Hits by Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Cee Lo contributed to a stellar year for the label and its seasoned chairwoman; MTV's Judy McGrath, Universal Motown's Sylvia Rhone, Warner's Livia Tortella also make the Top 10.
Billboard released its annual Women in Music special this week. Topping the list? Atlantic Records Chairman Julie Greenwald, who's riding a still swelling wave of radio smashes, from newcomers B.o.B. and Bruno Mars to perennial sellers such as Nickelback and Zac Brown Band, not to mention envelope pushers like Cee Lo. Also making the Top 10: Universal Motown's Sylvia Rhone, MTV's Judy McGrath, LiveNation's Kathy Willard and Livia Tortella, the newly positioned co-President of Warner Bros. Read on for the rest of the list.
1. Julie Greenwald
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records
A deep, diverse and developing roster of hitmakers helped Atlantic Records soar once more in Julie Greenwald’s second year as chairman/COO of the label. Year to date, Atlantic’s current-album market share is 6.5%, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s the highest share for any label led by a female executive.
Atlantic’s 10 top-selling albums of 2010, ranked by year-to-date unit sales, feature two from the Zac Brown Band (“The Foundation” at 894,000 units and “You Get What You Give” at 394,000), two from Trey Songz (“Passion, Pain & Pleasure” at 632,000 units and “Ready” at 393,000), two “Twilight” soundtracks (“Eclipse” at 465,000 units and “New Moon” at 236,000), plus B.o.B’s “B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray” (446,000), Nickelback’s “Dark Horse” (425,000), Jaheim’s “Another Round” (377,000) and Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3” (317,000).
As the first label to achieve 50% of its revenue from digital sales, Atlantic takes a very new-media approach to the business. When Cee Lo Green released the radio-unfriendly single “Fuck You,” Atlantic supported it with a massively viral YouTube video that drew 2 million streams in a week. Greenwald also led the label’s direct-to-fan effort by upgrading the websites of all artists on its roster to promote such things as album preorders; the sites have seen traffic increase by more than 73% since 2008. In the past year, that effort has been extended to updating artists’ websites for mobile phone access as well.
“My job is to keep everybody focused on the prize and stay positive that there’s a real business out there,” Greenwald says. “When you’re sharing in all facets of an artist’s career, there’s a real business for all of us. It works. Because there’s so much negativity about the music business and everybody just wants to write about how done it is. I hate it when people want to just look at us as a dying breed, when we’re not.”
2. Sylvia Rhone
President, Universal Motown Records; executive VP, Universal Records
The blockbuster sales of Drake’s debut album, “Thank Me Later” (1.2 million year-to-date units, according to Nielsen SoundScan), and Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth” (388,000) and “I Am Not a Human Being” (446,000), released under Universal Motown Records president Sylvia Rhone, contributed to a year-to-date market share for current albums of 6% for Universal Motown Republic Records. Due for late-year releases are Nicki Minaj, Nelly and Kid Cudi. Rhone is also executive VP of Universal Records, which saw Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” (Big Machine) move 1.6 million year-to-date units and Jack Johnson’s “To the Sea” (Brushfire/UMRG) 682,000 units. “Our proactive social media strategy exemplifies the way we do business at Universal Motown, leveraging the social connections of our innovative artists,” Rhone says. “Our overall initiative for 2010 was to also build ancillary revenue streams. By focusing on even newer digital content genres in 2011 and allowing the artist-consumer relationship to drive our innovation, Universal Motown will continue to create new branding opportunities and revenue streams for our artists and our company.”
3. Jody Gerson
Co-president, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Since Jody Gerson’s arrival at Sony/ATV Music Publishing as co-president in January 2008, the company’s market share in Billboard’s quarterly ranking—in which it had previously earned third- or fourth-place showings—propelled it to first or second place in seven of the 11 tracked quarters. Gerson’s signings include Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias and Mike Posner. Iglesias, she says, is “an artist I signed while at EMI when he was just 19 years old and helped nurture as a songwriter. When his deal was up there, he came with me to Sony/ATV. This year, Enrique is having tremendous success worldwide and has had a huge comeback here in the U.S.” with his album “Euphoria.” She also developed new artists this year such as Nikki Jean and Elle Varner. Gerson works closely with top artist/writers including Shakira, Akon, Wyclef Jean and RedOne and also oversees the film, TV and videogame synch departments. All three areas increased revenue considerably last year. Gerson has helped Sony/ATV boost its involvement in upcoming, high-profile film projects and theater productions. Gerson is also involved in the new “Hitmakers” show on Bravo with Evan Bogart from the Writing Camp.
4. Judy McGrath
Chairman/CEO, MTV Networks
As chairman/CEO of MTV Networks, Judy McGrath once again moved the network’s flagship brand forward in multiple ways. On the Web, MTV roared back in the music space, with 55 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore in October, a 150%-plus uptick from 2009. After Haiti’s earthquake, McGrath marshalled all of MTV’s platforms to roll out the “Hope for Haiti Now” compilation, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Digital Albums chart, with more than 170,000 downloads in its first week. Combined proceeds from the album, telecast and individual tracks raised more than $3 million for Haiti. On the lighter side, the MTV Video Music Awards delivered a 10.0 rating and 11.4 million total viewers, marking the network’s best ratings for any MTV telecast since the 2002 VMAs, and the fifth-highest-rated telecast in network history. And McGrath doesn’t forget what the “M” in MTV stands for. “All of our success has a soundtrack . . . whether it’s the VMAs, ‘Big Time Rush’ and Victoria Justice blowing up big at Nickelodeon, the incredible lineup behind ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ or even the Situation and Snooki fist-pumping on ‘Jersey Shore,’ ” McGrath says. “So many of our hits this year and every year are defined by music.”
5. Alexandra Patsavas
Owner, Chop Shop Music Supervision, Chop Shop Records
Alexandra Patsavas, owner of Chop Shop Music Supervision and Chop Shop Records, remains one of the most influential music supervisors in the business, making the tuneful picks on shows ranging from “Grey’s Anatomy”—still one of the top 25 shows on TV, with 11.1 million viewers the week of Nov. 14, according to TVByTheNumbers.com—“Gossip Girl,” “Private Practice” and “Chuck.” In 2010, she also was the music supervisor for “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the third film based on the series of vampire-canoodling books. “Eclipse” went on to sell 463,000 soundtracks, according to Nielsen SoundScan, en route to $300 million at the domestic box office, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, and introduced teen audiences to buzzy, of-the-moment bands like Florence & the Machine, the Black Keys and Metric. According to Atlantic, the “Twilight” series soundtracks have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. (The soundtrack for second installment “New Moon” came out in late 2009 and has sold 1.2 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.) Acts signed to Patsavas’ Atlantic imprint, Chop Shop Records, include Anya Marina, Mackintosh Braun, Marina & the Diamonds, the Republic Tigers and Scars on 45.
6. Debra Lee
Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
Under chairman/CEO Debra Lee, BET Networks celebrated its 30th anniversary and posted audience gains for a second consecutive season (up from last year’s 34% boost) to become the No. 1 ad-supported cable network among blacks 18-49 for 10 consecutive seasons. Investing in more original programming and educational/philanthropic efforts this year, Lee oversaw such new offerings as “Trey Songz: My Moment in Time”; “My Mic Sounds Nice,” a documentary about females in hip-hop; “Black Girls Rock!,” honoring exceptional women of color; a network-wide breast cancer campaign; and BET 30 for 30, a $30,000 grant initiative for projects and organizations that benefit the African-American community. “We just finished our fiscal year and had the best year ever in terms of ratings and revenue,” Lee says. “In addition to continuing our commitment to music, we’ve added more original programming and shows focusing on women. I’m excited by the feedback we’re getting from people saying they love what we’re doing. In this day and age, there still aren’t enough images of blacks on television. The more we do, the more opportunities and diversity we can provide.”
7. Amanda Marks
Executive VP/GM, Universal Music Group Distribution
Universal Music Group Distribution executive VP/GM Amanda Marks previously was executive VP of UMG’s eLabs digital division, where she was the primary architect of virtually every digital deal the label pursued. Marks now oversees physical and digital sales for all of UMG labels. That’s fitting, as Marks led the effort to merge physical and digital services in order to present artists and partners with more flexible opportunities. Under Marks’ leadership, UMGD grew digital album sales by 11.9% in the last year, with digital track sales rising 1.4%. So far this year, UMGD has six of the top 10 best-selling albums of 2010, with Eminem’s “Recovery” in the top spot, Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0” third and Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” in fourth, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Additionally, six of the top 10 best-selling digital tracks of all time were released on her watch. Looking forward, Marks is focusing on the opportunities for music distribution, including tech’s latest hot device, the tablet. “Everybody and their brother is putting out a tablet this fourth quarter or throughout 2011. That device offers us as music companies a fresh opportunity to give the consumer a new experience to enjoy music,” she says, “and that’s something I’m extremely focused on.”
8. Kathy Willard
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment
Live Nation CFO Kathy Willard crunched the numbers on the Live Nation/Ticketmaster deal—the most complex merger in the history of the live music business. She has orchestrated the financials of Live Nation Entertainment’s multirights deals with U2, Shakira, Madonna, Jay-Z and Nickelback, while watching the books on Live Nation’s diversified involvement in sponsorships, merchandising, content, ticketing, tour promotion and more. While artists in long-term deals with Live Nation Entertainment have performed well, none more so than U2 on its record-breaking 360° tour, the company battled a brutal summer season and hasn’t yet turned the type of profit the merger promises. But the jury is still out on whether Live Nation Entertainment can revolutionize the music business, and Willard is a critical part of an ambitious agenda. “Merging the operations of such distinct, but highly complementary businesses has naturally been a challenge, but every day we see the enormous potential inherent in this combination, including the headway we are making in building a dynamic presence in the digital world,” Willard says. “We’re innovating our model in ways that will clearly benefit artists and fans, as well as sponsors who wish to tap into the power of live music.”
9. Brenda Romano
President of radio promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M Records
Brenda Romano, president of radio promotion at Interscope Geffen A&M Records, looks back on a year that brought her label four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100—the Black Eyed Peas’ “Imma Be,” Far*East Movement’s “Like a G6” Eminem’s “Not Afraid” and “Love the Way You Lie,” featuring Rihanna—as well as four chart-toppers at mainstream top 40 radio, including three from Lady Gaga. That’s the most by any label on those charts. Interscope ranked at or near the top of Billboard’s lists of the top labels on multiple radio charts in 2009 and is poised to do the same in 2010. Romano supervises the company’s radio and video promotion efforts at top 40, alternative, rock, hot AC, AC and triple A formats, as well as at MTV, VH1 and Fuse. She’s been in promotion for 30 years, starting as an assistant at RCA Records before heading to Mercury as VP of top 40 promotion, helping steer the careers of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and John Mellencamp. She was senior VP of promotion at Hollywood Records before arriving at Interscope in 1995 and rising through the ranks, earning praise as a role model for younger execs.
10. Livia Tortella
Co-president/COO, Warner Bros. Records
In September, Livia Tortella was named co-president/COO of Warner Bros. Records after six years of serving as executive VP/GM of Atlantic Records. At Atlantic, she focused on marketing, artist development and digital product development, specifically bolstering the label’s direct-to-consumer strategy for merchandise and fan clubs. According to Atlantic, as a result of Tortella’s efforts, the label generates more than half of its revenue from digital. In 2010, Tortella focused on the development of Zac Brown Band, whose album “You Give What You Give” debuted atop the Billboard 200 in September on the heels of winning the best new artist Grammy Award in January. In addition, Tortella worked with Alexandra Patsavas’ Chop Shop Records to release the soundtracks to the “Twilight” film series. “The highlight [of the year] is being given the opportunity to head the legendary Warner Bros. Records and work with some of the most talented artists and music pros in the business,” Tortella says. “During my tenure as GM of Atlantic Records, I also got to work with the enigmatic Jac Holzman on the relaunch of Elektra and its 60th anniversary. This experience was one of the most significant of my career, and breaking new Elektra artists like Bruno Mars and Cee Lo was icing on the cake.”