The Top 11 Most Powerful People In the Music Industry

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The real shakers.

(1) Lucian Grainge, CEO, Universal Music Group

Grainge is now twiddling the knobs on the largest label group in the land, one whose fate is not being twisted by covenants or Wall Street traders.

(2) Irving Azoff, Executive Chairman, Live Nation Entertainment; Chairman and CEO, Frontline Management Group.

Azoff’s been a mess on Twitter, but there’s no messing with his immense influence across touring, television, and other formats.  Or, with his Frontline roster, for that matter.  These big channels still matter, and Azoff has the muscle to keep stars shining.

(3) Google Music’s CEO

Who’ll wear this hat?  Done right, Google has the power to totally reshape the way music is discovered, consumed, and compensated.  Or, maybe we’ve heard that one before.

(4) Eddy Cue, VP of iTunes, Apple

Selling recordings is a tough gig, and iTunes controls almost all of the digital side.  That’s the reality for artists, labels, and competitors like Amazon, especially as the pie starts to shrink.  Oh, and Cue also oversees the App Store.

(5) Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Warner Music Group

This is one huge catalog, and Bronfman has the power of no.  That is, no to Spotify, and no to Vevo.  But he also has the power to leverage some big catches, including EMI’s recorded catalog.  Stay tuned.

(6) Eric Garland, CEO, BigChampagne

Garland established BigChampagne as a data authority, and now he’s generating smarter charts for a new music industry.  The revolution will be measured across dozens of different platforms.

(7) Paul Tollett, President, Goldenvoice

Coachella is white-hot, figuratively and literally, and one of the most important stages for bands to grace.  You may also be familiar with Stagecoach, All Points West, Bumbershoot, and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

(8) Tim Westergren, Chief Strategy Officer & Founder, Pandora

This is one pioneer who didn’t catch an arrow in his back, at least one that was lethal.  Now, Westergren is sitting atop the hottest online radio property, and shockingly pushing it into profitability.  And potentially shaping what this format – and its royalty structure – will look like in the future.

(9) Scott Borchetta, President, Big Machine Records

Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Trisha Yearwood; this is one of the most powerful guys in Nashville.

(10) Ian Rogers, CEO, Topspin

Where the Topspin lands, nobody knows for sure, but Rogers is pushing fresh direct-to-fan paths for artists.  Labels are watching, and so is this industry.

(11) The Consumer

They say when, where, and how they want to listen to your music.  Oh, and they even control how much they want to pay for it.  Sounds pretty powerful, maybe the most powerful of them all.