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Music Industry Moves: Warner Chappell Music Ups Lázaro Hernández to Senior VP of A&R

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has promoted Lázaro Hernández to senior vice president of A&R for U.S. Latin & Latin America. Hernández will continue reporting to Gustavo Menéndez, president of U.S. Latin & Latin America.

Hernández oversees a roster of artists, songwriters, and producers including Latin Grammy-nominated acts such as Gale, Jhayco and Rauw Alejandro, as well as corrido tumbados pioneer Natanael Cano and Argentine rapper Paulo Londra, to name a few. He first joined WCM in 2008 as an A&R Coordinator, and most recently held the role of VP since 2020.

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In his new post as senior VP, Hernández will lead the U.S. Latin A&R team and A&R strategy in Latin America. Most recently, he steered the signings of such chart-topping acts as Chencho Corleone, Gabito Ballesteros, and María Becerra.

Hernández said, “I have so much gratitude for Warner Chappell. I get to work with a passionate team and help our songwriters get to the core of their creativity. There are more opportunities than ever before for Latino songwriters to share their music with the world, and I’m grateful for my role in that. I’m eternally thankful to Gustavo, Guy, and Carianne for believing in me and entrusting me with this opportunity.”

+ Music For Pets, a collection of original music and videos for dogs and cats, has been streamed more than one billion times in the last year, marking a major milestone in the company’s history. Music For Pets was acquired last year by Create Music Group.

“We are thrilled to join the Billions Club and continue to serve pet owners and their furry friends,” said Amman Ahmed, founder and CEO of Music For Pets. “This is an incredible benchmark and we hope to continue to build on the success for years to come.”

A serial music business entrepreneur, the Manchester, England-based Ahmed started Music For Pets with $1,000 of his savings, tapping co-founder Ricardo Henriquez to create and oversee music production for the company, all of which is original. Since then “Relax My Dog” and “Relax My Cat” have become a favorite companion for pets and their owners on Spotify, YouTube and other DSPs around the world.

The company’s comprehensive research shows that 87% of dog owners report that their pets are less stressed after being exposed to Relax My Dog’s content. “We hear from pet owners all over the world that Relax My Dog and Relax My Cat have made a huge positive impact on their pets’ overall emotional health,” says Ahmed.

+ Rostrum Pacific has acquired the distributor and retail brand, Fat Beats. Rostrum simultaneously announces the addition of Kevin Engler as general manager of Fat Beats and Bobby Israeli as Rostrum Pacific’s head of e-commerce.

Fat Beats will continue to operate as its own entity with access to resources, tools, and sister companies Spaceheater, Rostrum Pacific’s catalog marketing arm, and Rostrum Records. Adding Fat Beats to the Rostrum Pacific umbrella provides a new benefit for Rostrum artists as well with the direct backing of Fat Beats’ wholesale distribution, e-commerce support and direct-to-consumer fulfillment with an open line to brick-and-mortar stores.

“Fat Beats is a legendary brand that I’ve been a fan of for decades. From Rostrum Records to our most recent expansion of Rostrum Pacific, we’ve diligently outlined the next 20 years of our company. One of our goals has been to get vertically involved with physical distribution, and Fat Beats is a key part of that strategy,” said Benjy Grinberg, Rostrum Pacific’s CEO and Founder. “Together we can offer a level of professionalism, strategy, and forward-thinking that most physical companies lack. The ability to acquire Fat Beats and help it grow to new heights is incredibly exciting for us.”

“As a pillar of the independent Hip-Hop community since 1994, it was important to me to ensure what we’ve built over the last 30 years is well cared for and respected,” said Joe Abajian, founder of Fat Beats. “We have found the perfect custodians in Benjy and the Rostrum Pacific team, and we’re confident that Fat Beats now has the expertise and resources to continue growing well into the future.”

+ SONA (Songwriters of North America), an organization advocating for fair compensation for songwriters and composers, has made the addition of new, key leadership positions as well as the creation of a SONA chapter in New York.

SONA and the SONA Foundation are sister organizations with separate boards and missions, which will both be overseen by now-CEO Michelle Lewis and newly appointed COO, Kellie Brown. Stepping into the executive director position at SONA will be longtime creator, and creator-advocate, Erin McAnally, who will be overseeing SONA’s advocacy, membership and educational initiatives. Linda Bloss-Baum joins the board as government affairs lead and has been retained to lend her expertise in policy and government affairs, and Camus Celli will also join the board to lead the new New York chapter and head SONA’s growth efforts on the east coast.

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Specialist audio company L-Acoustics has hired Amber Mundinger as global director of artistic engagement, the company has announced. Mundinger, who is taking on the newly created role, previously held leadership positions at Penske Media Corporation and Fairchild Live/WWD, and was most recently COO and creative producer at Artists Den Entertainment, playing a major role in such series as “Live from the Artists Den” on PBS, “Monumental: An Artists Den Experience” with Amazon Studios, “Live from My Den” streaming on Variety, as well as concert films including “Soundgarden: Live from the Artists Den” and “The Lumineers: Live from the Artist Den.” (Variety is owned by Penske Media Corporation.)

In this newly created role, Mundinger will be responsible for “elevating L-Acoustics brand awareness within the leading artistic, management, and creative community, advocating the importance of sound as art, and initiating partnership opportunities with decision makers by building a network of A-level artists, musicians, DJs, music producers, creative directors, designers and other premium brand stakeholders,” according to the announcement. She will remain based in New York City and work closely with the L-Acoustics teams in Los Angeles, London, and Paris.

“Amber had the vision to create an L-ISA immersive audio experience with us for Soundgarden: Live from the Artist’s Den, which is where we discovered a shared passion for music, arts and technology,” says Laurent Vaissié, CEO at L-Acoustics. “Her deep knowledge of the music business and ability to build meaningful relationships with artists will help elevate awareness with major artists and creatives.”

“It’s thrilling to join L-Acoustics and to have the opportunity to work alongside, and learn from, individuals that I admire who are pushing the boundaries of how we experience sound,” says Mundinger. “I look forward to advancing the role of sound as a unique artform with the world’s leading like-minded creatives.”

+ Sphere Entertainment Co. has tapped Jennifer Koester as president of Sphere business operations, effective Feb. 5.

Koester will lead the strategy and execution of all business aspects of Sphere including its calendar and ticket sales with the Company’s proprietary shows and attractions. She will also work to drive strategic partnerships as well as focus on bespoke “only in Sphere” bookings with artists, managers, and promoters. Koester will be based in New York and report to James Dolan, executive chairman and chief executive officer, Sphere Entertainment.

For the past 25 years, she has provided legal counsel, Koester led business development efforts, driving strategy and internal operations and external go-to-market for F100 companies with a unique ability to integrate legal, technical, business and operational matters. Most recently, she served as managing director for the Americas Strategic Alliances, global partnerships at Google commercial operations.

“I am pleased to welcome Jennifer to Sphere Entertainment,” said Dolan. “We have seen a strong worldwide reaction to Sphere from customers, brands and artists since our September opening, and we look forward to leveraging Jennifer’s extensive background driving growth at premier technology and entertainment brands as we continue to build our Sphere business.”

+ Spirit Music Group has entered an administrative services agreement with Downtown Music Publishing (DMP).

Spirit — a full-service, independent music publisher — is aiming to leverage Downtown’s global administration, registration and technology platforms to help further meet their infrastructure needs. Spirit Music Group’s current sub-publishing arrangements remain in place.

The Spirit Music Group catalog boasts 800+ charted hits recorded by such artists as The Who, Taylor Swift, John Legend, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Camilla Cabello, Jay-Z, Ricky Martin, Elvis Presely and more.

“We are pleased to be working with the amazing team at Spirit and to administer a catalog so filled with musical gems,” said Andrew Bergman, CEO of Downtown Music Holdings. “We designed Downtown and our suite of service offerings specifically with these types of deals in mind so it is immensely gratifying for Spirit to have chosen to work with us.”

+ Nettwerk Music Group has upped Sameer Sadhu to senior VP of A&R.

Sameer has built a roster that includes such artists as indie rock band Vacations, acts like bôa, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Miami Horror and more. Additionally, Sameer is a partner at Secret Signals, a label services and publicity firm strategically based in Singapore working with artists from all over the globe on business development and public relations in Asia.

+ Kidz Bop and Live Nation have extended their partnership with a new three-year North American tour deal.

As part of the deal, Kidz Bop is also announcing its all-new tour, Kidz Bop Live 2024, in partnership with Red Light Management, an independent management company.

“Live Nation has been an exceptional partner, helping us build KIDZ BOP into the touring juggernaut it has become, and we’re thrilled to extend our relationship for the next three years.” said Sasha Junk, Kidz Bop president. “Together, we’re creating the next generation of live music fans, bringing a memorable first concert experience to hundreds of thousands of kids every year.”

+ The American Association of Independent Music(A2IM) is expanding its membership department with the addition of Emmaline McCourt as membership manager. McCourt will report to the director of membership, Melissa White, and further enhance A2IM’s label relations and membership engagement strategy.

“We are delighted to welcome Emmaline to our team. In working with Melissa, she will play an integral role in enriching our member experience and will contribute significantly to the growth of A2IM,” said Richard James Burgess, CEO of A2IM.

+ Concord Music Publishing has signed singer-songwriter Ryan O’Neal, best known by his moniker, Sleeping At Last. The worldwide agreement, effective immediately, includes publishing rights for future works as well as his full master catalog of originals and covers.

O’Neal’s music has been featured in over 100 TV shows and films including “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Criminal Minds,” “Jane The Virgin,” as well as 42 songs featured in “Grey’s Anatomy” alone. Two versions of the Sleeping At Last song “Turning Page” appeared on the Gold-certified soundtrack for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.”

“I am thrilled and honored to begin this new chapter with Concord,” said Ryan O’Neal. “The depth, experience and ingenuity of their team will be such an incredible support to me and my music!”

+ Norwegian Cruise Line and Sixthman, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line, have announced Jeff Cuellar to succeed Anthony Diaz as its new chief executive officer (CEO).

Cuellar joined Sixthman in October 2021 in what was then the newly created role of VP of partnerships and most recently served as VP of events, marketing and community where he was responsible for overseeing the creative development, marketing outreach and community management for all festivals at sea.

Before that, Cuellar worked for AC Entertainment, currently owned by Live Nation under the festivals division of C3, on numerous music events including Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Forecastle and Railbird, High Water.

Tuesday, Jan. 22

Anthem Entertainment has acquired a catalog of songs written by Chantal Kreviazuk. The deal encompasses hits and collaborations recorded by Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Drake, Avril Lavigne, Pitbull, Shakira, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood and more.

Most notably, the deal includes “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera, in addition to “Rich Girl” by Gwen Stefani.

“Chantal Kreviazuk is one of the most prolific and successful Canadian songwriters recognized today on the international stage,” said Anthem Entertainment CEO, Jason Klein. “Her extraordinary songs have not only achieved outstanding commercial success but have meaningfully influenced popular culture with a significant impact across music, film, and philanthropy, and are a prized addition to our catalog. We look forward to a great partnership with Chantal.”

“I am thrilled to begin a new and exciting partnership with Jason and the team at Anthem Entertainment, to represent songs that I have been writing throughout my whole life and career,” said Kreviazuk. “Our shared passion and enthusiasm for the work I value so dearly was made clear from our very first conversation and I am grateful to begin this new chapter together.”

+ US Media and Vevo have entered a new advertising sales partnership to handle Vevo’s ad inventory in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. US Media will also sell on behalf of Vevo pan-regionally from Miami.

“Joining forces with Vevo, a brand that accumulates more than 25 billion monthly views, significantly amplifies the possibilities for our clients in advertising. This alliance represents a strategic advancement that leverages Vevo’s immense reach and quality of content,” said Bruno Almeida, CEO of US Media.

“Vevo’s monetization efforts in this region are reflective of the strength and breadth of our offering, with Latin music being one of the most watched genres on our network. From Brazilian funk to regional Mexican to reggaeton, fans can enjoy a variety of Latin artists on Vevo,” added JP Evangelista, senior VP, content, programming and marketing for Vevo. “Additionally, we are expanding Vevo’s CTV programming and distribution footprint throughout Latin America to deliver the music video experience on the largest screen in the home. CTV is an exciting, burgeoning space where we are growing and providing additional exposure for artists and advertisers alike.”

+ HarbourView Equity Partners (HarbourView) is looking to expand its real estate in R&B and hip-hop, starting with the purchase of singer-songwriter and producer Jeremih’s music catalog.

Terms of the deal, which only encompasses a select number of titles from Jeremih’s catalog, were not disclosed. Heidy Vaquerano and Cynthia Katz of Fox Rothschild LLP served as legal counsel to HarbourView in the transaction while Jeremih was represented by Guy Blake and Granderson Des Rochers.

Jeremih has released three studio albums and had a Billboard chart-topping hit with the song “Birthday Sex.” He’s also collaborated with several major artists including 50 Cent, YG, Lil Wayne and Ty Dolla $ign, among others. His repertoire also includes “Oui,” “All The Time,” “Down on Me,” “Impatient,” and the five-time multi-platinum certified hit, “Don’t Tell Em.”

+ Publishing company Prescription Songs has added Ryder Johnson — a multi-platinum producer and songwriter — to their roster of artists. Johnson was brought into the company by way of Prescription Songs A&R Christian Conant.

Originally from Arkansas, Ryder’s credits include “No Return” by Polo G (with The Kid LAROI & Lil Durk), “Choppa Shoot the Loudest” by Lil Tecca (with Chief Keef, feat. Trippie Redd), “Spinnin’” by Lil Durk (feat. EST Gee), and “How The Game Go” by Rod Wave. He has also worked on various projects for HotBoii, Lil Yachty, Mike Posner, Tom Morello, City Morgue and more.

Conant adds, “We’re so lucky to welcome Ryder into the fold here at Prescription Songs! His credits and work ethic speak for themselves, but above all that, he’s a great human being. I’m confident this is still just the beginning for Ryder. I can’t wait to see where this partnership takes us! I’m incredibly thankful for Diana Sanders and John Rybicki for their legal guidance, and Katie Fagan for bringing us all together!”

+ Sharon Van Etten has signed an exclusive global publishing agreement with Warner Chappell Music (WCM).

Van Etten shared, “I am very excited about my new partnership with Carianne [Marshall], Ashley, Rich [Christina], Rich [Robinson], and the entire Warner Chappell team. With this incredibly diverse and innovative team of people, which includes a lot of amazing women, I am represented by a group of music lovers who lift up the songwriter. It has always been important to me to be able to call the people I work with directly and have open dialogue and communication about my music and career. I have that here and I look forward to where this new chapter takes us.”

Notably, Van Etten is on the shortlist for best original song at the 2024 Academy Awards for “Quiet Eyes” from the A24 film “Past Lives.”

+ Verve Label Group has signed two new artists: indie musician Phosphorescent, the moniker of American Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck, has signed to Verve Records; experimental jazz punk trio the Messthetics signs to impulse! Records.

Phosphorescent has been active in the indie rock scene since 2001 and along the way has accumulated eight studio albums. His upcoming Verve album debut, “Revelator,” will be released on April 5, and the eponymous track will debut on Jan. 24.

On their forthcoming release on Impulse!, the Messthetics (drummer Brendan Canty, bassist Joe Lally of iconic punk band Fugazi, and guitarist Anthony Pirog) join forces with acclaimed jazz tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader James Brandon Lewis. The first track off the collaborative set “Emergence” will drop on Jan. 24 and the album will be released on March 15.

+ New York City-based PR and marketing agency The Chamber Group has re-employed Kerry Smalls as head of brand strategy and promoted Edwin Tetteh from PR manager to associate director of public relations. Both report to the company CEO, Chris Chambers.

Tetteh previously served as a public relations coordinator at Williamson PR, the Lede Company and PR Consulting representing clients including Visvim, Soundcloud and AMIRI respectively. He joined The Chamber Group as PR manager in 2021 leading campaigns and representing talent including Mariah Carey and Erykah Badu and brands including Tod’s.

Smalls was the director of PR at iONE Digital/Urban One, a role created specifically for him, and helped successfully build a PR division from the ground up. His previous experience includes leading PR strategy at BCW Global working with brands including Hennessy, Hellman’s Mayonnaise and Kraken Rum. Now back at The Chamber Group, Kerry will aid in adapting the company’s current staffing model to the ever-growing roster and overseeing client expansion with a 360 approach across pop culture, lifestyle, wine/spirits, beauty, fashion, politics, TV/Film, general entertainment and more.

+ Marc Anthony and his entertainment company, Magnus, have been tapped as an equity partner in SBE. Led by CEO Sam Nazarian, SBE’s new multi-vertical business strategy will focus on growing the brand among Latin American audiences.

Nazarian said, “It’s an honor to join forces with long-time friend and international superstar Marc Anthony. I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the career that he has built, and, more importantly, his entrepreneurial instinct. Not only has Marc been responsible for 105 No. one hits and over fifteen billion streaming views on YouTube, but he has also been able to garner the loyalty of a multigenerational Latino and global community through his platforms and content. been an aspiration of ours to come together to build something special, and I am excited to share all the amazing things we are working on with him as our strategic partner. My sbe team is honored to collaborate with the best-in-class entrepreneurial team Marc has built at Magnus, led by a dynamic team, CEO Michel Vega and COO Felipe Pimiento, to connect with and deliver experiences to an audience that Marc has so carefully cultivated throughout his career. This is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see what we build together.”

Added Anthony, “It would be an understatement to say that this announcement today is one of the greatest highlights of all of the endeavors I’ve taken on in my life. To have the honor to join forces with my great friend Sam and SBE, is something we have spoken about throughout the years and the time has finally come. My team, alongside the unparalleled expertise of SBE, is poised to contribute significantly to the success of this new journey. With a shared commitment to excellence and a track record of unparalleled vision and execution, we are excited to bring our best-in-class capabilities to elevate SBE’s projects to new heights. Together, we look forward to unveiling a series of remarkable initiatives that showcase the synergy and excellence synonymous with the SBE family.”

+ Irish musician and singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow has signed a new deal with Nettwerk. The deal comes as McMorrow is gearing up to release a new single called “Stay Cool” on Jan. 26. McMorrow will remain managed by his Faction Music managers Ken Allen and Michael Roe.

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