Warner Music Nashville (WMN), the Nashville-based music operations of Warner Music Group Corp., announces that Rod Riley (pictured) has been named president and CEO of Word Entertainment, WMG’s Christian music division. In his new role, Riley will oversee Word’s entire operation, including A&R, sales and marketing, music publishing, distribution, church resources and artist services.
Riley succeeds Mark Bright and will report directly to John Esposito, president and CEO of Warner Music Nashville. Bright, one of Nashville’s most acclaimed producers, will continue to work with WMN under the terms of his existing production deal with Warner Bros. Nashville.
“Mark has done an outstanding job as the head of Word, and it is a testament to the great depth of talent we have at WMN that allows us to not only continue our relationship with him under the terms of his existing production deal, but also to not miss a beat by appointing Rod as the head of Word Entertainment,” says Esposito. “And while we are delighted to give Rod this well-deserved promotion, we are thrilled that we can make this change while also allowing Warner Music Nashville to continue its very valuable relationship with Mark. We could not be more supportive of Mark’s decision to go back full-time to being one of the best producers in country music, and I look forward to continuing to work with him through his production deal with Warner Bros. Nashville.”
“I am deeply honored to accept this role as we prepare to enter Word’s 60th year of making Christian music,” Riley says. “It’s been a great pleasure to work as part of the Word organization, especially since it has meant seeing this team bring about consistently incredible results, both in our established businesses, as well as in all of the new areas we have entered. We’re in the midst of the music industry’s most challenging transition period, so I’m even more thankful to Espo for trusting me with these new responsibilities. I’m confident that working together with this exceptional Word team, we’ll see that Word’s best days are before us.”
“I believe that Rod Riley is the perfect choice to lead Word into the next decade,” says Mike Curb, chairman of Word Entertainment. “He has the vision and the experience to meet this major challenge.”
Riley has served as Chief Operating Officer of Word Entertainment since 2008, and has been responsible for all the business operations of Word Label Group, Word Music Publishing, Word Distribution and Word Music. WMN states that since joining Word Entertainment in 2005 as senior vice president of marketing, Riley has been instrumental in revitalizing the company’s staff and artist roster, as well as aggressively expanding Word’s artist services business, including launching or acquiring businesses in merchandising, e-commerce, artist booking, touring, brand management and sponsorship.
Prior to joining Word, Riley served as senior director of sales at Provident Music, Sony Music’s Christian music label. In 1999, while still with Sony, Riley and his wife, Susan, launched Fervent Records, a record label and music publishing company that is home to artists such as BarlowGirl, Francesca Battistelli, Group 1 Crew, Sidewalk Prophets, pureNRG and Big Daddy Weave. Originally distributed through Sony, Riley sold Fervent to Word Entertainment in 2005.