Music Industry Moves: Pete Ganbarg and Atlantic Launch New Joint Venture, Pure Tone Records

A&R executive Pete Ganbarg has started a new joint venture with Atlantic Records called Pure Tone Records. Ganbarg will step down as Atlantic’s president of A&R to steer the new launch, in addition to signing and developing artists on the Pure Tone label.

Ganbarg will continue to A&R select artists on the Atlantic Music Group roster, including Twenty One Pilots, Shinedown, Gayle and Halestorm, among others. The first artist signed to Pure Tone is platinum Canadian singer/songwriter Forest Blakk, whom Ganbarg originally signed to Atlantic.

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“For the past 16 years, Pete has brilliantly led our A&R mission – discovering, signing, and championing a genre-crossing array of hit artists, while also boosting our theatrical presence with a string of award-winning cast albums,” said Atlantic Music Group Chairman and CEO Julie Greenwald and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman. “At the same time, he’s mentored and built a fantastic A&R team who are expert at nurturing baby acts and superstars alike. The formation of Pure Tone is an important event for Pete and Atlantic, as he brings his decades of experience, his impeccable taste, and great ears to steering his own ship, and we’re thrilled to be his partners on this exciting next phase of his musical journey.”

“The launch of Pure Tone Records as a standalone label is an exciting moment for me,” said Ganbarg. “It’s the best of both worlds – a golden opportunity to run my own shop, while at the same time having the backing of the outstanding Atlantic team who I’ve worked with so closely over the past 15-plus years. I’m looking forward to making Pure Tone a home for exceptional, original talent, and at the same time, I’m very happy to continue to work with my amazing Atlantic artist roster. I want to thank Julie and Craig for their tremendous support over the years, and for having the faith to join me in this new adventure.”

Ganbarg originally formed Pure Tone Music prior to joining Atlantic, as an A&R consulting firm with clients ranging from Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry and Chaka Khan to Santana, Train, Aaron Neville, Donna Summer, and more.

+ Arista Records has promoted their co-heads of urban music, Kendell “Sav” Freeman and Khris Riddick-Tynes (a 2023 Variety Hitmaker), to senior vice presidents of A&R. Freeman and Riddick-Tynes will continue to operate out of the NY and LA offices respectively and report to David Massey, president.

The pair were first named VPs and co-heads of urban music in 2021 and have since had a run of success across the roster including the signing and continued development of Lola Brooke and up-and-comer Hurri Haran.

Before joining the Arista team, Freeman held positions at Maybach Music Group via WMG, Def Jam and Standing Room Only MGMT where he repped multi-platinum artist Flipp Dinero. Riddick-Tynes is best known as a Grammy-winning producer, most recently for his work on SZA’S “Snooze” in addition to his work with Ariana Grande, Drake, Lil Baby, Chris Brown and Rick Ross.

+ Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has announced Delia Orjuela as its new head of creative Mexican music/música Mexicana. Based in Los Angeles, she will report to Gustavo Menéndez, president, U.S. Latin and Latin America, and work with the publisher’s regional Mexican music writers and artists in the U.S. and Mexico.

Orjuela, who most recently co-led WM Latina’s Mexican music division, was instrumental in helping develop WCM songwriter and singer DannyLux (an honoree on Variety‘s 2023 Power of Young Hollywood list). She’ll continue to collaborate closely with the recorded music team and look for cross-collaboration opportunities between the label and publisher.

Orjuela shared: “I have spent most of my career advocating and championing songwriters, and they’ve remained my true passion. Music is incredibly powerful, and I love how a great song with meaningful lyrics can impact people’s lives. I’m so glad to once again be a part of the songwriting process from the beginning, helping to set up collaborations and nurture creative connections. This next step in my career brings everything full circle, and I can’t wait to hit the ground running with Gustavo and the incredible team at WCM.”

+ Empire has tapped Heather Vassar as senior VP of operations, Sarah Beth Gerlecz to director, business and legal affairs, and hired Hannah Galluzzi as director of A&R. In these roles, Vassar will continue to spearhead the hundreds of Empire Nashville releases and expand the roster as Gerlecz remains the dealmaker for Empire Nashville’s label and publishing divisions.

+ The Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) has inducted legendary country songwriter Cindy Walker, who passed away in 2006. The ceremony was featured as a segment during a SHOF Master Session with 2023 SHOF inductee Liz Rose which was hosted by Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. The event was co-hosted by SHOF Board Member Fletcher Foster, who also chairs the SHOF Nashville Committee.

Deceased writers to be considered for posthumous induction were included in a special segment of the 2023 ballot. As the annual SHOF gala normally does not include inductions for songwriters after their death, the organization intends to continue hosting future posthumous inductions at unique venues and special events.

Born on July 20, 1917, Walker boasted numerous hits during her 60+ year career, including “You’re From Texas” and “You Don’t Know Me,” among others. Eddy Arnold, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Cher, have recorded her songs. She was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in March 2011.

+ Avex USA has invested in artist management company S10 Entertainment, a joint venture between Brandon Silverstein and Jay Z’s Roc Nation that was started in 2017.

Avex USA is a music and entertainment company in Japan while S10 Entertainment is the management division of Silverstein’s S10 music and entertainment holding company that also includes publishing and records divisions. Recent S10 Entertainment successes include Latin superstar Myke Towers.

The partnership with S10 gives Avex’s Japanese talent access to management teams in the U.S., as they look to develop and break Japanese acts globally, while also providing a route into the Asian market for S10 and Roc Nation.

Tuesday, May 7

Breakthrough artist Peso Pluma has signed with CAA for representation in all areas.

Peso’s debut album, “Génesis,” soared to No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, marking the highest-charting Mexican music album in the chart’s history. The album has also garnered a variety of other awards this year, including a Grammy for best música Mexicana album.

In the past year, Peso also made history as the first Mexican artist to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards and to win the best new artist category at the MTV Europe Music Awards. In 2023, Peso and Eslabon Armado’s hit single “Ella Baila Sola” shattered records by securing the No. 10 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.

Peso is gearing up for his North American tour this summer and headlining major festivals such as the Governor’s Ball, Sueños and Baja Beach Fest. Additionally, his highly anticipated second studio album, “Éxodo,” is set to release this spring.

Peso is managed by George Prajin of Prajin Parlay, Inc.

+ BMG has appointed Kristal McKanders Dube as its new global head of corporate communications.

McKanders Dube joins BMG after nearly six years at Warner Music Group (WMG) where she led the global communications function at Warner Chappell Music (WCM), the publishing arm of WMG, including overseeing executive and songwriter communications, corporate events and philanthropic initiatives at WMG’s West Coast headquarters in Los Angeles.

Based in LA, McKanders Dube will report to BMG CEO Thomas Coesfeld. In her new role, she will handle BMG’s corporate communications worldwide, spearheading internal and external communications efforts, and liaising with BMG’s parent company, Bertelsmann.

Coesfeld said, “It’s an exciting time at BMG with the company uniquely positioned for growth in a rapidly evolving music landscape, and we’re happy to have Kristal join us at such a pivotal moment and bring a fresh perspective to our business. Kristal’s innate storytelling ability, coupled with her expertise in corporate and music publishing communications, makes her an invaluable addition to our team.”

+ Full Coverage Communications has named Taylor Vaughn as its new vice president, as confirmed by President Kristen Foster and Managing Partner Erica Gerard.

Vaughn joins Full Coverage Communications after nearly fifteen years within the music and entertainment industry. Vaughn has spearheaded numerous award winning, nominated and record breaking campaigns including: Benee, Conan Gray, Stephen Sanchez, Glass Animals, Greta Van Fleet, Jack Johnson, James Bay and more. She’s also worked on numerous film soundtracks including “Spider-Man: Across The Spiderverse,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Charlie’s Angels” and more.

Vaughn added: “I am honored to join a company with such amazing leadership and passion for their craft. The Full Coverage Communications team goes above and beyond in a way that highlights their belief and commitment to their clients. Kristen is a force in the industry and I am honored to get the opportunity to learn from her while further aiding the team’s incredible work.”

The company has also added Amy McBrayer as a publicist following her years at Rogers & Cowan PMK and Press Here PR, working with A-list clients across music, entertainment and sports. Both new hires will work out of the Los Angeles office.

+ Kobalt has signed singer-songwriter Imani “Mocha” Lewis, co-writer of Tyla’s Grammy winning “Water,” and eight other tracks on the South African singer’s self-titled debut album.

“Mocha is a phenomenally gifted and versatile songwriter whose power to create lyrics and melody are only just now being recognized in the creative community,” said Genevieve Jackson Huguely, creative manager at Kobalt. “Her contributions to the success of Tyla’s debut album are just a sampling of what we can expect from her in the coming years. We are thrilled to have her at Kobalt.”

Mocha is also an actor who hails from Southside Jamaica, Queens, and only just recently returned to songwriting as a full-time pursuit. She has co-writing credits on K-Pop sensation P1 Harmony’s “Fall In Love Again” and Iggy Azalea’s “Money Come.” On screen, Mocha has starred in Netflix’s fantasy drama series, “First Kill,” Hulu’s coming-of-age comedy, “Miguel Wants to Fight,” Baz Luhrmann’s “The Get Down,” and A24’s award-winning film “Eighth Grade,” to name a few.

“When my manager, Ekram Ismael, introduced me to the Kobalt team, we encountered a bespoke organization of individuals who share with me the same level of intentionality, passion for music and a desire to make a global impact,” said Mocha. “I feel at home with a publisher that can represent my needs while I focus on making great music that can truly impact the world.”

Lindsey Lanier, Kate Loesch, Jamie Kinelski, Genevieve Jackson Huguely, Mocha, Jeannette Perez, Amanda Tufeld of Kobalt.
Lindsey Lanier, Kate Loesch, Jamie Kinelski, Genevieve Jackson Huguely, Mocha, Jeannette Perez, Amanda Tufeld.

Pictured above (L-R): Lindsey Lanier, Kate Loesch, Jamie Kinelski, Genevieve Jackson Huguely, Mocha, Jeannette Perez and Amanda Tufeld.

+ Rise Music Group has signed Hayefield for exclusive management representation following the release of their debut EP “Trees,” which was produced by Austin Shawn (Bailey Zimmerman, Chase Matthew) and Adam Ernst.

Rise Music Group is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. and Austin, Texas. The company was founded in 2018 by long-time industry professional Tanner Louis. Rise Music Group also represents Hayden Coffman, Lane Smith, and Dave Fenley.

“We couldn’t be more excited to join the Rise Music Group roster. Every artist on that roster is a superb talent and it’s an honor to join this winning team,” said Hayefield. “Tanner is such a solid / genuine person. We wanted someone that was willing to work as hard or harder than us… and I wouldn’t want anybody else having our back in this business. He’s been a fan since day one and that’s exactly who you want supporting you along this journey. We can’t wait to share our sound and vision together.”

+ Concord has hired Brad Clark for the newly created position of senior vice president of streaming and data analysis. Additionally, Concord has hired Kristen Reed as VP of data analytics and research.

Working across Concord Label Group, Clark and Reed will focus on utilizing data to drive revenue and to amplify the voices of Concord artists. Both Clark and Reed will be based in Concord’s Nashville headquarters, Clark reporting to newly appointed Chief Executive of Concord Label Group Tom Becci and Reed reporting to Clark.

“I am excited to have Brad and Kristen join the team. Brad has worked with artists at all stages of their career, from the releasing of their first song to some of the biggest stadium acts in the industry. He has developed a unique understanding of how to translate data into real-world advancement for an artist’s career,” said Becci.

Having led projects for artists such as Chris Stapleton, Darius Rucker, Eric Church, Lady A, Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt, Clark has deep understanding of how to employ data to increase sales and enhance artists’ careers. Meanwhile, Reed joins Concord after a six-year stint in data analytics and research at Universal Music Group.

+ A&R executive Luis “Lu” Mota has joined Atlantic Records as executive VP of A&R. Based at Atlantic’s New York City headquarters, he will report to the label’s co-president of Black Music, Lanre Gaba.

Mota comes to Atlantic from Columbia Records where he played a pivotal role on the team that discovered and developed hip-hop stars including Lil Tjay, Polo G, Fivio Foreign, and Joey Bada$$.

Most recently, Mota served as senior VP of A&R at Columbia Records. After discovering Lil Tjay, Mota brought him to Columbia Records, developing the breakout star and playing a major role in the Bronx native’s success, including his Billboard Hot 100 No. 3 song “Calling My Phone,” and multi-platinum hits “F.N” and “Brothers.” Mota and his team also notably A&R’d Polo G’s “Pop Out.”

+ Cinq Music has acquired the catalog of late Puerto Rican music producer and hitmaker, Flow La Movie. José Angel Hernández — better known as Flow La Movie — is responsible for crafting hits including “Te Boté,” which was remixed by Bad Bunny, Ozuna and Nicky Jam and has over 4B global streams as the top Latin RIAA Certified record in history.

The late Hernández founded his Flow La Movie record label in 2016 and developed a chart-topping repertoire with his artists, Nio Garcia and Casper Magico, who also participated in the sale. The catalog sale was possible through Flow La Movie’s estate, now administered by his daughter, Keigelyan Hernandez and with collaboration from GLAD Empire.

“Reggaeton has been a core element of our DNA since the founding of this company. I remember the day that ‘Te Boté’ was released and watching the remix catapult into a global phenomenon,” said Barry Daffurn, Cinq Music president and co-founder. “We all mourned the loss of José, and we are honored to continue his legacy with the addition of his catalog to our storied portfolio. Cinq is committed to honoring his life’s work and to preserving his remarkable legacy. We have tremendous respect and admiration for him and his family, and we are looking forward to continuing to build upon the special place that he occupies in the hearts of music fans everywhere.”

+ Stem has partnered with OpenPlay to expand the latter’s direct delivery service that first launched in 2023.

The partnership will help qualifying independent labels utilize Stem to deliver music to DSPs, while also making the Stem dashboard available to direct delivery customers to manage statements and payments. Select clients will also be able to access Stem’s full range of client services that they currently offer to their artists, including marketing and promotion, payments processing and advance funding opportunities.

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