Executives chosen for The Billboard Power 100 and their well-wishers on Thursday packed Nobu Fifty Seven in Manhattan for a celebration of the magazine’s seventh annual tally of the 100 most influential individuals in the music industry.
“To be more accurate, the Billboard Power 163,” remarked John Amato, president of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group, noting the total number of execs profiled in this year’s report, including “41 new faces.”
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino accepted his first-time honor as the No. 1 executive on the Power 100 as longtime friends and supporters looked on, including Rob Light, partner, managing director of head of music at Creative Artists Agency, and Coran Capshaw, founder of Red Light Management.
“It’s a great time to be in the music business,” said Rapino. He acknowledged the achievements of Live Nation’s 50,000 employees across 40 countries, and the company’s recently rising stock price. But, he quipped, “I still don’t have anything like Coran’s money.”
Neil Portnow, chairman/CEO of the Recording Academy, said he was “a little bit emotional” to be back in his hometown of New York City, where the Grammy Awards will be presented Sunday at Madison Square Garden. It is the first time the show has been staged in Manhattan since 2003. “We consider you all our partners in recognizing the best of the best,” he told the high-powered crowed.
The 2018 Clive Davis Visionary Award was presented by Davis to Jody Gerson, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group (who was accompanied at the party by her 23-year-old son, Julian Swirsky). “I’ve known her since her early days as a song plugger,” said Davis. Gerson recalled the “beautiful handwritten notes” she would receive from Davis — often turning down her song pitches. “It taught me to be resilient,” she said. Davis praised Gerson for using her position “to educate and inspire the next generation.”
Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald, Atlantic Records chairman/CEO and chairman/COO, respectively, credited their teams for Atlantic’s recognition as label of the year. Greenwald then quickly told Kallman: “You forgot Max [Lousada, CEO, recorded music, Warner Music Group] and Stephen Cooper [CEO, WMG] — our bosses.” He responded: “Don’t want to get fired.”
As industry leaders new and old arrived at Nobu Fifty Seven, many walked the red carpet — as did the mascot of the insurance company Aflac, which co-sponsored the event along with Citi and Nielsen.
Amid the many top-level changes in the music business in the past year, The Billboard Power 100 party also served as celebration of the new guard.
Paul Rosenberg, the new chairman/CEO of Def Jam, who appears on the cover of the Power 100 issue with longtime management client Eminem, paused by a poster of the magazine cover as he arrived. “You’re not going to sell many copies this week,” he joked.
Ron Perry, named earlier this month as the new chairman/CEO of Columbia Records, reported he’s been texting some 40 times a day with Columbia executive vp/GM Joel Klaiman. Perry also recalled his first appearance on a Billboard power list as part of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013.
It was also an evening for longtime industry colleagues to reconnect. Martin Bandier, chairman/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, was met on his arrival by Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment and chairman, Full Stop Management. Julie Swidler, executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment, warmly greeted Susan Genco, co-president, Azoff MSG Entertainment.
Barbara Carr, co-manager with Jon Landau of Bruce Springsteen, came with Tracy Nurse, a longtime senior label executive and international marketing consultant whose clients have included Springsteen and the late David Bowie. Landau was under the weather and could not attend, said Carr. The two were joined by Marilyn Laverty, president of Shore Fire Media. Scott Borchetta, president/CEO Big Machine Label Group, paused in his conversation with Avery Lippman, founder/president of Republic Records, to accept a well-wisher’s congratulations.
And for most attendees, including Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer chief marketing officer Citi, the Power 100 party was just a warm-up for the biggest week of the year for the music industry. Breithaupt lifted a glass a wine and said, “Happy Grammys!”
Additional reporting by Melinda Newman.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.