Meet the Candidates: A2IM 2022 Board of Directors Elections

about a2im's board of directors

A2IM Board members offer their expertise to represent the membership at large, and assist in setting the priorities and direction for the organization.

 

A2IM Board of Directors’ terms run for three years. Each board seat is term limited to one, full three-year term. Any board member, and member company, serving a full three-year term must sit out one year at the conclusion of their term before being eligible to run for election again.

This year's election will run from Monday, May 2nd through Wednesday, May 18th, at 11:59pm ET.

Amongst other responsibilities, Board Members will primarily …

  • become involved in committees (e.g. Sustainability, Education) and projects supporting the efforts and growth of A2IM. 
  • be kept informed by A2IM staff of important developments as they arise then provide guidance on how to better serve the Independent music community.
  • meet in person or by teleconference six – ten times per year to review the agenda and progress of the organization. 

To run in this year’s election, we asked candidates to provide a biography, and answers to the following questions:

  • What do you consider your greatest area of expertise, and how can it contribute to the knowledge base of our board?
  • What are three key issues you have identified in the independent sector today that you plan to address if elected to the Board of Directors? 
  • Please expand on the priority issue(s) you would like to address if you’re elected to serve on the board.
  • Why is being a part of the independent music/A2IM community important to you?

MEET this year's CANDIDATES

Expertise:

DSP marketing & release strategy–as the label’s connection point between the artists and DSPs, my priority is to build relationships with curators and advocate for artists and their releases. This also means identifying trends in DSPs and digital platforms early enough to onboard artists as early adopters, positioning them as primary candidates for editorial and beta opportunities. I would want to utilize this to contribute ways to provide more access and education for members, and to find more resources that encourage early adoption and accessibility for more independents.

 

 

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. The position of independent labels in a world in which DIY artists are growing and becoming more widely recognized. What does it look like for independent labels to celebrate this growth and advancement in music, while simultaneously showcasing the value and relevance labels hold?
  2. Representation of the various genre and cultural diversities that make up independent music.
  3. Rapid changing technology in music that requires independent labels and artists to be constantly adapting to emerging DSPs, social platforms, and new features–how to keep up with an industry that’s constantly changing and positioning independent artists and labels ahead of major labels will require access and education.”

 

Focus Issue: 

There’s no doubt that there are artists who are 100% capable of building a career without a label/funding–but the spotlight on these stories has perpetuated an anti-label narrative that can be harmful for artists who would benefit from a label structure. One aspect of this is how labels work to become disruptive and adapt to create value for ourselves. However, we also have an opportunity to create unity in the independent world by collaborating, and supporting DIY artists through means of distribution, access, and innovative collaborations.

 

Biography:

Dee Diaz is Venezuela-born, Atlanta based, 29-year-old VP of Digital Strategy at Reach Records. Her time at the independent boutique label began in August 2017, after spending three years working as a creative and digital strategy coordinator. Over her time at Reach Records, Dee has contributed to the distribution and marketing of 27 LPs and over 100 releases, including viral, RIAA Certified Gold single Coming In Hot.

 

In 2018, Dee helped transition Reach Records to being a fully in-house distributed independent label. In addition to distribution, Dee manages direct relationships between DSPs and all eight Reach Records artists, pitches for editorial features and strategic partnerships, and oversees digital advertising and email marketing strategies for the artists and label.

 

Dee is also passionate about pursuing diversity within the music that’s released, artists on the roster, and internally at Reach Records. This illustrated itself in 2020, when Dee led the charge on the label’s first Latin project, Sin Vergüenza. She shaped branding, PR, advertising and more to tell the story of the Latin Christian community. So much so that Reach featured her as the label’s spokesperson on the heart behind the project in the documentary Tamo Aquí (We Been Here). 

Expertise:

Knowledge of the growing market for Latin music in the US and abroad

3 Key Issues:

  1. The industry needs greater representation of independent Latin artists and labels
  2. The industry needs proper guardrails in defining independent marketshare in this era of consolidation
  3. Ensuring the independent sector, particularly small and mid-sized labels, has access and remains attractive to the investment the sector that larger companies have been enjoying over the past several years.

 

 

Biography:

After beginning his career as a composer and producer of music for advertising and television, Rob founded and later sold MuuseMe, the first Latin market focused music supervision and licensing platform where Rob forged partnerships with Sony, Warner & EMI’s Latin divisions as well as hundreds of independent artists and labels from the Spanish-speaking worlds and led brand integrations with companies as diverse as Verizon, McDonalds, T-Mobile, Heineken, Honda and many others. Rob also founded and later sold Trenderscope.com, a social and digital media analytics application dedicated to indexing the world of Latin music. In 2014 Rob joined CD Baby to lead their nascent music publishing program and presided over its growth to over 100,000 songwriters in just two years. In 2016, he and Nacional Records founder Tomas Cookman co-founded Industria Works, a multi-service platform focused on the fast growing global Latin market where he’s spearheaded initiatives driving 2X growth in revenue year over year and a 5X growth in company streaming results in the past two years. Rob has also served on the Advisory Board of A2IM and continues to serve on its Finance Committee.

Expertise:

Running an indie label for as long as I have, I think I have proven that I am a role model, or an exemplar for making adjustments to the broadest range of disruptions of the indie label model.

3 Key Issues:

The increasing difficulty in working with majors around

  1. shared copyrights,
  2. proper royalty compensation and
  3. proper sync licensing participation.

 

Focus Issue: 

Biography:

I am Aaron Fuchs.  I have run Tuff City Records for close to 40 years. My prior background was 15 years as a music journalist—three of them for the trade publication, CashBox, and one of them as its East Coast Editor.  My history of Tuff City is independent, except for a distribution deal for a year with Sony, and a publishing deal with EMI. Publishing is currently administered by Kobalt.  I was described by Complex Magazine as ‘one of Hip Hop’s greatest living producers’ and my label, Tuff City, was described by The New York Times as ‘a crucial part of the old school.’

Expertise:

In over two decades at Merge, I have experienced the many sides of the DSP and new media landscape, from licensing and operations to marketing and promotions. With another transition towards crypto and web3 on the horizon amid on-going discussions about streaming royalties and tech consolidation, independent artists need advocates in these sectors with experience and a passion for protecting artist rights.

 

 

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. Work to rebuild a sustainable independent music sector for all artists and not only the largest.
  2. Target sensible ways to increase streaming royalties and rates, and continue larger discussions about the meaning & implications of those rates.
  3. Protect artists’ rights & works in the ongoing push towards NFTs and the broader web3.

 

Focus Issue: 

As the existing tech titans and emerging blockchain technologies offer new avenues for both creativity and exploitation, many artists are feeling the squeeze on all sides. Big tech consolidates existing power in the hands of a limited number of companies who mostly aren’t dependent on music, while the current streaming environment only widens the gap between successful and emerging artists. We must holistically examine and advocate for measures that will benefit the median artist and not just those at the top, while protecting and enforcing the value of artists’ works.

 

Biography:

I am the Head of Digital at Merge Records, the North Carolina-based fully independent label founded, owned, and run by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan of the band Superchunk. I have led Merge’s digital & DSP team since 2008, and have been with Merge since 2002–starting as an intern, then managing the warehouse before moving into my current role.

 

With direct experience in licensing and acting as Merge’s primary contact with Merlin since 2010, I recognize the complexities and nuances of partnering with tech giants. Merge was an early champion of retaining our digital rights rather than ceding to distribution, so I have long focused on metadata standards and operational rigor for ensuring smooth releases and correct reporting.

 

As Merge has evolved and grown through the years, we have never lost sight of our mission as an artist-led and artist-first organization. Independents must be the primary supporter of a sustainable middle class of artists. We must modernize our methods to meet the ever-changing landscape, while fiercely defending artistic integrity and rights. I am fortunate to have worked so long for a company who puts these words into practice, and hope to work equally hard for independents at large.

Expertise:

I think my greatest strengths lie in being able to cultivate relationships, and then leverage them to accomplish new projects, while always keeping in mind the best interests of our artists. And a strong ability to connect with artists and translate their vision and music in to reality.

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. Climate change and sustainability – currently serve on the working group for Music Declares Emergency!
  2. Advocacy – with a Public Policy degree from Duke University, I have experience in developing policy and advocating on behalf of independent music.
  3. New technology and frontiers – currently serve on The Future of Music Task Force. “

 

Focus Issue: 

All three of my key issues are important to me for the health of the independent ecosystem, and I have already taken active steps to further each of them through my participation on the Advisory Board. As a Board member, I would work to continue and further each of these initiatives. As part of the working group for Music Declares Emergency, I have met with over a dozen climate organizations in an effort to develop tool kits for artists to be better equipped to talk about climate change both for themselves and to their fans. We are currently launching the US branch of MDE with events surrounding Earth Day, as there is #NoMusicOnADeadPlanet.

 

As part of my advocacy efforts, I have worked with Josh Hurvitz, who spearheads A2IM’s lobbying efforts, to work on addressing issues such as the Hits Act, the Anti Trust Bill, copyright issues and payola. We are working on laws and policies that will benefit the indie sector.

 

The Future of Music Task Force was formed to try and better anticipate, and plan for, the future of independent music. My efforts on this task force include discussion about a non-profit streaming service, NFTs, and in-gaming music experiences. There is a consensus to try and take future music platforms out of the hands of tech companies and more driven by music based entities. 

 

Biography:

Having spent the majority of my 27 years in the music business as part of the independent sector, it would be an honor to serve on the Board of A2IM. For the past two years, I have been a member of A2IM’s Advisory Board, and am currently serving on both the Advocacy Task Force and The Future of Music sub-committee. I am currently the Chief Business Officer at Blue Élan Records, where I have been leading the label for the past five years. We are an artist friendly label that fosters a creative environment on the artist’s terms. In my leadership role at BER, I have put in place a strategic plan to help the label become more sustainable by focusing on A&R, streamlining direct to consumer business, and leading a team of twelve in effectively releasing our artists’ music out into the world!

 

Prior to this, I was living in Austin, TX for eight years, and spent 7 of those years managing the band Los Lonely Boys and creating an indie label for them called Playing In Traffic. I also managed a handful of other Austin based artists, and helped Ben Kweller to set up and run his own indie label called The Noise Company. I spent a year of my time in Texas as the Director of Finance for management company Triple 8.

 

Before Texas, I was the Sr. Dir of Manufacturing and International Business for New West Records for eight years. When I started at New West, I was the 3rd employee and helped to build the label from the ground up. Being at New West is where I discovered my love and passion for the independent label! I came to New West from Columbia Music (Sony Entertainment) where I had been the A&R assistant to the legendary A&R man John Kalodner. I worked as A&R admin for releases by Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Poison and Cinderella among others. I learned many valuable things from JDK, but most importantly how to communicate with an artist about their art.

 

I got my start in the music business in the Washington DC area as the assistant to multiple Grammy winning artist Mary Chapin Carpenter. At the time, she was signed to Columbia Nashville, and considered a country artist. We worked strongly to establish what is today called the Americana genre. I also helped to create the first Washington DC chapter of the Recording Academy, and served on the board of the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts. I am currently both a member of the Americana Music Association and the Recording Academy.

 

Over the past twenty-seven years, the music business has gone through much transition. I feel uniquely positioned to have witnessed and participated in navigating these changes. I pride myself on being a people person, and love to foster people interested in the music business. I am very passionate about music, and in particular my beloved jam bands. I spent large portions of the years 1980 to 1995 following the Grateful Dead, and funneled that energy into a career in music. I believe in intuition, flexibility, and open-ness to new ideas. In my spare time, I like to swim in open water. Last year I swam across both Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay!

Expertise:

Rights management, technology and digital strategy.

3 Key Issues:

  1. Copyrights and infringement.
  2. Technology and new technologies.
  3. Inclusion on different genres.

Focus Issue: 

Copyright infringement, technology, rights, and marketing.

Biography:

I started working with digital services at the age of 14. Right out of high school I started what is now Colonize Media, a technology and rights platform for rights holders.

Expertise:

I’m passionate about the independent music community and the opportunities we routinely provide to artists, advocates and entrepreneurs at the beginning of their careers. My position and history have given me a lot experience in many parts of our business and that broad perspective informs my approach to the incredibly varied challenges we are facing.

 

 

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. We must continue to advocate for streaming royalties to increase and at least keep up with inflation
  2. We should continue to work to identify new or potentially missed revenue opportunities and to educate our membership about them
  3. We should continue to advocate for independent music to receive promotion and placement commensurate with our marketshare. 

 

Focus Issue: 

Independent music has never received the media attention it objectively deserves. As we see the gatekeeping functions of radio, press and retail problematically collapse into the hands of a few tech companies, it’s increasingly important for us to work to make sure that our community members and artists have a seat at the table and and that their voices are heard.

 

Biography:

I’m the President of Sub Pop Records/Hardly Art/Sub Pop Publishing, where I’ve worked for the last 22 years. I also served on the A2IM board from 2018-2021 and on it’s executive committee for 2019-2021. Before coming to work at Sub Pop I had worked for Geffen Records and Dreamworks Records in LA while DJing at KXLU and promoting shows around Los Angeles. For several years I was a member of Seattle’s Music Commission where we worked with the city to solve problems our industry and most importantly our artists were facing.

Expertise:

Seeing trends in the music industry. Helping the Board affect policies that forward the careers of independent artists.

3 Key Issues:

  1. Solving the value gap (the difference between the value of music to a platform and what they contractually pay.)
  2. Solving the payment gap (the difference between what platforms should contractually pay and actually pay).
  3. Ensuring new audio formats like immersive audio are properly remunerated to labels.

 

Focus Issue: 

Ensuring that independent artists are supported in the uber competitive world of music.

 

Biography:

Jason Peterson is an entrepreneur, attorney, and producer with 22 years of experience named as one of the ‘Top 50 Indie’, ‘Top 40 under 40’ and ‘Top Latin’ Power Players in music by Billboard, ‘Top 40 under 40’ in home entertainment by Media Play News and as one of the ‘Top 30 entrepreneurs under 30’ by Los Angeles Business Journal.

Jason is the founder, owner, and Chief Executive of GoDigital Media Group (godigital.com) a diversified multi-national holding company that owns nine operating businesses across three verticals in media IP rights management: (i) music, (ii) video, and (iii) brands

Artists and repertoire Jason has worked with include Janet Jackson, T.I., Master P, Jason Derulo, Pitbull, Psy and Daddy Yankee. He has produced dozens of major music videos that have won “Video of the Year” at the Gospel Music Awards, MTV Latin Video Music Awards as well as “Best Directorial Debut” at the MVPA awards. Most recently he co-produced the video for Janet Jackson and Daddy Yankee’s “Made for Now.”

He currently or previously has provided leadership to the following boards and committees:

  • American Association of Independent Music (A2iM): the trade group for American independent labels
  • Association of Volleyball Professionals (the AVP): was a founding member of the Executive Advisory Board to the national professional sports league for beach volleyball
  • City of Hope Hospital: Music, Film & Entertainment Board, which has raised over $130M for cancer research since 2000.
  • MERLIN: the global collective bargaining organization for independent labels that represents 15% of the global market for recorded music and is roughly the size of Warner Music Group.
  • OTT.x (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association): representing the US home entertainment industry with a focus on the over-the-top eco-system.
    RD.x a joint venture between IFPI, WIN, and PPL in the UK building a global repertoire database for music licensing collectives.
  • Stanford Disruptive Technologies Council: A part of the engineering school that collaborates with technology leaders around the world on the future of tech enabled services.
  • The Recording Academy Government Advocacy Committee
    USC Business Cinematic-Arts Program Advisory Board responsible for career development and curriculum feedback
  • World Independent Network (WIN): representing and advocating for the global independent recorded music community

The foundation for Jason’s work is a license to practice law, a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University, and a business degree with an emphasis in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business honors program

Expertise:

I am very good at negotiating contracts and licenses as well as marketing. I also work very well with the collecting societies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. “The payment of royalties needs to be fairer, especially for certain DSPs.
  2. Radio stations must more openly return to their core mission and help artists to break through and not just accept major artists through contracts.
  3. There needs to be a higher fund specifically for independent labels and artists, and buy outs need to be banned.

 

Focus Issue: 

Funding, Licensing and Royalties.

 

Biography:

My name is Daniel Sejpka and I am 36 years old. In 2015 I founded Battl Victory Records in Switzerland and now they have offices in Germany, the Czech Republic and the United States. I myself run Battl Victory Records and also founded a foundation, online radio station and my own distribution service for the DSPs.

Battl Victory Records is also divided into Battl Victory Publishing (music publishing) and Battl Victory Artist Management. I choose the artists myself. We are open to any kind of artist and any genre.”

Expertise:

I believe my experience leading a small, wholly family-owned operation would be valuable to the board- it’s important that A2IM represents labels of all sizes. Oh Boy is still very close to the D.I.Y. artist-as-entrepreneur ethos of our founding; we move quickly and are open to embracing new technologies and opportunities, that has allowed us to scale our success up to both mainstream and global audiences, while still staying true to our roots.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Key Issues:

  1. As more venture capital and investment groups enter our community, it’s important that opportunities for smaller labels and artists are not adversely affected.
  2. There are more avenues than ever for an artist to release their music; it important that we as a community continue to educate and raise general awareness of the value independent record labels bring to artists.
  3. Protection and advancement of independent creators rights within emerging technologies and digital landscapes – web 3.0, blockchain offshoots (cryptocurrency, NFT’s, DAO’s etc), and VR/AR environments (the metaverse).

 

Focus Issue: 

As we see continued consolidation amongst rights holders (including in the independent sector), I believe we need to be intentional about ensuring the health of smaller companies as well as making sure the barriers to entry for new labels remain low. If elected, I would want to hear from the entire A2IM community, to collect their thoughts on the state of the independent scene. I would hope that together we could spark discussions around the role of A2IM in maintaining the balance between commercial competitiveness and supporting independent artistic expression.

Biography:

Jody Whelan is the head of Oh Boy Records, the independent record label founded in 1981 by John Prine, and his manager, Al Bunetta. Since taking over operations of the label in 2015, Whelan has sought to expand the audience for Prine’s work by embracing new technologies, partnerships and platforms, while being laser-focused on respecting the integrity of the artwork.

 

Under his leadership Oh Boy has significantly expanded its roster of artists and is dedicated to serving the next generation of singer-songwriter, folk & Americana musicians. He has helped curate and/or produce: numerous live events (including both festival stages & festivals), books, film projects, and art shows.

 

As well as being active within A2IM, Whelan is also a member of the Recording Academy, the CMA, Folk Alliance International, and Leadership Music. Additionally, he currently serves on the board of the Americana Music Association.

About A2IM:
A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.

Learn more about A2IM here.
For information about how to join our community, see here.