbon Breaks and Korean punk band No Brain.

Originally Posted on BuzzFeed

17 Young Innovators Shaking Up the Music Industry

originally posted on Rolling Stone

Meet the next generation of app inventors, startup founders, label owners, tastemakers, managers and promoters

Music innovators

The music industry isn’t dying; the old way of doing things is dying. Just ask these 17 movers and shakers, all under age 30, who are changing the game and keeping the music biz alive and well. None of them is a professional musician; they’re all power players making an impact through other avenues. Some are inventing novel ways of distributing and consuming music with forward-thinking technology. Some are making old formulas new again by embracing the beauty of vinyl, or throwing dance parties – in the morning. Some are shaping the tastes and trends of rappers and ravers to come. All are bringing a fresh dose of blood, sweat and tears to the creation, discovery and sharing of music, and all see a future wide open with possibilities. Continue reading

20 All-Female Bands You Need To Know

originally posted on billboard
Ex-HexEx Hex, Childbirth, Girlpool & more girl groups that rock out harder than the boys they make fun of.

“Girls invented punk rock, not England,” reads one of Sonic Youth co-leader Kim Gordon’s famous feminist shirts. While Gordon wasn’t in an all-female act herself, she knew the importance of them: bands made up entirely of women may feel like a rarity now, but more pop up every day and others are still going after all these years.

Because Girl Group Week is by no means limited to pop groups, here are 20 all-female bands that you need to know right now:



The worst thing that can happen to a band is for the members to fail to find a rhythm, losing the race before leaving the gate. Girlpool are the polar opposite of this: the Philly-via-Los Angeles duo is made up of two best friends, bassist Harmony Tividad and guitarist Cleo Tucker. Together, they craft heartbreakingly honest tunes that recall the candidness of early Liz Phair.


Another dream duo! Honeyblood is a Scottish indiepop-punk hybrid steered by guitarist Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar. Their distorted sound carries like a Best Coast jam without the sweet, California sentiment. In the single “Super Rat,” Tweeddale sings, “I will hate you forever / Scumbag sleaze / Slime-bag beast / You really do disgust me,” about a unnamed partner who wronged a friend. These girls are out for blood.

Ex Hex

Ex Hex is the brainchild of frontwoman Mary Timony, of Helium and Wild Flag fame; the latter can be considered a supergroup, and a lot of their power is driven by Timony. In Ex Hex, she’s in control, powering through complicated solos that would silence even the most adamant misogynist.

Amanda X

There’s something in the water in Philadelphia: Amanda X are leaders in their scene, writing songs that marry a certain post-punk thrash with power pop harmonies. The ladies of the trio are fresh off the road with the legendary Scottish band the Vaselines and navigating an upward trajectory.


Brighton, England cassette label Tuff Enuff Records is dedicated to releasing material by queer, riot grrrl and DIY acts, making their tapes diverse and progressive — which is what punk is all about, right? Frau, a vicious group from London, are one of their stars. There’s a pretty powerful political element to all of what they do, and also a certain massiveness; if you’re a Bikini Kill fan, dive into this group ASAP.


Sleater-Kinney existed from 1994 to 2006 and reuniting last year at a time when their decisive feminism is necessary. Not only are they one of the most important all-female bands of the last two decades, they are one of the most important rock bands of all time, validating ideas that the personal is political is power.

The Coathangers

The glory days of massive tom thwacks and talkative garage riffs are back, and have been embraced by Atlanta trio the Coathangers. These ladies don’t rely on their harmonies as much as they contort them into heavy rock spaces, in songs with titles like “Adderall” and “Shut the Fuck Up.”

Pussy Riot

When’s the last time one of your favorite bands went to prison in the name of their country? Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot have since located to the United States, releasing tracks applicable to the current American political situation. Last month, it was in the form of “I Can’t Breathe,” dedicated to Eric Garner.

The Prettiots

Every once in a while an actor will try their hand at music; tt’s not always the best result, but actress/model Rachel Trachtenburg has proven herself worthy as the drummer of Prettiots. Tracks like “Boys (I Dated In Highschool)” are witty and fun, an adorable blend of music made for girls by girls.


Sharkmuffin are one of the more popular garage punk bands in the Brooklyn music scene, and essential listening for fans of Screaming Females. There’s a certain ’90s feel to the music they make, driven by demanding but never desperate hollers.


Like Sharkmuffin, Advaeta is another all-female act making the rounds in New York City; unlike Sharkmuffin, their sound is distorted and romantic, noisy riffage that manages to weave itself into blanket sounds. They also play with harmony in a way that feels girl group-y in a very rock and roll way, the final result being a relaxing shoegaze soundscape.

Skinny Girl Diet

London’s Skinny Girl Diet knew what they were doing when they chose a moniker that, on the surface, could be read as sexist: they were taking it back. By naming themselves after impossible beauty standards forced on women everyday, they’re commenting on it. Their music does the same thing. It’s not sweet. They snarl. They’re a better band because of it.


Cayetana are another power-punk band from Philly, one that leans head first into abrasive punk-pop territory. For fans of the Warped Tour and college radio rock, their unique brand of indie lives in many genres by assigns itself to none.

Trippple Nippples

The band name isn’t the only bizarre thing about this Japanese duo — this list is pretty punk heavy, they’re all about electronics. Trippple Nippples sound like Shonen Knife filtered through a video game as dictated by Gwen Stefani in her “B-A-N-A-N-A-S” daze.

Dum Dum Girls

Take what could be read as ephemeral bubblegum pop and give it a backbone, a leather jacket and a knife. So goes the legacy of Dum Dum Girls, a Sub Pop signee and one of New York’s most successful all-female acts of the 2010’s.

The Wharves

There are many secrets to writing a good surf pop-rock song, and one of them is possessing a percussion section you can rely on. The Wharves (whose members are Ireland, England and France) might not have the waves, but they have the drummer, as well as music that’s uncomplicated and deeply memorable.

Slum of Legs

Slum of Legs are also on Brighton’s Tuff Enuff Records, and one of their most fun tracks is titled “Sasha Fierce” (yes, after that Sasha Fierce). While it’s super distorted it’s still fun — rawness can be attractive, too!


Childbirth caught the Internet’s attention with their delightful “I Only Fucked You As a Joke” single early last year. It objectifies men as it mocks them in a pseudo-misandrist manner, singer Julia Shapiro screaming, “I hope I’m not pregnant!” It’s a must-hear.

Chastity Belt

Childbirth’s Julia Shapiro is also a member of Chastity Belt (see a theme here?), and her ability to play with, mock and celebrate sexuality is her power. “James Dean” is especially noteworthy and goes a bit deeper than Taylor Swift’s “Style”: “Oh boy, when I fuck you, you make me feel like a prostitute/ yeah, when you fuck me, I make you feel just like James Dean.”


Fronted by Ali Koehler of Vivian Girls and Best Coast fame and joined by drummer Patty Schemel previously of Hole, Upset takes punk-pop to new, dizzying levels. Their songs sound like Koehler’s previous bands with a power-pop edge: they’re sweet tunes, and catchy as hell.

5 Hit Songwriters Talk “Blurred Lines,” Creativity And Copyright

In the wake of the $7.3 million “Blurred Lines” verdict, songwriters for Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, and more talk candidly with BuzzFeed News about the trouble with copyright law and the inevitability of influence.

Jimmy Napes (Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige, Disclosure)

On where he gets his inspiration:

It’s a lot easier to get inspired by the greats than it is to get inspired by quite a large proportion of modern-day pop music. Carole King and Burt Bacharach are the people I really look to in terms of crafting a song and what it really takes to make a great record. I like to work and rework songs until the point where every element feels right, even before you put production on it and make it more radio-friendly or whatever.

You do have to sort of isolate yourself, because if you’re trying to create something inspired and original, it doesn’t really make sense to be listening to pop radio every day. The worst thing you can do is repeat something that’s already been done. It just feels wrong and tired. You want to do something fresh and exciting, which is why we make music in the first place.

On being accused of copying elements of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” for Sam Smith’s Grammy-winning 2014 hit “Stay With Me”:

It’s obviously not ideal, and I was shocked to find out that the melodies lined up. It wasn’t intentional, but at the same time there’s 12 notes on the keyboard and unfortunately sometimes things do overlap. But where I really get my buzz from is concepts, and conceptually “Stay With Me” is so refreshing because it feels like a piece of work that’s quite classic, but at the same time, I don’t think many people have written a song like that about having a one-night stand. It sounds old-fashioned, but it’s very contemporary lyrically, which is why I think it worked.

On the “Blurred Lines” verdict:

I was quite surprised, because I didn’t feel like it was justified, personally. It’s just my opinion, but I didn’t feel like he’d ripped off the song. They’d obviously been inspired by it, but I was a bit disappointed to hear the verdict, to be honest, because it just didn’t add up to me. If you’re gonna say he was inspired by that record, but actually none of the melodies or chords or anything line up, but he’s still broken the rules somehow, all of a sudden you start looking at anyone who’s ever sampled an Amen break. The Beatles could make a lot of claims on that basis. So it’s hard to draw the line, isn’t it? I think you have to be very, very specific about what justifies [an infringement claim] and I personally didn’t hear it there.

On originality in contemporary pop:

There’s a lot of copying that goes on in pop music, but there’s so much great original stuff, as well, and a lot of it is being made right now. Hozier is a great example. When I first heard “Take Me to Church” I was just so impressed with everything about it, the lyrics everything. I remember looking straight away trying to find out Who wrote this song? because the quality was just so high. So yeah, there is music that’s derivative, but then there’s also excellence all the time, as well.

On whether copyright law helps creators more than it hurts them:

I think there’s an argument for both sides, isn’t there? If I heard someone who had ripped off one of my songs, I wouldn’t feel great about it. It’s not a cool thing and I would want to be compensated for that. But equally there’s that saying “Where there’s a hit, there’s a writ,” which I’ve learned about recently. There are people who scour the top five looking for similarities as a sort of calculated business. So I think there’s an argument to be made that you can never justify stealing anyone’s music, but at the same time, sometimes I feel like people can take things a little bit too far.

Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Bruno Mars, FKA Twigs, Eminem)

On where he gets his inspiration:

I grew up making hip-hop music and I come from a really sample-driven background — early ’90s East Coast hip-hop. So I was always into digging for records and looking for samples. That made me really get into soul music, jazz music, and also weird psych-rock records, and Italian disco records. It was always for samples in hip-hop, but I got obsessed with different instruments and genres of music and I apply that to what I do now.

On borrowing from the past:

I never want to copy anything or just do quote-unquote “retro” sounding music, but I’ve pulled from pretty much every genre of music over time and applied it to what I do. I don’t really like when things are overly retro or forced to where it sounds like an attempt to re-create the past; I’m never really into that. But I do like using certain aesthetics and principles that were around before I was born. For one thing, I just think the late ’60s, early ’70s was the best music ever made. There was a sweet spot, for me at least, between 1968 and 1973 where you just had the greatest music — the sound, the way it was recorded, everything about it was just phenomenal.

In the studio, though, I’d rather be talking about the emotion and what the singer is writing about and going through in life than talking about specific music references. If someone came to me and said they wanted to make something that sounds like 1972 I’d be pretty bummed, ya know? I tend to stay away from those conversations. Everybody has their favorite sound, and favorite tone, and classic albums that really inspire them, but I don’t really like to talk about it too much. I don’t dig it when artists come in and are like, “I really wanna do like a Kate Bush thing.” For me it’s like, that’s just not really gonna happen.

On “Blurred Lines” and subconscious influence:

There’s only so many chord progressions and a lot of songs that sound alike. [With “Blurred Lines”] I can’t imagine that anybody sat down and was like “I want to do something that sounds exactly like this.” These things just happen. If you look throughout history there are so many songs that sound similar and I do think it can be a real coincidence. Unless it’s a sample, I’ve never seen anybody like straight copy a song intentionally, but I do think it happens subconsciously, it happens through coincidence, and it’s always going to happen. It really only comes into play, though, when the newer song is a massive hit like “Blurred Lines.” I’m pretty sure there’s cases we don’t hear about for every No. 1 record.

When you write songs you just have stuff stuck in your head, and I would imagine most of that comes from a weird, warped version of something you’ve heard in the past. It’s just your own take on it. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, but I do think that’s music and that’s art. Whether you’re painting, or playing the piano, or singing a melody, you have all these things from your past swimming around in your subconscious and, whether you like it or not, you channel them.

On catching yourself copying:

I’ve had times where I’ve completely ripped off something by accident and realized it later or someone told me, “Hey that sounds like such-and-such song,” and I go, “Oh shit, you’re right! That didn’t come to me in a dream, that came to me because I just like that song and I ripped it off.” And then you’ve gotta shit-can it before it gets too late.

Ricky Reed of Wallpaper (Jason Derulo, Fifth Harmony, Pitbull)

On borrowing from the greats:

It can be very hard making music when you feel like everything’s been done … But the originators of Rhythm and Blues were pulling from the New Orleans jazz sound, and the originators of rock ‘n’ roll were pulling from rhythm and blues, and you had the white rock ‘n’ rollers pulling from the black rock ‘n’ rollers, and disco was derived from funk; so it’s a chain that’s been going on since popular music began. For me, personally, I do my best to try and always be pushing forward. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people pulling from the great songs of the past, by any means. That’s music.

On inspiration vs. imitation:

Me and all of the writers and producers I know, we hold all of these legends in such high regard, not only do we of course not want to get sued, but we also don’t want to disrespect the artists that we grew up listening to. That’s really important to the community.

On accidentally copying Fatboy Slim:

I had a Cobra Starship song featuring Icona Pop called “Never Been in Love.” We wrote this whole song and everyone was loving it and somewhere along the line someone said, “You know what, the keyboards in this sound like the chord progression from a Fatboy Slim song. What song was that? I can’t remember. Oh well.” And we just kept working. We finished the song and the ball started rolling on it. Both artists raised their hand and said they wanted the song for their project. But then when that time came the publisher was like, “OK, we’re actually going to have to pay [Fatboy Slim] because this is the exact same chord progression from their song ‘Praise You.’” We were like “Oh, shit. Fair enough!” And it was true, even the rhythms and the harmonies, everything. A musicologist could have looked at it and said, “This is too similar.” We were having so much fun, we didn’t even stop and google it.

On the “Blurred Lines” verdict:

I think the system does a great job of protecting the copyrights that are in place for songs that other artists are inspired by or sample. But the “Blurred Lines” case makes me a little nervous because those songs aren’t really musically related in any way when it comes to the chords or the melodies. There’s nothing similar aside from the good feeling that it gives you when you listen to it. That for me is pretty scary because it could open up a whole floodgate of people being like, “Well, this song kinda feels like this old song.” What’s made music great for generations and generations is that young musicians are inspired by the old dogs and make records that show their influence. If people start suing based on a feeling, that will be a dark day for creators.

I would hate to see lawsuits make things harder for producers and songwriters. The funny thing is, a lot of times musician-to-musician, we respect one another. The village elders, so to speak, respect the up-and-coming cats and vice-versa. If it was up to us, we would probably sort things out most times. But people bring in publishers, and lawyers, and estates, and all this kind of stuff and it becomes a money thing. That’s when it gets scary.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Taiwo Hassan of Christian Rich (Earl Sweatshirt, Childish Gambino, J. Cole)

On “Blurred Lines” and the constraints of pop:

There’s only 12 scales in music; there’s only so many chords and so many arrangements, so you’re bound to run into other people’s ideas. The thing about the “Blurred Lines” case is the lyrics and most of the production weren’t taken into account, which seems wrong to me. Personally, I can’t believe they lost that case. It’s baffling.

[As a songwriter] you just have to focus on being creative and not think too much about what other people are doing. Do what you do, then you can go back and ask whether it sounds too similar to something else. But in general, I’m all for just putting out dope, creative stuff and dealing with the madness later.

On inspiration vs. imitation:

When Mustard came out, those guys who did [Iggy Azalea’s] “Fancy” song were obviously copying him. That was obvious. No shade to those producers, because I think it’s an incredible song, but it was obvious they just listened to him and said “Oh let’s make a song like that and just get a big hook on it.”

But on the other side of it, as a songwriter, you have all these musical references in your head from when you were 10 years old. So, for example, when I’m making a beat or writing a song, I have Michael Jackson melodies in my head sometimes. I might end up writing something that feels like Michael Jackson, but it’s just inspiration. And there’s a difference between inspiration and copying. The law should know how to differentiate between the two.

It’s impossible to avoid being influenced. When you’re 2 or 3 years old, you don’t even know that you’re listening to Phil Collins or Genesis in the background. If you do a record 30 years later, you don’t realize you got that feeling, those ideas from Genesis. You’re just making music.

That shit happens all the time to everyone. They can’t even remember where they got the idea from, it’s just in the air. The only way to avoid it is to quit doing music and go and do something else.

The-Dream (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Usher)

On inspiration vs. imitation:

In my household growing up, it was Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke, and Michael, and Prince — that stuff has a way of getting into your head. My head is kind of like a jukebox, but I think it only puts me in the realm of greats. I never bite anything. I’m definitely inspired [when it comes to] what I think a hit should do and how it should move you, but I try to make sure that I’m pushing the envelope, even if I have to fail three times to get there.

It’s a conscious effort to stay pure, and clean, and new as an artist. There’s nothing new under the sun, as my grandfather always said, but there is such a thing as being original in how you pull the notes from the stars.

On being copied:

There’s definitely a lot [of people who sound like me], whether it’s the way I say certain things or the tone that’s used, or an “Ayy” here and there. I understand that how I used it is how someone else is using it. Somebody will call me and say, “Hey, did you do this song?” And I’ll say, “No.” And they’ll say, “Well you should have, or you should have someone call them.” But no, it’s no biggie to me. It’s definitely flattering and I really appreciate it as long as it doesn’t go too far where it’s just another song of mine.

But sometimes [copying] helps the culture get to the next thing. “Umbrella” started a trend of a whole bunch of analogy songs about love, if you think about it. So it helps us get to those songs, and I love some of those songs to death. So I’m happy that it could fuel that particular thing in another songwriter or an artist or whatever.

On why pop has a copying problem:

There’s nothing and no one that really celebrates originality. Not in a pop space. When you’re growing up and the things you see on TV are imitations, you’re going to imitate because that’s what gets you on TV. Nobody celebrates when people do something really new.

And some people need money to pay bills. They may have songs that they love to death but no one else loves, so if they have the ability they go and make a record that sounds like another record. That’s just us as listeners being so close-minded that there’s no place for artistry.

You can say hey let’s go out on a limb and make something that sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before, but truthfully, if you go and play something like that for radio or for a label — they definitely can’t take chances because they’re not making money. There are only a few of us who are really in a position to push things forward.

On sampling from the greats:

There’s certain people that we’ve asked for certain things and they’re like, “Nah, we’re not giving you that,” and we’re like, “OK, well cool and we make something new.” It’s fine. It’s no big deal.

And there’s certain people who are just happy that you even remembered them. They’re like, “Sure, man. Go ahead and put that on the bridge if you want to.”

I remember on my first album Love/Hate we had a record called “Ditch That.” In the bridge going into the next song, we put a little of the “The Humpty Dance” record in it. It was crazy — we were trying to bring that ’90s urban pop sound back. And it was just us paying homage, it wasn’t that we had a lack of ideas. But they were like, “No, you can’t use it.” So we went, “OK, cool.” And now you don’t miss it in the record. You would never know.

originally posted on BuzzFeed News