BILLBOARD MAGAZINE | Oct. 20, 2016

From Drake to Sia to Shawn Mendes, today’s superstars wouldn’t be topping charts, filling arenas and disrupting the music business without the vision and hustle of these pioneering young executives.

 Read this story in Billboard magazine

ADAM ALPERT, 36

CEO; Disruptor Records, Selector Songs

Keeps The Chainsmokers smoking: As manager, A&R rep and label boss rolled into one, Alpert masterminded The Chainsmokers‘ meteoric pop crossover this year to the tune of three triple-platinum, Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits, including their current No. 1 smash, “Closer.” In 2016, Alpert added XYLØJocelyn Alice and Vanic to the Disruptor Records roster, which also includes Lost Kings and Life of Dillon. The record label, one part of his three-pronged partnership with Sony and Sony/ATV, sold more than 9 million singles in the past year.

Make America _____ Again: “Pay for music.”

 

CHRIS ANOKUTE, 33

Senior vp A&R, Epic Records

Fifth Harmony’s hit man: Having charted platinum success with Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea, Anokute scored again in 2016 with Fifth Harmony‘s “Work From Home,” which has sold 1.4 million downloads.

Big Break: Anokute was interning at Def Jam and “developing songwriters and producers as my side hustle” when he submitted a song written by Vada Nobles and Alisha Brooks to Rihanna‘s production team. The track, “Pon De Replay,” helped RiRi sign with Def Jam and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Digital Songs chart.

 

SOPHIE ASH, 27

Project manager, Parkwood Entertainment

Executes Beyoncé’s vision: The New York University Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music graduate served as the project manager for the rollout of Bey’s Lemonade, which has sold 1.7 million units, as well as the Formation Tour ($256 million in ticket sales). She also functioned as road manager for the Parkwood acts that opened, Chloe x Halle and Ingrid.

First Musical Crush: “Tupac Shakur. He mobilized so much change in music.”

 

Beyonce performs onstage during TIDAL X: 1015 on Oct. 15, 2016 in New York City.  

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JANE BELL, 36

Senior international creative manager of songwriting services, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

Global songwriting ambassador: The London expat moved to Warner/Chappell’s New York office in July to focus on championing international songwriters in the United States and vice versa. One of her first coups: signing dance-music phenom Bully, who wrote Galantis‘ hit “No Money,” which reached No. 7 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and is nearing 180 million YouTube views.

Make America _____ Again: “Trump-free.”

 

AMANDA BERMAN-HILL, 33

Senior vp/head of West Coast writer relations, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Helped Sia have “The Greatest” year: The hitmakers that Berman-Hill has signed include Rachel Platten, whose singles “Fight Song” and “Stand by You” have sold 3 million and 886,000-plus downloads, respectively. She also signed the writers behind much of Sia‘s success: Jesse Shatkin, who co-wrote “Chandelier,” and Greg Kurstin, who co-wrote and produced “Cheap Thrills” and Sia’s current hit, “The Greatest.” Kurstin also co-wrote Adele‘s “Hello.”

 

WILL BLOOMFIELD, 37

Partner, Modest Management

Boy-band guru: As co-manager of One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer, Bloomfield developed the boy bands into two of the world’s biggest pop acts. Now, as 1D members pursue solo careers after earning an estimated $24.2 million in 2015 and 5SOS contemplates the future after grossing $38.6 million on its just-ended tour (according to the band’s agency CAA), Bloomfield is grooming British artist-producer MNEK, who has worked with Beyoncé and Diplo.

Biggest Splurge: Common Projects sneakers. “It’s something I’m having regular therapy for.”

Zedd, Lesley Olenik Galindo, Skrillex and Tyler, The Creator photographed on Oct. 4 at SPiN at The Standard in Los Angeles.

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AILEEN CROWLEY, 36

Vp global streaming strategy, Universal Music Group

Universal’s streaming strategist: Upon joining UMG in summer 2015, the Nashville-based Crowley and her team took on the job of promoting The Weeknd‘s “Can’t Feel My Face” on Spotify. “We called up every territory to get it on the playlists and did social media around it,” says the Columbia University graduate. The result: The Weeknd’s music was streamed 79 million times the first week his album Beauty Behind the Madness was available. Since then, a Universal song has been No. 1 on Spotify for 47 out of the 59 weeks that Crowley has worked at the company.

 

“No industry has been disrupted as severely as music was by technological innovation,” says Harleston, photographed Sept. 30 at Universal Music Group’s Santa Monica headquarters. “We fought through that and have come around to adjusting, evaluating and investing in new business models, and we’re starting to see growth in terms of revenue.”

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MILDRED DELAMOTA, 39

Vp content creation, Def Jam Recordings

Keeping Kanye and Bieber in the spotlight: The 16-year label veteran oversees content creation for Def Jam’s marketing initiatives, media campaigns and social platforms, which during the past year have included rollouts for Justin BieberAlessia Cara and Kanye West‘s The Life of Pablo. In September, the San Juan, Puerto Rico, native launched the “I Am Def Jam” video campaign, which offers fans behind-the-scenes looks at the label’s artists. Desiigner was the first act to be featured, and Delamota says the goal “is to showcase every artist on the roster.”

First Musical Crush: “Menudo. When I lived in Puerto Rico, they were like The Beatles.”

WALEED DIAB, 38

Head of major-label business development, Google Play/YouTube

Music-licensing Jedi: Diab’s work in 2015 with major labels laid the legal groundwork for the launch of YouTube Red, the company’s ad-free subscription service, in the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Since joining Google in 2011, his work to untangle the web of music licenses helped expand Google Play Music to more than 60 territories worldwide. From a licensing perspective, “YouTube has one of the most complex music offerings out there,” says Diab, “given the breadth and variance of music on the platform.”

 

MARLENY DOMINGUEZ, 38

Vp marketing, Republic Records

Turned the tide on leaked Weeknd LP: The former receptionist for Koch Entertainment now oversees marketing campaigns for Republic’s roster. When The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness album leaked ahead of its release, Dominguez and her New York-based team put out The Leak, a free digital-only mixtape of album snippets that generated 2 million YouTube streams and became the top search term for the leak — shutting down the pirates and parlaying the loss into a win.

Biggest Splurge: “Uber! I don’t like being underground without cell service.”

 

JOSH EASLER, 38

Vp promotion, Arista Nashville

Knows the way to No. 1 in Nashville: “It’s difficult to get traction on a new band,” says Easler — though he seems to have little trouble himself. When he worked Old Dominion‘s debut single, “Break Up With Him,” to No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart in fall 2015, new Sony Nashville boss Randy Goodman noticed. In February, the Bangor, Maine, native rose from national promotion director at RCA to heading the department at sister label Arista, where he presided over Carrie Underwood‘s return to the No. 1 slot on Radio Airplay — twice in a little over four months — with “Heartbeat” and “Church Bells.”

 

JUSTIN ESHAK, 36

Senior vp A&R, Columbia Records

Signed Leon Bridges, Ruth B and Cherub:An analytics whiz who leads Columbia Records’ A&R department, Eshak has been instrumental in signing and developing breakthrough acts Leon BridgesCherub and Ruth B, whose 2016 single “Lost Boy” has sold 1.3 million downloads. He also worked with Chainsmokers manager Adam Alpert to grow the duo from “the ‘Selfie’ dudes” to two-time top 40 radio chart-toppers in 2016. “For them to no longer be referred to [by that song] is an accomplishment,” says the father of two. “That could have sank other acts.”

Big Break: Hired out of college to work at Republic Records by president/COO Avery Lipman.

 

JP EVANGELISTA, 30

Head of music and talent, Vevo

Promoted Ariana in “Grande” fashion: The Queens native, who has been promoted six times within the company, was the driving force behind the promotion of Ariana Grande‘s 2016 album Dangerous Woman. Her Vevo Presents concert in May, which employed 3D technology, racked up 25 million views in less than four months — “extremely strong for an original content release,” he says.

 

Liam Payne of One Direction performs at Staples Center on Dec. 4, 2015 in Los Angeles. 

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MATTHEW FERRIGNO, 32

Partner, We Are Voices Entertainment; vp brand partnerships, Maverick

Lil Wayne’s and Nicki Minaj’s brand man:As the head of brand partnerships for Maverick, Ferrigno broadened hip-hop’s commercial appeal through high-profile campaigns with Lil Wayne (for Samsung) and Nicki Minaj (T-Mobile). “There are so many people out there trying to do brand partnerships,” says the Fairfield University grad. “You have to prove your value by knowing your clients really well.” Up next: spearheading Maverick’s new venture WAV/E, a corporate-booking unit that has worked with cloud computing companies Box and Salesforce.

Big Break: “Getting an internship at Island Records after about 10 emails. I was persistent from day one.”

 

WALTER FRYE, 36

Vp global entertainment and premier events, American Express

Killing It With Cardmember Exclusives:Frye helped Amex score exclusive presales to three of the year’s top five tours, making 2016 one of the company’s biggest touring years ever. He also oversaw Amex’s continued expansion into festivals with Coachella and Panorama app integrations that allowed concertgoers to pay for food, drinks and merch on their phones. “It was a real game-changer,” he says, “in terms of being able to demonstrate the unique access of being in the right time and place to cardmembers.”

 

ANDREW GERTLER, 27

President/founder, AG Artists

The manager behind Shawn Mendes: After watching A Great Big World perform “Say Something” on The Voice in 2013, Gertler Googled the official video and landed instead on a cover by 15-year-old Canadian Shawn Mendes. The Chicago-raised Warner Music executive contacted Mendes’ parents, and “it all snowballed from there,” says Gertler, who became the singer-songwriter’s manager. The first single sold 150,000 in its first week — “a shocker for everyone.” Mendes’ debut release, Handwritten, has since sold 402,000 copies, and his latest, Illuminate, bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Biggest Splurge: “A combination of good New York restaurants and the John Varvatos store.”

 

ROBERT GIBBS, 39

Partner/co-head of West Coast urban music division, ICM Partners

Took J. Cole from Forest Hills Drive to HBO: With clients including J. Cole (and his Dreamville label), PartyNextDoor and Marc E. Bassy, Gibbs, who has worked in the industry since he was 19, is a leading agent in R&B/hip-hop. His greatest success thus far: Cole’s Forest Hills Drive Tour, which sold more than 570,000 tickets, grossed $20.1 million and culminated in an HBO special. “We approached the tour very differently,” says the Michigan native. Cole started in small-town venues, graduated to arenas and then literally brought it all back home to his native Fayetteville, N.C.

Biggest Splurge: “Sneakers. I have infra-red Nike AirMax sneakers, and every time I walk through an airport I’ll have, like, 10 people come up to me and say, ‘Those are amazing.'”

 

SAM HUNT, 36

Agent, The Windish Agency

Reps Diplo, Major Lazer and The xx: In February, Hunt brought Diplo to Pakistan, where he headlined a concert with local artists. Two weeks later, Diplo’s group Major Lazer became the first American act to play Cuba since the easing of diplomatic relations, performing a free show in Havana for 400,000 people. “It was the purest team effort I’ve ever been a part of,” says the Berkeley, Calif., native of the Cuba concert.

 

LARRY JACKSON, 35

Original content, Apple Music

Apple Music’s Mr. Exclusive: Jackson likens Apple Music’s 2016 to “the ’96 Bulls or the 2015 Warriors” — championship seasons by which other NBA teams are ­measured. “We seem to be in a really good zone,” he says, “making threes from outside the paint and taking it to the hoop.” As one of the executives leading Apple Music’s ­aggressive, ­newsmaking exclusives strategy, Jackson has had a transformative effect on the industry (to the occasional consternation of record labels). Five albums released exclusively on Apple Music in 2016 have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and, in September, Apple CEO Tim Cook credited the game plan with helping to swell the streaming ­service’s paid ­subscribers to 17 million — an increase of 2 million since June. Those releases include Travis Scott‘s first No. 1, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnightDrake‘s Views, which shattered the first-week U.S. streaming record with 245.1 million streams; Future‘s Evol; and Frank Ocean‘s Blonde.

Big Break: “My first real break was getting an ­internship at KMEL. I was 11 years old at the time, and once I got my foot in the door, I didn’t leave for the next eight years. I went from an ­apprenticeship to an ­internship to being the music director at age 16.”

 

DAVID JACOBS, 34

Partner, Grubman Shire & Meiselas P.C.

Florence Welch’s dealmaker: “Being a connector for my clients is what I do,” says Jacobs, whose clients include Florence Welch (of Florence & The Machine) and indie darling Blood Orange. The youngest partner in the history of his law firm, Jacobs helped negotiate Welch’s brand ambassadorship with Gucci, one of the hottest and most lucrative fashion houses. (Revenue for the first half of 2016: $2.1 billion.)

 

JORGE JUAREZ, 39

Co-CEO/co-founder, Westwood Entertainment

Latin music’s starmaker: With a company that includes management, booking, concert promotion, marketing and publishing, Juarez holds the key to success in Mexico, Latin music’s biggest marketplace, and is a master at breaking artists across all Latin territories and the United States. The Mexico City native reps 11 acts worldwide, including Yuri and Sin Bandera, whose 2016 comeback tour has grossed more than $50 million.

Make America ___ Again: “Latin.”

 

JASON KLARFELD, 33

Senior director of creative licensing and new media, SONGS Music Publishing

Synch master: The Tulsa, Okla., native and current Beverly Hills resident coordinated the placement of music from the Gershwin catalog in AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire TV series and a Christmas-season Apple iPad commercial and Diplo and Major Lazer tracks in Google and Old Navy spots. He also landed precleared catalog deals with Viacom, Vice Media and Condé Nast.

Big Break: Served as an assistant to Grammy-winning film composer James Newton Howard.

 

Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express.  

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JEFF KRONES, 34

Agent, Creative Artists Agency

Twenty One Pilots’ co-pilot: The England-born, Nashville-based agent, who is the son of manager Kip Krones, played a key role in grooming Twenty One Pilots into an arena and festival headliner. He also helped build Tori Kelly into a solid music hall act and prides himself on having a roster of genre-blurring acts that include Catfish & The Bottlemen and Chase Rice. “It’s reflective of the way fans listen to music,” says Krones.

Big Break: “Listening to my dad’s advice that live music was the future.”

 

JOSH KURFIRST, 38

Agent, personal appearances; William Morris Endeavor

Cornered the music festival market:Under Kurfirst’s direction, WME artists have booked more than half of North America’s major festival headlining slots for the past two years. The Beverly Hills-based father of four measures success “not by gross but by the shelf space.” When he joined WME in 2012 to run its festival team, Kurfirst (whose father Gary Kurfirst managed Talking Heads and The Ramones) seeded budding festivals with legitimizing acts and the agency now leverages headliners Calvin HarrisLCD Soundsystem and The Weeknd to give its up-and-coming artists greater exposure.

JBEAU LEWIS, 36

Music agent, United Talent Agency

Built UTA’s music division into a contender: Since leaving Creative Artists Agency, and clients like Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, in 2014, Lewis has beefed up UTA’s music division from a handful of agents to 100. “We aggressively started growing the business from the day I got here,” says the Dallas-raised former med school student, who specializes in helping superstars sidestep into other businesses, like Mariah Carey‘s three-picture Hallmark deal and Billy Corgan’s recent gig as president of TNA Wrestling. UTA’s purchase of The Agency Group in 2015 also pumped up its roster with such box-office draws as Guns N’ Roses and Muse.

Big Break: “Befriending Katy Perry shortly after I moved to Los Angeles and then discovering a few months later she was actually a musician. I started to help her book shows when her solo acoustic [act] drew 20 people to [the 165-capacity] Hotel Cafe.”

 

JENIFER MALLORY, 39

Senior vp international marketing, Sony Music Entertainment

Global marketing superstar: Running campaigns for three of the biggest global hits of all time — Pharrell Williams‘ “Happy,” Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” and John Legend‘s “All of Me” — was just a warm-up. In 2016, Mallory led Beyoncé, Sia and Adele to new worldwide sales highs, and The Chainsmokers, Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, G-EazyZayn MalikZara Larsson and Rachel Platten to international breakthroughs. Barbra StreisandJeff Lynne‘s ELO and David Bowie‘s Blackstar also benefited. “That’s what I love about this role. I work with such a diverse range of music.”

Biggest Splurge: “Soul Cycle and good tequila.”

 

Rob Stringer and John Legend attend a luncheon honoring Rob Stringer as UJA-Federation of New York Music Visionary of 2013 at The Pierre Hotel on June 21, 2013 in New York City.  

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DALLAS MARTIN, 32

Senior vp A&R, Atlantic Records

Helped Meek Mill inherit the Earth: Martin has an instinct for unlikely acts and unconventional music. “That’s what makes me different,” he says. He bet on reality TV personality K. Michelle’s R&B-meets-country sound and watched her latest set, More Issues Than Vogue, debut at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. He also A&R’d Meek Mill‘s Dreams Worth More Than Money, which won the 2016 Billboard Music Award for top rap album, and Omarion‘s single “Post to Be,” which sold more than 998,000 downloads.

 

LESLEY OLENIK, 36

Vp talent buying, Goldenvoice

Tyler, The Creator’s camp counselor: In 2011, when Odd Future‘s Tyler, The Creator was looking for a promoter/producer partner to help launch Camp Flog Gnaw, a carnival-themed mini-fest, Olenik Galindo got the nod, and a creative live-music concept was born. Flog Gnaw sold out at 2,500 and quickly outgrew its home in the parking lot outside of Los Angeles’ Staples Center. In 2016, it will take over 160-acre Exposition Park in South Los Angeles for two days (Nov. 12-13) after ­selling out of nearly 40,000 tickets in 2015. In addition to Flog Gnaw, the San Diego native has promoted 80-plus concerts for Goldenvoice, among them, ­performances by Skrillex and Zedd, and a two-week stretch that included eight shows by Adele at Staples (gross: $13.8 million), four by Flume at Shrine Expo Hall and two by Radiohead at Shrine Auditorium. Olenik Galindo and husband Justin Galindo, production manager at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, have a 2-year-old daughter, and though both have jobs that keep them away nights, “we try to have one of us home at night with her,” she says. When they both want to see a show, they book the grandparents.

Biggest Splurge: “Mid-century furniture.”

 

VAL PENSA, 34

Vp marketing, RCA Records

Took Sia to the top: Pensa won three Clio Awards for her marketing of Sia’s ­breakthrough hit, “Chandelier,” and this past summer helped the Australian singer-songwriter become the first woman, as a lead artist on a song, to claim her first No. 1 over the age of 40 since Bette Midler in 1989. The single, “Cheap Thrills,” has generated 203 million on-demand U.S. audio streams and sold 1.5 million downloads. “Sia is what a marketing person dreams about,” says Pensa, who also has helped promote Britney SpearsTinasheCam and ­newcomers Daniel Skye and Grace.

 

ELIAH SETON, 35

President, Alternative Distribution Alliance Worldwide (ADA)

Warner Music Group’s turnaround artist:Since his appointment 18 months ago, Seton has reversed the dwindling market share of Warner Music Group’s indie-label distribution arm. With a 3.9 percent share of U.S. album and track equivalent album sales in the first half of 2016, ADA is once again in striking distance of its Sony-owned rival RED, which is just above 4 percent. “We’ve grown 20 percent year to year,” says the New York native, who’s married to Dr. James McKeever, chief resident in anesthesiology at New York University Langone Medical Center. Seton cites the 2015 signing of BMG, which does about $100 million in record-label sales worldwide, as “the capstone to expand our roster.”

First Musical Crush: “Chris Isaak in his ‘Wicked Game’ music video.”

 

KEITH SHELDON, 34

Senior vp programming, Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment (BSE)

Made Barclays Center No. 3 worldwide: As head of booking at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Sheldon brought Barbra Streisand back to her hometown and got Bruce Springsteen to play the borough for the first time. That’s just a sampling of the star power that contributed to $45.8 million in earnings in the first half of 2016, making Barclays the third-highest-grossing 15,000-plus-capacity venue in the world for that period. “I’m most proud of those moments where you look around and it’s not happening anywhere else but Brooklyn,” says the Sudbury, Mass., native. With BSE’s grand reopening of Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum set for April 2017, Sheldon will see his booking clout grow in the coming months.

 

BEN SHEPHERD, 38

Senior manager of product; Alexa Entertainment, Amazon.com

Amazon Echo’s music man: Amazon has big plans to monetize its music offerings around its Echo player — including a new discounted subscription service — and Shepherd, a former molecular biologist, oversees the development of the software that runs the device. The Seattle-based executive also has helped wrangle the subscription streaming services, including Spotify and Pandora, that are offered on Echo.

 

Garth Brooks performs on July 8, 2016.

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STERLING SIMMS, 34

Director of creative, Universal Music Publishing Group

Hooks up hit writers and chart-climbers:Simms connects artists and ­songwriters, and since landing at Universal in May, he has been working with an A-list that includes Ariana Grande; Selena GomezBig SeanMetro Boomin; and Hit-Boy, who has written for Beyoncé, Kanye West and Travis Scott. The Philadelphia native began his career in music as a singer-songwriter (he was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for co-writing Marsha Ambrosius’ “Far Away”) but transitioned to the business side in 2013, becoming a consultant to Troy Carter’s Atom Factory and SONGS Music Publishing. Although the fruits of his labor at UMPG won’t be heard until 2017, at SONGS he paired two DJ Mustard-written tracks with artists that landed on the charts: “Post to Be” by Omarion featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko, which reached No. 13 on the Hot 100 and sold more than 998,000 downloads (the R&B artist’s biggest-selling song); and “The Fix” by Nelly featuring Jeremih, which rose to No. 20 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and has sold 514,000 downloads. “I haven’t written a song in two-and-a-half years,” says Simms. “I would love to, but I’m too busy making other people’s dreams come true.”

First Musical Crush: “The holy trinity: Prince, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.”

 

SHARON TIMURE, 34

Vp marketing, Island Records

Helped make Shawn Mendes a superstar:Timure, who began her career at the label as an Island Def Jam intern and was promoted to her current position in 2016, helped establish former YouTube sensation Shawn Mendes as a global star. “It has been full force since day one,” says the Parma, Ohio, native, who spent a chunk of her summer orchestrating Mendes’ sold-out September show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which was filmed for future use. “It was a massive undertaking, so it was great to see all those screaming fans,” says Timure. “And Shawn’s growth as a performer over the last two years is just insane.”

 

TARA TRAUB, 33

Vp touring, Live Nation

Top tour booker: Traub has booked and promoted some 200 shows in 2016, including performances by Fifth Harmony and The 1975, which have grossed almost $43 million. The Rochester Hills, Mich., native says that the highlights of her year were “5 Seconds of Summer selling out Madison Square Garden and Meghan Trainor selling out the Greek Theatre [in Los Angeles] in the same week, and signing Lukas Graham‘s first North American tour.”

Make America _____ Again: “Gluten-tolerant.”

 

A crowd gathers for a live performance in Brooklyn, New York.

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BRAD TURCOTTE, 39

Vp marketing, Universal Music Group Nashville

Promoting country through philanthropy:Since joining Universal in 2014, Turcotte has focused on growing the label group’s country acts on a global basis, often through cause-related brand partnerships. “I like to add charity as much as I can,” says the Austin native, who paired Alan Jackson with Habitat for Humanity and Chris Stapleton with a Dodge Ram-driven school-building project.

 

JEREMY VUERNICK, 26

Vp A&R; Capitol, Astralwerks Records

Signed Halsey: Five years ago, Vuernick was throwing dance parties at the University of Wisconsin. Today, he is leading a resurgence at Capitol/Astralwerks. In 2014, he signed Halsey, whose debut album, Badlands, has gone platinum, and her assist on The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” has helped keep the single atop the Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks so far.

 

KRISTINA WALLENDER, 37

Vp marketing, Ticketfly/Pandora

Piloting Pandora’s Ticketfly purchase: The success of Pandora’s $450 million purchase of Ticketfly in October 2015 depends largely on marketing tickets to Pandora’s 78 million listeners — and that’s Wallender’s job. She played a key role in securing deals with the Bowery Ballroom and Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions, which helped Ticketfly grow sales by 30 percent year to year in second-quarter 2016. “We’re up against Ticketmaster every day,” says Wallender. “But one thing I learned at Amazon” — where she worked from 2006 to 2012 — “is focus on your customer, not your competition.”

 

KRISTEN WILLIAMS, 36

Senior vp radio and streaming, Warner Music Nashville

Helped make Blake Shelton No. 1 — again:In September, promo whiz Williams got promoted to lead a renamed division that works country records to radio and streaming services with equal fervor. Recent victories include Blake Shelton, with whom Williams has worked since 2003, notching his 17th straight (nonseasonal) No. 1 on Country Airplay, and William Michael Morgan’s freshman single hitting No. 2 on that chart after a year of promotion. Says Williams: “My team persevered when others would have moved on.”

 

MARK WILLIAMSON, 33

Global head of artist services, Spotify

Making Spotify work for artists: “The natural name for the job was ‘artist relations,’ ” says Williamson of his division. “But we wanted to really deliver — not just take people for drinks.” To those ends, the affable Brit, who grew up in Mombasa, Kenya, built Spotify’s Manager Partner Program, which gives artist representatives (50, at last count) early access to the streaming service’s marketing tools. And working with Blink-182 management firm Deckstar, which included the creation of original content, helped lead the band to a No. 1 album in July.

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METHODOLOGY: A committee of Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors in determining the 40 Under 40 list, including but not limited to impact on consumer behavior, as measured by metrics such as chart performance, touring grosses and ticket sales, social media impressions, and radio and TV audiences reached; company growth, career trajectory, reputation among peers; and overall impact in the industry during the last 12 months. Unless otherwise noted, BillboardBoxscore (touring figures) and Nielsen Music (album and track sales, streaming and radio airplay) were utilized as data sources. Estimated annual earnings were calculated by Billboard using these and other sources.

CONTRIBUTORS: Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Adrienne Gaffney, Andy Gensler, Carson Griffith, Steve Knopper, Robert Levine, Brooke Mazurek, Matt Medved, Gail Mitchell, Cathy Applefeld Olson, Alex Pham, Richard Smirke, Colin Stutz, Ray Waddell, Deborah Wilker, Chris Willman

This feature was originally published in the Oct. 29 issue of Billboard.