Executive Turntable: TalentX Founder Named Triller Chief Strategy Officer, Radio Promo Vets Launch New Company

Social media star, entrepreneur and TalentX Entertainment co-founder Josh Richards has been named chief strategy officer at AI-driven music video and entertainment platform Triller, which he also invested in. In his new role, Richards will lead strategy at Triller while also overseeing the company’s implementation of live streaming and monetization tools.

Triller, a rival to the wildly popular video-sharing platform TikTok, last year raised $28 million in a funding round led by Proxima Media last year, also drawing investors including Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne. In June, the platform — which currently has music licensing partnerships with Warner, Sony Music and UMG — hit 50 million monthly active users.

“After seeing the US and other countries’ governments’ concerns over TikTok – and given my responsibility to protect and lead my followers and other influencers – I followed my instincts as an entrepreneur and made it my mission to find a solution,” said Richards in a statement. “I am proud to announce that I am formally an investor in Triller and will serve as their Chief Strategy Officer.”

 


 

Veteran radio promo executives Brent Battles and Christopher Brown have launched the radio promotion and artist development company further and entered a joint venture with indie label Mom+Pop Records through the newly-created company. Under that agreement, Mom+Pop artists will have the ability to tap into further’s commercial radio team at pop, crossover and rock formats while the label invests in further’s growth.

In just six months of existence, further has already championed a variety of artist projects. Notably, its campaign for Mom+Pop artist Ashe lifted the track “Moral of the Story” to the top 10 at Alternative radio and helped it cross over to Pop and Hot AC.

Further has additionally enjoyed success with Flume, helping the artist chart at U.S. Alternative radio for the first time ever with the track “The Difference” feat. Toro Y Moi. It also recently landed a top 10 Alternative hit for Lovelytheband.

Battles and Brown previously served as vp and senior director, pop, respectively, at Sony/RED/Orchard. Prior to launching further, they led campaigns for artists including Max, The Chainsmokers and Courtney Barnett.

“As we neared the end of our time at the Orchard, we took a long look at the state of the industry,” said further president and founder Battles in a statement. “It was clear that as streaming continues to create more and more independent hit songs, the industry needed a nimble independent company that could bring those songs to radio, no matter where they come from – indie label, distributor, management company, international markets or just DIY. Having worked with the Mom+Pop team for years, we knew they were serious about creating long term careers. Their understanding of both the short and long-game made Mom+Pop an obvious partner for further.”

Added Brown, who serves as further partner and co-founder, “With further, we’re able to be extremely selective about what we take on, and this investment will ensure the flexibility to continue working with artists and executives with whom we have great history.”

 


 

FACTOR, the national funding body for the Canadian music industry, has announced a succession plan in anticipation of the retirement of current president and CEO Duncan McKie at the end of the year.

Following a national search, Meghan Symsyk is being brought on to replace McKie. She will join FACTOR on August 4 as president and CEO (Elect) and begin leading the organization in 2021.

A 20-year veteran in the Canadian music industry, Symsky is currently chair of the board of FACTOR, president of the Music Manager Forum and a director at CARAS and MusiCounts. She began her career in 1998 at Universal Music Canada and has spent the last 10 years working in the independent sector, most recently as vp, international marketing and artist management at Entertainment One. Prior to that, she worked at SRO/Anthem, where she managed Rush and served as director of creative, marketing and media for the band’s record label Anthem.

 


 

Music-focused YouTube Multi Channel Network (MCN) ONErpm has announced several new promotions as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. They include Ken Madson, upped to general manager USA (from GM, Nashville); Martin Price, upped to director of A&R (from head of A&R in the Caribbean/Jamaica); Julia McLeod, upped to associate director of artist marketing (from project manager); and Casey Childers, upped to senior project manager (from project manager).

Additionally, the company has hired Joe Guzik to head ONErpm’s New York office. Guzik steps into the role following a stint at JG Music Group.

 


 

Industry veterans Carlo Fox, Benjamin Willis and Joshua Andriano have launched Independent, an invite-only music distribution and media company designed to support artist-owned streaming businesses.

Independent will work as an extension of artists and their teams — who will retain ownership of their recordings — to provide personalized DSP pitching, distribution, financing, data trends and creative marketing. During its soft launch, the company took on projects by Theophilus London, Shoffy, Zack Villere and more.

 


 

Lauren Thomas has been promoted to vp, national promotions at Sony Music Nashville.

Thomas joined Sony Music Nashville in October 2009 as national promotion coordinator for Arista Nashville. Within a year, she was upped to regional promotion manager and, in 2016, director of promotion at Sony Music Nashville. She was named to Billboard’s “40 Under 40” list in 2019.

 


 

U.K. record industry charity The BRIT Trust has announced the appointment of two new trustees: Kobalt vp of business affairs Mulika Sannie and Kwame Kwaten, who serves as a manager at Ferocious Talent and director of A&R at Point Black Recordings.

Sannie and Kwaten join a board that is now made up of 14 trustees, from all areas of the music industry, who volunteer their services. It is chaired by John Craig OBE.

Founded in 1989, the BRIT Trust works to promote diversity and inclusion in the U.K. music industry. The organization supports causes including The BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins music therapy and has distributed over £27 million to date.

 


 

Marathon Music has named former Sony vp of strategy Federico Bolza to lead New Soil, a brand-new division specializing in U.K. jazz.

New Soil will use Marathon Music’s existing infrastructure to align with the contemporary jazz community in the U.K. in providing strategy, infrastructure, amplification and monetization for artists, labels and live concert promoters looking to release their catalogues of live recordings. The division’s inaugural signings are Ill Considered, Theon Cross and the London based-concert promoter Church of Sound.

 


 

Drew Magid has joined the management team at Big Loud, effective immediately. Magid currently serves as day-to-day manager for Warner Records artist Bren Joy, who is signed to Big Loud Management and Publishing.

Prior to joining Big Loud, Magid served as tour manager for acts including The War on Drugs, Charlie Puth, Imagine Dragons and Florida Georgia Line. He won Young Gun Tour Manager of the Year during the 2020 Pinnacle Awards at the Live Production Summit.

 


 

Kate Alderton has been promoted to the new role of vp, operations and finance at Warner Chappell Music U.K. She will report to Warner Chappell co-chairs Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall until a new managing director of the U.K. business is appointed.

In her new role, Alderton will oversee the operational side of the publisher’s U.K. business in cooperation with all other existing department heads. She joined Warner Chappell in 2012 as financial controller, working her way up to head of finance and, later, U.K. finance director.

 


 

UTA has named Rich Paul, CEO and founder of Klutch Sports Group and head of UTA Sports, to the agency’s board of directors. Paul’s appointment is effective immediately.

Paul was named a UTA partner in July 2019 after the agency took a substantial stake in Klutch Sports Group. In addition to boasting A-list athlete clients such as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons and John Wall, last year he launched “Klutch Conversations” in partnership with Chance the Rapper’s charity SocialWorks and General Mills to focus on youth empowerment through arts, education, sports and civic engagement.

 


 

Sound Royalties, which provides royalty-based financing to creatives in the music industry, has hired a pair of senior-level executives to serve as regional directors of business development and artist relations in New York (Jamie Dominguez) and Atlanta (Cappriccieo “Capp” Scates).

Dominguez joins Sound Royalties after nearly two decades at SESAC, where she most recently served as senior director of creative services. While there, she led the organization’s New York-based team.

Seates most recently served as president/CEO at Mytrell Records. Prior to that, he worked as senior director of writer/publisher relations at SESAC’s Atlanta office and was formerly director of operations for PM Music Group.

 


 

Surround, the blockchain-powered ecosystem for the music industry, has hired George McIntyre as CTO.

McIntyre – who previously led teams at Microsoft, Oracle and IBM – brings over 35 years of experience in digital media and blockchain to the role. In addition to his work with those companies, he has collaborated on projects with both Stanford and MIT and worked to develop new digital media codecs and formats.

“With his background as both an executive and a developer, George brings the right balance of technical and management savvy to our company,” said Surround CEO Stefan Schulz in a statement. “He was also an early pioneer of Ethereum and other blockchain technologies with hands-on expertise in the crypto space, making him ideally placed to lead the Surround technology group.”

AMP Music Summit Draws Inspiration From History & Community in Second Virtual Event

The AMP Music Summit presented by KCRW held its second online conference earlier this week, celebrating the power of collaboration between artists, business leaders and local communities through music, storytelling, technology, law and culture.

While the main arc of the AMP Music Summit focused on culture-shifting changes resulting from COVID-19, a common theme at AMP’s second event was the power of music to inspire smaller cities while building a sense of community and collective pride.

“It’s great to hear the stories of hope and that’s really a lot of what we’re trying to do with this conference,” said Simon Lamb, who along with Rebel Industries founder Josh Levine and Seth Combs co-founded AMP Music Summit earlier this year.

“We want to provide a counter narrative to so much of the headlines that we’re seeing day after day,” Lamb explained during a discussion titled “Blood, Sweat & Vision: Building Creative Community in Des Moines and Tulsa” that featured Tobi Parks with Station 1 Records and Dr. Lester Shaw with A Pocket Full Of Hope, which now operates the Historic Big 10 Ballroom, a 14,000 square-foot space he acquired for $180,000 in 2008.

Once a well known music venue that hosted headliners such as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Ray Charles, James Brown, Little Richard and Ike and Tina Turner, the venue is being renovated into a music, theater and community venue.

“All the musicians here are willing to pitch in and collaborate because that’s where the gift is. The gift is not competition, the gift is collaboration and that is what we want to put together for the community,” said Parks, who expects to reopen the venue next year in time for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot Massacre.

Also known as the “Bombing of Black Wall Street,” the 1921 attack that killed dozens of people and destroyed a vibrant black community, was featured as a storyline in Bitter Root which was named best ongoing series during the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards presented virtually during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

“We wanted to do some historical moments from around the Harlem Renaissance time period,” says Bitter Roots artist Sanford Greene, who was joined by Bitter Roots writer Chuck Brown and David Walker for a panel called “Monsters, Storytelling and Unpleasant Truths: The Fertile Soil of Bitter Root.”

“Is tragic as it is, it had a lot of richness there,” Greene said.

AMP Music Summit often focused on entrepreneurs who found community in unexpected places through cultural connections.

“Music is a community good and so much of our communities are built around music, art culture, venues and the artists that are there. That’s what really gives our communities vibrancy,” said Parks, the former director of copyright for Sony who moved to Iowa from Brooklyn in 2015 with her wife and two children, hoping to give their kids the same experience they enjoyed growing up in the midwest (Parks is from St. Louis).

After receiving a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Parks partnered with an arts and entertainment venue called Des Moines Social Club, along with Drake University to launch the non-profit Station 1 Records.

“We created this label to be something that not only was a type of entrepreneurship program for the artists, but it also helped develop students that were at the university to actually work in a real world setting,” said Parks.

Music isn’t just a way of connecting people, it’s also a tool for economic development explains Tommy Battle Jr., mayor of Huntsville, Alabama.

“Looking across the nation, we recognize that music has the potential of bringing in business to help your economy, of bringing people to your community and attracting the best and brightest,” says Battle, who spoke on a panel with Billboard Dance editor Katie Bain about working with Sound Diplomacy’s Shain Shapiro to commission an assessment of the city’s music ecosystem and launch a nine-member Music Board.

“The creative community that is here is just unbelievable,” says Celese Sanders with Encore Opera Huntsville, who said the Music Board’s goal early on was to cast a wide net to create a representative view of the city’s diverse music community. That allowed the board to quickly communicate with its members when COVID-19 forced the closure of music spaces in April.

“The board has done reopening guides and a COVID relief guide,” Shapiro said. “There’s far more communication now between local entities to support artists” in the face of COVID-19 “which no one could’ve planned for.”

From ‘The Nada’ to ‘Algo Ritmos’, a Dive Into Kevin Johansen’s Music Journey

About a year ago, Kevin Johansen was sitting in a rooftop of a hotel in Miami, Fla. garbed in a spiffy navy-blue suit and his habitual tranquil look on his face. From that time onward, many things have happened, and in spite of his 20-year career anniversary, his spirit remains the same. There is no sound of birds or the robust trees whooshing through the air in the background. Instead, our conversation dwindles to the soulless connection of two screens 4,406 miles apart.

Sitting in the comfort of his house in Buenos Aires, Johansen sips mate, crossed legged dressed in blue jeans and a blue sweatshirt. “I’m here, resorting to endurance, like everyone else,” he sighs with a smile. “Like my mother used to say, ‘do like the Philistines, hold on and beat it’.”

He’s just released “The Available 20’s,” an addendum to his 2019 Algo Ritmos, an album that expanded his reach, putting him ahead of the experimental folk-pop pack with compositions that continue to eschew the informal for profound and selfless poetry.

“The Available 20’s” loomed during a stroll around his loved CBGB in the old Bowery neighborhood in New York City. “A couple of years ago, one summer night, I was walking around the neighborhood thinking back at my years in the 90s and I stepped upon that typical corner that vibrates, full of young people dancing on the sidewalk waiting to go into a bar and with certain melancholy I started humming, ‘everybody is drunk, like that funk, everybody is drunk, what the funk, we just wanna party’,” he remembers.

The tune, produced by Cachorro López (also on guitar) and Sebastian Schon (also on clarinet, ukulele and keyboards) is as brisk and equally appealing as his past releases which relish on creating chasms between genres and savor the synthesis of styles, adapting to infinite variables, fiddling poetically with puns and humor.

It’s been a year since the release of Algo Ritmos, Johansen’s last full-length effort, and following a wave of shows and promotion his peripatetic life halted earlier this year, like million others, and was reduced to the confinement of his Buenos Aires home, a setting he’s very much enjoying but which took him some time to adjust to.

“At the beginning of this chapter, there were no planes or cars, the pachamama was breathing fresh air, it was delightful,” he recalls. “That made me think of a phrase from ‘The Apocalypse,’ a song I wrote with the beautiful Brazilian Daniela Mercury: ‘the plague is us.’ From an ecological point of view, everything is associated, humanity, dirt. I read an article where a psychologist said, ‘we were all left pedaling in the air.’”

It’s a particular time to celebrate 20 years of musical career. The release of his album debut, The Nada in 2000, was considered a breeze of fresh air, coincidentally the same fresh air Mother Earth was gifted during the stillness the world was obliged to in March, both on a work and vital level, but Johansen is living up to the spirit of his understanding of things while exploring further the strange world musicians have been forced to dive in to. “I am slow, I take my time,” he laughs. “However, for some odd reason, from that Sunday, March 15 to Monday, March 16, something happened. I woke up at six in the morning and composed a song that came out in one take. It has to do with what I envisioned. I enjoyed having that immediate creative reaction.”

The Nada was recorded between 1999-2000 and marked the conclusion of a 10-year period in New York City. “Round numbers always make you meditate on your life, your cycles,” he continues. “It was a very important period in my life because it was a learning stage where I really trained as a musician at CBGBs, where Hillary Krystal supported me unconditionally, it helped me to grow as a musician.”

The album was a globalist take on pop music melding highs and lows of cultures and genres, fiddling with technicolor compositions exposing candid and lithesome topics where New York sounds and his Argentine and Latin American reverberations unlocked new rooms of possibilities. “I’m extremely thankful and also have a little pride,” he laughs.  “My chest swells – in the good sense – with having played in such an emblematic place, of having recorded in the last decade of the 20th century in one of the most incredible cities on this planet. You lift a stone and you find an Argentinean musician, a Cuban percussionist, an Arab-Israeli drummer, an Israeli trumpeter, Cuban son, Argentinean tango musicians, it’s just incredible.”

Inadvertently, he had set the stage for young musicians to become just as musically ‘degenerate’ (des-generados) and had lifted the weight of belonging to a musical party. “Back in Argentina there was a lot of neighborhood rock circling, a lot of rolinga and cumbiachero rock. In turn, it was an album that was received with great reception by the media and fellow musicians.”

Johansen has deftly fueled a galvanizing blend of musical cultural diversity with eight studio albums, always advancing through unknown terrain with a peculiar sonic collage but remaining faithful to his essence and never compromising his artistic integrity. “There is a fine line in the creative task,” he continues. “I say, do not succumb to others’ gaze, keep it in mind, though, stay faithful to the faithful, awaken the gullible with an idea, song or line. Music is an eternal education, one is an eternal student. Making songs is a format that also has infinite possibilities in that puzzle, so there is always something interesting to discover. ”

The conversation further contextualizes his upcoming album or perhaps an opportunity for a new format of releases, following the footsteps of his recent “The Available 20s.” “I think I’m going to continue releasing songs here and there, individually,” he adds. “They could end up being part of a new album. It’s something I never did, I’m experimenting. I think there are songs with themes strong enough to have a chance to attract attention without falling into an effect.”

About his anniversary and the current state of the world, he adds, “These are crazy times, just like the 1920s, but at the same time, the times are available,” he smiles. “We don’t know what will happen in the next decade. As Murphy said, ‘a pessimist is an experienced optimist’.”

To celebrate his 20-year career anniversary, Kevin Johansen launched his first virtual show of the year on July 28 with a brew of all Spanish songs. His next shows, all buoyed by a special theme, with accompanied acts and a playlist of curated songs, will include a cocktail of English tunes, some of his own and covers, and a collection of Latin American classics:

August 8 – Own songs in English

August 18  – Own songs and others’ songs

August 28 – Latin American songs

Sheryl Crow Still Wants a ‘Woman in the White House,’ Restores 8-Year-Old Song

Sheryl Crow is making her demands for the presidency known ahead of the 2020 election by rerecording one of her 2012 B-sides, “Woman in the White House.”

The Grammy award-winning singer completely transformed her light-hearted country tune into a hard rock anthem with a scorching guitar solo in the outro, re-emphasizing her suggestion-turned-demand for “a little female common sense down on Pennsylvania Avenue” and a different face after the last approximately 230 years of male Commanders-in-Chief.

“When I first recorded this song 8 years ago, I was hopeful that we, as a nation, would seize the moment and put a Woman in the White House,” Crow wrote on Twitter yesterday (July 30). “That did not happen – but our movement of strength grows as we take to the streets and make our voices heard.”

The “Woman in the White House” lyrics remain relatively the same except when Crow replaces her reference to legendary singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn in the bridge. Rather than singing, “Heck, I’d vote for Loretta Lynn,” she jokes about putting her own name on this upcoming Nov. 3 ballot by singing, “Heck, I’d write my own name in.”

“We must not stop there. It is time for us to show up to the polls, be seen and heard as the great leaders we are,” she continued in her Twitter thread promoting the revised political anthem.

Listen to the 2020 version of “Woman in the White House” below.

What’s Your Favorite New Dance Track Out This Week? Vote!

While clubs are still shuttered and festivals continue dropping from the calendar, the dance world is keeping it moving.

From techno to trance to house and beyond, this week saw the release of a fresh batch of hot new electronic song by scene luminaries including Gryffin and John Martin, Disclosure, Honey Dijon, Carl Cox and other A-listers.

We want to which song from First Spin will be soundtracking your weekend. Let us know by voting below!

AI-Driven Rights Management Agency Muserk Forms Joint Venture to Reduce Piracy of Japanese Content

Muserk, the AI tech-driven global rights management agency for music and video, has partnered with leading Japanese marketing and media research company Video Research on a new joint venture designed to cut down on piracy of Japanese content worldwide.

Dubbed Muserk V.I.D., the venture “will service, manage and protect the online rights of the major broadcasters, networks, and production companies of Japan, around the world,” according to a release announcing the deal. Through the partnership with Muserk, Video Research – which provides marketing, media and TV audience research for leading media firms and advertisers in Japan – will utilize Muserk’s AI technologies, M-Match and M-PAC, to manage and protect its clients’ online video rights.

Founded by CEO Paul Goldman – who will serve as CEO of the board for Muserk V.I.D. – Muserk is able to identify digital content for rights holders through its proprietary AI technology. It currently manages rights and monetizes content in over 98 territories and 50 countries worldwide, including Japan, Sweden, Spain, Germany, France, Africa and Spain. The company recently signed a partnership with Japanese musical copyright society JASRAC to be its rights administrator in the U.S., Canada and Brazil, collecting mechanical rights from YouTube.

“With this joint venture and the creation of Muserk V.I.D., we expect to see less piracy of Japanese content on all platforms and an opportunity for our customers to monetize their content online through royalty collection,” said Video Research president Wataru Mochizuki in a statement. “We knew we needed a company that offered something unique to match the power of our scale for this joint venture. The passionate team at Muserk and their propriety technology M-PACTM and M-Match® make this a perfect match.”

Added Goldman, “Muserk V.I.D will work with Japanese networks, film studios and production companies to help them finally get control of their video content in the new digital ecosystem. Japan has a huge magnitude of content around the world that includes TV shows, comedy, anime, variety and more that is often put up online without authorization. Video Research is a perfect partner with intrinsic understanding of the needs of Japanese content creators.”

Toni Braxton to Release 10th Album ‘Spell My Name’ Next Month, Drops ‘Dance’ Single

Grammy award-winning R&B artist Toni Braxton announced Friday (July 31) she’ll release her 10th studio album Spell My Name on Aug. 28 via Island Records.

In tandem with the news, she released the single “Dance,” a nu-disco club-ready banger that serves as an antidote for any heartbreak, which R&B hitmaker Antonio Dixon (Beyoncé, Teddy Riley, Ariana Grande) produced. She previously released the Dave Audé remix of “Dance,” which went No. 1 on the UK’s Commercial Pop Club chart.

The new single follows “Do It,” which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart two weeks ago and was remixed by Missy Elliott last month.

Spell My Name, which fans can pre-order here, is her first full-length album since Sex & Cigarettes in 2018, which hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. Listen to “Dance” below.

Listen to “Dance” off her upcoming Spell My Name album below.