Is this TikTok’s next big music hire?

The annual City Of Hope Spirit Of Life Award ceremony returned to Los Angeles last night, raising millions of dollars for cancer treatment and research, and was heavily attended by true music industry power players. (Universal’s Sir Lucian Grainge, Sony’s Rob Stringer and Warner’s Max Lousada, for example, were all spotted amongst the hobnobbing, in addition to Sony/ATV’s Jon Platt plus Warner Chappell’s Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall.)

Other than the night’s deserving honoree, groundbreaking Epic Records CEO & Chairman, Sylvia Rhone, there seemed to be one prominent name on the lips of many attendees speaking to MBW: TikTok.

Topics under discussion included TikTok parent Bytedance’s $7bn-plus revenues in the first half of this year, reports of the platform censoring pro-LGBT content in certain territories, and a potential new Spotify-style audio product from Bytedance set to launch in emerging markets.

Amongst this chit-chat, MBW heard an interesting rumor from a couple of parties: Ole Obermann, who left his role as Chief Digital Officer at Warner Music Group in June, is apparently now set for a big job at Bytedance/TikTok.

One source suggested Obermann’s new role will be akin to Head Of Music at TikTok, making him as a vital contact point for major and indie music rightsholders as the service grows in future.

“It’s a smart hire – Ole knows the record business, and its most essential deal points, inside out,” said one executive, speaking off the record.

Before joining Warner in 2016, Obermann spent a decade at Sony Music, where he held roles including Executive Vice President of Digital Partner Development and Sales, and SVP of international.

“It’s a smart hire – Ole knows the record business, and its most essential deal points, inside out.”

MBW source

In his leaving note to WMG staff in June, the exec said that his team had “found a great balance between accelerating global streaming growth and championing the next wave of change”. He added that “the thoughtful and principled work we’ve done during this critical inflection point will help ensure a bright future for the entire music ecosystem.”

MBW has asked Bytedance/TikTok for comment on the Obermann rumor.

Artists who performed in honor of Sylvia Rhone at the City Of Hope event included En Vogue, Yolanda Adams, Alicia Keys and Sara Bareilles.

Speaking from the stage after accepting her award, Rhone said: “It was not a hard decision to be the Spirit of Life honoree because I sat in these rooms for 20 years, wondering if there would be anybody up here who looked like me getting an award. And I sat there with a great deal of respect for those honorees, no question about it, they were amazing men… but it was time for a change.”Music Business Worldwide

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