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Rising Execs From Spotify, Downtown, Capitol Among Music’s New Leaders

Every year Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business, looking for representatives in the creative community, film, TV, music and digital. This year’s music industry group has a heavy East Coast focus: We selected executives from forward thinking companies such as Spotify and Downtown Music Holdings and tastemakers from top labels Sony Music Nashville, Republic and Capitol Records along with concert agents from ICM and UTA.


Music has always been a male-dominated business, but Asciolla aims to achieve gender parity in the streaming world. (Or at least among the 248 million users of Spotify.) Her mission as the head of artists & label marketing for North America? “To empower female creators through global partnerships,” she says, citing the immersive Billie Eilish Experience and her innovative use of podcasts to promote Chinese-American singer-songwriter Mxmtoon as examples. “It’s of the utmost importance that we ensure equality across Spotify while celebrating, empowering and educating a new generation of young female artists.”


Streaming sales are one thing, but filling seats to arena shows — where the best seat can cost a couple thousand dollars, as opposed to $1.29 for a single — is quite another. Clemens 8 acknowledges that he worked on “some of the biggest tours of the year for superstars” — and to the surprise of many in the music industry, that includes the reunited Jonas Bros. “I’m grateful to contribute to their success,” Clemens says, downplaying his role. To put it in context: He’s responsible for 1,500 shows to date — from Post Malone’s first as headliner to veterans Guns N’ Roses — and managing a global team that handles not only music but also comedy, social influencers and podcasting.


Coslov came to Republic after four years heading marketing at Ultra Music, and one young act epitomizes why he loves his new work home. “My proudest accomplishment over the last year is without a doubt the Greta Van Fleet campaign,” says Coslov, who helped the band of brothers from rural Michigan to achieve both industry respect (four Grammy nominations, one win) and international acclaim (global ticket sales in the tens of thousands). And yet no accusations of selling out accompanied their meteoric success. “The biggest highlight to me is that the boys of Greta Van Fleet all manage to stay true to who they are.”


At 29, Grimes is a major player at an age when many of her peers are still figuring out what they want to do. So when did she know? “Never,” Grimes says. “I still don’t. Not knowing has opened me up and brought opportunities I never would have imagined having.” She founded the Cardi Brand Agency in 2008 and it led to posts at Def Jam Records, Spotify, and now Capitol Music Group. Her most gratifying accomplishment: graduating from being a Def Jam exec assistant after 41⁄2 years. “It was the only time I felt like something would never end,” she says of her starter gig. “l learned the most during that time. I’m so proud of myself for getting past that hump because some people never do.”


Carving out a significant slice of the music publishing business is tough enough, but Kalifowitz, who founded Downtown just 12 years ago, has bigger dreams, such as reinventing it on an international scale. “We’re reimagining the way a global music business operates,” he says. His strategy is relatively simple: Invest in and manage businesses that further Kalifowitz’s end goal of “a more equitable music ecosystem,” such as the acquisition of AVL Digital Group. The company’s clients — this year rights holders for George Gershwin and Miles Davis joined a roster that includes John Lennon and One Direction — have also benefited from Downtown’s success in the form of a 70% increase in royalties.


“It wasn’t until I was in the job that I realized it’s what I’m meant to do,” says Lindsey of the Sony Music Nashville A&R gig that’s secured her perch atop country’s heap of young executives. Six years in, she can count among her accom- plishments signing future Grammy winner Maren Morris in 2015 and launching Luke Combs’ still-rising star. Her own ascent began after col- lege, as she helped her older sister Hillary blossom into one of Music City’s hottest song- writers. “I started pitching her songs and booking co-writes,” she recalls. “Then I became a sounding board for her.” Those training days prepared Lindsey for the big leagues she plays in now. “Nothing beats hear- ing 25,000 people sing back a song I knew I had a small part in,” she says. “Knowing it could be healing someone or help- ing someone forget about their bad day — it’s the best.”


She’s shattered the glass ceiling in the male-dominated hip-hop industry, but Reynolds- Drumm’s gender nonetheless occasionally threatens to hold her back. “I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve expressed a thought or opinion only to be ignored until a male counterpart backed it up,” she says. “We still need more women in positions of leadership.” Those men should learn to listen to her voice of experience. This is, after all, the woman who helped broker Migos’ spot on Drake’s 2018 world tour as well as road trips and movie and endorsement deals for Lil Yachty, Lil Baby and feminist rapper Rapsody. Reynolds-Drumm says her greatest achievement thus far has been creating a formidable roster with her business partner and fellow ICM agent Yves Pierre: “We don’t just sign artists to add names to a piece of paper or chase trends. We sign what we listen to and what we believe in.”

Variety’s New Leaders 2019: CreativesSocial Impact | Music | TV | Digital | Film | Agents/Managers/Lawyers

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