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Music Industry Moves: Big Machine Records Taps Kris Lamb as Executive VP/General Manager

Big Machine Label Group, a subsidiary of HYBE America, has named Kris Lamb the executive vice president and general manager of Big Machine Records, the label imprint home to Tim McGraw, Carly Pearce, Midland and Jackson Dean, among others.

Lamb most recently served as senior VP of promotion and digital where he led the radio and digital strategy for the Big Machine Records. His new role will concentrate on breaking, building and retaining BMR’s frontline roster of artists, focusing on fan acquisition and engagement.

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With Lamb’s elevation comes additional changes to the imprint with the promotion of Brooke Diaz, a nine-year veteran of Big Machine Records, being upped to national director of promotion and marketing. Adds Lamb, “Brooke is one of the most multi-dimensional promotion executives in the field and her passion, ideation and execution is next to none. I am so thrilled to watch her, along with Erik as VP, guide our radio promo team and strategy to the highest level.”

In addition to Brooke’s ascension, Bill Lubitz has been promoted to senior director of West Coast promotion and national strategy, taking a greater role in syndication and network audience exposure.

+ Nice Life Recording Company has tapped Mikelle Schwartz as executive VP of marketing and Bradley Haering for the newly formed position of executive VP of A&R.

In her newly added role at the indie label, Schwartz will oversee the department of marketing, inclusive of product managers as well as the label’s sync/licensing department. Schwartz joins from her previous role as senior VP of Marketing at 88rising. Before her role at 88rising, she held positions as an executive in marketing at Warner Records and Kemosabe Records.

Haering will step into a newly developed role as executive VP of A&R at the label. He is responsible for signing the label’s Grammy-nominated band the Marías, who saw major success on their debut album “Cinema.” The Marías also collaborated on a track with Bad Bunny, “Otro Atardecer” on his critically acclaimed “Un Verano Sin Ti,” which was also nominated for album of the year at last year’s Grammy Awards.

“I am thrilled for this next chapter at Nice Life Recording Company with these expanded positions,” said Ricky Reed, founder and CEO of Nice Life Recording Company. “Mikelle brings over 15 years of marketing experience, making her an invaluable asset to our Nice Life team at the leadership level. Brad, who has been with us since the beginning will oversee A&R in this newly added position as we continue to expand the Nice Life roster.”

Schwartz and Haering are both based in the company’s Los Angeles headquarters and will report to Reed and Larry Wade, who serves as COO of the label.

+ Pinnacle Financial Partners has inked a new deal with Southwest Value Partners and AEG, joint venture partners and co-developers of the Nashville Yards mixed-use district, to become the exclusive naming rights partner for the project’s new 4,500-capacity music venue.

Set to open in early 2025, the venue will be known as The Pinnacle. The long-term agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, makes Pinnacle the official bank of the music venue. The Pinnacle is being developed with “a keen appreciation for the city’s musical legacy and represents an opportunity to fill a gap in the city’s entertainment venue offerings,” per a press release.

Once complete, the indoor venue will feature a concert hall, designed specifically to host a diverse array of live events. Features and amenities include a lifter floor for enhanced sightlines, a horseshoe balcony with rail-side standing, VIP seating, first-come-first-served bleachers on the balcony level, production capability for live streaming and televised events, and more.

“This partnership represents Pinnacle’s deep investment in elevating Nashville’s creative community and will further our reputation as one of the world’s best music banks,” said Andy Moats, Pinnacle’s director of music, entertainment and sports. “The Pinnacle will be an international symbol that shows the music community how the arts and business should work together. Our music banking team will be directly across the street from the venue—visiting artists will be able to see us from the green room balcony. And we’ll be sharing the Nashville Yards campus with AEG Presents and CAA, making this a new epicenter for the business side of Music City.”

+ Kenny Ong has been named Sony Music’s new managing director for Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Special Projects Southeast Asia. Ong previously led Southeast Asian expansion for Universal Music Group and was CEO of Astro Radio.

“Our region is poised for continued growth and to seize the opportunity, it will require more creativity and diligence,” said Shridhar Subramaniam, SME president of corporate strategy and market development, Asia and Middle East. “With a proven track record of forging partnerships, driving audience engagement and putting artists first, Kenny possesses a deep understanding of diverse cultural nuances and musical preferences and we are delighted to welcome him.”

+ Sony Music Publishing UK has announced a new hire and two promotions across its A&R department.

ZaZa Kazadi has joined as senior A&R manager while Adrienne Bookbinder has been elevated to senior A&R manager for the UK and Europe, and Nasra Artan moves to senior European A&R manager.

“These new appointments are the confirmation of the SMP A&R department’s evolution and future,” said David Ventura, president and co-managing director, UK and senior VP International, Sony Music Publishing. “Nasra, Adrienne and ZaZa embrace what A&R is in 2024 and we are all looking forward to seeing their achievements in their respective roles. Nasra is playing a key role in the European A&R team, Adrienne is now part of this European team, specializing in electronic music, and ZaZa is an experienced A&R with impeccable taste and a powerful network. Together they represent the creative culture that SMP is building, and we anticipate they will shine in their new roles.”

Since joining SMP, Kazadi has signed top talent including producer Jo Caleb, who he signed alongside SMP A&R Director Sarah Gabrielli. Previously, Kazadi managed artists and producers including ZieZie and Sonzi at Never Dies Management.

During her time at the company, Bookbinder has signed hitmakers including Dom Dolla, Jazzy, ANOTR, Gorgon City, Eli Brown and more. Over the last year, Artan has continued to deliver new creative opportunities for SMP’s European and International roster and secure key signings including Fumes Beats.

Tuesday, Jan. 30

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has signed Coco Jones to an exclusive publishing agreement.

The R&B artist is up for five Grammy awards, including best new artist, at the upcoming 66th Annual Awards after receiving widespread acclaim for her EP, “What I Didn’t Tell You.” Born in South Carolina and raised in Tennessee, Jones started her music career recording songs at the age of nine and went on to land roles on the Disney Channel before signing with High Standardz/Def Jam Recordings in 2022.

“Music has been a constant in my life and the motivation that has anchored me since the very beginning,” said Jones in a press release. “Discovering a team at Warner Chappell that shares that same passion and understands my voice and vision is very special to me.”

“Coco Jones has one of the most unique voices out there, and it’s great to see her having her moment as both a songwriter and artist,” added Ryan Press, president of North America for WCM. “She’s helping pave an entirely new era of R&B and her hustle and work ethic have led to a year of breakthroughs. Now let’s go win some Grammys!”

+ iHeartMedia has tapped Jess Hilarious to co-host the nationally syndicated hit radio show “The Breakfast Club,” effective Feb. 5. Hilarious joins DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God on New York Power 105.1’s morning show.

“The Breakfast Club,” which broadcasts weekday mornings, is syndicated nationally by Premiere Networks on nearly 100 radio stations across the country reaching millions of listeners.

“I’m looking forward to joining forces with one of the largest media platforms,” said Hilarious, an actor and comedian with credits on shows like “Rel” and “Wild ‘N Out.” “I’m confident that taking the third seat at The Breakfast Club will show people that Jess Hilarious is not just comedy, but culture.”

“I’m very excited to have Jess Hilarious join The Breakfast Club. She is a force in her own right, an actress, comedian, podcaster, and now, the co-host of The Breakfast Club,” said Thea Mitchem, iHeartMedia’s executive VP of programming. “Jess was the standout choice to join Charlamagne and DJ Envy to build upon The Breakfast Club’s legacy of entertaining, informing and enlightening the community.”

+ Max Kaplan has been elevated to senior vice president and head of commercial partnerships for Columbia Records.

Kaplan is set to oversee all aspects of commercial strategy and revenue generation for Columbia, working closely with Columbia’s senior management team. He is based in New York and reports directly to Darren Stupak, executive VP and general manager of commercial partnerships for Sony Music Entertainment.

Kaplan has spent the last decade as a member of the Columbia commercial partnerships team, working in close collaboration with DSPs and physical retailers in support of Columbia’s roster, including releases by the likes of Adele, Beyoncé, blink-182, Harry Styles, Hozier, Miley Cyrus, Polo G, Rosalia, Tyler, The Creator, and more.

Since 2022 Kaplan has served as vice president of sales for Columbia. He also spent three years overseeing digital sales for the label.

+ Artist manager Michele Harrison has launched her own independent management company based in Los Angeles called MPH Collective.

The firm notably represents a diverse roster of clients, including R&B singer UMI, New York alt-pop duo Beau, Brooklyn-based R&B singer Healy, and Hawaii-based producer KaiGoinKrazy.

“It’s been a long time coming that I launch my own management company, and I’m honored to continue serving my incredible roster in this next chapter,” said Harrison. “At MPH Collective, the sky’s the limit, and my clients and I are poised for success now more than ever. Since my first day as an artist manager, I set out with the intention to build a roster of deeply credible and talented career artists. Launching MPH Collective allows me to completely focus on nurturing my clients and helping them reach their highest creative potential. Looking back on where I came from and seeing the freedom ahead for me and my clients makes me beam with pride and pinch myself at the same time. There is so much more to come, and I’m beyond excited for this new era.”

+ Cherie Hu, the founder of music tech research and education platform Water & Music, will join Syracuse University full-time to teach about new music industry business models, emerging technologies and more.

Hu will start in the fall of 2024 as a professor of practice at Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in the Bandier Program for Recording and Entertainment Industries. She currently teaches about social media and data for the music business as an adjunct instructor at Newhouse, one of the top communications schools in the country.

A longtime writer, researcher, and educator focused on the intersection of technology and the music business, Hu plans to continue to contribute actively to Water & Music in a strategic capacity. Water & Music produces data-driven research, online courses and events on music tech innovation for a global community of thousands of industry professionals.

+ CSW Publicity has named Heidi Anne-Noel as senior VP of music publicity. She’ll work alongside Executive VP/Founder Cara Wodnicki overseeing the agency’s music clients and music business.

Anne-Noel joins CSW from BMF, where she was VP of music publicity and ran campaigns for ONErpm, Cardboard Sessions, Awich, The Kingdom Choir and Abigail Barlow, among others. She was also formerly VP at Capitol where she worked on campaigns for Katy Perry.

+ Concord Music Publishing has acquired a select number of songs from Cary Barlowe‘s catalog including Chris Young’s “Famous Friends” and “Raised on Country,” as well as songs recorded by Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Kissel, Chris Tomlin, Rascal Flatts, Lauren Alaina, Little Big Town, Mickey Guyton, and more.

In addition to the catalog acquisition, Concord has extended Barlowe’s publishing deal through its creative joint venture, Hang Your Hat Music, and includes Barlowe’s full catalog and all future works.

“It feels good to entrust a company like Concord with this body of songs,” said Barlowe.  “Knowing them personally and creatively, I am so thankful to be working with such great people! It’s a blessing!”

Barlowe’s introduction to country music began when Taylor Swift included Nathan (Cary’s brother) and Cary Barlowe’s song, “Untouchable,” on her multi-platinum album “Fearless” in 2008.

“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Cary, and now represent this additional catalog of hits,” said Brad Kennard, senior VP of Concord Music Publishing in Nashville. “Cary is the consummate pro who won’t be outworked. His passion for writing hits is clearly represented in this catalog, as well as the songs he’s writing today. We couldn’t be prouder to continue to build with Cary Barlowe!”

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