Joel Klaiman

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Joel Klaiman
Nationality American
Alma mater Syracuse University
Occupation Record executive
Employer Columbia Records
Organization NARAS, Clio Music Jury
Board member of TJ Martell Foundation
Awards Billboard Power 100 (2015, 2016, 2017)[1][2][3]

Joel Klaiman is an American music industry executive. The executive vice president and general manager of Columbia Records,[4] Klaiman served previously in senior positions at Epic Records and Universal Republic Records. Over the course of his career, he has worked with Adele, David Bowie, Beyoncé, John Legend, One Direction, Bruce Springsteen, Little Mix, Taylor Swift, and Amy Winehouse, among others.[5][6][7]

Klaiman is noted for his role in the design of promotional campaigns which resulted in the crossover success of singles by artists including Daft Punk ("Get Lucky"), Gotye ("Somebody That I Used to Know"), Legend ("All of Me"), Hozier ("Take Me to Church"), Pharrell ("Happy"), Psy ("Gangnam Style") and Swift's first crossover hit, "Love Story."[5][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Klaiman was born in Sharon, Massachusetts. He attended Lawrence Academy and Syracuse University.[10]


Following graduation, Klaiman moved to New York City, where he worked for Frank DiLeo Management. His focus shifted from management to radio promotion, and in 1994 he was hired as senior director of national alternative promotion for Elektra Entertainment Group. In that position, Klaiman had considerable success with records by Bjork, The Cure, Moby, Metallica, Tracy Chapman and Ween, among others.[11]

Transitioning from a largely alternative to a more mainstream roster, Klaiman joined Epic Records as senior vice president of promotion in 1999. With #1 records from artists including Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Shakira, among others, he was nominated as senior promotion executive of the year by industry trade Radio & Records and promoted to executive vice president of promotion in 2004. In 2005, in the aftermath of Eliot Spitzer's pay-for-play investigation, Klaiman was removed from his position. Regarded as a scapegoat, it was reported that he had "taken the fall" for the label.[8][12][13][14]

Klaiman's role expanded from promotion to include artist development in 2006, when he was appointed senior vice president of promotion and artist development for Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group. He was promoted to executive vice president in 2009. At Republic, Klaiman worked with breakthrough artists such as Amy Winehouse, Colbie Caillat, Nicki Minaj, Florence + the Machine, Gotye, and Drake. In 2008, Klaiman helped to forge the radio and strategic promotion partnership between Big Machine Records and Universal Republic, which resulted in Taylor Swift's crossover single “Love Story," her first "pop smash." It "lived a double life: The original version targeted a country audience with acoustic instrumentation, while the mix for mainstream pop listeners accentuated electric guitars."[15] As the head of artist development at the label, Klaiman assisted in establishing Swift as a mainstream artist, and was involved in the promotion of Speak Now and Red, both of which achieved sales in excess of five million. When Klaiman left Republic in late 2012, the label topped the overall Mediabase label chart share with 13.5%, scoring #1 at Top 40 and Triple A formats and #2 at Rhythm and Alternative radio.[15][16][17]

In December 2012, Klaiman was named executive vice president and general manager of Columbia Records, overseeing the label's marketing, PR, promotion, digital, video, content production, licensing and branding .[1] Columbia was the #1 overall label in 2014, based in part on the success Hozier's "Take Me to Church" and the two top selling singles of the year: John Legend's "All of Me" and Pharrell's "Happy.".[18][19][20][21] In October 2015, in association with XL Recordings, Columbia released Adele's 25. The lead track from the album, "Hello," was the first ever single to sell more than a million digital copies in 7 days. The album set sales records with 3.3 million units sold during its initial release week. [2][22]

Klaiman was included on the Billboard list of the 100 most powerful executives in the music industry in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He is a member of the Clio Music Jury, a voting member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a member of the board of directors for the T.J. Martell Foundation, a charitable organization which funds medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.[23][24]


  1. ^ a b Billboard Staff (February 5, 2015). "Joel Klaiman: Power 100". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Billboard Staff (February 12, 2016). "Power 100 2016". Billboard. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Billboard Power 100 2017". February 9, 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Halperin, Shirley (October 27, 2016). "Columbia's Joel Klaiman Looks Ahead to Sony's Future and Back at the Eliot Spitzer Payola Probe: 'The Industry Knew I Was Scapegoated'". Billboard. Retrieved 28 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Christman, Ed (November 12, 2012). "Joel Klaiman Named Columbia Records Executive VP/General Manager". Billboard. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Schoenberger, John (February 9, 2007). "Order: Your Future is What You Make of It" (PDF). American Radio History. Radio and Records. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Morris, Chris (December 11, 2012). "Joel Klaiman joins Columbia as GM". Variety. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Klaiman: One more step in Epic Career". Hits. August 23, 2004. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Bonan, Christian (February 14, 2014). "Pharrell Wanted to Release His New Album Right Away". XXL. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "Syracuse Alumni Journal". Syracuse University Magazine. Syracuse University. Retrieved 28 December 2015. 
  11. ^ Deane, Fred (September 30, 2011). "Joel Klaiman, Universal Republic, EVP of Promotion & Artist Development". FMQB. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  12. ^ Arango, Tom (April 23, 2006). "PAYOLA PATSY; 'SCAPEGOATED' MUSIC EXEC TO STAGE COMEBACK". New York Post. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Flippo, Chet (July 28, 2005). "NASHVILLE SKYLINE". CMT News. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Friedman, Roger (July 27, 2005). "Radio Payola Scandal Played Out More Like Crayola". Fox News. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Harris, Keith (September 9, 2014). "Trace Taylor Swift's Country-to-Pop Transformation in 5 Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "Up in the Airplay". Hits Daily Double. Daily Double. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  17. ^ Page Six Staff (December 14, 2012). "Going for a Spin". New York Post. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  18. ^ Mitchell, Gail (June 10, 2014). "Anatomy of a Hit". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  19. ^ Gall, Phil (February 19, 2014). "Strategy For Pharrell's 'G I R L' Album Banks on Oscars, Red Bull Ad and Europe (Exclusive)". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  20. ^ Lavinthal, Dennis (as I Be Bad) (December 17, 2014). "I.B. BAD ON THE YEAR IN THE MUSIC BIZ". Hits. Retrieved 12 November 2015. The Irish artist benefited from an intricately calibrated long-term campaign orchestrated by EVP/GM Joel Klaiman, a major breakout executive who rose to further prominence this year in an expanded role 
  21. ^ Trust, Gary (April 24, 2014). "Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' & More: The 20 Biggest Crossover Hits". Billboard. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Tsiocals, Anastasia (January 7, 2016). "2015 In Album Sales: Adele, Adele, Adele". NPR. NPR. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  23. ^ "At the TJ Martell Foundation's 35th Annual Awards Gala in NYC". FMQB. FMQB. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  24. ^ "Joel Klaiman: Music Jury". Clio Music Awards. Clio Music Awards. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 

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