10 AAPI Music Executives Making an Impact in 2022


The Asian American and Pacific Islander group has long played an integral role in The American cultural zeitgeist, and its effect has spread to the music industry with even more exposure than the history. “As someone who has worn many hats across the music industry — As an artist, digital marketing label executive, DJ and journalist — it’s incredible to see how far the AAPI community has come since it began 20 years ago” says Zeena Koda, head of digital at the North Face, co-founder of Asian American Collective and executive at Atlantic Records. “We’ re showing up throughout forms of music, throughout centuries and being a huge financial contestant in the modern music play worldwide.” But with AAPI hate crimes on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, representation and inclusion are more important than ever. And that means going beyond the rhetoric to quantifiable action.) As Koda articulates: “When we have a seat at the table, our opinions are recognized. Our prospects are recognized. Similar to other minoritized communities, Our influence through positions of power and influence aids to create a more truly inclusive potential for the AAPI music group.” Among those who have a seat at the table are 10 key executives from such companies as YouTube, CAA, Spotify and labels like Epic, Warner and Capitol. Courtesy of Annie Chen. Annie Chen is VP of Marketing at Mass Appeal. Taiwanese-American Chen has led multiple Marketing campaigns at Mass Appeal, working closely with Nas, DJ Shadow, Dave East and many more. She also plays a crucial role in the company’s ad campaign “Hip Hop 50” marketing rollout, which extends through 2024 and includes partnerships with Showtime, Spotify and others. Chen also assisted in the launch of Mass Appeal India, a record label dedicated to promoting India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture. Other Mass Appeal, She is co-founder of 2AB, where she produces events including an AAPI panel with Neuehouse and the ’90s-‘ 00s-themed Body Roll Party. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel?? I feel like it’s slowly growing, whether it’s the artists or behind the scenes. There was definitely more AAPI representation at the Grammy Awards this year, it’s a good step. With the rise of social media platforms, more artists create opportunities for themselves every day. There are also more resources available from the AAPI to help people navigate the entertainment industry. I’m hoping it’ll continue to grow and we’ ll see more and more AAPI representation. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-racial hate crime?? Educate yourself about what’s going on, take a deep dive into why this is happening and what it’s causing; be vocal about it and find out how you can contribute. If you have a platform, use it. If you have the ability to contribute financially to AAPI resources, do it. If you don’t know where to start, start conversations with your circles, and use the AAPI resources to learn more. Grace Kim James SVP, Courtesy Atlantic Records, Co-Head of Marketing at Atlantic Records. Co-Head of Pop/rock marketing at Atlantic means working with the likes of Lizzo, Coldplay and FKA Twigs, the Korean-American also serves as the executive sponsor for Atlantic’s Off-Color DEI group and a mentor to Asian-American youth. In her free time, He is an avid marathon runner having completed nine marathons. How does AAPI represent the music industry?? I am encouraged by the growing number of Asian-Americans entering the music industry, not only because of representation but because it means more AAPI kids are standing up to their parents. Our culture, it is a privilege to pursue careers in creative industries and it is taboo to ignore or disappoint our parents ‘wishes to pursue trade careers (Medicine, law, finance, etc). My parents don’t know what I do for a living. Coming from war-torn countries, our parents ‘perspective on a successful career is having a regular paycheck and being able to provide for your family. Our generation can not only put food on the table, but we can pursue our passions, careers & opportunities, jobs that make us happy!. I’ d like to think my parents ‘sacrifice 40 years ago was not in vain. How can the industry help to send a message about anti-AAPI hate crime?? When we talk about industry taking a stance against anti-Asian hate crimes, I don’t think of the CEOs, but rather the everyday people with boots on the ground. I hope people educate artists and executives about what’s happening to the AAPI community, buying rides home for AAPI coworkers who don’t feel safe commuting, hiring more AAPI for jobs that are not in BA or finance, and signing life AAPI artists. We are not invisible, have real buying power, and want to be taken seriously as consumers, tastemakers and artists. Jonathan Weiner Karen Kwak – Executive Vice President/Working with label artists Anitta and Saweetie adds to the long list of superstar artists Kwak has helped shepherd through the hitmaking process. Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Nas, Frank Ocean, Big Sean, The Dream, J-Lo and Britney Spears are just a few of the music acts who have worked with her over a career that spans 30 years. How does AAPI represent the music industry?? I started my career at Motown Records, I started out in a more diverse environment. However, At the time AAPI representation was essentially nonexistent in the industry. I didn’t have AAPI executives to look up to. There is significantly more AAPI representation than before, albeit it is still significantly less than what it should be. Today, there are five major financial crises in the region, we have AAPI role models. I am proud to represent the AAPI community as an executive in the music industry. I understand also that I have a responsibility. I need to get more involved with organizations like the Asian American Collective, where I can use my extensive music industry knowledge and experience to mentor the next generation of executives. I am happy and proud to see more artists from the AAPI community having mainstream success and impacting culture. This gives young aspiring AAPI artists confidence to pursue their dreams and believe that everything is possible. How can the music industry help send a message about anti-AAPI hate crime?? Music is an universal language and we all know it, as an industry, have great influence. Using that influence, we can raise awareness and understanding. We can support organizations that fight hate crime through service and donations. We can also encourage our AAPI superstars to use their platforms to speak out against hate. It is important that we as individuals say more, do more to lead the industry in this fight against anti-AAPI hate. I can and will do more. Rick Wenner Imran Majid – Co-President/The first Pakistani-American to run a major record label in The United States. S, Majid started as an A R assistant at Universal Motown in 2004, joining the team that would soon form the A R department at the then-new Republic Records. In 2013 Majid joined Columbia Records, Lil Tjay signed and worked closely with rapper Russo, pop singer Rachel Platten and duo Ayo & Teo — and, effective Jan 4). 1,2022, he became president/CEO of Island with fellow Columbia expatriate Justin Eshak, whom he’ d met when he’d both worked at Universal Motown 18 years earlier. Today, The Island roster includes Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Keshi, SleazyWorld Go, and Lauren Spencer-Smith. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel?? The music industry still has a long way to go in terms of AAPI representation, I’m very excited to see organizations and executives lean into the opportunity to encourage and empower those of AAPI backgrounds. The music industry is at The forefront of popular culture, the companies need to continue to reflect what the real world looks like. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-AAPI hate crime?? Talk about it. Acknowledge it. Acknowledge that artists are artists, managers, Employees have experienced it for many years but have never had an outlet to discuss it, for a variety of reasons. The Asian culture across The continent is full of proud and hardworking people who sacrificed a lot in this country for opportunity, and they did so at the expense of being able to talk about their struggles. I am encouraged by the steps being taken by organizations to help combat Anti-AAPI hate crime. Matthew Reyes Arjun Mehta Founder, CEO, and CEO, Moment House. Moment House is a live media platform that offers artists and creators across all genres, comedy and podcasts, global digital experiences — or Moments — that are designed to elevate the traditional livestream. Among the company’s recent activations: Kygo performing atop a mountain in Norway; Tame Impala from the ocean-side bungalow where they recorded their debut album; an AR performance with Bryson Tiller from a baseball stadium in his hometown of Louisville; and Justin Bieber’s New Year’s Eve concert from the Beverly Hilton hotel. Originally launched in 2019 with the goal of translating the lucrative world of live sports media (i think you’ ll agree: boxing on PPV) to music, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated Moment House’s growth. As a result, the company can offer creators 6 and 7-figure payouts, combining tickets, merchandise and tips from the audience, as well as meet-and-greet upgrades and after parties, all on the Moment House platform. Creators keep all the gross revenue, while Moment House profits from a 10 % service fee charged to the customer. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-aapi hate crime?? I am encouraged to see more AAPI representation in the industry, and honored to be a part of that progress, but there’s still so much to do. Someone in an executive-level role, I have a responsibility to raise awareness of the disease, educate others and serve as role models. Representation matters, and at Moment House we want to be a safe space for our AAPI employees as we all work towards a better future. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-aapi hate crime?? That’s not enough to condemn hate crimes against the AAPI community. We have to do more, starting with education, as well as supporting organizations that combat AAPI Hate crimes such as Stop AAPI Hate. The music industry can contribute to The cause by amplifying AAPI creators, which is something that is a huge priority at Moment House. And we see it makes incredible business sense, just look at 88Rising!. The more that this is normalized and embedded into The fabric of culture, The more this is ignored, the better society is built for the long term. Courtesy of Spotify Sulinna Ong – Global Head of Editorial at Spotify. In her role at Spotify, in collaboration with her teams Ong oversees some of the biggest playlists in the world, including Today’s Top Hits, Rap Caviar;, New Music Friday!, and more. She is also responsible for spearheading Spotify programs such as the global emerging artists program Radar, Equal rights to all non-womens, which highlights the work of female artists. The daughter of a Chinese father and Persian mother who fled The Iranian Revolution when she was a baby, the British-born Ong previously held senior roles at Sony Music, Live Nation, and Deezer, She also established her own artist management and marketing strategy firm, Silver Horse Entertainment. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel?? For most of my career to date, especially in the earlier stages, I struggled to see anyone who looked like me, particularly in positions of power. On the rare occasion that you did see AAPI faces in the music business, they would often not be in senior or creative roles. There are still certain stereotypes attached to them, we have to break down these stereotypes. In general, representation has been few and far between, both on the business and talent sides of the industry, but it’s starting to shift slowly. Particularly in the last three to four years, as Asia has become an increasingly powerful economic and musical force and our cultures have come to the fore in the West, the need to represent API talent has become more pressing. And as music listening amongst consumers becomes increasingly diverse – largely because of streaming opening up across continental exchanges – the interest And demand for AAPI talent is on the rise. The tide is slowly turning, We still have a long way to go on the road to increasing diversity. And we need to ensure that as well as diversity in representation, we don’t lose sight of diversity within our own communities. “The AAPI” is one homogeneous group: There are more than 50 ethnic groups from over 40 countries. Add to that the nuance of intersectionality: I myself am intersectional – I’m part Chinese and part Persian – and there are many stories like mine that involve the multiplicity of our identities, and the intersectionality of all of our identities. How can the music industry help send a message about anti-AAPI hate crimes?? It is critical that companies and individuals speak out and condemn racism and hate crimes when they happen and not stay quiet. And also, check your friends and colleagues at AAPI because they’ re not okay. I have personal experience of this as a family member who was a victim of a hate crime in 2021. You just don’t know what someone is dealing with in their personal life so showing care and empathy is vital. Courtesy of Rachael Wright/Arjun Pulijal is President of Capitol Music Group. Pulijal oversees all areas of artist development at Capitol Records, which includes creative, marketing strategies, and operations. In 2013, He joined the company as director of marketing, He was promoted to VP in 2017 and SVP in 2019. Earlier this year, he climbed to the presidency of the company that is home to Paul McCartney, Beck, Halsey, Sam Smith, Maggie Rogers, Lewis Capaldi, Norah Jones, Nine Inch Nails, Queen Naija and Sky Ferreira, among others. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel?? As a first generation Indian-American contemplating a career path in music, there was a scarcity of representation to look at for guidance. I didn’t have a compass to follow and retrace, “This is a way you can go.” In the last five or so years, there’s been a lot of positive progress, but we have to do more outreach through education, to meet people at that crossroads between high school and college or college and starting a career or entering a grad program and to emphasize the arts as a path that’s available. As my career progressed I came to learn about Bhaskar Menon, the President of the Capitol/EMI in the 70s, who revitalized the label and was instrumental to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.” It was comforting and kind of exciting to learn that I wasn’t the first to learn that, there was a precedent, and I wish I knew about him sooner. There’s also a feedback loop when it comes to inclusion — representation on the executive side plays into representation in the artist community and vice versa. We should never underestimate how important it is to see someone with whom you share a shared culture and history at a position of prominence. Blazing your own trail is great in theory!, but the point should be to create a path for other people to follow in so they don’t have to spend quite so much energy figuring out which direction to go and can just excel and bring their talent and perspective to the industry. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-aapi hate crime?? There’s a tendency to react by making a public statement of condemnation, it is important to get rid of it, but that’s much more powerful when there’s tangible action behind it. We should be honest and realistic about how We can make a meaningful impact beyond that moment, or else the condemnations become as commonplace as the violence and nothing changes. We need to encourage and model equity and inclusion in our industry in ways that are not always hyper-visible but are capable of having a real long-term impact. We also have to put our weight behind our artists and artistic representations. It is not a standalone solution, But greater diversity among artists with the largest platforms would create an undeniably powerful pathway to breaking down barriers that contribute to stereotypes and bigotry. Courtesy of Columbia Records. John Vincent Salcedo VP of Digital Marketing at Columbia Records. A Filipino Immigrant who moved to the United States. S. He was in his teens, Salcedo has worked on campaigns for Polo G’s “Hall of Fame” album; Lil Nas X’s “Call Me By Your Name (Montero)” and “Industry Baby!” Jack Harlow, both Nos. 1 hit; Tyler, He is the creator “Call Me If You Get Lost” album “; and the Kid Laroi’s chart-topping” Stay tuned!. “Elsewhere on the Columbia roster, Salcedo contributed to the marketing efforts of Baby Keem, Fivio Foreign, Lil Tjay and Roal A. What do you think about AAPI Representation in the Music industry?? We are entering a golden period for AAPIs where more creatives will be able to work, executives and, of course, artists are beginning to break into the industry. There’s always room for improvement and continuing to push for inclusion is a must, but I truly believe we are seeing more of us at the table making a positive impact across all facets, and in top-level roles. It is in the music making process, the business or visual creative that supports the music, Here’s an AAPI in the room contributing. It’s a step forward that I didn’t experience early in my career. Even more exciting is the wave of younger AAPIs who are jumping on opportunities to be involved and are hungry to be a part of the conversation. It’s a testament to how much things have changed not only in the music industry but in the broader AAPI culture, where careers like this are not the norm. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-AAPI hate crime?? Let’s start with acknowledging and making sure that everyone using their platform is using their platform to educate and raise awareness about what’s going on. The first step is for everyone to recognize that there is a rapid increase in AAPI hate crime and that our elderly folks are being targeted. Shervin Lainez Steph Shim Head of East Coast Label Relations At YouTube Music At YouTube, Shim works with a wide variety of artists to unlock the full potential of the video platform’s reach. In her day-to-day role, she consults on best practices and release strategies for her music partners, along with finding ways to support their artists with promotional opportunities across YouTube and Google. He has been able to work on several notable campaigns, including the global rollout of YouTube Shorts through BTS’s Permission to Dance Challenge, in which fans were encouraged to upload their own versions of the choreography that incorporated signs for” Joy Dance “and” Peace. “This culminated in a compilation music video released on BTS featuring hundreds of submissions. Currently, He’s working on YouTube’s APAHM initiatives, which includes a flagship playlist, dedicated social content, Marketing, promotion, and digital billboards in New York’s Times Square and downtown Los Angeles. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel??” We have a long way to go, but I do see a little of that glimmers of hope among a bunch of others in high-level positions, a really encouraging type of emerging industry experts, and many talented artists and reflect the diversity and skills of the AAPI group. Talking recently to Asian college students who are inquisitive about our industry, I understand what makes a difference for a lot of them in pursing their aspirations is seeing people look for them both in concert and behind the images. Searching home, a major setback for me though knowing that this was a job I had could advance was that lack of representation, the idea never ever entered my mind. When people look at the variety of their employees, or their lineup, Asians often get ignored in the debate and we need to be more vocal in addressing that issue. A number of those involved, the AAPI moniker is still unknowable and it is really sad. What inspires me now is that there were a bunch of us who were today re-igniting our energy as an united voice. “There are a lot of amazing AAPI artists and artists across the Asian diaspora doing great things right now – check out YouTube Music’s Celebrating APAHM playlist. We want to amplify their voices so that they can share their art, tell their stories, and build their audiences. The same principle applies to many people involved behind the scenes trying to move their way through This industry. My hope is to show this support and provide this platform, we can inspire the next generation to grow up seeing more and more people who look like them doing what they aspire to do. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-aapi hate crime?? We need an alliance. It can’t be us just speaking out about the things that are happening in our community. There should be an united front across the industry that condemns these actions, there seems to have been little change in the last two years since the spike in hate crimes started. Axbkbbkbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb, by amplifying AAPI voices within the music industry and putting them in positions of power to tell their stories, we can fight stereotypes and discrimination that fuel hate and violence. Representation of the Board is more important than ever. Courtesy of CAA Marlene Tsuchii – Music Agent and Co-Head of International Touring at CAA. A 20-year veteran of CAA, Tsuchii oversees international tours, and books domestic outings as well. In the agency, She made a concerted attempt to represent Asian talent, and as a result, SM Entertainment and 88Rising are clients represented by CAA globally across all areas. She also represents the Grammy-winning H. A. E. R and young upstarts at the Linda Lindas. How does the AAPI representation in the music industry feel?? The global success of K-Pop and The exciting rise of 88rising’s Head in The Clouds festival demonstrate The growing strength of Asian talent. In addition, the new wave of artists such as. E. R, Rina Sawayama;, Japanese Breakfast, Saweetie and Olivia Rodrigo are wonderful examples of innovative Asian talent. We have a long way to go. Many traditional music festivals are resistant to showcasing Asian talent, so that exposure for these artists remains difficult. On the business side, there is still a lack of resources [AAPI] executives in the industry. Fortunately, organizations like Gold House have enlisted companies like Live Nation’s Asian Nation to focus on changing that dynamic. I participated in their first collective master class with Spotify recently and it was an incredible event showcasing new Asian artists and a discussion about AAPI in the industry. How can the music industry help to send a message about anti-aapi hate crimes?? Music is a powerful tool and one of the best forms of communication. It is incumbent on the industry to support Asian talent and spread the positive attitude of these artists. Their success is everyone’s success. [Pictured from left: Karen Kwak, Sulinna Ong, John Vincent Salcedo].