Board of Directors: 2015
Dick Huey, Chair bio
Vickie Nauman bio
Emily White bio
Merrill Garbus bio
Ken Umezaki bio
Benji Rogers bio
Thao Nguyen bio
Ryan Chisholm bio
Jean Cook bio
Jason Burns bio
Michael Bracy, Walter McDonough, Brian Zisk
Co-Founder & Manager - Whitesmith Entertainment & Readymade Records
Emily White is the co-founder of the New York and Los Angeles management and consulting firm Whitesmith Entertainment. Through White’s varied background that spans the music industry, Whitesmith’s approach in their work with musicians, comedians and athletes has always been from the artists’ perspective while simultaneously taking care of the fans. Before forming the company, White was mentored by Madison House’s Mike Luba, developing artists globally from the grass roots on up ranging from The Dresden Dolls to Zac Brown Band. Now with business partner Keri Smith Esguia, Whitesmith has been able to combine their deep industry experience with a modern twist keeping in mind social justice whenever possible. Smith proudly serves on the boards of Ladies of Comedy Association (LOCA), Women, Action and the Media (WAM) and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) all while managing comedians such as Emmy nominee Kevin Avery, for his work on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. White additionally serves on CASH Music’s Board and The Grammys Education Committee in New York while working with artists such as Matthew Friedberger and Fox Stevenson.
Vickie Nauman is an accomplished and respected digital music executive who specializes in digital media and content strategy, the intersection of technology and music, and global business development. Her diverse digital experience includes starting up and running the US business for 7digital as President, North America, leading the global partnerships for wireless digital music system Sonos, founding consultancy and advisory firm CrossBorderWorks and working on projects in US, Europe and China. She also created the online strategy and service for boutique Seattle music station KEXP, and did content development for one of the first legal digital services MusicNet (RealNetworks JV) in 2001. Prior to her entry into the digital realm, she ran marketing programs and produced live broadcasts in traditional radio in the NPR network and started out at Procter & Gamble. She earned a 2006 MBA from the London School of Economics, New York University, and HEC-Paris, in the collaborative executive program TRIUM.
Musician and songwriter, tUnE-yArDs
Merrill Garbus has performed as tUnE-yArDs since 2009, and that band name has always been synonymous with forward movement—whether because of her explosive performance style or the always-surprising way in which her songs unfold. First gaining notice with the debut BiRd-BrAiNs, which The New York Times called “a confident do-it-yourselfer’s opening salvo: a staticky, low-fi, abrasive attention-getter,” Garbus forged a reputation as a formidable live presence through relentless touring. In 2011, tUnE-yArDs released its second album, w h o k i l l, a startling and sonically adventurous statement that led to a whirlwind period where Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner accrued accolades from critics (including the #1 spot on the Village Voice’s 2011 Pazz and Jop poll), performed in front of increasing numbers of rapturous crowds around the world, and collaborated with such artists as ?uestlove and Yoko Ono. Nikki Nack is the stunning third album by the Oakland-based band. A complex, textured statement that opens with a clarion call to ‘Find A New Way’ and spends its 13 tracks getting there, it’s a showcase of how Garbus’s songwriting has blossomed, and a testament to how current technologies can combine with themes from the past—Saturday mornings spent watching Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, puppet shows based on Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, hard days made less so by the refuge provided by top-40 radio—to create something utterly original.
Dick Huey is the founder of Toolshed, a company that provides digital strategy, digital and brand/band marketing, and content acquisition services to entertainment companies and artists, consumer brands, and digital music services. His company is part of a new breed of marketing companies that develop partnerships with select artists. Current and past clients include Merge Records, Beggars Group, Spotify, Red Mountain Resort, and Red Bull. Through Toolshed, Dick has also developed top-level digital strategies for artists such as The Civil Wars, MNDR, Ani DiFranco, Sufjan Stevens, The Arcade Fire, and Aimee Mann. He is a founding new media committee member of A2IM, a past board member representing Matador Records at SoundExchange, and has held advisory board roles at CASH Music, TuneCore, and RoyaltyShare. Prior to his work with Toolshed, he launched and headed the New Media department at the Beggars Group (XL Recordings, 4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade) from 1997 to 2001, licensed the Group’s groundbreaking digital catalog, and developed the Group’s digital strategy. He has managed the careers of several music artists signed to Kill Rock Stars, Simple Machines, Beggars Banquet, and Glitterhouse Records.
Digital Daruma (President)
Ken is an angel investor and business advisor for digital music startups, through his company Digital Daruma, with a specific focus on artist and b2b music and media service companies. He is also an experienced music business executive, focusing on business development, strategy and fundraising for the companies he works with. His past experience includes 25 years in financial services trading, asset management and senior management positions. He is also an experienced musician, and currently plays bass in the band Fifth of Bourbon. Lastly, he is involved in a number of music foundations and academic organizations, including the national board of Little Kids Rock, Future of Music Coalitionand advisory board positions at New York University, Berklee College of Music, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Benji Rogers is currently President of PledgeMusic, the global direct-to-fan company he co-founded in 2008 and ran as CEO until 2014. A public speaker, investor, and musician from London and New York, Rogers co-founded Radiary Creations in 2014 and is an advisor to a multitude of companies, including Dubset Media, Sound Diplomacy, Cords for Music, First Artist Bank, and NoiseTrade. In 2014 he was the recipient of the A&R Worldwide “Digital Executive of the Year” award, and in 2013 he made the Billboard 40 Under 40 Power Players list. He is an instructor at Berklee College of Music, teaching the Music Business Trends and Strategies course for Berklee Online. Recent engagements include keynote addresses and panels at SXSW, Midem, European Culture Forum, SF MusicTech Summit, Canadian Music Week, MMF, BPI, Music Matters, GRAMMY Camp, and many more.
Musician and songwriter, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
Thao Nguyen is a musician, songwriter and activist who leads the band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. Having grown up in Falls Church, VA, Thao first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 and began performing in a pop country duo in high school. She spent most of her 20s touring, supporting one critically acclaimed album after another. She’s worked with a laundry list of vaunted artists including Andrew Bird, Mirah, Laura Viers and producer Tucker Martine. She even toured the U.S. with the nationally syndicated NPR radio program “Radiolab.” But a little over a year ago, Thao stopped and settled finally in San Francisco. There she spent time establishing a life off the road. That included thinking about things besides music and participating in her community, most notably advocating for those incarcerated in the SF county jail and CA state prison system. At the end of that transformative period, Thao collected her work and stepped into the studio with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, Explosions in the Sky, The Walkmen). The result is We the Common, a major step forward from this already-beloved artist. The album is raw and rollicking, homemade and reckless, 12 songs capturing this utterly unique writer and performer like never before.
Ryan Chisholm an artist manager at Nettwerk Music Group, where he represents Christina Perri, Madi Diaz, Good Old War and Giovanni James with his co-manager/partner Tom Gates. Since her debut in 2010, Christina Perri has sold over 1 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. Good Old War has modestly built themselves to be one of the most active touring bands in America playing over 175 shows in 2012 alone. Indie/Pop Siren Madi Diaz has just released her highly anticipated new album, Phantom on Nettwerk Records. Phantom received over 120,000 album track streams in the first 7 days on Spotify. Giovanni James is the newest addition to Ryan and Tom’s roster, signed to Warner Brothers Records in 2014. Along with his role as artist manager, Ryan also serves as an A&R for Nettwerk’s label and publishing company. His first signing was Chris Batson, a 22-year old singer-songwriter from Orlando, FL who’s recently been covered by BET, Vibe, Complex and MTV Buzzworthy as one of the “artist to watch” in 2014. In 2011, Ryan (along with Rahim Sonawalla and Abe Burns) co-founded Hollywood Hack Day, which is a two-day event that brings together the top developers and designers in Southern California to create the next generation of entertainment based web and mobile applications. Ryan was also named as one of Billboard’s 30 under 30 “Young Execs You Need To Watch” and one of IQ Magazine’s top 10 “New Bosses” in 2011.
In 2011, Ryan (along with Rahim Sonawalla and Abe Burns) co-founded Hollywood Hack Day, which is a two-day event that brings together the top developers and designers in Southern California to create the next generation of entertainment based web and mobile applications.
Ryan was also named as one of Billboard’s 30 under 30 “Young Execs You Need To Watch” and one of IQ Magazine’s top 10 “New Bosses” in 2011.
Jean Cook is a musician, producer and Program Associate for the Internet Freedom Initiative at the Ford Foundation. From 2005-2015, Jean directed research, education, and advocacy initiatives for Future of Music Coalition. Her portfolio for FMC mapped some significant impacts of emerging digital structures on marginalized segments of the music industry; key areas of work included jazz and classical music metadata, jazz radio playlist composition (and how to improve data collection), and understanding how copyright impacts indigenous artists in places like Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Australia. She served as Interim Executive Director of FMC from 2009-2010. Most recently, she was the co-director of FMC’s Artist Revenue Streams research project, assembling one of the broadest and most comprehensive and ambitious existing data sets on US-based musician income. Jean served on the founding Steering Committee for the Cultural Research Network (USA), and is a member of BMI, American Federation of Musicians Local 802, and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammys). As a musician, she has performed on over 75 albums, including two Grammy nominations, and has toured over 700 dates on four continents with various groups including Jon Langford, Beauty Pill, and Ida/Elizabeth Mitchell. Other recent appearances include projects by free jazz artist William Parker, Barbez, and the UK-based band Pulp. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors for Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and on New Music USA’s Program Council.
Jason Burns is a music manager at Arts & Crafts’ management division, Craft Services. Jason previously ran Burnt Tree Entertainment, a Nova Scotia and Toronto based artist management organization for nine years. In November 2015, Arts & Crafts of Toronto acquired Burnt Tree and its clients, based on Jason’s artist-centric accomplishments in the Canadian music industry. Jason began his career in 2007 by managing Hey Rosetta!, quickly becoming a well-known and highly entrepreneurial manager in Canada. Jason has a background in business, marketing and communications, with work experience encompassing graphic design, video production, journalism, photography and performing in bands. His current management roster includes Belle Game, Nobu and Daveed of Choir! Choir! Choir!, Hey Rosetta!, Plants and Animals, and Rich Aucoin. JAson also consults for brands and festivals including Cirque du Soleil, Pemberton Music Festival, Osheaga, Heavy MTL and more.