Music Industry Moves: Warner Music Italy Names Pico Cibelli Chairman-CEO; Universal Acquires 49% Stake in [PIAS]

Warner Music Group has tapped Pico Cibelli as the new president of Warner Music Italy. Cibelli, who is credited as a key figure in the rise of Grammy-nominated Italian rockers Måneskin while with Sony Music, replaces Marco Alboni, who is stepping down as chairman and CEO of the Italian division after nearly a decade at the company.

Cibelli will start his new role “in the near future,” according to the news release, and report to Simon Robson, president of international, recorded music for Warner Music Group. Along with Måneskin, the former Sony Music Italy exec worked closely with artists like Ana Mena, Fedez, Geolier, Salmo and Shiva, among others.

“Music fans in Italy have always embraced domestic repertoire, but that trend has accelerated in recent years, making it more important than ever for us to sign and nurture local talent,” commented Cibelli. “The success of artists such as Måneskin has also shown that Italian artists can take the world by storm, something we’ll see more of in the years ahead.”

Warner Music Italy is home to international artists Laura Pausini, Achille Lauro, Annalisa, Capo Plaza, Fred De Palma, Ghali, Irama, Levante, Mr Rain and Rondodasosa.

+ Universal Music Group has invested a minority share in the [PIAS] Group, an independent music company. This announcement, which sees UMG acquiring a 49% shareholding, follows the establishment of a joint global alliance between the two companies that started in June 2021.

Under the new agreement [PIAS] will remain fully independent and its founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot will retain majority control of the company. UMG will have no seats on the company’s board.

“These days we are competing with finance and tech giants and a partner like Universal Music Group provides the additional support for us to compete and grow,” said Kenny Gates, co-Founder and CEO of [PIAS]. “Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly. For Michel and I, this is our life’s work and an ongoing journey and I am excited about the prospect of this new chapter in the life of [PIAS]. This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny.”

+ Relix will be hosting the fourth installment of the Relix Music Conference on April 17 and 18 of next year at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville.

The 2023 conference is produced by Brad Tucker, project management director for Dayglo Presents, and will feature 40+ speakers from all facets of the music industry in a series of panels, discussions and keynote speeches. The first round of programming will be announced in January, but early bird passes are available now via relixmusicconference.com.

Previous Relix Music Conference speakers include Warren Haynes, journalist David Fricke, New York concert promoter Ron Delsener, record producer Don Was, live entertainment exec Jennifer Justice, independent music entrepreneur Peter Shapiro and many others. Various industry leaders have previously had a presence at the event including Live Nation, AEG, Madison Square Garden Company, Bowery Presents and more.

+ Eric Church and longtime manager John Peets have launched their joint endeavor, an “all-inclusive enterprise,” called Solid Entertainment, which aims to “[centralize] all things Church while doubling down on infrastructure behind investments in his ever-evolving professional footprint,” as it reads in the official news release.

Marshall Alexander will take the role of president and will also serve as Church’s representative for his Lower Broadway venue, bar and restaurant, Chief’s. Brandon Schneeberger will oversee day-to-day management for Church.

Industry vets Shane Allen and Kimsey Kerr have been tapped to launch and run Outsiders Radio, Church’s new, dedicated SiriusXM Channel that officially launched on Nov. 4. Bryan Chisholm joins the team to lead digital marketing and Hayley Harris has been appointed to manage Church’s fan club,  known as the Church Choir. Matt Wheeler continues to oversee merchandise.

+ Sony Music Publishing has appointed Michèle Hamelink as managing director of the Benelux region, where she will be responsible for creative strategy in addition to expanding songwriter support and service offerings.

Since taking on the role of senior A&R (Europe) in 2019, Hamelink has helmed creative initiatives across Benelux and signed several songwriters and producers like 070 Shake, Sam Feldt, S10, Son Mieux and Gabry Pont. She will work out of the company’s Benelux office and report to Guy Henderson, president of international while maintaining her additional A&R responsibilities.

Hamelink added: “I’m thrilled and honored to take on this new role and I would like to thank Jon Platt and Guy Henderson for giving me this opportunity. I’m excited to take on this challenge with our great team and build upon the strengths and songwriter-first values that we have as a global company. It’s a privilege to work with our incredible songwriters and I look forward to advancing their creative development and success both locally and internationally.”

+ Shore Fire Media has hired Elvin Sabla for the newly created position of creative brand director. Reporting to Marilyn Laverty, CEO and founder, Sabla will work out of the company’s Brooklyn headquarters and will oversee the company’s branding and content strategy.

Sabla joins the agency from Crypto.com, where he led editorial communications for the company’s NFT division. Sabla had previously served as the manager of marketing and communications at Downtown Music Publishing where he collaborated with Shore Fire on campaigns to announce deals with the estates of Miles Davis and George Gershwin, Wu-Tang Productions for the Wu-Tang Clan catalog, the 1975, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Shaggy, among many others.

He also helped implement the publisher’s 2019 rebrand and supervised the subsequent relaunch of its website, overseeing web production and content creation across its digital channels — up until the company’s realignment as a music services provider in 2021.

+ Netherlands-based B2B distributor FUGA, a division of Downtown Music, has partnered with the electronic label Insomniac Music Group (Meduza, Vintage Culture, Sidepiece, HoneyLuv) for a global deal covering distribution, marketing and label services.

FUGA will be responsible for providing said services to several labels which sit under the Insomniac Music Group umbrella, including internal imprints as well as artist-driven imprints, linking them to more than 260 DSPs globally. In addition, Insomniac will be employing FUGA’s sync and audience engagement services, with access to the distributor’s trends and analytics platform.

Insomniac has also partnered with Downtown Neighbouring Rights (Justin Bieber, Ella Fitzgerald, Sub Pop Records) which, alongside FUGA, make up the newly established Downtown Music division led by Pieter van Rijn.

“[FUGA] have been raising the bar within the independent music distribution space, and FUGA’s global footprint is the perfect catalyst to help us connect with new fans around the world while continuing to shine a light on the artists and sounds that we believe in,” commented Joe Wiseman, director of Insomniac Music Group.

+ BMG Nashville has promoted Kelsey Worley to senior director of creative and hired Amy Hendon Scott to director of creative.

Worley, who is based in Los Angeles, will continue to work alongside songwriters like Emily Landis, Stephen Wilson Jr., Claire Douglas and Logan Wall, among others. She will also spend time developing and signing both established and up-and-coming talent. She will report to Chris Oglesby, VP of creative.

Worley began her career at Interscope Records where she served as an executive assistant to the CEO, John Janick, before being promoted to her most recent position of A&R Manager for the rosters of Interscope Records, Geffen Records and Darkroom Records.

Scott will also be working with BMG’s songwriter roster as well as coaching and signing new talent. She joins the team after managing publishing and artist development at BMG from Liv Write Play, with previous stints at Wide Open Music and HoriPro Entertainment Group.

+ Warner Chappell Music has entered a new partnership with Defient, a web3 entertainment incubator, aimed at empowering WCM’s songwriters and producers to engage with the web3 space and leverage blockchain technology.

Warner Chappell and Defient’s first project will be the launch of Archives, described as “a multi-dimensional digital museum,” consisting of a curated selection of digital collectibles, memorabilia, events and more, according to the press release.

Archives will officially launch in early 2023 with an “Archives Mint Pass,” a collection of 2,000 NFTs. Each NFT will grant the holder access to participate in drops, auctions and virtual experiences from WCM’s roster of songwriters.

+ TuneCore has promoted Melanie Seddon to the role of VP of brand marketing, as announced by Andreea Gleeson, CEO.

In her new role, Seddon will be in charge of all brand marketing efforts and brand partnerships. Since joining the company in 2020 as director of influencer marketing, Seddon quickly transitioned to brand marketing and expanded her team to include social media and events.

Said Gleeson: “Melanie is a valued member of TuneCore’s leadership team whose contributions have been instrumental in reinforcing TuneCore’s status as the premier artist-first platform for music distribution. Her innovation and creativity when developing marketing initiatives cannot be overstated. I’m confident that under Melanie’s leadership, TuneCore’s best-in-class brand marketing department will only become stronger, driving impact across the artist community.”

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