Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Lawrence Mestel, Founder & CEO of Primary Wave Music, has been working in the music and entertainment industry for over 30 years. In 2006, Mestel took his extensive experience working at multiple record labels and founded Primary Wave Music, one of the largest independent music publishing, marketing and talent management companies in the United States. Primary Wave controls over 50,000 songs from the catalogs of legendary artists such as Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Four Seasons, Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, James Brown, Bing Crosby, Burt Bacharach, Prince, Olivia Newton-John, and many more. Originally founded on music publishing, Mestel has strategically and successfully built the company into a full-service music and entertainment powerhouse offering in-house branding, digital marketing, publicity, TV & Film development and a talent management company, whose roster of artists includes CeeLo Green, Cypress Hill, Melissa Etheridge, Fantasia, and others.
Mestel was one of the producers behind the critically acclaimed Kurt Cobain documentary film, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and he was part of the team who produced the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody distributed by Sony Pictures.
In 2019 Goldman Sachs honored Larry Mestel as one of the “100 most intriguing entrepreneurs” at the annual Goldman Sachs Builders & Inventors summit. In 2020, and then again in 2022 & 2023, Mestel landed on Billboard Magazine’s “Power List” being recognized for his leadership in the music industry. He also appeared on the Variety 500 twice and has been featured in top press outlets such as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.
President, Primary Wave Music Publishing
Justin Shukat is a partner and President of Primary Wave Music Publishing since 2006. He oversees all areas of Primary Wave’s creative team including synch and A&R while working alongside all partner companies to ensure that all businesses are focused and delivering. He has been responsible for new writer signings and multiple catalog acquisitions and is now focused on working across the music industry to inspire and facilitate recordings that derive from the timeless music aggregated within the Primary Wave music IP portfolio. Given the income potential of a new current hit, this is a highly impactful, efficient and profitable initiative.
Justin’s music career began at a young age, as he was lucky enough to grow up learning, listening, and experiencing from his father and mentor, the legendary entertainment attorney Peter Shukat. His musical journey started with working with the Montreux Jazz Festival in the mid 90’s followed by various positions at Walter Yetnikoff’s Velvel Records. Shukat then moved on to senior marketing positions at both Arista and Epic Records. In 2005 he re-connected with Larry Mestel who had a vision and plan during a transitional time in the music business to launch a new company focused on acquiring and working legacy catalogs and together they started Primary Wave. Justin has been recognized by Billboard Magazine as an industry Power Player (2023 & 2022) as well as being included in the 40 Under 40 in 2013. Mr. Shukat received a BA in Marketing from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in 1996.
Chief Marketing Officer
Adam brings 17 years of music industry experience to Primary Wave. He is responsible for all marketing related activities within the organization. Most recently, Mr. Lowenberg was Sr. VP of Marketing for Island Def Jam. He also served as Sr. VP of Marketing at Virgin Records and VP of Marketing at Arista Records. Adam’s career has been punctuated by the multi-platinum success of such global superstars as Avril Lavigne, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, Pink, Rihanna and Bon Jovi.
Chief Content Officer
A proven music industry executive, dealmaker and counsel with a stellar track record of guiding careers, developing businesses and acquiring and integrating companies over a 20+ year tenure in the music business.
Natalia founded her New York City-based eponymously-named law practice just after graduating law school. Over a 13-year span, she built it into a multi-million dollar enterprise, representing domestic and international artists, songwriters, talent buyers, nightclub venues, independent record companies and publishers. One of her clients, the then-largest independent global talent agency – The Agency Group – recruited her to be its CEO and General Counsel in 2013.
For three years (2013-2015), Natalia was the sole woman heading a major talent agency. During her tenure as CEO of TAG-US, she focused on diversification of the company’s services to its clients and played a key role in the acquisition of The Bobby Roberts Company in Nashville and NYC’s EDM-focused independent, Bond Music Group. She founded The Agency Group’s brand partnerships division, opened its Miami office and established a private/corporate booking division. She struck joint ventures with Primary Wave Music for artist services, with Bandsintown for tour marketing and promotion, and with Modern Works Music for publishing and administration services.
Natalia ran point on the sale of TAG to UTA in 2015. Through successful integration, key hires, acquisitions, and artist signings, Natalia guided the ascent of UTA Music into a top talent representation powerhouse.
Community and Culture are themes which are weaved throughout Natalia’s approach to business, and never have those themes been more important than over the past year. She led the launch of UTA’s La Femme Majeure initiative – a networking event for women in music focused on professional growth and progressing career trajectories – which had its first global edition during the Covid-19 crisis with 3 panelists and over 400 music women in attendance via Zoom. And, she spearheaded the formation of Justice Now – a social justice and racial equity task-force within UTA Music, the mission of which is: strengthening our music community through education, mentorship, empowerment and fearless imagination.
At Primary Wave, Natalia is responsible for development of unique and diversified content strategies for the company’s legendary and iconic artists and song catalogues.
Recognized as a power player in the industry, Natalia has been featured multiple times on Billboard’s annual Women In Music and Power 100 lists, on Pollstar’s Impact 50 list, and on Variety’s Women’s Impact lists. She has been honored by TJ Martell Foundation as a Woman of Influence, and she presently serves on the advisory boards for MIDEM and Save The Music, and on the Executive Committee of She Is The Music. In 2019, Natalia was the keynote speaker at the Australian Music Prize.
Chief Digital Strategy Officer
Rob Dippold is a partner and the President of Digital Strategy, having joined Primary Wave in 2010 to create the digital strategy division. He manages the Digital division and is charged with developing overall digital strategy, leading a diverse and creative marketing team, developing creative digital campaigns, cultivating strategic partnerships, as well as building e-commerce, direct to fan and WEB3 initiatives for roster of music icons and legends.
Rob began his music career in marketing and rose to General Manager at Ruffhouse Records, a pioneering Sony Music record label which has sold over 100 million albums worldwide with artists Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Wyclef Jean, Kris Kross, DMX and others. He has extensive history working in the music industry from recorded music to marketing agencies, talent management, publishing and merchandising. Rob served at Warner Music Group’s distribution arm, W.E.A. Corp. developing retail and account-based marketing initiatives for W.M.G. artists including Linkin Park, Metallica, Missy Elliot, T.I., Sean Paul and others. Dippold became Partner & General Manager of Trustkill Records, an independent industry-leading entertainment company partnered with Sony and Universal Music. Trustkill was instrumental in launching and breaking influential bands in the metal and hardcore rock scene including Bullet For My Valentine, Eighteen Visions, Poison The Well amongst others. Under the Trustkill brand, Rob was actively involved in the digital & mobile technology space including developing and launching “MobileThreat” the first ever mobile content destination platform dedicated to the metal & punk music genres, as well as other lifestyle branded websites and virtual reality communities.
Rob has been recognized and featured in numerous music industry media outlets and events over the years including Billboard Magazine’s “Digital Power Players”, Music Business Worldwide, Variety, CoinDesk, Canadian Music Week, Music Business Association amongst others. His work on Def Leppard’s 30th Anniversary of Hysteria album and 2022’s Diamond Star Halo’s album was named “Best Music Marketing Campaigns” by Music Ally’s Sandbox and recently he was instrumental in setting the record for the highest-selling NFT on the Tezo’s blockchain for Whitney Houston’s digital collectible collection. Rob graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Marketing and Management.
Chief Operating Officer
Ramon Villa wears many hats in managing the financial and operational functions for Primary Wave Music. His 30 years of experience within entertainment, including the first half of his career working closely with Island records founder, Chris Blackwell, he has immersed himself across many platforms including records, publishing, television, film, distribution, talent management, branding, and marketing. Since the early days of Primary Wave, Ramon has been involved in building the publishing catalog and the various marketing and management arms surrounding it. His work and leadership has been recognized by several music industry trade publications including Billboard, Hits, and others. As Chief Operating Officer and “Chief Aesthitic Officer”, Ramon sees that the ops, numbers and the vibe all stay in check.
Chief Financial Officer
Jane Reisman comes to Primary Wave with 25 years of finance & accounting leadership, most recently as founder and CEO of JPR Consulting, an outsourced CFO firm providing services to small and medium-sized businesses in media & entertainment, tech and wellness. As CFO of Primary Wave, Jane will oversee all financial functions including business planning, accounting, royalty processing, fund administration, reporting, audit & tax. She lends strategic fiscal leadership focused on improving transparency and enhancing efficiencies to support growth.
Jane has always had a passion for the music business since her early years when she earned her CPA license with Ernst & Young, working with clients in all facets of the music business, including publishing, concert promotion and music labels. Later she spent 12 years with Sony Music, ultimately rising to Head of Finance for Epic Records, where she worked with artists including Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Pearl Jam, The Fray and Sara Bareilles. She has been CFO for organizations and startups involved in music technology (Dubset Media, Pulselocker, IODA), documentary film production (The Representation Project), nonprofits (Fundly, SFAI) and tech and wellness (Carrot Fertility, AngelList). Ms. Reisman earned a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Chief Branding Officer
With over thirty years of core marketing experience, Jeff Straughn worked for global advertising agencies before transitioning to sports, entertainment and music where he ran the partnership group at global powerhouse Octagon.
By the early 2000s, Straughn had leveraged his brand experience and was hired by and reported directly to Mr, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Mr. Antonio “LA” Reid. Straughn was quickly challenged to build a new strategic marketing department for Island Records and Def Jam Recordings (IDJ) that would help generate new income in support of their artists and new releases. Straughn was a senior member of the leadership team at IDJ where he quickly became a trendsetter in how brands and artists work together, creating disruptive and creative concepts supporting the artist and their new work.
In 2008, Straughn met his current partner and the founder of Primary Wave, Larry Mestel. Collectively, they built the blueprint for Primary Wave’s brand strategy. The goal was simple: build a team to support both artist management clients as well as the growing and diverse music publishing catalog. Additionally, Straughn and Mestel set up a branding agency known as Brand Synergy Group to serve as a consultant for third-party brands in the entertainment/music space.
Since joining Primary Wave, Straughn has developed and executed a multitude of brand partnerships through a combination of traditional endorsements, private performances, and a breakthrough of new intellectual properties that leverage Primary Wave’s copyrights and/or the artist brand ID. Each of these opportunities result in equity that is co-owned by Primary Wave and the other parties.
Straughn seeks innovative programs to deliver a win for the brand, the artist and Primary Wave. “We look at all sides of the equation as we develop each concept” says Straughn, “no two programs are ever the same.” Primary Wave believes that any and all partnerships must be results driven and are measured against a set of KPIs that are mutually beneficial for all parties. As a result, Straughn has established a long-standing list of brand partners that continues to expand and evolve as the company grows.
Additionally, for over 12 years, Straughn has leveraged his vast marketing and experiential skills to raise the Primary Wave brand profile. Each year, Straughn has built a premium VIP Primary Wave branded hospitality event during the Grammy’s. In 2019, Straughn raised the bar again by producing a full week activation and rebranding an elite hotel in West Hollywood to One Love Hotel in an effort to celebrate 75 years of Bob Marley, a marquee catalog co-owned by Primary Wave and the Marley family.
Straughn currently resides in Austin, Texas, where he moved in 2018 after spending his entire career in the northeast.
Straughn is married to a lovely wife and has two children currently in college. When not at work, he finds his passion in the kitchen, cooking and exploring new varietals to build on his wine collection.
President, Primary Wave IP Investment Management
SVP Creative, Head of Sync
Marty is Head of Sync at Primary Wave, overseeing licensing activity for Primary Wave’s music publishing and management clients. With staff in Los Angeles and New York, the dynamic Primary Wave Sync team is a key part of Primary Wave’s proactive marketing approach, constantly creating new opportunities and driving big ideas for music in film/TV, advertising, video games, and other visual media.
In 17 years in music publishing, Marty has worked with and secured placements in film, TV and advertising campaigns for artists such as Kurt Cobain, Smokey Robinson, Def Leppard, Hall & Oates, Aerosmith, Collective Soul, Bruce Hornsby, Kenny Loggins, L.P. and Foy Vance.
He was recognized as one of Billboard Magazine’s Top Branding Power Players in both 2018 and 2019.
Earlier in his career, while at independent publisher North Star Media, Marty partnered with Chicago advertising agency Leo Burnett to establish the innovative “Artist-In-Residence” program, which continues to break new ground, matching brands and new artists.
He has a Bachelor of Arts/Psychology from Queen’s University in Canada, where he conducted research and published papers on the Psychology of popular music. He has also been an instructor at his other alma mater, Berklee College of Music, teaching “Current Issues in the Music Industry.”
Amy Ortner is General Counsel and a member of Primary Wave’s Senior Executive Team. She joins Primary Wave after 22 years in private law practice, including a 20-year tenure in Loeb & Loeb LLP’s music and entertainment group. Throughout her career, she has represented a broad array of domestic and international entertainment clients, including major and independent music publishers and recorded music companies, entrepreneurs, private equity funds, and closely held family businesses, often in connection with the sale or acquisition of significant music enterprises and assets (among them, Warner Music Group, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, BMG Music Publishing, Arc Music Corp., PULSE, Criterion Music Corporation, the music publishing catalogs of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, and Saban Capital Group, various songwriter catalogs, and music booking and personal management firms). She also served as music industry counsel with respect to investments, financings, and securities offerings. Additional areas of focus included ventures with talent (including high-profile branded entertainment transactions), personal management agreements, and content licensing. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Amy worked in business affairs at BMG Entertainment. Amy received her A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis, and her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. She is admitted to the New York and California bars and is based in Los Angeles.