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Executive Turntable: Moves at Warner Records, Big Machine, Los Angeles Philharmonic & More

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Gail Samuel has been promoted to president of the Hollywood Bowl and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, it was announced Wednesday (Jan. 22) by LA Phil chief executive officer and David C. Bohnett chief executive officer chair Chad Smith. The announcement was made on behalf of the LA Phil’s board of directors and music & artistic director Gustavo Dudamel.

“The LA Phil has been my professional home, and I’m eager to move into this next phase of my work here,” said Samuel. “For its nearly 100-year history, the Hollywood Bowl has been central to the cultural life of Los Angeles. It’s been a thrill working on behalf of this beautiful County park, and I look forward to greater opportunity to create a vision for its future as the LA Phil’s summer home and as a vital experience for all Angelenos.”

Samuel most recently served as executive director of the LA Phil, leading operations at the Hollywood Bowl including programming jazz, world music, orchestral pops and pop/rock presentations and managing the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and human resources, strategy and special projects. In her new role, Samuel will provide strategic leadership for the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford and operational oversight for all of the organization’s venues. She has been with the LA Phil for more than 25 years.


Warner Records has named public relations veteran Darren Baber as senior vp, media & strategic development, the company announced Tuesday (Jan. 21). He will report to executive vp, media & strategic development Laura Swanson and be based out of the company’s Los Angeles headquarters.

Said Swanson of Baber, “He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm to his post and is widely admired for his unique and ingenious artist campaigns.”

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“For most of my life and professional career, I’ve been a fan of Warner Records, its rich history, and iconic roster of artists,” Baber added. “I’m thrilled to become part of the label’s exciting new chapter.”

Baber joins Warner Records from Epic Records, where he worked for six years as vp of publicity. During his tenure there, he played a key role in the success of such artists as Fifth Harmony, Meghan Trainor and Camila Cabello. He previously worked at Capitol Music Group, Virgin Music Group and BWR Public Relations.


Ayla Owen has been named vp, sync & creative services for Europe at Warner Chappell Music, the publisher announced Tuesday (Jan. 21). Based out of London, Owen will report to Warner Chappell executive vp and global head of sync Rich Robinson.

Owen joins Warner Chappell from the global advertising agency BBH, where she served as head of music and launched the company’s dedicated music division Black Sheep Music. During her 15 years there, she pioneered an approach that saw the company developing long-term music partnership strategies for clients. A key part of this strategy involved the integration of consumer-facing editorial such as the emerging music tastemaker blog The Most Radicalist, which she launched in 2014. She previously worked as a music supervisor for a number of television production companies including Princess Productions and Jonathan Ross’s Hot Sauce TV.

“I’m very excited to be joining a company that’s determined to reinvent the role of music publisher,” said Owen in a statement. “We’re here to help build songwriters’ stories, to breathe new life into catalogues and put the spotlight on songwriters and composers. There is enormous potential at WCM and I’m hugely energised by the creative and commercial opportunities that lie ahead for the business.”

Owen will be supported in her new role by Andrew Howell, who has been promoted to UK head of sync, a newly-created position. Additionally, Laura Willoughby has joined the team as global senior creative brand manager; she will work with senior vp, creative services Ashley Winton. Willoughby moved to Warner Chappell from Warner Music UK, where she worked with the sync team for over four years.


The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), a global coordination and support body for the independent music sector, revealed its newly-elected board of directors in a press release Tuesday (Jan. 21).

Joining the 15-person WIN board, which will continue to be chaired by Justin West of Secret City Records, are five new directors: Francesca Trainini (PMI) Garry West (Compass Records), who previously served as WIN board observer; Jörg Heidemann (VUT); Lisa Levy (Robbins Entertainment); and Zena White (Partisan Records). Additionally, Jason Peterson of GoDigital Media Group joins the board as an observer.

“We are delighted to welcome new directors to our Board,” said WIN chief operating officer Charlie Phillips in a statement. “Francesca, Garry, Jörg, Lisa, Zena and Jason together bring with them a very broad range of experience, insight and diversity to compliment our existing Board. I am excited to be working with this group of leading executives from our sector to best serve the global independent community moving forward.”

WIN’s outgoing directors are Darius Van Arman, Horst Weidenmüller, Louis Posen, Martin Mills and Vic Zaraya.


Concord Music Publishing has named Tom Coulson-Smith as the company’s director of A&R, it was announced Wednesday (Jan. 22).

Coulson-Smith hails from Warner Chappell, where he signed BRIT Rising Star and BBC Sound of 2020 winner Celeste and worked with Lianne La Havas, Andy Burrows, Kideko, George Morgan and Winnie Raeder. He also oversaw the company’s joint venture with the 13 Artists publishing roster.

Coulson-Smith’s new appointment reunites him with Concord Music Publishing executive vp worldwide A&R Kim Frankiewicz, with whom he previously worked at Imagem prior to Concord’s acquisition of it. He will report to Frankiewicz out of Concord’s London office.

“I’m delighted to be working with Kim, the amazing team and fantastic roster at Concord,” said Coulson-Smith in a statement. “The culture and ethos here is one that I really resonate with, and one that I feel has a massive appeal to artists and songwriters. It’s a really exciting time for the company and I feel privileged to be part of it.”


Big Machine Label Group has revamped its music streaming team led by vice president, digital consumption Dave Kelly, the company announced Tuesday (Jan. 21). As part of the revamp, Courtney Daly and Jasmine Byrne have been promoted to manager, streaming — a role also filled by new hires Marie Wapelhorst and Bekah Digby. In addition, Nathan Thomas has been hired as streaming coordinator.

“The focus of our evolving department is to maximize exposure for our incredible roster of new music while increasing consumption of our extensive catalog,” said Kelly in a statement. “Working with our amazing streaming partners, we will focus on growing our existing artists’ profiles across all platforms while introducing our new talent to the diverse consumer bases.”

Daly started at Big Machine as an intern in 2016 and Byrne began in 2018 following a stint in marketing and commercial revenue at Warner Records in Los Angeles. Digby has worked at Universal Music Group Nashville and Capitol Christian Music Group, while Wapelhorst has served in positions at Sony/ATV and Cold River Records. Thomas was previously Big Machine’s operations intern.


Indie label Metal Blade Records has appointed Tracy Vera as president and Heather Parsons as general manager, it was announced Thursday (Jan. 23). The label’s current roster includes Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, King Diamond, The Black Dahlia Murder and Cannibal Corpse.

Vera, who has been with Metal Blade since 1990, most recently worked as the label’s chief financial officer and general manager. Parsons joined the company in 2002 and has handled office management, inventory management and production duties.


Night After Night, an agency that connects with brands with artists, has hired Jessica Curtis as director of partnerships, it was announced Friday (Jan. 24).

Curtis joins Night After Night from Pearl Jam, Inc. and Curtis Management, where she worked as marketing and brand director for the iconic band and their Monkeywrench Records label and accompanying film division. During her tenure there, she also served as part of the management team for Yusuf/Cat Stevens and other artists while overseeing artist-led brand partnerships for Sonos, Major League Baseball, New Era, Vans and others.


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