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RAINMAKERS:
MICHELLE JUBELIRER

Michelle Jubelirer, who was tapped in late 2020 to co-head Capitol Music Group (as President/COO) in tandem with Jeff Vaughn as successors to Steve Barnett, is in many ways a quintessential new-school leader—artist-friendly, forthright, politically progressive—but with a style all her own.

She has long described herself as a “rocker chick,” and her wardrobe runs the gamut of black—with a trademark leather jacket in place of the typical power blazer. This is the outward manifestation of her down-to-earth, creatively unconventional approach.

As Barnett’s first pick for his Tower team and a key steward of his vision, she has been a strong booster of Capitol acts—including Sam Smith, Halsey, Lewis Capaldi and Beck—and CMG’s productive affiliates, notably Ethiopia Habtemariam’s Motown, Coach K and P’s Quality Control, Jacqueline Saturn’s Caroline, Elliot Grainge’s 10K Projects and Toby Andrews and Jeremy Vuernick’s Astralwerks.

“Michelle Jubelirer is truly one of the smartest, most respected and honest executives in our business,” says UMPG boss Jody Gerson. “She is also one of my very best friends and my chosen family.”

She worked in the label system early in her professional life and then exited to become an artist attorney—making a name for herself as both an inventive, outside-the-box dealmaker and a fearsome negotiator. The skills she honed during that chapter of her career ultimately led to a new—and much bigger—label opportunity at Barnett’s Tower.

In 2003, she made her first move into the music biz, as counsel for Sony Music in New York. As she told HITS in 2013, “I came from the middle of nowhere [Altoona, Pa.], didn’t know anyone and had tremendous school loans. I’d done my research and knew that people from Sony Music’s legal department, such as Clive Davis, had gone on to run companies.”

While she recalled having “zero contact” with future boss Barnett (then a top exec at Epic) during her Sony tenure, she did form one key alliance at this point that would prove long-lasting.

“It was two months into my job when I got a phone call: ‘Michele Anthony would like you to come to her office to meet.’ I went around to the other lawyers and asked, ‘Is this normal? Is this what she does?’ Everyone said no. Nobody had ever met her. I went and met with her. She told me, ‘I heard that I would really like you, and you’ve reminded a few people of a younger version of me. I wanted to make sure that we knew each other, and I’m here if you ever need anything.’”

Jubelirer says she reached out to Anthony when, in 2005, she decided to make the move back to a law firm—King, Holmes, Paterno and Berliner—where Anthony had served. “I also didn’t want to be a lawyer at a record company anymore. It was boring,” she says. “There were too many rules. We stayed in touch.”

She would go on to become a partner at the firm, building a client roster that included Kesha, Pharrell, Odd Future, Frank Ocean, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Slipknot, Tori Amos, Marilyn Manson and Grimes, among other artists who redefined what was considered mainstream.

In 2012, Barnett first approached Jubelirer about leaving King Holmes for a high-ranking post at Capitol Music Group. “We had contact when I negotiated some fairly aggressive deals as an artist lawyer with Columbia,” she remembered to HITS. “Particularly Odd Future, which was a ‘different’ deal, to say the least; on that, I think Steve said, ‘I wanna meet this lawyer who did the Odd Future deal.’ When I was in New York, we had a lengthy meeting. Then I dealt with him on The Neighbourhood, and we stayed in touch. When he called about this gig, it was completely out of the blue. I was shocked.”

Her propensity for approaching artist deals from a fresh perspective clearly factored into Barnett’s master plan. After four months of spending time with him and getting to understand his vision for the company, she joined as EVP in 2013.

As Barnett told HITS, “Michelle brings an innovative approach to Capitol Music Group that reflects her intense passion for music and her experiences as a forward-thinking representative for cutting-edge artists. She is well known and highly regarded for conceiving trend-setting deals that align perfectly with her artists’ distinct creative visions.”

As an advocate for artists, she recognized that the friction that had historically existed between labels and artists was no longer viable in a climate where breaking artists is secondary to breaking songs. As EVP, her responsibilities included overseeing Astralwerks, Blue Note, Caroline and Harvest, as well as business and legal affairs, A&R admin and release planning.

“I’m very proud of having joined Steve Barnett here at the beginning, when the company was moribund and with only one or two artists who were keeping the lights on,” she noted. “We worked our way out of the cellar to become one of the most successful label groups in the entire industry. I’m sometimes in awe of how far we’ve come, but we make no secret of the fact that we want to be the #1 label group in the business and won’t rest until we are.”

Read the entire profile here.

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