Music Industry Moves: Val Blavatnik Elected to Warner Music Group’s Board of Directors

Val Blavatnik has been elected to Warner Music Group’s board of directors and been appointed to its executive committee, the company announced today. Val, the son of chief WMG shareholder and Access Industries founder/chairman Len Blavatnik, replaces his uncle Alex Blavatnik, who has served as a director of WMG since July 2011, when Access Industries completed its acquisition of the company.

Since 2021, Val Blavatnik has served on the investment team at LionTree, focused on the media and technology industries. Since 2020, he has also been a production executive at Eden Productions, a TV and film production company founded by Richard Plepler. In addition, he is a member of the executive committee at Access Industries. From 2016 to 2019, Blavatnik worked in the music industry, primarily as an artist manager.

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Since its founding in 2020, Blavatnik has served on the Board of Directors of the Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund, that supports organizations working in historically underserved and marginalized communities.

Michael Lynton, WMG’s chairman of the board, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Val to the WMG Board. His experience working with a variety of companies as well as directly with artists makes him well suited to his new post. He’ll also bring a fresh perspective as we chart the future of WMG. We’re incredibly grateful to Alex for his wisdom, guidance, and enthusiasm over the past 12 years, as the company has grown and thrived in the streaming era.”

+ BMG has promoted Sean Heydorn to SVP of Rise Records and frontline catalog, a joint role which follows BMG’s announcement last week that it has become the first global music company to fully integrate catalog and new release recordings. Heydorn will continue to lead Rise Records while now overseeing a newly-established U.S. frontline catalogue team responsible for marketing recent releases (projects designated as previously released 18 months or more) and ensuring the ongoing success of frontline music. Based in Los Angeles, he will continue to report to Dan Gill, EVP of recorded music.

Heydorn joined the rock and metal label Rise Records in 2008, initially headquartered in Portland, Oregon; the company was acquired by BMG in 2015. Since joining BMG he has worked closely with such acts as AFI, Angels & Airwaves, At the Drive-In, the Distillers, Pup, and Sevendust, among many others.

Gill said, “Under Sean’s guidance, Rise has experienced its strongest years yet. With the imprint now fully integrated into BMG’s L.A. Recorded team, we are confident his expertise and dedication to creative marketing and artist development make him the perfect fit to lead the newly established frontline catalog team.”

+ Veteran music PR exec Cara Wodnicki is launching CSW Publicity after 11 years at BMF, where she was an EVP. Her clients AJ McLean (Backstreet Boys), JPOP superstars Perfume, Emergency Tiara, RADWIMPS and Canadian singer Olivia Lunny will be joining her at the new company. Wodnicki began her career at Press Here Publicity, working with the likes of La Roux, Jared Leto, Ingrid Michaelson, the Cult, and others before leaving to launch BMF’s music PR division in 2012.

Wednesday, April 26

+ British alt-rock icon PJ Harvey will drop her first independent album since her 1992 debut via Partisan Records, she announced today. The unusually titled album, “I Inside the Old Year Dying” — her tenth album of new material and first since 2016’s Grammy-nominated “Hope Six Demolition Project” — and will arrive on July 7. It was produced with longtime collaborators Flood and John Parish and is preceded by the single and video “A Child’s Question, August.”

While Harvey’s galvanizing debut album, “Dry,” was originally released via the British indie Too Pure, she soon struck a deal with Island Records and remained with the label through “Hope Six.” She is the only artist to have been awarded the U.K.’s prestigious Mercury Music Prize more than once, first in 2001 for “Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea” and again in 2011 for “Let England Shake.”

+ Electronic-music icon Grimes has parted ways with Columbia Records after releasing just two songs on the label, the singer announced over the weekend in a social-media post offering a 50-50 split on any AI-generated songs using her voice.

“I’ll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice,” she wrote. “Same deal as I would with any artist i collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty. I have no label and no legal bindings.” The singer’s longtime manager, Daouda Leonard, and a label source confirmed the news, which was first announced by Billboard.

The Canadian singer signed with Columbia in March 2021 following five albums, first on the Canadian indie Arbutus Records and then London-based 4AD. She dropped singles in 2021 and ’22 (“Player of Games” and “Shingawa Eyes,” respectively) on her own Nazgul Recordings label through Columbia, and has been speaking about her forthcoming album, “Book 1,” frequently on social media, saying last fall that she has 20 songs finished and may release it as two separate albums.

L to R: Louis Bell, Post Malone, Swae Lee and co-writer Billy Walsh
L to R: Louis Bell, Post Malone, Swae Lee and co-writer Billy Walsh

+ Producer and songwriter Louis Bell has become the first songwriter in history to have 8 RIAA’s Diamond-certified singles, signifying more than 10 million units in the United States. His eight Diamond-certified single are:

“Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee – 17x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“Congratulations” by Post Malone – 14x Platinum – Songwriter

“Better Now” by Post Malone – 10x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“Circles” by Post Malone – 10x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“Psycho” by Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla $ign – 10x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“rockstar” by Post Malone ft. 21 Savage – 10x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“Without Me” by Halsey – 10x Platinum – Songwriter and Producer

“Havana” by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug- 10x Platinum – Songwriter

+ Singer-songwriter Sam Tinnesz has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Position Music, president-CEO Tyler Bacon announced today. The agreement brings Tinnesz’s future artist releases, songwriting cuts, and selected catalog into Position Music’s repertoire.

According to the announcement, Tinnesz’s songs “Play with Fire (feat. Yacht Money),” “Enemy” and “Legends Are Made” have combined for over 2.2 billion total streams, and he has ctedits on songs by Kygo, Banners, Filter, Masked Wolf, Dashboard Confessional and others, as well as multiple synchs.

Tinnesz said, “I have been independent for almost ten years waiting to find the perfect publishing partner. When I met Mark Chipello, Tyler Bacon and the whole Position Music crew, I could tell they really understood and championed multi-genre writers and artists like myself. Their fearlessness, trail blazing attitude, and work ethic really won me over. I have big dreams for what’s next for my career and I know, with them by my side, we can leave a meaningful and lasting mark on music history.”

Monday, April 24

+ Reach Music Publishing has acquired both the master and publishing rights of heavy metal legends and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Judas Priest’s first two albums, “Rocka Rolla” and “Sad Wings of Destiny,” from Gull Entertainments. According to the announcement, Reach will be working in partnership with Judas Priest on these two albums and is planning a variety of projects to be announced later this year, including special releases for the 50th anniversary of “Rocka Rolla” in 2024. The majority of the group’s catalog was initially released on Sony Music’s Columbia or Epic labels but the first two albums, released in 1974 and 1976 respectively, had been owned by Gull for nearly 50 years.

Prior to this deal with Gull, Reach already had an existing relationship with Judas Priest as the co-publisher of founding guitarist Glenn Tipton. In 2021, Reach Music announced the acquisition of a 50% copyright interest in, as well as worldwide administration rights to, the Tipton song catalogue, beginning with songs released in 1977. The current acquisition includes his songs from 1974 through 1976, and also sees Reach enter into deals with the other members of Judas Priest from that time period — Rob Halford, Ian Hill and K.K. Downing; as Reach will be representing the compositions co-written by them from those two albums.

Michael Closter, president and owner of Reach Music, said: “The acquisition of the masters and publishing for the albums Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings of Destiny was a monumental opportunity for Reach Music, coming not long after Judas Priest’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This deal happened with the approval of Judas Priest and their manager Jayne Andrews, and I’m so excited to begin working closely with them on a variety of special projects, including releasing high-quality reissues.”

+ Warner Music Latina has appointed Carlos “Charly” Pérez as senior VP for communications and public relations.  He will be based in Miami and report to managing director Roberto Andrade Dirak.

Perez joins from Universal Music Latino, where he served as international VP of public relations and promotion for the parent label, Machete Music and Capitol Latin, working closely with the regional Mexican labels Fonovisa and Disa, and managing the Puerto Rican and US markets. Over the years he has worked with Alejandro Fernandez, Banda El Recodo, Gloria Trevi, Ivy Queen, J. Balvin, Jenny Rivera, Juanes, Karol G, Los Tigres del Norte, Lucero, Luis Fonsi, Marcó Antonio Solis, Paulina Rubio, Pepe Aguilar, Sebastian Yatra and many others. He began his career as an assistant at the Mexican media company Televisa, where he later became a label manager, and later joined Univision Music Mexico, where he rose to press and television coordinator. In 2008, Univision Music was acquired by Universal Music Latin Entertainment.

Dirak says, “Charly is an amazing addition to the team here at Warner Music Latina.  His knowledge and experience transcend genres and borders, and he’s helped take some of the best Latin music to every corner of the world, empowering the careers of the artists he’s collaborated with.  We’re delighted to have him join us.”

+ Multifaceted music company Godmode has announce the management signing of artist-producer-DJ SG Lewis, who performed a major set at the Coachella festival earlier this month.

Godmode President and co-founder Talya Elitzer says, “I am thrilled to formally welcome Sam to Godmode. Sam is an incredible talent and already a part of the Godmode family, I can’t wait to see what we are going to build together.”

The company, which began in Brooklyn but is based in Los Angeles, has seen success in recent years with Channel Tres and JPEGMAFIA, and in 2021 partnered with Hipgnosis Songs Group to build out its publishing division. In other company news, Hannah Peale joins Godmode from Night Media and Grace Trilla has been promoted to label manager.

+ Jeff Geasey has joined Page 1 Management as West Coast general manager. The company, which now has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, London, Auckland, and Sydney, represents Grammy Award-winning writer-producer Joel Little (Taylor Swift, Khalid, Imagine Dragons),  Drew Pearson (Zac Brown Band, Kesha, Phillip Phillips) and artist Jawsh 685, among many others.

Geasey has held A&R posts at 300/Elektra, Atlantic Records and BMG Publishing. Most recently he managed Micah Premnath, Allison Ponthier, Brandon Shoop and Chloe George at Fast Casual Management.

+ The Orchard has promoted Tricia Arnold to executive VP, global artist/label services and sales. Arnold is based in New York and will continue reporting to president/COO Colleen Theis.

Theis said, “Tricia has exceptional leadership skills and extensive international experience, the last decade of which she fostered at the Orchard. In this elevated role, I’m confident she will guide our business to even greater heights while continuing to provide the best in class service to our clients and mentorship to our team.”

In 2022, Arnold and her team helped push Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” to career-high chart positions in 15 territories, and also saw success with Nas’ “Kings Disease II,”  Jack White’s “Fear of the Dawn” and “Entering Heaven Alive” as well as Raye’s “Escapism.” She first joined the company in 2012.

+ Sumerian Records has announced the appointment of Piero Giramonti as president. In this role, Giramonti will report to Sumerian Group Owner and CEO, Ash Avildsen, and oversee all label operations.

Avildsen said, “Piero is the perfect weapon for what the label has been missing. Truth be told, I’ve always shined with the creative, vision and taste side of our business but never with the operational. As my focus continues into building the Sumerian brand further into entertainment with IP beyond just music such as film, tv, books, comics and all things story – I couldn’t ask for a better president than the very seasoned, experienced Mr. Giramonti to take charge of the label.”

Giramonti began his music business career in the early 1990s in various international marketing divisions of EMI Music, based in New York City, London UK, Milan, Italy and Los Angeles, USA – for the Parlophone, Capitol, SBK, and EMI Records labels. After a decade in the UK and Europe, he returned to the USA as Head of Global Marketing for Virgin Records America, then served in the same role at Epic Records and Warner Bros. Records. His most recent corporate position was at the Capitol Music Group, where he relaunched Harvest Records and late led Caroline distribution.

+ Primary Wave Music has announced a partnership with leading Indian record label and music publisher Times Music, a subsidiary of the Times of India Group, which includes interests in newspaper, magazines, radio, television, streaming music, digital platforms, events and out of home marketing. Terms of the deal will see Primary Wave invest significant capital in the company and provide resources for further Indian catalog investments and help accelerate the company’s growth of its regional, film, and non-film music catalogs in global markets.

Since its inception in 1998, Times Music has been working with a number of artists and songwriters, domestic and global film studios, and additionally, a major player in the Punjabi and South-Indian music markets. Times Music has an exclusive global distribution partnership with Speed Records.

Ramon Villa, Chief Operating Officer of Primary Wave and Amy Ortner, General Counsel of Primary Wave, working closely with N. Subramanian and Theja Kolla of the Times of India Group, negotiated the new partnership.

+ Jen Rubio, co-founder and CEO of Away, has joined the board of directors of TVG Hospitality, the venue group created by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons.

Lovett said, “I’ve been patiently waiting and hoping for Jen to join our board for a long time. She is one of the most instinctive and talented entrepreneurs I’ve ever met, the success of Away is just the tip of the iceberg. Both myself and the wider leadership team at tvg look forward to learning from Jen’s insights and experiences as we continue to build towards operating some of the best venues in the world.”

According to the announcement, Rubio has raised over $200 million in funding and is an an active angel investor, having backed over 50 early-stage startups including brands such as Parade, Liquid Death and Madhappy.

+ Mom+Pop Music has announced the promotion of Abby Sprague to VP of marketing.  Founder and co-owner Michael Goldstone said: “As we turn 15 later this year, we are proud to be able to celebrate our hardworking and talented staff. Abby has been with us since 2017 and in that time her contribution has led to many success stories.  She embodies our mantra of working with artists to help them realize their vision of success.”

Sprague began her career in 2009 at High Road Touring and then moved into artist services at Songkick, running ticketing campaigns for bands such as Father John Misty, The National, and Future Islands.

+ The U.K. office of Believe, one of the world’s leading digital music companies, has formed a partnership with Rinse to handle distribution and label services for its Rinse Recordings and Bad Music imprints.

Under the new partnership, Believe will handle the global digital distribution for all Rinse and Bad Music frontline and catalogue releases. Rinse Recordings represents celebrated dance acts including Katy B and Vigro Deep, and has also released music from Nia Archives. Its pop-leaning sister label Bad Music, launched in 2018, has released music from singer-songwriters Sinéad Harnett, Sasha Keable and James Smith, among others.

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