Billboard Unveils List of 50 Most Powerful Women Executives in the Music Industry, Ethiopia Habtemariam Makes the Cut

Ethiopia HabtemariamBillboard Magazine has released its annual list of some of the most powerful women executives in America’s music industry. It’s an exciting list of highly achieving women and we are particularly pleased to see an inclusion of highly successful women of color.

A few examples follow:

“Debra Lee at #10: 

Chairman/CEOBET Networks

“Debra has prepared BET for the next 30 years,” says Kevin Liles, founder of talent management firm KWL Enterprises, who has worked with Lee for two decades. “She’s a strong, spirited executive who empowers the people around her” and has navigated “the ups and downs of an ever-changing industry, while changing the face of BET.”

Lee says her mantra for keeping the company at the top of its game is “respect, reflect, elevate,” and it’s working. According to Nielsen, BET ranks among the top 20 cable networks, and it’s No. 1 across all key demos for African-Americans. Two hallmark events in 2014 played major roles in sustaining that reign. The 14th annual BET Awards on June 29 with first-time host Chris Rock ranked as the No. 1 cable program that night, drawing 7.9 million total viewers — up from 7.6 million in 2013 — and generating 11 million tweets. That same weekend, the second BET Ex­perience, a music and lifestyle fest in Los Angeles, attracted 112,488 visitors, a 10 percent increase over its inaugural effort. BET also scored a new hit series in 2014, Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union. Ahead for 2015: BET’s first mini-series, an adaptation of the novel The Book of Negroes, and the formal rebranding of its sister channel Centric as the first black women’s network. International growth is another priority. BET airs in 29 African countries and boasts a U.K. audience of 14 million. Says Lee: “It’s important that our programming reflects what we stand for and what we do as a brand.”


Ethiopia Habtemariam at No. 27  (of African heritage)

President, Motown Records/president, urban music/co-head of creative, Universal Music Publishing Group, Motown Records/Universal Music Publishing Group

Habtemariam helms dual rosters of both established and next-gen stars. UMPG’s streak on the Billboard Hot 100 has been led by Eminem‘s “Monster,” Nicki Minaj‘s “Anaconda” and Chris Brown‘s “Loyal.” Alongside such Motown faves as Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo, in 2014 the label has celebrated the No. 1 R&B Albums debut of Kem‘s Promise to Love: Album IV.

Sylvia Rhone at No. 29

President, Epic Records

Rhone still helms her Vested in Culture ­imprint, but since becoming president of Epic last March she has overseen such label milestones as Meghan Trainor‘s double-platinum “All About That Bass” (a No. 1 chart-topper for eight weeks) and multimillion-dollar global ­campaigns for Michael Jackson‘s Xscape.”

 A full list of all 50 women can be found on Billboard.com.
-Uduak Oduok

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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