Music Industry Moves: Warner Records Ups Mike Chester to Executive VP of Promotion & Commerce

Mike Chester
Courtesy of Jonathan Weiner

Mike Chester has been upped to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Promotion & Commerce for Warner Records. According to the announcement, in his expanded role, Chester will continue to lead the label’s promotion department while also overseeing its strategy across streaming, digital, and commercial platforms and accounts. Chester is based at the company’s Los Angeles headquarters and reports to Co-Chairman & COO Tom Corson.

Since joining Warner Records in 2018 as EVP of Promotion, Chester has led the overhaul of the label’s promotion team and strategy, helping to build hits for Dua Lipa, Saweetie and others.

“The creation of this new post not only recognizes Mike’s wide-ranging creative vision and unparalleled drive, but reflects the rapid evolution of the media landscape,” said Corson. “As fans consume music from multiple sources, from radio to streaming to gaming, boundaries between platforms are increasingly fluid. We’re fortunate to have an executive of Mike’s deep knowledge, experience, and passion to bring together these key promotional and commercial areas under a unified strategic approach. Combined with his outstanding artist relations skills, Aaron and I both feel Mike is the perfect choice to leverage exciting newfound opportunities for our amazing talent and their music.”

“I’m thrilled to take this next step in my career under the incredible leadership of Tom and Aaron,” said Chester. “The people at Warner are phenomenal, and our artist roster – from emerging talent to superstars – is delivering one fantastic record after another. Long-term artist development is our top priority, and the avenues to bring more music to more fans are multiplying by the day. I’m looking forward to working with our promo and commerce teams to break records and build careers in a hugely dynamic, expanding musical environment.”

Chester came to Warner Records from Scooter Braun’s SB Projects, where he served for four years as SVP, Marketing and Promotion, working closely with Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and many other artists. He previously spent over a decade at Def Jam Recordings, rising to Vice President of Promotion. Chester began his career at Arista Records, moving to Atlantic Records before joining Island Def Jam in 2004.

+ Big Loud Records’ rock/alternative imprint, Big Loud Rock, has named A.J. Kasen senior vp of A&R. He arrives after stints at Better Noise Music, where he worked with Motley Crüe, AWOLNATION, Dirty Heads and Five Finger Death Punch, among others, and Lava Records, home to Lorde, Jessie J and Black Veil Brides, which he joined in 2011.

+ Symphonic Distribution has hired former Mavin Records digital chief Tunji Afonja as creative executive. According to the announcement, Afonja will be focused on creating collaborations between artists in Africa and in the U.S. He previously worked as a software provider, creative consultant and project lead for DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kevin Hart and others.

+ S10 Publishing has signed David Arkwright, a writer on Bella Poarch’s “Build a Bitch,” which has logged more than 500 million streams across multiple platforms, inspired nearly 5 million TikTok video creations and is approaching 300 million YouTube views.

Said Brandon Silverstein, S10 Entertainment founder and CEO: “From the moment I met David, I knew he was a special talent. The depth of his songwriting is what stood out, beyond just his success with ‘Build A Bitch.’ I am incredibly excited for him to join the S10 Publishing family alongside other incredible writers and I thank Naoki Osada and our Avex USA partners for joining S10 Publishing on this important deal.”

Wednesday, Aug. 4

JoJo Siwa has signed with CAA for representation in all areas worldwide. The Nickelodeon star-turned-global brand is a dancer, actress, singer and trendsetter whose trademark hair bow has seen accessory sales of more than 80 million, in addition to apparel, arts and crafts, cosmetics, home goods, party supplies and other consumer goods.

Siwa is set to tour in 2022 and will next star in and executive produce live-action musical “The J Team” (on Paramount+) as well as perform the film’s original soundtrack. In addition, Siwa serves as creative director and executive producer of the forthcoming talent series “Siwa’s Dance Pop Revolution” (on Peacock).

+ A new strategic alliance between London-based X-ray Touring and Artist Group International (AGI), part of Yucaipa’s Y Entertainment Group, brings to the table such X-ray clients as Coldplay, Eminem, Robbie Williams, Gorillaz, Queens Of The Stone Age, Linkin Park, Pixies, Stereophonics, Phoebe Bridgers, among many others. AGI’s roster includes Billy Joel, Metallica, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Linkin Park, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, The Strokes and Cage the Elephant.

Other music companies in which Yucaipa is invested include Independent Talent Group (ITG) and K2, LBI Entertainment talent management, Independent Sports & Entertainment, Steinberg Sports, APA, US promoter Danny Wimmer Presents and Spain’s Primavera Sound festival.

Tuesday, Aug. 3

Craig D’Souza (pictured) has joined WME as a partner, music co-heads Lucy Dickins, Kirk Sommer and Scott Clayton announced today. The UK-based D’Souza arrives from Primary Talent International, where he was an agent for 11 years.

D’Souza is credited with building Stormzy as a live act, from club shows in 2015 through to a sold-out world tour less than five years later.

D’Souza’s own career started at nightlife agency Mission Control where he would become managing director In 2007.

He brings with him to WME the acts Aitch, Arrdee, Dave, D-Block Europe, Fredo, Headie One, Jacob Banks, J Hus, Joy Crookes, Krept x Konan, Mist, MoStack and Young T & Bugsey, among others.

+ Relative Music Group, in partnership with Sony Music Publishing Nashville, has signed songwriter and producer Zach Abend to a worldwide publishing agreement. Abend has worked with HARDY, Ingrid Andress, Chris Lane, Chris Young, Cale Dodds, Matt Stell, Jess Moskaluke and Filmore, among others.

+ Position Music has signed songwriter and artist Layto to a worldwide publishing deal. A favorite of SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, Layto’s “Little Poor Me” and “Houndin’” have amassed more than 200 million streams.