‘I don’t suppose any label group has been in a position to flip issues round as rapidly as my staff and I’ve executed in lower than two years.’


Two years in the past, this author sat down for a Chinese language meal on a cold winter’s evening in London with Michelle Jubelirer and a few of her closest allies at Capitol Music Group.

Jubelirer had just been promoted to Chair and CEO of the Los Angeles-based label group – a key pillar of Universal Music Group. The temper that evening was suitably celebratory… but it surely was additionally, it’s honest to say, imbued with data of a troublesome highway forward.

Jubelirer was extensively tipped because the pure successor to Steve Barnett when the British exec stood down as head of CMG in 2020. She had been by Barnett’s facet all through a run of success at CMG over a number of years – by way of artists like Sam Smith, Halsey, Paul McCartney, and Lewis Capaldi, in addition to transformative offers like a JV between Motown (then a part of CMG) and Quality Control.

In fact, Jubelirer’s rapid ascension to working CMG was not forthcoming. As an alternative, Barnett was succeeded in December 2020 as Chairman/CEO of the label group by Jeff Vaughn, a fast-rising exec who’d beforehand impressed as a data-and-socials-savvy A&R at Mike Caren’s Artist Partner Group (APG).

Mid-pandemic, Vaughn entered CMG with daring concepts, but it surely didn’t take a genius to determine there was a tradition conflict: Inside a startlingly brief 12 months, Vaughn was gone from CMG. (He has since launched his label JV, Signal Records, with Sony‘s Columbia).

Within the wake of this company untidiness, Jubelirer was (some could recommend was overdue-ly) named Chair & CEO of Capitol Music Group. Her most urgent transient? Calm the whole lot the hell down, and get the Good Ship Capitol out of the attention of the hurricane.

So, the temper at that Chinese language dinner? Comprehensible.

But if some nervous vitality was detected that evening, so was a wholesome confidence. Jubelirer and co. have been placing each to good use ever since.

Two years on, Jubelirer’s CMG hasn’t solely returned to calmer waters – with US market share YTD within the high-5% area – it’s additionally achieved some glittering successes whereas priming a promising array of latest expertise.

A key instance: CMG, together with its colleagues at Capitol UK and the artist’s staff, has been behind the Grammy-winning international smash that’s Sam Smith’s Unholy (an unapologetically ribald banger from a singer who refuses to be pigeonholed as a candy balladeer).

CMG has additionally been a vital associate, alongside Elliot Grainge‘s 10K Companions, within the rise of Ice Spice. The Best New Artist Grammy nominee has landed with such explosiveness, she’s secured at least 4 High 10 Billboard Scorching 100 singles and over 2 billion international streams off her official debut launch… which is an EP.

Jubelirer calls Ice Spice “THE breakout artist of 2023”, including: “She’s the primary artist since Olivia Rodrigo to realize three High 5 single debuts in her first 4 months, and he or she simply attained one other High 10 with “Barbie World” with Nicki [Minaj].

“We’re simply initially of what’s going to be an amazing profession of artistry and international reputation.”


Jubelirer with Ice Spice earlier this 12 months (Credit score: Lester Cohen)

Different priorities at Capitol over the previous 12 months have included Tampa-born rapper/singer Doechii, signed to CMG by way of a JV partnership with High Dawg and TDE firstly of Jubelirer’s reign as Chair/CEO of CMG.

Doechii’s What It Is (Block Boy) is closing in on changing into the artist’s first Platinum document within the States; earlier this week, it was named TikTok’s fourth greatest international observe of 2023. (A debut Doechii album is anticipated in 2024; different new-act priorities at CMG subsequent 12 months embody Younger Miko and Rylo Rodriguez.)

Elsewhere, Jubelirer’s staff has secured Toosii’s greatest document so far with the 3X platinum Favourite Track, plus one of many US’s biggest-selling hip-hop debuts of the 12 months with Offset’s Set It Off.

As well as, long-term CMG signings comparable to Troye Sivan (not too long ago Grammy nomm’d for his Rush video), Niall Horan, Fletcher, and Maggie Rogers have every celebrated among the greatest successes of their careers so far.

Discussing Capitol’s long-term funding into these acts, Jubelirer notes: “All are wonderful songwriters and performers who’re profitable globally and have constructed extraordinarily passionate fan bases. Our focus continues to be on constructing a wealthy world for his or her superfans.

“To us, success is not only about momentary chart place; merch, product drops, and experiential moments are key to constructing and sustaining engagement of superfans. Streaming is essential, however for a lot of artists, these areas are equally so.”

After which, after all, there’s been the return of these little-known mop-tops, The Beatles – whose CMG-issued ‘comeback’, Now And Then, launched in November, not too long ago hit No.1 in a number of territories together with the UK, Germany, and Austria.



Structurally, Jubelirer has had some enjoyable and video games to take care of at CMG in her first two years in cost.

One in every of Jubelirer’s most profitable gambits, indie distribution/providers firm Caroline (later Virgin Music) was in recent times ‘spun out’ of CMG – forming a basis for the worldwide UMG precedence enterprise that’s today known as Virgin Music Group.

In the meantime, Motown was additionally ‘spun out’ of CMG, to turn out to be a standalone frontline label, in early 2021… earlier than being ‘spun again’ into CMG at the top of this year.

Companions of CMG have made their very own headlines prior to now 12 months, too: High quality Management – which inked that JV with Motown back in 2015 – was bought to the Scooter Braun-led HYBE America for $300 million in February; Elliot Grainge’s 10K Projects – with whom CMG companions for Ice Spice – was 51%-acquired by Warner Music Group in September.

(CMG continues to work solely with High quality Management on acts comparable to Quavo, Lil Yachty and Lil Child, whereas Ice Spice was ‘carved out’ of 10K’s Warner deal and stays signed in partnership with CMG on an ongoing foundation.)

Right here, MBW will get into it with Jubelirer relating to her first two years in cost at CMG – and, significantly, how she’s overcome the problem of quelling, after which re-energizing, probably the most iconic label manufacturers in existence…


Capitol Music Group is in considerably stronger form than it’s been for some time. It additionally feels meaningfully influential in popular culture – with a number of tracks in TikTok’s end-of-year / hottest playlists. It’s honest to say issues seemed much less regular whenever you took over as CEO & Chair in 2021. You needed to proper some turbulence…

Watch out what you want for, proper [laughs]?

As you nicely know, [before Jubelirer was named CEO/Chair] CMG had undergone a number of management adjustments inside a brief time period, and that turmoil was compounded by the financial volatility of the pandemic. Consequently, the corporate confronted eroding market share, low morale, and a stagnant artist roster.

As a result of I had spent nearly a decade right here, I used to be uniquely located to deliver each a recent perspective to the job and construct a contemporary tradition throughout the firm, whereas nonetheless honoring Capitol’s legacy in profound methods. Which means, we could possibly be an organization that excels at launching and creating Ice Spice, and, on the similar time, deliver actual innovation and full-throttle dedication to the discharge of a brand new single from The Beatles. And the whole lot in between!

“CMG had undergone a number of management adjustments inside a brief time period, and that turmoil was compounded by the financial volatility of the pandemic. Consequently, the corporate confronted eroding market share, low morale, and a stagnant artist roster. As a result of I had spent nearly a decade right here, I used to be uniquely located to deliver each a recent perspective to the job and construct a contemporary tradition throughout the firm.”

Main kudos go to [President of Capitol Music Group] Arjun [Pulijal], my associate in all of this, who is an excellent artistic marketer and equally adept at strategizing modern paths for artists that vary from Ice Spice and Offset to Troye Sivan and Paul McCartney. He’s an incredible motivator and I’m pleased with how he’s stepped into this management position and excelled over the previous two years.

And I’m actually glad you talked about the TikTok-in-2023 wrap-up. Total, Capitol was the top-performing label throughout the worldwide and US lists, which tells yet one more aspect of our success story.

What have been your greatest priorities for change on day one as Chair of Capitol Music Group – and what do they inform us extra typically about modernized main label teams in 2023?

First, signing a really various array of latest artists, with particular consideration on constructing a robust presence in hip-hop and R&B. Our President of A&R, Jeremy Vuernick, has been essential to working with me on this regard, in addition to overseeing the making of our data. The corporate hadn’t been constantly aggressive in these areas for a really very long time, and, keep in mind: Motown had been spun off by itself lengthy earlier than I took the reins of the corporate. [Motown was spun out in early 2021, then returned to CMG in early 2023].

Second, we took a tough have a look at each facet of our enterprise. We revamped our total organizational construction, reset our worth system, and even changed sure terminology that was outdated. All to satisfy the wants of the fashionable music enterprise. Arjun was key to this course of; his experience actually drove a brand new dynamic in how advertising, artistic, worldwide, digital and commerce now work together.

“In the present day, actually each plan is tailor-made for a selected artist or mission — not pulled from a well-worn playbook — and our focus is on discovering and creating alternatives that can have an effect, regardless of the place an artist is of their improvement.”

In the present day, actually each plan at CMG is tailor-made for a selected artist or mission — not pulled from a well-worn playbook — and our focus is on discovering and creating alternatives that can have an effect, regardless of the place an artist is of their improvement. The artist’s imaginative and prescient nonetheless lies on the coronary heart of each plan, however we actually hearken to the viewers, which is smarter and savvier than ever, to find out if our advertising course is working and if our artists are correctly engaged with their viewers.

We try to be ideas-driven and have trustworthy constructive conversations with our artists and one another. We run our enterprise effectively, and are consistently desirous about the place we discover actual worth for our artists.


L-R: TDE founder High Dawg with Doechii, Michelle Jubelirer, Arjun Pulijal in January (credit score: Michael Fulton)

Have been there every other issues on the prime of your ‘to-do’ listing?

Prioritization. I believe firms usually use that phrase to imply, “we’re going to give attention to one group of artists and ignore all of the others.” For CMG, it means defining what success can uniquely imply for every artist, after which delivering for them.

We establish which artists will profit from, say, the shut consideration of a small group of people that will deliver ardour and nuance to advertising and improvement. Others will clearly want the complete energy of our group firing on all cylinders from the get-go.


What’s significantly modified in the way you strategy artist campaigns each domestically and internationally?

We have interaction instantly with worldwide companions sooner than ever earlier than, and don’t unfairly depend on our ex-US associates inside UMG to do the heavy lifting early on. They’ve their very own native repertoire to work on.

A superb working example is Doechii’s What It Is, which is platinum within the U.S. and has surpassed 1.1 billion worldwide streams to this point. Our staff instigated modern digital methods by TikTok in Nigeria, then Kenya, which in flip prompted a response within the Philippines, then to China with Douyin.

Inside a number of weeks, there have been 1.5 million day by day ‘creates’ [using the artist’s music] throughout these platforms.

“An enormous motive for our early emphasis on worldwide is to begin the method of constructing income streams as early as doable. I’m speaking about model constructing and direct-to-fan monetization.”

An enormous motive for our early emphasis on worldwide is to begin the method of constructing income streams as early as doable. I’m speaking about model constructing and direct-to-fan monetization.

Ice Spice is a good instance of that; she nonetheless hasn’t launched her debut album, however is acknowledged all over the world by commercials, syncs in video video games, TV and movie, an enormous soundtrack presence, and modern merchandise on her personal retailer.

Have you ever seen the Ice Spice American Flag or Chia Pet?



What achievements are you most pleased with prior to now 12 months?

We’ve had an unbelievable 12 months. Name it our greatest, our greatest, our strongest—they’re all correct.

I’m not one to rattle off a whole lot of statistics, however I’ll say that our year-over-year market share is up by 25% and we’ve moved up a notch within the label rankings as nicely.

“We’ve had an unbelievable 12 months. Name it our greatest, our greatest, our strongest—they’re all correct.”

You referred to CMG not being in sturdy form and going by turbulence once I took over, and that’s all true.

I don’t suppose any label group has been in a position to flip issues round as rapidly as my staff and I’ve executed in lower than two years.

One choice that I’m guessing wasn’t in your management prior to now few years was the ‘spinning out’ of Caroline/Virgin Music into what’s now Virgin Music Group. What have been the professionals and cons of that transfer for you?

Virgin [first, Caroline] was a serious precedence for us because the launch of Capitol Music Group in 2012. We actually prioritized this space, and oversaw the transition from Caroline into Virgin instantly inside our firm.

We have been so lucky to have the expertise, and friendship, of [now-Virgin Music Group President] Jacqueline [Saturn] and her staff as a part of our firm for a few years.

“We have been so profitable in constructing [Caroline/Virgin Music], that it actually was solely a matter of time earlier than the opposite labels inside UMG would need to develop the same enterprise inside their teams.”

We have been so profitable in constructing that finish of the enterprise, that it actually was solely a matter of time earlier than the opposite labels inside UMG would need to develop the same enterprise inside their teams. It wouldn’t have made sense to have a number of indie label/artist providers divisions inside UMG, so the plan to globalize Virgin and scale it to work with all of the labels made a lot sense.

Do I miss having Jacqueline and her staff just a few steps away? After all. However I’m pleased with the essential roles they’ve performed in Virgin’s development and evolution, and we work as intently collectively as we ever did.


On the flip facet, Motown has returned as an imprint inside CMG after a interval as a standalone label. Clearly, that got here with an inevitable downsizing course of. what form is Motown in now and what does it add to the CMG make-up?

Motown is as soon as once more absolutely unified inside CMG’s tradition after being separate from the corporate for a few years. We’ve strengthened our longtime partnership with High quality Management, with whom we proceed to share large success and plan for an enormous future.

We labored with them on a daring and modern Lil Yachty various album, and we’re all wanting ahead to new music from Lil Child subsequent 12 months. Offset not solely made an incredible album – I anticipate Grammy nominations for him subsequent 12 months – he actually places the work in, day-in, day-out.

“Music is music, and genres shouldn’t be outlined by colour. Actually, this enterprise actually wants to vary its definition of “pop” music. There appears to be actual confusion there; we must be calling any music that streams in quantity, “pop” music.”

I knew that if we have been going to make important inroads with hip-hop and R&B company-wide, we would have liked consultants in these areas and recent perspective on our government staff. [EVP of Capitol Music Group] Orlando Wharton relaunched Precedence Data and signed Kodak Black; [Motown SVP of A&R] Kenoe Jordan has been working intently with YoungBoy NBA; and Gordan Dillard introduced administration and artist improvement expertise from his position at SALXCO.

We additionally promoted Black executives from inside, significantly within the areas of A&R and advertising. We’re nonetheless trying to find the precise chief for Motown, and gained’t cease till we discover one befitting the stature and legacy of such an vital label.

In the end, we don’t separate music primarily based on style at CMG, however we do have numerous labels – Blue Be aware, Motown, Precedence, Astralwerks, Capitol Christian and Tamla – so artists have actual choices right here.

Music is music, and genres shouldn’t be outlined by colour. Actually, this enterprise actually wants to vary its definition of “pop” music. There appears to be actual confusion there; we must be calling any music that streams in quantity, “pop” music.

Our philosophy is that nice concepts transcend style. We’ve consultants in each “style” however all of us share, collaborate and respectfully problem one another. Actually, I don’t even just like the phrase, “style.” Let’s change it!


Be trustworthy: While you first heard “Unholy” – from that well-known clean soul singer Sam Smith – what was your response? Do you know it was a smash hit?

Sam drove this document, from its creation by the choice for it to be the primary single. I felt it was an enormous leap ahead; it was daring and brash – so distinctive from the primary pay attention – and I believed it was one of many strongest songs and data Sam had ever created.

My position was to marshal everybody within the firm to provide you with artistic and strategic concepts to assist lead the worldwide effort behind it, and to ensure our staff – led by Arjun – labored intently with Jo Charrington and her staff at Capitol UK, and with Sam’s managers, Jack Avenue and Sam Evitt.

As Arjun can let you know, digital advertising was key to the trouble; the music is within the High 3 of all-time creations and shares for a pre-release marketing campaign, and the worldwide groups labored collectively brilliantly to attach that pre-release momentum to the largest appears on the DSPs, within the media and at radio.

The truth that Unholy broke data on the streaming providers was extraordinarily gratifying, and the Grammy that they gained with Kim Petras was so well-deserved. Not solely is Sam a superb and distinctive artist, they have been the primary new artist to interrupt massive at our firm after we launched, and we contemplate them to be household.

I need Sam to be with us ceaselessly and as a lot part of our legacy as the nice superstars who got here earlier than them.



Speaking of firsts: What about your first assembly with Ice Spice? And inform us about that fateful dinner together with her and Elliot – a dinner about which you politely reminded him, in a NOW-INFAMOUS ARTICLE, that you simply additionally attended!

I’ll ceaselessly tease Elliot about his “selective” reminiscence on what transpired that night! For the document, at that dinner – which led to the co-signing of Ice Spice by Capitol and 10K – have been me, Elliot, Jeremy Vuernick, [10K co-presidents] Zach Friedman and Tony Talamo. All of us attended and gained her coronary heart as a staff. Equally, she gained my coronary heart.

However it’s much more vital to give attention to the extraordinary artist we have been there to see. I’ve been working with artists for many years, and it’s a uncommon event whenever you sit with an artist and simply know that you simply’re within the presence of a future international famous person. That was, and is, Ice Spice.

“Ice Spice is a robust lady, and also you’ll discover that she has aligned herself with different sturdy girls.”

Her early music was thrilling and her explosive development as an artist and cultural determine has already transcended the world of music. Briefly, she’s changing into a family title. All of it is a testomony to her expertise and drive, and the trouble to assist develop and break her has been an actual staff effort between Capitol, 10K and her supervisor, James Rosemond Jr.

I additionally need to level out that Ice Spice is a robust lady, and also you’ll discover that she has aligned herself with different sturdy girls. [Ice Spice additionally signed to Universal Music Publishing Group by way of UMPG’s Chairman and CEO, and shut Jubelirer colleague, Jody Gerson.]


As you famous, Ice Spice is nicely on her solution to changing into a family title, particularly within the US; what have been the important thing components in widening her viewers from Munch to now?

Right here’s the factor about Ice Spice – her look, her circulation, her lyrics, and the collaboration selections she’s made: Taylor Swift, Nikki Minaj, PinkPantheress — are all of paramount significance in her success. She is aware of exactly who she is and what’s proper for her to do – and never do. That’s such a uncommon high quality to own at such a younger age, and it serves her nicely. A plethora of alternatives are coming towards her at warp velocity, and he or she has the intuition to make the precise selections on the proper time.

“A plethora of alternatives are coming towards her at warp velocity, and he or she has the intuition to make the precise selections on the proper time.”

Our EVP of Media, Ambrosia Healey, scored a serious coup by getting Ice the season opener of Saturday Night time Reside, which is only one of her many massive media appearances. Each division has performed an integral position within the launch and improvement of Ice Spice, however as I stated earlier than, it’s solely the start. Keep tuned.



It’s sort of bizarre how The Beatles Now And Then has in some way slipped into the band’s canon – whereas having fun with fashionable chart success on the similar time. How concerned have been you in that mission and what was your expertise of it?

By no means in one million years would I’ve thought I’d be concerned in releasing a brand-new single from The Beatles. Arjun and I received a preview of the music from Jeff Jones at Apple Corp earlier this 12 months, and commenced planning and strategizing on a worldwide degree with him, together with UMG UK and [Universal Music Enterprises President and CEO] Bruce Resnikoff and his staff.

The entire expertise has been a “pinch me” second. The Beatles imply the world to me — I’m an enormous lifelong fan and they’re such an vital a part of our firm’s DNA. I used to be thrilled to signal Paul [McCartney] on to Capitol in 2016, and he’s such an vital frontline artist for us. He continues to make wonderful music and has achieved a few of his greatest solo success in recent times, together with back-to-back #1 albums.

“The entire expertise has been a “pinch me” second. The Beatles imply the world to me… I used to be thrilled to signal Paul [McCartney] on to Capitol in 2016, and he’s such an vital frontline artist for us.”

For Now And Then our purpose was to spotlight the storytelling across the creation of the music, whereas additionally guaranteeing that it was handled like a brand-new document (albeit 50 years within the making) that ought to turn out to be an vital a part of the cultural dialog.

It’s surreal whenever you see a brand new Beatles music, in 2023, as the duvet of New Music Friday on Spotify, trending creations on short-form platforms, being performed throughout all present codecs of radio, synced throughout community TV, and topping single charts. I’m actually proud that Capitol was in a position to assist current Now And Then to the world, and that our staff — led by Arjun — was integral to creating a worldwide marketing campaign worthy of the historic nature of this launch. It’s definitely what The Beatles deserved.

How nice that It’s been such a worldwide success, and that, as soon as once more, The Beatles managed to deliver even a second of unity to the world by the sweetness and energy of their music. Being concerned on this has been an actual profession spotlight for me, definitely.


If I may provide you with our patented MBW magic wand to vary one thing about at this time’s enterprise proper right here and now, what wouldn’t it be and why?

We could possibly be speaking for hours about this, Tim, and there are some things on the market I’d like to vary with that wand! However I’ll spare you an exhaustive rant and give attention to one situation.

We’d like extra range in any respect ranges and inside all sides of the music business, significantly on the label facet.

“together with doing what I can to extend the variety of girls at our firm. There simply aren’t sufficient of us, significantly inside essentially the most senior ranks on the labels.”

Variety is a superpower. It’s an ongoing course of that I’ve put a whole lot of give attention to, together with doing what I can to improve the variety of girls at our firm. There simply aren’t sufficient of us, significantly inside essentially the most senior ranks on the labels.

UMG has [Nashville Chair & CEO] Cindy Mabe and me working standalone label teams, and I do know that Lucian agrees with me that there must be extra.

I’ll proceed to do what I can to extend illustration at Capitol Music Group and throughout the music enterprise at massive.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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