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Music Industry Heavyweights Attend 2018 Billboard Power 100
On Jan. 25 Billboard magazine unveiled its Power 100 list, honoring the current players who are blazing new paths and scaling new horizons in the music industry, The annual GRAMMY Week event in celebration of the new list was hosted at Manhattan, New York's chic Nobu 57, drawing music industry magnates and top-selling artists as well as the honorees of Billboard's Visionary, Executive of the Year and Label of the Year awards.
With the idea of the Power 100 list, the concept of power and what it means to those in the industry takes on different meanings.
For Daniel Glass, founder and president of Glassnote Entertainment (and No. 81 on the list), the P in power stands for passion.
"I think power moves the needle and really furthers the development of music and artist," said Glass. "I think it comes with respect, passion and perseverance."
"Power ought to be a couple of things," noted Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy, who ranked as No. 44 on the list. "In our business, it ought to be good judgment and particularly the ability to judge talent and art and recognize the next generations that are coming through. Power also has to do with creating an environment where an artist's career can flourish and soar. Power is just being fair and open-minded and mentoring and bringing along the next generation of music people and executives."
"I think a lot of people at the party here do lead by example," said Pentatonix member Kirstin Maldonado. "They are very powerful in what they stand for and how they use their power."
Mentors have been important for many people on the list, ranging from parents to music teachers to executives to other artists who fostered future talent. They have left indelible impressions on those they've worked with.
When asked about mentoring in today's business world, which has changed measurably over the last decade, Adam Alpert, CEO of Disruptor Records and Selector Songs (No. 76), remarked, "It's hard to bridge that generational gap, but those who are able to are fortunate. What is more prevalent is the younger generation working more together and trying to help each other more. And realizing that it's not so much about competition but there's room for everyone to be successful and there's always room for more great music."
Artists at the event also offered words of advice for younger people who wanted to follow in their footsteps, even being younger themselves. Pentatonix's Scott Hoying recalled how his group said yes to everything, taking on many gigs, creating as much content as possible and meeting whomever they could meet.
"Saying yes, gaining momentum and creating a network is so important," said Hoying. "A lot of people say no to a lot of things because they're nervous or anxious about it, but stepping outside of your comfort zone is what is going to make you grow."
Harrison Mills, one half of GRAMMY-nominated electronic duo Odesza, feels that authenticity is sometimes unappreciated, or not as important to some people as it should be.
"Copping trends can really hurt you in the long run," he said. "If you're trying to build a career, think about how you want to sound in 10 years — think about yourself and what you want to represent and not a trend."
On the business side, Glass stressed learning the history of the business. "Learn what the predecessors did to pave the way," he advised. "It's really important to respect the past before you go forward."
The awards presentation was a good place to start, as it highlighted individuals whose careers have flourished and thrived in the long haul, building upon lessons from the past.
Clive Davis introduced Jody Gerson, CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, who received this year's Visionary Award.
"After three decades of experience, she has built a truly wonderful track record identifying and developing talent," said Davis. "She is the highest-ranking female executive in music and the only female global chairman in music and she's the first woman CEO of a major music publishing company."
Gerson's signings have included the Bee Gees, Prince, Adele, Coldplay, and many others. Upon accepting the award, She told Davis, "I actually learned how to be a publisher by pitching songs to you for all those years." She joked that he turned most of them down initially, but that experience taught her resilience.
Atlantic Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald and Chairman/CEO Craig Kallman accepted the award for Label of the Year, sharing the honor with their superiors, dedicated staff and artists. The company had the biggest album of 2017 with Ed Sheeran's ÷, which sold the equivalent of 2.8 million albums. They had the first Hot 100 No. 1 single in 19 years from a female rapper, Cardi B with "Bodak Yellow." They also scored five of the most streamed songs of last year.
Live Nation Entertainment CEO/Director Michael Rapino topped the Power 100 list this year. Since joining Live Nation in 2005, he quadrupled the company's enterprise value. It is now up to $9 billion, and Billboard estimates that the company accounted for 64 percent of the tickets sold in North America in 2017.
"I think it's a great time in the business," Rapino told the crowd upon accepting the Executive of the Year award. "Sometimes we have a live versus recorded debate and we love both sides of the business, but it's great to see the live side doing well, helping sell some concert tickets and some music. It's equally great to see subscription and record labels booming and growing back. Both sides are incredible. There are 41 new entries on the [Power 100] list, so hopefully we get a whole new generation of young, diverse individuals, both on live and recorded, continuing to make this the best place to work."
— billboard (@billboard) January 26, 2018
After the ceremony, John Amato, president of the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group expressed his pleasure at seeing the GRAMMYs returning to New York City this year for the milestone 60th GRAMMY Awards for the first time in 15 years and commended Portnow as a "true visionary."
"I really love working with him on this event as well as our GRAMMY contenders issue," Amato said. "I'm so excited for the show."
For Portnow, who was born and raised in New York, and who started his career here, the GRAMMYs return to New York is special and exciting.
"Everybody's pumped," declared Portnow. "I think the excitement is palpable. There are a lot of statistical reasons why we should be here. Half our members are east of the Mississippi. Half of the business is here. New York being the home of so many iconic and important music styles. The venues and the clubs and the history."
He views this trip back to New York as a chance to experiment and try new things never done before. He noted that while some may be rousing successes and some may not, it will be an exciting learning and growing experience for the GRAMMY Awards.
(Bryan Reesman is a New York-based freelance writer.)