A2IM Board members offer their expertise to represent the membership at large, and assist in setting the priorities and overall direction for the organization.
A2IM Board of Directors’ terms run for three years. Each board seat term is 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.
Amongst other responsibilities, Board Members will primarily …
To run in this year’s election, we asked candidates to provide a biography and answers to the following questions:
Entrepreneurship. Many of the labels represented on the board were not founded by the representative serving on the board. I bring the unique perspective of a brand builder that knows the challenges of building a business in the current economic climate. This makes me relatable to the vast majority of independent content creators. This is an essential voice for the board. Moreover, I am an intellectual property attorney, giving me a unique perspective concerning NFTs, AI, Web3, and other technology issues straining our current copyright jurisprudence.
3 Key Issues:
– The continuing rise of fraud in streaming is impacting the economics of artists and labels.
– Disunity between independent labels and publishers is impairing the ability to capture a more equitable piece of the larger industry revenue pie.
– The need to update our copyright laws to address the ever-evolving technology landscape.
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.
Tony D. Alexander is co-founder, President & Managing Director of Made in Memphis Entertainment LLC (MIME), a Black-owned full-service entertainment group comprising MIME Publishing, an independent music publishing company that handles the copyrights of some of the most sought-after young producers in hip-hop and R&B; Heavy Hitters Music, a film, TV, and ad sync company with an all-female creative team and Emmy-winning music catalog; Beatroot Music, a leading independent music distributor, as well as its subsidiary Beatroot Africa; and 4U Recording, a state-of-the-art recording studio brand with locations in Memphis and Atlanta. MIME is dedicated to developing and empowering diverse talent on both the creative and business sides of the industry.
Mr. Alexander is a proud member of the Leadership Music Class of 2023 and also serves on the Boards of the Music Business Association (Music Biz), and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), in addition to being President of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) Atlanta Chapter. He has been featured in publications such as Billboard, Wired, Music Ally, Music Week, Pitchfork, and Memphis Business Journal. He has also been selected as a Billboard Indie Power Player (2021), Worth Magazine Worthy 100 (2022), and Memphis Magazine Power Player (2020-22) among other honors.
Mr. Alexander is a magna cum laude graduate of Morehouse College. He also holds both Master of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As president of a large independent label group, and from my wide range of previous experience, I have a deep understanding of the retail and touring landscape. Now that I work more closely with every Beggars department, I’m even more tuned in to radio, press, marketing, streaming, finance, and the many elements that play a role in bringing music to the marketplace.
3 Key Issues:
– As a person of color in a top position at my company, I am a rarity and I want to help to create a more diverse independent music community.
– If and when we’re able to get our artists on the air, does U.S. commercial radio move the needle? If so, at what cost?
– As a Trustee of the New York chapter of the Recording Academy, I’ve worked hard over the past several years to gain more visibility at the Grammys for independent labels, artists, and creators from marginalized communities. Marrying this continued experience with an A2IM board position would encourage participation and visibility for independent artists and labels.
Since January 2022 I have been the President of Beggars Group US. Prior to that, I was the General Manager at Beggars Group label 4AD for 13 years. At 4AD, my position was artist and manager facing, allowing me to help introduce albums and artists to our US office and to lead campaigns. In my new role, I work closely with our 70+ person US staff, all 5 Beggars labels, and the industry at large. I started as a drummer and got my first taste of the music business touring in rock bands and got signed in the ’90s to both independent and major labels. I eventually opened the Seattle record store Sonic Boom Records when I was 25, which my partner and I later sold to a customer after 19 years. Outside of music, I recently published my memoir with Viking/Penguin.
My greatest strengths are my deep understanding of gaming and tech, and this expertise is necessary at a time where we are seeing emerging technologies that are quickly and fundamentally shaping how we engage with music.
3 Key Issues:
– US Visa Accessibility: There is a large amount of opportunity for artists in the US, and I feel strongly about making the visa process accessible and financially viable for non-immigrant artists.
– Education on New Technologies: I believe that banning new technologies is not the answer to protecting our rights and our data, and the solution is providing education to rights holders about new technologies and how to advocate for their content in an ever-changing landscape.
– Financial literacy: Fintech has presented artists with both greater access to funding and more opportunities to accumulate debt, and I plan to advocate for A2IM to provide resources to increase financial literacy for independents.
I’m Kristin Epstein, and I’m the Operations Director at Screenwave Media, a gaming-focused label, distributor, and creator/artist management company based in the Philadelphia area. I’ve spent the majority of my career building resources for independent artists and rights-holders in the gaming space and have a strong foundation in global royalty payments. I am also the Department Head of Guests at TooManyGames, one of the largest east coast gaming events.
Having run an indie label for the past 40 years, I think I have demonstrated that I am an exemplar for making adjustments to the broadest range of disruption of an indie label model.
3 Key Issues:
The increasing difficulty in working with majors around:
– Shared copyrights
– Proper royalty compensation.
– Proper sync licensing participation.
Primers on new territories that streaming/the digital world is opening. Focusing on how independents can navigate the ever-growing marketplace of music and monitor which new countries are sympatico to the music you make. There should be a guide or a reference that somebody in America can use to facilitate entry into these new markets.
I am Aaron Fuchs and I run Tuff City Records pushing 40 years. I have 15 years of experience as a music journalist—three of them for the trade publication, CashBox, and one of them as its East Coast Editor. Tuff City’s history is independent, except for a distribution deal for a year with Sony, and a publishing deal with EMI. Tuff City’s publishing is currently administered by Kobalt. I was described by Complex Magazine as “one of Hip Hops greatest living producers” and my label, Tuff City, was described by the The New York Times as “a crucial part of the old school.”
Through my diverse background, I bring knowledge, experience and relationships that would help to expand the access and perspective of the existing board. In addition to vast knowledge gained through promotion, streaming and marketing, I have hands-on experience across multiple other sectors of the music industry.
3 Key Issues:
– In aggregate, independent labels are bigger than Warner and should have the ability to communicate and take part in the same opportunities across DSP’s, radio and other platforms as the majors.
– Beyond periodic webinars, the independent sector should have more direct access to charts and data as well as the ability to inquire further about best practices and initiatives across DSP’s.
– Stop the diminishing value of copyrights and work to improve fair and acceptable levels.
I am the President/COO of Better Noise Music, a purely independent global record label focused on artist development with Rock and Alternative artists. BNM has been the #1 Mainstream Rock Airplay by Billboard for 5 consecutive years. The diverse roster includes Five Finger Death Punch, Asking Alexandria, Dirty Heads, The Hu, From Ashes to New and more.
I have been with the label since its inception in 2006. Alongside our CEO, my responsibilities are to oversee operations for a staff of 40+ who are spread across NY, LA, Chicago, Austin, Miami, London, Berlin, Toronto and Sydney with direct oversight on our streaming, digital, radio, touring and analytics departments. I am also involved with our film division and help market and produce feature films and documentaries.
Prior to Better Noise, I was at our sister artist management company, 10th Street Entertainment working in radio, marketing, touring and day-to-day management.
Before that, I spent years at major labels working my way up from assistant to senior positions in radio promotion and artist development at Atlantic, Geffen, Columbia and J/Arista Records.
I have a wide range of experience in negotiating deals in the digital music space – including innovative agreements with artists and direct deals with DSPs. I have always endeavored to approach my practice of law from a business-oriented and practical perspective, which hopefully will be a helpful contribution to the knowledge base of the board. I also have a strong understanding of the legislative issues facing the music business and feel well-positioned to support A2IM in its advocacy efforts.
3 Key Issues:
– Fair treatment of the independent sector, in terms of royalty rates and financial terms, marketing opportunities, technological advancements, and protection of rights, particularly with respect to DSPs.
– The importance of the independent sector in maintaining legacy, culture and identity while having access to investment, acquisition, and succession opportunities.
– Diversity, equity, inclusion, and mental health with a focus on ensuring there is sufficient support and mentorship for women, non-binary and BIPOC people and parents working the industry.
Independent music needs to be recognized for its market share and value and treated fairly and comparably to the majors by the DSPs – not just with respect to royalty rates and financial provisions (which are essential) but also given fair representation and opportunities for marketing, strategic partnerships, rights enforcement, and access to new features and technologies. It is critical for A2IM to advocate for its label partners in securing and maintaining this fair treatment by working directly with DSPs as well as within legislative circles.
I am General Counsel and Head of Business & Legal Affairs, at Exceleration Music, a partnership of global industry leaders who invest in the future of independent labels and artists. In addition to contributing to the strategic leadership at Exceleration, I oversee the day-to-day business affairs needs of many of our partner labels and catalogs, including Kill Rock Stars, Alligator Records, Bloodshot Records, and Candid Records. Additionally, I manage all legal needs of the investment and acquisition side of the business, such as our recent partnership with Plus One Records. Prior to working at Exceleration, I was General Counsel and Head of Business Affairs at global music distribution and label services company ONErpm.
I also currently serve on the advisory board of the non-profit organization Women in Music, after being on the Board of Directors for nearly a decade with five years as Vice President. In 2018, I was awarded the Women in Music Guardian Award at Midem’s 2018 Women’s Global Leadership Summit. I have co-founded music tech start-ups Sparkplug, an online marketplace for musicians to rent instruments from each other, which was acquired in 2019 by Fretish, and Cosynd, a collaborative contract administration and copyright registration platform for creators of intellectual property. Prior to working in house, I was in private practice, representing a variety of clients such as independent record labels, recording artists, songwriters, independent publishing companies, music tech startups, and music producers.
I have experience working for both music services and content providers (large and smaller). I have seen the music business from the inception of the “digital business” and played a significant role in the transition away from physical product (terrific resurgence in vinyl aside!).
EMPIRE is a unique company in many ways; it is the largest private, independent label in the world, with a significant physical presence in the United States, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and APAC, and celebrates a varied diverse repertoire (e.g., Hip Hop, R&B, Latin, Afrobeats, Afropop, Amapiano, Country, and Pan-Asian). We were founded by an innovator, Ghazi Shami, who embraces culture, technology and change. He is motivated by empowering creators to achieve and become their best selves – his passion infuses the EMPIRE team and our creator partners alike. I would bring this range of experiences and motivations to contribute to the A2IM board dynamic.
3 Key Issues:
– AI: The potential dangers and benefits from AI applications in music require thoughtful discourse, monitoring and action (whether in support of some applications and/or resistance to others)
– Commoditization of music: Technology brings about change and enables new user experiences, some of which may de-emphasize or marginalize music—we cannot control this entirely—but we want to preserve a music environment that leads to fandom, discovery and the life-changing experiences inherent in music at its true core; and
– Under-monetization of music and underutilization of technology to encourage deeper artist-fan engagement and music discovery
I am a seasoned digital media and technology executive and attorney with deep global experience in content licensing, content creation, technology transactions, securities and M&A. I have a unique experience base spanning multiple geographies and representing both major licensees and licensors and have served in both commercial and legal roles. Lived and worked in US, Europe and Asia.
Currently at EMPIRE, as SVP, Global Business, I execute this company’s worldwide commercial initiatives, including negotiating and documenting all agreements with digital service providers and facilitating collaboration between stakeholders on both sides, leading mergers and acquisitions activity (e.g., Dirtybird Records, Blast-Off Productions Studio, 1674 Burbank Studio, Web 3.0 partnerships and investments) and advising on digital strategy and legal rights matters.
Previously at SoundCloud, I led this company’s legal content licensing activities, working closely with the content partnerships team for sound recording and music publishing rights for the listener business. Legal lead on matters related to the creator business. Advised general counsel on legislation and regulatory matters affecting the company’s business, including safe harbor laws, Article 17 of the European Copyright Directive and the Music Modernization Act.
While at RDIO, as General Counsel, I was lead or co-lead for content licensing, M&A (including the sale of the company to Pandora in December 2015), corporate transactions, joint ventures, strategic marketing agreements, distribution agreements and general legal (including privacy, litigation, HR, regulatory, trademarks).
While at Apple, I owned legal responsibility for all aspects of iTunes day-to-day business in EMEIA, including licensing, regulatory and compliance matters and litigation. Additionally, I had primary responsibility for all legal efforts relating to iTunes entry into unlaunched countries in Latin America, Asia, Europe and other regions (92 countries in total).
While at Warner Music, I led legal team responsible for all aspects of global music company’s digital transformation, including subscription and download services (including iTunes), UGC (YouTube), video streaming, webcasting and ring and ringback tones (all major wireless carriers). I also led or co-led negotiations on all significant transactions, including licensing, JVs, M&A,144A debt offerings and exchange offers, IPO and bank financings.
While at Shearman & Sterling, a large international full-service law firm, I specialized in Securities and M&A, representing issuers, underwriters, placements agents and advisors in domestic and international public and private acquisitions, securities offerings and other corporate transactions.
I received my JD from Columbia University and BS in Economics from University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).
I happily co-parent two great young men who are excelling in their college studies and have a passion for life and music.
Seeing trends in the music industry. Helping the Board affect policies that forward the careers of independent artists. Music rights and music investment.
3 Key Issues:
Ensuring that independent artists are supported in the uber competitive world of music.
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:
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
I have a good deal of experience with DSP matters, in terms of independent labels’ access to DSP staff, our relative access compared to major labels, and as a Merlin member, the deals and general monetization trends. Additionally, I am well versed in the radio business, and other areas where our access is historically challenged compared to the larger systems. Although our radio access concerns may be less relevant, I have experience navigating these areas and am an advocate more broadly of independents’ access to gatekeepers. I also have spent time assisting with a handful of university music programs and am interested in exploring how we as labels and working music professionals can mentor and be teaching resources for the next generation of aspiring music industry folks.
3 Key Issues:
– Education and Mentoring: Part 1 – I believe we as a community can be more available and contribute more meaningfully to mentor the next generation, both students in music business programs, and younger staff members seeking mentorship. I would like to see A2IM grow the services to members, and to future members (i.e. students!), and particularly students who are not based in Music Business hubs (NYC, LA, Nashville) and have less access to working professionals.
Part 2 – I believe an important part of A2IM’s value is it’s connectivity, our ability to provide connections and resources to our other members. Several years ago, webinars were extremely helpful to explain and share experiences with the DSPs, where access was limited and not always equitable. I would like to urge A2IM to continue to provide webinars and IRL experiences for members looking to gain insight and share experience.
– Fair access to DSPs: Growing concern with the number of different distributors now handling independent labels, and that labels themselves may lose their voice or access. I would like to continue to champion access to such an essentail part of our business for the smaller or less connected A2IM members.
– Independent interests – As independents, we are not always on the same page as the majors, and many independents are distributed by Major-owned companies. I would continue to ensure my experiences can be a helpful part of this dialogue to support independents’ interests.
I have released music independently since 1996; the short-lived label Sugar Free Records was a label I founded along with 2 other partners while we all had day jobs in the business. We put out 4 years of great music in the most challenging of times – before digital stores and streaming! Those years of stuffing CDs for press mailings, helping artists route tours, organizing SXSW parties – all before Y2K is the foundation of my work today. I’ve been part of the independent music community for the last 25 years and am proud of the work we’ve done and the great strides we’ve taken as we’ve modernized our businesses.
I served one term on the A2IM board from 2017-2020 and it was a rewarding experience. On a personal level, I was proud to give back to the community by working on the various issues I felt my experience could speak to. On a company level, Mom+Pop is as independent as they come, and I believe we are able to speak to the most important issues facing the larger independent label community. I would be thrilled to serve another term if elected. Thank you for reading!
Hays’ breadth of experience across different sectors of the music industry makes her uniquely positioned to advise on complex legal and business matters facing the independent music community. Hays has a wealth of experience negotiating deals, evaluating legal risks, and advising on overall business strategy.
3 Key Issues:
– Adapting to changing artist needs & expectations in the marketplace around the law, deal structures and the intersection of new technologies (AI, Web3, etc.)
– Boosting the profile of women in the independent sector
– Independent music companies navigating consolidation of the industry
In this continued era of rapid consolidation by the majors and large technology companies, it is vitally important that independent music companies work closely together in order to meaningfully navigate and compete with the largest music companies in the world.
As General Counsel of Secretly Group, Hays Rudolph oversees the Business Affairs Department and manages all legal matters for Secretly and its affiliates. In her tenure at Secretly, Hays has played an integral role in the company’s successes, building and negotiating deals for the labels, as well as distribution, publishing and other nuanced areas of this growing and trusted leader in the independent sector. Hays’ projects include the launch of two new Secretly Brands – All Flowers Group and drink sum wtr – along with key signings and album campaigns for artists such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MUNA, Mitski and Sharon Van Etten, among others.
In 2022, Hays led Secretly Group in closing its first collective bargaining agreement with the Secretly Group Union, a major milestone as one of the first independent record-label unions. In 2023, Hays was honored as one of Billboard’s Women In Music. Hays was previously Director of Business Affairs at Vevo, where she focused on content licensing and distribution deals with companies and organizations including Merlin and other independent rights holders. Hays also spent several years at Sony Music Entertainment in the Business Affairs Department, where she cultivated exceptional skill in artist and marketing contracts. She began her career in music as a royalty auditor for RCA Records.
Entrepreneurship, Artist Management, Label Operations, Advocacy.
Simply put, I know what it’s like to be a working musician. When you are on the fifth week of tour, sitting in the back seat of the van, figuring out how you’re going to put enough together to pay bills but still grateful and excited to be creating art for people… well, you need an advocate. These days, it seems like the music business doesn’t work very well for working musicians. I believe it’s the mandate of independent labels to change that for the better.
3 Key Issues:
– While musicians are dealing with crippling inflation and the increased costs of touring, streaming royalties continue to remain the same.
– We need to reject the “exposure” industry in all forms – especially when it comes to events like SXSW and the paltry payments they make to artists.
– Payola in all it’s forms must be spotlighted and eradicated– this includes pay-for-play at radio stations (a rampant problem) and at DSPs.
Artists need better representation in this space. 87% of the industry’s revenue comes from streaming, yet artists are struggling now more than ever. We must advocate to fix this. It should be our number one priority and I will fight to ensure it remains top of mind.
I’m Reed Watson, and I’m a Co-Owner and Label Manager at Single Lock Records, an indie label with offices in Florence/Muscle Shoals, AL and New Orleans. I’m also an Artist Manager at Thousand Dances Artist Management, a company I founded in 2021. Most importantly, though, I am a working drummer; I’ve played on numerous releases including Cedric Burnside’s “I Be Trying”, which won a GRAMMY in 2022. My goal from the start has been to be an advocate for indie musicians – a voice for those who need one. During the COVID pandemic, I established the Advocacy Fund for Alabama Musicians, a no-strings-attached grant program for musicians who were out of work, which raised over $30,000 for Alabama’s music workers. As Single Lock celebrates it’s tenth anniversary this year, our committment to musicians and our resolve to tackle the industry’s issues grows stronger every day.
I have both a global perspective and global experience of issues that effect independent labels and A2IM’s membership. Chairing the WIN board, I am speaking regularly to TAs and stakeholders around the world which gives me a greater ability to synthesise key issues globally.
3 Key Issues:
-Greater education for the community on AI’s key issues & what the independent sector needs to prepare for
-Protecting the value of music in the streaming landscape
-Promoting the value of investments in artist development
I am the COO of Partisan Records where I lead the team that makes and markets records by the likes of IDLES, Fontaines DC, PJ Harvey, Fela Kuti, Cigarettes After Sex, up-and-comer Blondshell and many more. As a company, we’ve been able to have commercial success with uncompromising art by empowering community – within our staff, within our artists’ fanbases and within our independent sector.
A native Brit, I’ve lived in NYC for the past 6 years. Prior to that I was in London and running a label services company representing many A2IM members abroad in Europe (including Stones Throw, Daptone, Mass Appeal, etc.). I was an A2IM board member between 2019 and 2022, serving as Treasurer and Chair respectively for the final two years of my term. I joined the WIN board in 2020 and took my current position as its chair earlier this year.