Downtown Music Holdings Names New CEO, Kalifowitz to Executive Chairman

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Downtown Music Holdings — the umbrella organization that houses several music-services brands like CD Baby, FUGA, Songtrust, Downtown Neighboring Rights and more — is shaking up its executive leadership team. Founder and CEO Justin Kalifowitz will transition to a new role as executive chairman of the company, while longtime general counsel and COO Andrew Bergman rises to the role of CEO. The moves will take place effective Sept. 1.

Kalifowitz started Downtown in 2007 as a music publisher, and still serves as administrator for many catalogs and bought Sheer Publishing Africa last May. (Though in April it sold the rights to its 145,000-song catalog of publishing copyrights to Concord in a deal estimated at $350 million.) Over the years, Kalifowitz transformed the company from a pure publisher into one of the leading services companies for independent artists, offering distribution through several channels, publishing administration, marketing and financial services, royalty collection, neighboring rights, digital rights management, licensing and recording studios among its suite of offerings and owned brands.

In his new role as executive chairman, Kalifowitz will be focused on “driving strategic direction,” the company said today, as well as leading the board of directors and working with the executive team on future initiatives.

“Downtown has always set ambitious goals both internally and with respect to our role in driving equity and innovation across the music industry,” Kalifowitz said in a statement. “As we continue to expand our market position by empowering entrepreneurial creators and their partners, Andrew’s unrivaled knowledge of the business coupled with his operational excellence make him the perfect choice as our next CEO. With Andrew managing day-to-day operations for Downtown, I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely together in advancing the organization’s strategic development at an accelerated pace.”

Bergman, meanwhile, has been with Downtown since the company’s beginnings, initially as outside legal counsel, then beginning in 2008 as general counsel and executive vp, before being promoted to COO in 2014. In that role, Bergman has been leading Downtown’s mergers and acquisitions strategy — in which the company acquired AVL Digital Group in 2019, which housed CD Baby, AdRev and Soundrop; and digital distributor FUGA in 2020, among others — and helping integrate them into Downtown’s suite of offerings for artists.

“I feel very fortunate to continue my 14 year collaboration with Justin in my new role as CEO and I am excited about what we will accomplish together in Downtown’s next growth stage,” Bergman said in a statement. “With an exceptional team, global operations, industry leading technology and substantial capital resources, Downtown is well positioned to continue expanding our role as the leading service provider to the global music industry.”

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