Steve Barnett at 6th Annual Capitol Congress: ‘Diversity is our superpower.’

Capitol Music Group (CMG) Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett (pictured) praised the company’s commitment to diversity as he congratulated CMG artists, label bosses and partners on their achievements this year during his opening speech at the 6th Annual Capitol Congress yesterday (August 7).

Barnett welcomed hundreds of CMG staff, artists and industry partners to the annual event at the ArcLight Theatre in Hollywood, which kicked off with an on-brand, tongue-in-cheek video of Scottish star Lewis Capaldi arriving at the Capitol Hollywood Tower to sign his deal with Capitol Records President Ashley Newton.

Taking the stage, Barnett praised the momentum Capaldi has been building in the US market for Capaldi over the past few weeks.

Capaldi’s single Someone You Loved is the No.1 most played song on Pandora this week, No.2 at Shazam in the US, No.12 on global Spotify, No.17 on US Spotify and Top 5 on AC, noted Barnett.

“If you think about what has been accomplished [in 16 weeks] it’s really quite extraordinary,” he said.

“Diversity is our superpower. We don’t just welcome it, we strive to achieve it and embrace it fully.”

Steve Barnett, Capitol Music Group

Barnett also spoke of CMG’s commitment to diversity during the event, stating: “Diversity is our superpower. We don’t just welcome it, we strive to achieve it and embrace it fully.

“Diversity is reflected in the broad range of our artists and the music genres they represent, as well as the backgrounds and identities of our CMG family, from those holding entry level positions through those in our executive ranks.”

Senior executives from across the music industry such as Nick Holmsten (Spotify), Nathan Sheppard (YouTube) Rodney King (Beats) and Tiana Lewis (Pandora) were in attendance at this year’s Capitol Congress, in addition to numerous execs from the wider Universal Music Group, such as Michele Anthony, Ethiopia Habtemariam​, Jody Gerson, Jeff Harleston, Boyd Muir, Will Tanous, Nick Raphael, Jim Chancellor and Ted Cockle amongst many others.


Elsewhere at the Congress, Quality Control Music, Wolfpack, 4PF and Motown Records artist Lil Baby received a plaque to commemorate more than 9 billion global streams of his songs to date.

DJ and producer Marshmello received a plaque commemorating sales in excess of 5m copies of the Joytime Collective/Astralwerks single, Happier in the US.​

Capitol artist Halsey received an RIAA-certified plaque for achieving 5m adjusted sales for her No.1 hit, Without Me.

Meanwhile, Katy Perry was presented with a plaque commemorating 100 million RIAA song certifications.

Also at yesterday’s event, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy received CMG’s Icon Award for his contributions to music and culture over the last seven decades.

Inaugurated last year with Paul McCartney as its first recipient, the Icon Award is given to an artist or other creative figure who has made a significant contribution to Capitol Music Group’s success and legacy.

You can read Steve Barnett’s opening message in full below:


Welcome, everybody, to the sixth annual Capitol Congress. It’s great to see you all here. I know a lot of you have flown in from around the world and we really appreciate it. It’s going to be a great day.

We’ve kind of changed the format this year. I think that the focus for what we want to achieve and what we want to do, you’re going to see it very clearly today. It’s interesting, looking at the Lewis [Capaldi] film, because it made me think about him and the word “artist development.”

That term is tossed around very much in our industry, but Lewis really is the perfect example of [it]. If you go back to the very beginning of Lewis and think that he was signed by Frank Briegmann to our German company, Ted Cockle picked him up in the UK, and Ashley Newton and Michelle Jubelirer closed the deal for Capitol [in the US].

It was really in April that we actually sat down as a team and decided that we were going to make this happen for Lewis in America. We’d really seen the unprecedented success that Ted and his incredible Virgin team had had in the UK. And those of you that know a little bit about the UK market, you know [that] a developing artist doesn’t [normally] have a single for seven weeks at No.1. It doesn’t have an album for five weeks at No.1. That chart really moves quickly.

And so, in the meeting that we sat down and we talked about what we were going to try and achieve, and Sam, who starred in the film, his marketing manager, and Arjun, and everybody was kind of in.

We had a young manager, Ryan Walter, who wanted to learn and wanting to be showed: “This is what you need to do to break it in America.” Anybody that knows Greg Marella, it won’t be any surprise to you what an incredible job the promotion team at Capitol has done on this artist. It won’t surprise you if you know Ambrosia Healy and her incredible press and publicity team, the job that they have done. Brian Nolan and Jenny, the constant flow of really vital syncs support that we’ve had from Spotify, from Nick [Holmstén] and Mike [Biggane] and Rosa [Asciolla]. You know Jen Ashworth has been torturing them incessantly about what they have to do to support us!

And we should also talk a little bit about Scott Greenstein. He was really an early supporter of Lewis and really helped us with Sirius and Pandora. If you think about the support we’ve had from iHeart and our friends John Ivey and Tom Poleman.

And then finally of course Jeff Temske, the king of data, who each week would send this note out that I had the great privilege to send to my boss Sir Lucian Grainge, telling us how much we’d grown in that week. So it really became tangible for us.

So if you think about what has been accomplished, it’s really quite extraordinary, in 16 weeks. This week, Lewis’ Someone You Loved is the No.1 most played song on Pandora. We’re No.2 at Shazam in America. We’re No.12 on global Spotify. We’re No.17 on US Spotify. We’re Top 5 on AC.

Thank you Patty [Morris, who oversees AC and Hot AC promotion for CMG]. We’re going Top 10 at pop. We’ve passed 1 million adjusted tracks, 200m streams in the US, and we’ve just started. So, for everybody that’s worked so hard for Lewis, let’s give them a round of applause.


The last 12 months were really so important for our company. And we had an incredible end of the year. And I think we’re going to replicate that again this year. It’s great, coming into Congress and having the No.1 album in America with NF, so congratulations to CCMG [Capitol Christian Music Group].

For those who told us all that we had no chance, and we were going to be 30 or 40,000 behind [Chance The Rapper], of course, we won by 20,000. So that was a really great accomplishment. And I was talking to Nate [Nathan Feuerstein aka NF] on text with Jacqueline Saturn on Sunday and he said to me, “I wish Bill [Hearn, former longtime head of CCMG, who passed away December 2017] was around to see all this.” And I said, “Believe me, Nate, he is. He’s looking down and he’s very proud.”


“Always on” is a phrase that we use now and is used a lot in Santa Monica, and nobody proved that better than Halsey, who completely off-cycle had her biggest hit, Without Me, which is at 15m global adjusted tracks. Obviously, Sam Smith, a No.1 record – thank you, Nick Raphael – with Dancing With A Stranger. [And now an] incredible new song, How Do You Sleep?

For a lot of us that were involved with persuading Paul McCartney to come back to the tower, for him to have his first debut solo No.1 album was really great. And particularly for myself and Michele Anthony and Michelle Jubelirer who worked so hard to convince him after 12 years to return to the Tower, that was really a tremendous accomplishment.


Obviously, [there’s] the incredible breakout of Lil Baby and City Girls with our partners at Quality Control with Coach and Pee. We sold 11m adjusted albums with QC in America last year. That explains to you how important that is to our Motown partnership with them and to the whole company.

Marshmello and Bastille had a huge worldwide smash with Happier, over 3 billion streams. And Katy Perry returned to the charts in a big way, and I think you’re going to have a great surprise from her today.

When I think about all the various labels within our group: Think about Astralwerks. In a year, Toby Andrews has taken that company from No.8 in dance in America to No.1. An incredible accomplishment. Motown, who celebrate their 60th anniversary – what Ethiopia has done, working hard to return that label to where it deserved to be. And once again, it’s the sound of young America.

Blue Note and the incredible Don Was releases beautiful jazz records. It’s their 80th anniversary. He continues his remarkable job of keeping them a vital part of our roadmap. Obviously the Capitol Christian Music Group with Peter York, Brad O’Donnell, and Hudson [Plachy] continue to lead this genre with an incredible 48% market share of Christian and gospel music in the US.

Capitol Records with Ashley [Newton] brings his taste and decades of experience in his role as president of our flagship label.

And, of course, Caroline. What can you say about Jacqueline Saturn? Oh my God, you know. She should be in Eveready commercials.


But an important thread that you’re going to see running through this afternoon really has to do with our diversity. Whether it’s the broad spectrum of musical genres that our artists represent, or the backgrounds and identities of our CMG family members from those in entry-level positions to those in our executive ranks.

We not only welcome diversity, we strive to achieve it. We embrace it. Diversity is a big reason for our success. And at the Capitol Music Group, diversity is our superpower.

So thank you all for being here. It’s going to be a great day. I want to say a special “thank you” to our Hollywood and Vine interns. I felt humbled to see your presentation. It was really amazing. I hope you’ve all had a great summer. We love having you here, so thank you all very much. Enjoy the day. Enjoy the night. Thank you.Music Business Worldwide

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