Jody Gerson Jumps From Sony/ATV to Universal, Becomes Highest Ranking Woman in Publishing

 Austin Hargrave

Jody Gerson will assume the reins of power at Universal Music Publishing Group beginning Jan. 1, when she joins that company as chairman/CEO. She replaces Zach Horowitz, who led the company for the past two years. His exit was revealed on July 31.

In naming Gerson, Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge has tapped an executive who is at the pinnacle of the A&R executive ranks, but also is credited with strong business chops and administrative skills.

“A lot of people in the industry just think of her as a top flight A&R executive, but think of the kinds of acts she signs and what kinds of deals she has to negotiate in order to land big-name songwriters,” says one executive familiar with Gerson’s capabilities.

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“Jody Gerson is simply one of the best music publishers in the business, and we are thrilled that she will be bringing her creativity, savvy and vast experience to UMPG,” Grainge said in a statement. “Jody represents a new breed of music industry leadership, with a keen understanding of the evolving role of music publishers in the digital era and a track record of artist successes that places her among all-time greats. I’m excited for what we will accomplish together.”

While Gerson can negotiate with the best of them, she also is well known for spotting talent early on, often before a songwriter’s career blooms. Among the songwriters she has signed during her career are Lady Gaga, Norah Jones, Odd Future, Jermaine Dupri and a then-15-year-old Alicia Keys.

Gerson also has played an instrumental role in the careers of Enrique Iglesias, Mac Miller, Pitbull, RedOne, Shakira and Pharrell Williams, among others. Another one of her signings, Nasri Atweh, the lead singer and primary songwriter for the band Magic!, currently has the No. 1 single (“Rude”) on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the second week in a row.

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At Universal Music Publishing, Gerson will be leading the second-largest publishing operation, with $900 million in revenue in 2013. She also gets to cross rapiers with one of her mentors, Martin Bandier, whom she worked with for about a dozen years at EMI Music Publishing before joining him at Sony/ATV in 2008.

In the past, Bandier himself credited Gerson for creating a writer-centric ethos at Sony/ATV.

Gerson began her publishing career at Chappell Music, now known as Warner/Chappell, and worked there for six years before moving over to EMI as head of the company’s East Coast publishing division.

In addition to music publishing, Gerson’s accomplishments also include co-producing the 2002 movie Drumline and cutting a deal to bring that show to Broadway. She is currently serving as executive producer for Drumline 2 for VH1.

When Gerson joins on Jan. 1, she will report to Grainge. In the meantime, Universal Music Group CFO Boyd Buir will oversee UMPG.

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