With news on Wednesday that the new ABC show “Boy Band” had enlisted Timbaland, the veteran music producer who has worked with Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott and Aaliyah, to round out a judging panel that includes Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and Spice Girls’ Emma Bunton, comes word that another high-ranking music executive was in line for the gig.
According to sources, Republic Records Group president Charlie Walk, whose 25-plus-year career as a promotion executive and later a label head, includes No. 1 hits by Shakira, The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, had been offered the third seat at the table (Rita Ora hosts the show, which launches June 22 and awards the five winning performers a recording contract with Hollywood Records), but Republic parent company Universal Music Group quashed the idea. The reason: Walk already “has a day-job,” according to an insider.
He wouldn’t be the first to run into such an issue. Back in 2013, hitmaker Dr. Luke was in final negotiations to join “American Idol,” until then-Sony Music head Doug Morris said no way. At the time, and before his contentious court battle with Kesha over allegations of harrassment, Luke had just negotiated a lucrative contract for his label and few at the company were keen on having his time split between making records and critiquing pop star hopefuls who would ultimately be recording for a competitor.
Former Epic Records chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid did get the OK from Sony to judge “The X Factor,” but even he — again, prior to more recent allegations of inappropriate conduct — admitted in subsequent interviews that the demands of the show distracted him from his chief executive role at the label. You could, however, say Reid happened upon the right formula: tender a three-season run on television, then take your most promising grads — the girls of Fifth Harmony — and make them a bonafide success story.
All of this got us thinking about which other executives would be prime candidates for TV — after all, there may be an opening for one on the soon-to-be-rebooted “American Idol.”
- Scooter Braun: Not only one of the most consistently successful independent managers (SB Projects clients include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kanye West, and Usher, among others), at 35, Braun is also among the youngest and boasts the largest social media following (4.1 million followers on Twitter alone) of any music executive currently working. Those credentials should be enough, but throw in Bieber’s impressive run — he’s currently featured on two of the top songs in the U.S., Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” and DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” — and Braun easily ties Simon Cowell’s teen-launching track record. In fact, some may recall that Bieber outsold Cowell act One Direction in a hotly contested first week battle back in Nov. 2015. But even beyond the Biebs, his success rate in breaking new acts is unparalleled — or at least hasn’t been seen by an upstart manager in many years. In a word, Braun is a no-brainer.
- Julie Greenwald: A New Yorker with sass and brass, and the co-chairman and chief operating officer of Atlantic Records, possibly in that order, Greenwald can take credit for launching such superstar acts as Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. Her pedigree includes hip-hop too, having worked with some of the genre’s most important rappers, chief among them: Jay Z. She’s also the person currently guiding the recording career of the mother of all singing competition winners: Kelly Clarkson, who signed with Atlantic last year. Attitude and smarts: a winning combination.
- Chris Anokute: An A&R wiz whose resume includes stints at Capitol, where he worked with Katy Perry, Island Def Jam, and his current home, Epic Records, where he steers the Fifth Harmony ship, Anokute can be credited — or cursed for — the smash hit “Work From Home.” At 34 and with a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of pop and R&B history, the always animated Anokute has ears beyond his years.
- Dina LaPolt: An attorney who represents Aersomith’s Steven Tyler, Deadmau5, and Britney Spears, LaPolt is often described as a no-nonsense badass and she wears the badge well. Her championing of songwriter rights has taken the lawyer from corporate boardrooms to Capitol Hill — and she hasn’t gone quietly to either — while her understanding of arena-sized acts in multiple genres has grown her independent firm exponentially. But ultimately, music’s TV face needs personality, which LaPolt has in spades.
- Ty Stiklorius: The definition of a multi-hyphenate business woman, Stiklorius is John Legend’s longtime manager and also represents Alicia Keys, Ciara, and Lindsey Stirling. Currently running her own shop, Friends at Work, she had previously been partnered with Troy Carter — now a top executive at Spotify — at a time when he was managing the likes of Lady Gaga and Meghan Trainor. But it’s in stepping out on her own as a film and TV producer, with EP credits on the Oscar-winning “La La Land” and the gone-too-soon series “Underground,” that Stiklorius has proven to be a real force in the industry, with no telling where she’ll go from here.