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Executive Turntable: Warner Music Flips the Script in Finland; Seeker Finds Top Lawyer

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If it’s Friday that means another spin around the Executive Turntable, Billboard’s comprehensive(ish) compendium of promotions, hirings, exits and firings — and all things in between — across the music industry.

Warner Music Finland‘s front office is getting a new look. Managing director Niko Nordström and head of A&R Asko Kallonen, who arrived at WMF in 2007 after Warner Music acquired their Helsinski Music Company label, are both headed for the ovi. Taking over later this year in the MD role will be current general manager Ramona Forsström, who has clocked 15-plus years at the imprint. In Kallonen’s old office in the A&R department will be veteran producer Jukka Immonen, who starts on New Year’s Day and brings with him the artist roster of his Fried Music label (which WMG has additionally acquired via undisclosed terms). Kallonen, meanwhile, will continue to serve as an A&R consultant for Immonen and his team after he passes the mic. The Warner Music Finland roster includes Antti Tuisku, Arttu Wiskari, BEHM, Ellinoora, Kaija Koo and SANNI, among others. Immonen will report to Forsström, who will report to Warner Music Nordics president Mark Fry. Calling Forsström a “huge talent whose counsel I value and who delivers time and again for our artists and our business,” Fry added that “her fresh leadership perspective will help us grow our roster and our artists’ careers.”

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SoundExchange appointed Peter Karafotas as senior vp of government relations and public policy. Based in Washington, D.C., he will report directly to the organization’s president and CEO Michael Huppe. Karafotas arrives from Capitol Hill, where he recently served as chief of staff to Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) until his resignation earlier this year to run a nonprofit. In his new role, Karafotas will lead on global public policy issues affecting music creators. He replaces Linda Bloss-Baum, who left over the summer for a full-time teaching gig at American University. Said Huppe: “I am thrilled to have someone with Peter’s expertise at the helm of our Government Relations & Public Policy department at a time when SoundExchange is amplifying our legislative efforts to ensure creators are paid fairly.”

Evan Bogart‘s music rights, label and publishing company Seeker Music hired Dan Stuart as general counsel. Stuart previously completed a five-year run as senior vp of business affairs at AWAL, during which AWAL’s U.S. clientele enjoyed significant growth and AWAL was acquired by Sony Music. Prior to that, Stuart worked for five years as a partner at King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, and worked for 15 years as an attorney at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Stuart’s career also includes time well spent as a music journalist, a DJ-in-residence, and in radio. “What I’ve known about Dan since the day I met him” about 20 years ago “is how smart, dedicated, passionate, authentic, and well-respected he is,” said Bogart. “He is one of the best in the business, and in my view it’s because he’s not just a lawyer, he’s an OG music guy who really cares about music and music creators.” –Jessica Nicholson

Kobalt promoted Kat Basolo to senior vp of creative synch. The Los Angeles-based exec was most recently vp of creative synch and in the past year helped score a number synch opportunities for Kobalt artists with several major brands, TV shows and films. Prior to joining Kobalt in 2014, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment for 10 years. Global head of synch Rob Christensen credited Basolo with “procuring thousands of synch opportunities” for clients during her tenure. “But more than any stat,” he added, “she has excellent relationships with so many of the world’s top music supervisors because she works hard to understand their needs and then delivers time and time again.”

Dreamcatcher vp of promotion Jim Dandy announced his departure from the company for a new opportunity at New Revolution Entertainment . Following the recent departures of national director of promotion Kellie LaJack, West Coast regional Rick Young, Midwest regional Charlie Dean and promotion manager Annie Brooks, the label is operating without a promotion staff. Dreamcatcher partner Jim Mazza said the situation is temporary, explaining that the promotion team is independently contracted and was let go with no current singles at radio. The label intends to re-form a promotion staff when its lone artist, Tenille Arts, releases her next single in early 2024. Under the circumstances, Mitch Rosell, who signed with the label in August, asked for — and received — his release from his contract. –Tom Roland

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Amanda Rae Kopp is promoted to chief product officer at JKBX, a start-up offering investors fractional shares in hit songs. Kopp will be responsible for refining product strategies and driving innovation at the emerging platform. Prior to JKBX, which officially launched Sept. 12, Kopp was a global product leader at Warner Music Group.

Fantasy Records appointed Lindsay Brandt as vp of marketing and creative. In the newly-created position, Brandt will serve as in-house creative director and head of marketing, focusing on content development and digital strategy. Previously, Brandt served as senior director of creative & digital at Activist Artists Management, working with artists including The Lumineers and Bob Weir. Brandt said in a statement, “My vinyl collection boasts numerous albums with the iconic Fantasy Records logo. I’m humbled to join a team that holds music in such high regard and delighted to tell the story of these profound artists.” –JN

FlyteVu, the full-service marketing agency founded in 2015 by former Warner Music Nashville senior vp Jeremy Holley and ex-CAA agent Laura Hutfless, made several promotions and hires of late. Sina Seger, on staff since 2017, is the firm’s very first general manager — and will oversee day-to-day operations. Elsewhere, Nicole Ranieri has been promoted from account director to head of accounts, and industry veteran Ally Venable joins the team as head of talent. Venable joins from Mandolin Entertainment, a boutique artist and brand management firm. In the past 12 months, FlyteVu has launched two new sister agencies: FV Incubator, handling marketing for start-ups, and FV3, focused on brands and Web3. “Over the past eight years, FlyteVu has built a solid reputation for innovation, excellence, and generosity in the industry,” said Hutfless. “Sina and our Leadership Team have played instrumental roles in our growth and success. We are thrilled to enter FlyteVu’s next chapter as we continue to innovate, disrupt and propel our clients forward.”

Shore Fire Media elevated Haley Griffin and Henry Thomas to junior account executives. Both joined the leading PR firm a mere year ago as interns and were promoted to publicity assistants late in the year. Griffin is a Berklee College of Music graduate, while Thomas is a Skidmore College grad. “In just over a year, Haley and Henry have displayed their talent, commitment, and growth,” said senior vp Rebecca Shapiro. “We’re excited to recognize their contributions and confident that they will shine in their new roles.”

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Kobalt promoted Kat Basolo to senior vp of creative synch. The Los Angeles-based exec was most recently vp of creative synch and in the past year helped score a number synch opportunities for Kobalt artists with several major brands, TV shows and films. Prior to joining Kobalt in 2014, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment for 10 years. Global head of synch Rob Christensen credited Basolo with “procuring thousands of synch opportunities” for clients during her tenure. “But more than any stat,” he added, “she has excellent relationships with so many of the world’s top music supervisors because she works hard to understand their needs and then delivers time and time again.”

ICYMI: Warner Music‘s chief digital officer Oana Ruxandra announced she’s leaving the label … Anthem made it official with Jason Klein and Sal Fazzari … and Kenny MacPherson was placed on leave from his job at Hipgnosis Songs Fund, following the filing of a lawsuit claiming he sexually assaulted a staffer in 2005 while he ran another company.

Melanie Johnson is named chief commercial officer at Audoo, the music tech company looking to shake up the royalty reporting system for musicians. Based in London and reporting to CEO Ryan Edwards, Johnson is tasked with overseeing the continued global expansion of the company’s proprietary platform Audoo Audio Meter. She arrives with a packed CV that includes lengthy tenures at Facebook, Sony Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing. Most recently, Johnson served as vp of partnerships at Utopia Music. “Mel’s stellar professional and personal reputation precedes her,” Edwards correctly notes. “Adding her expertise to Audoo as we mark a milestone five years in business, we move closer to our goal of being the partner of choice for PROs and CMOs, and continue on the mission of revolutionising the public performance royalties space worldwide.”

Reactional Music, the maker of an interactive music engine for video games, hired Spotify veteran Jacob Deshayes as chief operating officer. In his new role, Deshayes will oversee Reactional’s platform and manage partnerships, technical programs and strategy. “In joining Reactional Music I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my experience on three of my foremost passions – music, tech and video games – as we unlock groundbreaking tools for a new innovative form of music creation, as well as ways for the world of gamers to personalize their musical experience,” he said. Additionally, Reactional selected one of its founders, former Take Two Interactive CEO Kelly Sumner, as board chairman.

Croshal Entertainment Group, the artist management and label service firm founded by longtime Sony Music and Maverick executive Fred Croshal, made a pair of key promotions. Jimmy Brunetti, previously vp of label services, has been elevated to executive vp of business development and project management. Kirbie Croshal, most recently director of social media and project management, is now senior vp of marketing and digital strategies. Brunetti and Croshal have logged 15 and 17 years at CEG, respectively.

Last Week’s Turntable: Glass Ceiling Breaker Departed Sony

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