Jody Gerson: the first female CEO of a major music company

The first ever female CEO of a global major music company is here: Sony/ATV co-president Jody Gerson has quit the publisher to become CEO/Chairman of Universal Music Publishing (UMPG).

Gerson will remain at Sony/ATV before officially starting at UMPG on January 1, 2015. She will replace Zach Horowitz at UMPG, who is leaving publisher after 30 years.

After spending 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, Gerson joined Sony/ATV in 2008 as US co-president. Her first signing was Lady Gaga.

She has also played an instrumental role in the careers of Enrique Iglesias, Mac Miller, Pitbull, RedOne, Shakira and Pharrell Williams, among others. Another one of her signings, Nasri Atweh, the lead singer and primary songwriter for the band Magic!, currently has the No. 1 single (“Rude”) on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the second week in a row.

Gerson began her publishing career at Chappell music (the predecessor to Warner/Chappell) where she worked with numerous songwriters and recording artists including Bernie Taupin, R.E.M. and Rod Stewart. After six years at Chappell, Gerson joined EMI as head of the company’s east coast publishing division.

After successfully managing the east coast operations, in 1991, Gerson was tasked with revitalizing EMI’s west coast division. There she assembled a roster of critically-acclaimed and successful writers including Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin who went on to write and produce songs for Janet Jackson, Madonna, Usher, Mariah Carey, and TLC, among many others.

In 1996, Gerson signed a 15 year-old Alicia Keys. Keys’ first album Songs In A Minor was a worldwide hit, winning five Grammy Awards in 2002, including “Best New Artist” and “Song of the Year,” and selling more than 10 million albums worldwide. Also that year, Gerson signed Norah Jones, and in 2003, Jones earned five Grammy Awards for her album Come Away with Me.

Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier said: “I couldn’t be prouder of Jody and I will be sorry to see her go. I have worked with her for many years, firstly when I ran EMI Music Publishing and for the last six years at Sony/ATV and have seen her grow into one of the most successful and influential executives in the business. I wish her all the best for the future.”

Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge commented: “Jody Gerson is simply one of the best music publishers in the business, and we are thrilled that she will be bringing her creativity, savvy and vast experience to UMPG. Jody represents a new breed of music industry leadership, with a keen understanding of the evolving role of music publishers in the digital era and a track record of artist successes that places her among all-time greats. I’m excited for what we will accomplish together.”

Discussing the departure of Zach Horowitz, Grainge continued, “On behalf of everyone at the company, let me extend our profound gratitude to Zach for his adept stewardship of UMPG and his decades of service to UMG. His versatility as an executive and leader is extremely rare and we wish him only the best.”

In the wake of the Gerson news, Sony/ATV has announced that Brian Monaco has been promoted into the expanded role of Executive Vice President, Worldwide Head of Advertising, Film & TV, absorbing additional responsibilities previously held by Jody Gerson related to film and TV song activities.

Sony/ATV has begun an ‘international search’ for Gerson’s replacement. In the interim, Jonas Kant, Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, and Jennifer Knoepfle, Vice President of A&R, will together run the Los Angeles office, and will report to Martin Bandier.

In addition to Bandier, Guy Moot, Managing Director, UK Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing & President, European Creative, and Danny Strick, Sony/ATV Co-President who oversees east coast A&R, will be available to the west coast team for their input on all A&R matters.Music Business Worldwide

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