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+ Gaming lifestyle brand XSET has teamed with music equipment giant Roland — maker of the TR-808 drum machine — for a new clothing collection called Drop The Bass. Celebrating the cultural impact of the 808, which has soundtracked seminal work by the likes of electronic dance music pioneer Giorgio Moroder and on albums by Kanye West (“808 Heartbreak”). The collection comes by way of noted streetwear designer Dennis Calvero and the iconic Roland logo and digital specs of the TR-808. The line, which includes bucket hats, T-shirts and hoodies, among other apparel and accessories, launched today (Sept. 2).

Elsewhere in XSET news, the first-ever club “residency” for a gaming entity was announced with Drai’s Beachclub and Nightclub venues in Las Vegas. The expansive spaces feature XSET-themed gaming cabanas, complete with custom XSET gaming consoles and design. XSET ambassadors like Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd are also set to appear live on stage.

“It’s an honor to partner with an incredible brand like Drai’s,” said XSET chief business development officer Clinton Sparks, pictured at left. “They are the number one hip hop club in the world — and understand not only the space but also how to produce unforgettable events and experiences. The fact they have the vision and innovative spirit to bring this to the culture and community makes XSET extremely excited to call them partners.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with XSET, which is quickly emerging as a leader in the esports and gaming space, to bring unprecedented activations to Drai’s,” said Dustin Drai, vp of marketing and entertainment for Drai’s Las Vegas (pictured at right). “This partnership is a colossal step in furthering the evolution of the gaming and nightlife communities, and we look forward to creating unmatched experiences with XSET.”

+ Sabrina Hutchinson, the veteran publicist and agent for media music composers, has formed Defiant Talent Management. She ran Defiant Public Relations for several years and until recently was an agent with First Artists Management.

Her client list includes award-winning “Star Wars” video game composer Gordy Haab; Joshua Mosley, now doing the Netflix series “My Dad the Bounty Hunter”; Kevin Matley (“Concrete Cowboy”); Hannah Parrott (Dreamworks Animation’s “The Croods: Family Tree” for Hulu and Peacock); and two of the composers in Universal’s just-announced Composers Initiative, Raashi Kulkarni (Netflix’s “Wedding Season”) and Pakk Hui.

+ Constantine Maroulis is fronting a new band and paying homage to the music of Foreigner and Journey. Called Foreigner’s Journey, the group features keyboardist Paul Kochanski, bassist Joe Pettengill, drummer Art Mambuca and guitarist Kevin Herrera and kicked off a fall tour this week. “These are the songs that made us — the soundtrack of our youth as we celebrate 40 years of MTV and come out of a nearly two-year shutdown,” says the two-time Tony Award nominee and “American Idol” alum. “People just want to rock out and hear great songs again. ‘Rock of Ages’ brought people back to a nostalgic time. Foreigner’s Journey is an extension of that experience, we often have great guests and I plan to bring my flair for theatrics to FJ and elevate the show to a national level!” Maroulis can also be heard Saturday nights on his radio program, “The Constantine Maroulis Show,” on WABC in New York City. See tour dates for Foreigner’s Journey here.

Wednesday, September 1

The Recording Academy, Berklee College of Music Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship and Arizona State University have announced the launch of the “Women in the Mix Study,” which will survey women and gender-expansive people working in the American music industry to better understand their roles and realities within the field. According to the announcement, the goal of the survey is to help inform diversity, equity and inclusion objectives and goals within the Recording Academy, the industry at large and advocacy groups working in this space. The survey is open through Sept. 20 to all women-identifying and gender-expansive professionals actively working in the music industry and is accessible here.

“We continue to embrace our responsibility to inspire and influence meaningful change for women in music,” said Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Co-President of the Recording Academy. “The Women In The Mix Study is the next key step in our commitment to deliver on this important work. Participation is mission-critical to gathering strong data to accelerate progress, and we encourage anyone working in music who identifies as a woman or as gender-expansive to take this survey and ask others in their music networks to do the same.”

“I am honored to expand on the impactful work initiated during my time at Berklee as I embark on my new journey at the Academy,” said Panos A. Panay, Co-President of the Recording Academy. “This survey will help us better understand the realities and aspirations of our peers and what crucial steps we as an industry must take to create a better world for women and gender-expansive people in music.”

Building upon baseline results constructed by the 2019 study by Berklee and Women in Music, “Women in the U.S. Music Industry: Obstacles and Opportunities,” the study will examine progress since the initial report, identify where continued work is needed, include expanded gender identities, further explore pathways into the industry, and look further into the roles of women in music. Allies are invited to forward the survey to acquaintances that meet these requirements and are working in music. The study, including the survey results, will be published in January 2022.

For more information about the Recording Academy’s diversity, equity & inclusion efforts, please visit: https://www.grammy.com/recording-academy/inclusion

+ Live Nation announced that Fabiana Kulick has joined the Concerts team as their new Head of Latin Marketing. She will lead marketing for Live Nation’s portfolio of Latin tours, as part of Live Nation Concerts’ Talent & Touring team and Marketing team, and be responsible for developing dynamic strategies for each artist, including national marketing efforts across mainstream and Latin media, with a focus on traditional and non-traditional marketing as well as media partnerships, integrated marketing strategies and more.

Most recently, Kulick worked as senior label manager and director of international repertoire at Warner Music Latina. In 2008, she managed artists and worked on production and marketing of live shows for artists such as Juan Luis Guerra, Calle 13, Tego Calderon, Earth Wind & Fire, David Guetta and others.

“As we continue to see the incredible rise of Latin music and touring to the forefront of mainstream culture, it is more important than ever that our Latin team continues to grow with and reflect the music and artists we are putting out on the road,” said Omar Al-joulani, Head of Talent & Touring for Live Nation Concerts. “Fabi’s brings nearly two decades of knowledge and experience working in the Latin space and we couldn’t ask for a stronger leader to head up our marketing efforts as we continue to ramp up the return of live music.”

+ Oak View Group, the global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, has named Chris Granger to lead OVG Facilities as its CEO. Based in Detroit, Mich., Granger will report to OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. His appointment comes on the heels of OVG’s announcement earlier this week to merge with hospitality provider Spectra to create a full-service live events company.

In his role, Granger will oversee OVG Facilities, OVG Media & Conferences, and the 32-member OVG Arena Alliance, and will also focus on sustainability, public safety, and sanitization solutions across all venues.

Most recently, Granger was group president of sports & entertainment with Ilitch Holdings, responsible for all aspects of business operations for the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, the company’s joint venture interest in 313 Presents, and the operations of Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, Detroit’s historic Fox Theater, DTE Energy Music Theater, Meadow Brook Amphitheater, and Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill. He previously served as president of the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Basketball Holdings; previously, he worked in various capacities for the NBA for 14 years.

Leiweke commented, “As we grow as a company, there are priorities that we have set to guide that growth. First, character, in all aspects of our organization. Second, a commitment to lead the industry and change the conversation. Third, to not operate in fear. What I admire most about Chris is he is a living example of all three. Anyone and everyone that has worked with him knows he is a class act and leads by example. In addition, he is like us, dreaming for what we could be as an industry and thinking outside the box. And finally, he believes that this is the time for us to be bold, to be entrepreneurial, and to grow this industry.”

+ Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) has named Susan Hilderley executive VP of business affairs. She will be based in Los Angeles and report to president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff. Hilderley will ovesee all legal matters for UMe and will work closely with Resnikoff and other senior executives to develop and execute new business and legal strategies. She will also be working with artist managers and attorneys, as well as all UMe departments, to help facilitate UMe’s opportunites to grow revenues through both traditional and non-traditional channels.

“Susan brings exemplary leadership skills, knowledge, and longstanding relationships with artist managers and attorneys to UMe,” Resnikoff said. “She is uniquely qualified to understand all aspects of our business with her extensive label experience at Geffen and IGA as well as her experience representing A-list artists at a top law firm.”

Hilderley joins UMe from King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP. She previously held several roles at UMG over more than 20 years, most recently serving as the executive VP and head of business and legal affairs at Interscope Geffen A&M Records. She began her career at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP. She is also the co-creator and instructor for the UCLA School of Law Music Industry Clinic, which gives law students the opportunity to represent real clients in the Los Angeles music community under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

Tuesday, August 31

RCA Records has announced the appointment of Carolyn Williams to the newly created role of executive vice president. According to the announcement, she will work with RCA’s executive team to oversee the company’s artist and label brand-management and marketing operations. RCA’s marketing, brand partnerships and touring and events departments now will report to Williams and she also will co-lead the newly created creative and content development team. Additionally, Williams will continue to lead RCA’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives where she will drive larger activities at the label and within the broader music industry.

Most recently, Williams served as RCA’s EVP of marketing, where she served as the marketing lead for Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R., Chris Brown, SZA, Alicia Keys, D’Angelo, Brockhampton and Childish Gambino, among others. Prior to RCA, she was with J Records (which merged with RCA in 2011).

Williams is an active member on the Executive Committee for the She Is The Music organization and is Co-Chair of the NY Chapter. She is also a co-founder of The Spark, an RCA Records quarterly thought leadership program created to generate ideas and conversation on a variety of topics with a mission to keep the company continuously connected and learning together. In 2020, she played a key role in developing Sony Music’s Your Voice, Your Power, Your Vote initiative. Williams is also the Executive Sponsor for RCA’s Black Music Action Committee.

+ Oak View Group, a venue-development, advisory and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries founded by Tim Lieweke and Irving Azoff, has announced a merger with Spectra, a leading venue management and hospitality provider. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Leiweke, CEO of OVG, commented, “This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities that will deliver a broad array of services to our clients. OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorships, coupled with Spectra’s leadership in food and beverage services will create a full-service live events company that will deliver a compelling and highly competitive set of offerings that meet our clients’ evolving needs.”

Dave Scott, CEO of Spectra, said, “This is an exciting development for Spectra and an important step in our journey to provide unparalleled services to our clients along with exciting growth opportunities for our team members as part of a larger, more diverse organization. This merger accelerates our existing strategy and will lead to significant opportunities to cross-sell food, beverage and sponsorship services across our combined client base.”

The merger is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles, with the headquarters for Spectra remaining in Philadelphia. UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to Oak View Group. Moelis & Company LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted as legal advisor to Spectra.

+ Universal Music Publishing Nashville has promoted Missy Roberts to vice president of A&R. She will continue reporting to Troy Tomlinson, chairman/CEO of the company’s Nashville division. An 18-year industry veteran, Roberts represents UMPG songwriters including Ingrid Andress, Justin Ebach, Paul DiGiovanni, Brandi Carlile, Derrick Southerland, Cole Taylor and others. She joined the company in 2012.

In making the announcement, Tomlinson said: “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Missy and watching her grow as a leader over a number of years. Her thoughtful approach when signing songwriters and setting up collaborations make her an absolutely excellent example of what A&R should look like.” Prior to joining UMPG, Roberts held A&R roles at Sony Music Nashville, Disney Music Publishing Nashville, Stage Three Music and EMI Music Publishing.

+ Warner Chappell Music today announced that Natalie Madaj will be stepping in to lead the digital team as the company’s new senior VP of global digital. Eric Mackay, the company’s EVP of global digital strategy, will be leaving the company to start a new venture but will stay on during the interim to assist with the transition; Madaj will officially start in her new role in early 2022.

Madaj joined Warner Chappell in 2018 as VP of digital licensing for North America and helped forge new relationships with companies including Equinox, Peloton, Snap and TikTok.

Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot, and Co-Chair and COO, Carianne Marshall, said, “Natalie has an incredible eye for identifying trends and has spent the last few years finding creative ways to integrate our writers’ songs into exciting new technologies. A strong leader and savvy dealmaker, her expertise will continue to be critical to our success.”

They added, “Digital has been a huge area of growth, and we can’t thank Eric enough for his leadership and contributions. Since joining us in 2015, he’s built a talented and forward-looking team that’s prioritized strengthening our relationships with DSPs around the world, landing and negotiating the best possible deals for our songwriters. We know he’ll continue to be successful in his future ventures.”

+ Domino Records has named Erin Thompson director of narrative and creative communications, based in Los Angeles. She had been director of publicity at ATO Records for two years and was previously with Grandstand Media for six years.

+ Kobalt has hired Cee Barrett as director of creative, based in Los Angeles. He will be responsible for discovering and signing songwriters as well as creating opportunities for the existing global Kobalt creative roster. Barrett joins Kobalt from BMI, where some of his key signings included Bryson Tiller, SZA, Ella Mai and Megan Thee Stallion.

Kobalt has a strong track record of helping artists and songwriters grow early in their career and Cee’s experience and strong talent discovery ability make him a perfect complement to the team as we strive to continuously enhance the support we give our clients,” said Kobalt Chief Creative Officer Sas Metcalfe.

+ Big Loud Records has named Duane Hobson director of promotion for the Southeast region. He will report to the company’s SVP of promotion, Stacy Blythe. He had previously worked in A&R roles at RCA Records, Sony/BMG, and Sony Music Nashville and in music industry programs at the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University.