January 25, 2022

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Azoff’s Executive Search; WMG Latin’s New Chief?

The guessing game is over on who will replace longtime president of Warner Music Latin America and Iberia Iñigo Zabala when he retires at the end of 2021.

Inside Track hears that Warner Music Group CEO Max Lousada and president of international recorded music Simon Robson, who were looking outside the company for Zabala’s successor, have narrowed their search considerably.

A source familiar with the search says the frontrunner is Alejandro Duque, managing director of Universal Music Latino, Machete and Capitol Latin and a protégé of Jesús López, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Latin America & Iberian Peninsula. Duque, who’s in his late 30s, essentially grew up in the Latin music business thanks to his father, who was a record executive in Colombia and took his first job with Universal in his home country.

The source says WMG has also had conversations with or about Alex Gallardo, president, Sony Music U.S. Latin; Gustavo Lopez, CEO of Saban Music Group (as well as a partner) and the original president of Universal’s urban Latin label, Machete Music; and Nir Seroussi, exec VP at Interscope Geffen A&M Records, where his purview is Latin music. Duque had not responded at publication time. Gallardo, Lopez and WMG declined to comment. Seroussi responded, “It’s not me.”  – Frank DiGiacomo

Azoff Is Hiring

Irving Azoff has taken another step forward with the new record label and music publishing venture he’s launching with son Jeffrey Azoff and former Columbia Records urban music co-head Shawn Holiday.

An insider says Azoff, who ran MCA Records in the 1980s and his own label Giant in the ‘90s, has hired the executive search firm James & Co to find a leader to help run the label. Another source says Holiday will be involved in both the label and publishing sides of the start-up, and that Sony will almost certainly not be involved, as was previously reported.

James & Co, which specializes in finding C-suite candidates for media and entertainment companies, was founded by Michele James and business partner Roysi Erbes in 2002 after James worked as AOL Time Warner’s chief talent scout. The firm’s clients have reportedly included the NFL, ESPN, Oxygen Media and SiriusXM. James and Erbes did not return calls requesting comment, and a rep for Azoff was unavailable for comment. – F.D.

If you have a tip or story for Inside Track, contact dan.rys@billboard.com

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