The Academy of Country Music has named its new Chief Executive Officer. Damon Whiteside will take the helm beginning Jan. 6, as the Academy’s third CEO in its 55-year history. Whiteside will split his time between Nashville and Los Angeles.
Whiteside previously spent six years as the Country Music Association’s Sr. VP, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, prior to being promoted to his current role as Chief Marketing Officer. He has 23 years of career experience in the music and entertainment industries.
“I am extremely proud of the monumental accomplishments that our dedicated team at CMA has been able to achieve these last six years thanks to the support and guidance of the CMA Board and Sarah Trahern,” Whiteside said. “It has been an honor to help shape the successes of this rich genre, and to be part of a respected organization like CMA and its mission to grow country music globally while shaping positive perceptions about the industry and its artists.
“I am honored and humbled to now be given the responsibility to shape the future of the Academy. I am excited to draw upon my deep passion, unique experience and important relationships across the country music and mainstream entertainment media industries to reinforce the organization’s mission, rejuvenate its influence, and redefine its purpose to benefit the entire country music ecosystem.”
“We are fortunate to welcome Damon as the Academy’s new CEO,” shares Ed Warm, chairman of the ACM Board of Directors. “His experience, commitment and enthusiasm in the country music world are well documented and we are confident that he will enhance the Academy’s ability to bring together fans, artists and the industry while enabling the organization’s charitable arm, ACM Lifting Lives, to impact more lives than ever before.”
“Damon joining the ACM is exactly what the Academy needs right now,” adds RAC Clark, the executive producer of the ACM CBS broadcast and interim executive director for the Academy. “I’ve been part of the ACM Awards since 1979, and I can’t wait to pass along everything I can to Damon from my experience as an ACM board member, Interim Executive Director and Executive Producer of the telecast.”
In his time at CMA, Whiteside has been responsible for overseeing the development of multi-million-dollar marketing and media campaigns for CMA’s three annual television properties and strengthening the partnership with CMA’s exclusive broadcast partner ABC Television Network and The Walt Disney Company. Additionally, Whiteside dedicated efforts to identify and build strategic partnerships with multi-platform media partners, digital companies, and Fortune 500 brands. Notable accomplishments include increased ratings for the 53rd Annual CMA Awards in November 2019, his leadership role in the year-long campaign for The 50th Annual CMA Awards and the groundbreaking “Forever Country” single and music video campaign; serving as the lead country strategist for the release of the Ken Burns Country Music documentary; award-winning creative campaigns positioning the CMA Awards as the leader in music awards shows; the launch of CMA Brand Marketing Summits in New York, Toronto and London; dramatic growth across CMA digital platforms; the launch of CMA’s content creation efforts; integrated media partnerships with top digital/DSPs, radio, and cable television partners; re-branding of CMA Music Festival and Fan Fair X; 40% increase in annual sponsorship revenue; supporting the CMA Board of Directors’ expansion of international efforts; and the overall re-tooling of the CMA marketing, research, communications and strategic partnerships teams to better serve the needs of the country music industry.
Whiteside launched his career in 1996 at The Walt Disney Company, where he was responsible for award-winning marketing, creative productions, live events, and digital partnership programs for various Disney-owned companies including Disney Music Group, The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Channel, and Disney Consumer Products.
He led marketing and partnership campaigns that earned more than 100 No. 1 films, TV series, album releases and/or concert tours. He also helped develop strategies for film and television programs including Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Cars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princess and more, with each producing more than $3 billion in retail sales. Whiteside secured more than $100 million annually in media value via brand partnerships with networks including ABC, ABC Family, CMT, MTV, VH-1, Disney Channel, ESPN, HGTV, GAC, PBS, VH1 and more. Whiteside was part of Disney’s Corporate Brand Management and Synergy Executive Committees, which determined strategies for the top franchise as well as company-wide marketing focuses. He also represented the three Disney Music Group labels, including Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records and Lyric Street Records, to integrate artists into initiatives throughout the company.
In 2011, Whiteside formed Nomad Entertainment Group to represent an array of music artists, producers and songwriters and to develop marketing and digital campaigns and strategies for clients.
Whiteside has been part of Leadership Music, The Recording Academy, Music Business Association, Digital LA, CMO Club, LA Office, American Marketing Association and Promotion Marketing Association. He serves on the boards of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville Cares and the T.J. Martell Foundation. In 2013, he completed the Executive Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
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