Over the past year, we've rapidly expanded our global presence in various markets — among them Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and Europe, led by Taeko Saito, Rachel Kelly, and Roberto Neri respectively. Their ingenuity and leadership and has proven invaluable to our success in these regions, and earned them recognition as Billboard's International Power Players for 2019.
TAEKO SAITO, VP INTERNATIONAL A&R
With her ears to the ground in Japan, South Korea, and beyond, our Vice President of International A&R Taeko is known for her globally-mindful approach to contemporary music publishing. She was recently highlighted in Billboard’s “Jobs of Tomorrow” feature for her cross-cultural perspective and was instrumental in the opening of Downtown’s Tokyo office — overseeing the company’s expansion into the world’s second largest music market and establishing partnerships with Avex, EKKO Music, SM Entertainment, as well as recent signee Quantum Mirror.
Taeko has a track record of facilitating out-of-the-box, international collaborations through our Songwriters Across Borders initiative. She connected American songwriter and producer Vedo with some of Asia’s biggest stars, including K-pop sensation NCT 127. Their Vedo-produced hit “Regular” sampled “Din Daa Daa” by German artist George Kranz — which we represent on behalf of Berlin-based Budde Music. With Latin and trap influences, “Regular” was NCT 127’s first track recorded in both English and Korean — reaching number one in South Korea and number two on the Billboard World Albums chart.
This year, she instigated a cover of Maroon 5’s number one single “Maps” by celebrated Japanese actress and singer Ko Shibasaki — known for her role in the global cult phenomenon Battle Royale. Co-written by Downtown’s Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and Noel Zancanella, the song earned Maroon 5 bragging rights as the first foreign act in Korean music history to top multiple charts simultaneously. Recognizing the potential for success, Saito encouraged the Shibasaki cover — which was released in February, quickly charting in both Japan and Korea.
RACHEL KELLY, CREATIVE DIRECTOR & HEAD OF SYNC, AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
A 20-year industry veteran, Rachel opened our Australian office last year. She has since signed local A-list talent like John Butler and Stella Donnelly, both of whom performed in front of 6,000 person crowd at the iconic Sydney Opera House on our first anniversary in the region.
Representing Downtown as a member of Australasian Music Publishers Association Limited (AMPAL), she has been invited to speak at a variety of conferences and panels such as BIGSOUND, Women In Music, and Indie-Con Australia. She has also connected songwriters from around the world, bringing renowned Nashville writers like Kate York, Marc Beeson, and Heather Morgan to New Zealand for APRA AMCOS’ Songhubs.
Rachel also signed Australian soul band The Teskey Brothers, placing several of their songs in television shows like NBC’s This Is Us and the hit Australian series Doctor Doctor — as well as ads for brands in other markets like Koala Mattress in Japan. With a strong foothold in the territory’s advertising marketing, she has strategically found new opportunities for classic songs in our catalog as well, such as Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” use in an ad for Foxtel’s Transformers pop-up movie channel, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” in a spot for Australia's Dance Boss, Paloma Faith’s “Take Me” in an Australian Nescafé commercial, and RAC’s “Back of the Car” in an Australian Mitsubishi spot.
ROBERTO NERI, EVP, U.K. & HEAD OF EUROPEAN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Recently promoted, Roberto leads our business development initiatives across the U.K. and European territories. His work with Downtown has been recognized by the broader community through frequent Publisher of the Year nominations in the U.K.
In the past two years, Roberto has led signings and partnerships with numerous high-profile songwriters, producers, and publishers including U.K. hitmakers Saltwives, Paloma Faith, and longtime Sam Smith-collaborator Jimmy Napes — as well as Faber Music, home to songs from the celebrated musical Cats.
Roberto joined the company in 2015 through our acquisition of Eagle-i-Music. Representing Downtown as an authority on copyright, he is an elected board director at PRS for Music, PPLPRS Ltd, and the Music Publishers Association — and has also been instrumental in the development and implementation of our multi-territory licensing strategy.