Chris Gobalakrishna and Jonathan Serbin have been named as the new Co-Presidents of Warner Music Asia. They will both be based in Hong Kong and report to Simon Robson, President, International, Recorded Music, Warner Music Group.
The two executives have already been playing a crucial role in the company’s regional operations since Robson, who was President of Warner Music Asia between 2015 and 2020, returned to London to take up his current role.
Warner Music has been growing and strengthening its presence in Asia in recent years, acquiring the catalogues of Gold Typhoon (2014) and ISS (2016); opening for business in Vietnam (2020); launching new labels, such as Japan’s +809 (2019) and Whet Records (2021); introducing ADA, its independent artist and label services arm (2020); and dramatically expanding its domestic rosters in key markets such as Japan and Korea.
Gobalakrishna and Serbin will accelerate this strategy over the coming years, in a region where the recorded music industry grew by 9.5 per cent in 2020 to US$5.1b, and by 29.9 per cent excluding the more established market in Japan (IFPI), highlighting that huge opportunities for growth remain.
Chris Gobalakrishna says: “I’m honoured to be working with Jonathan to lead our Asian operations. Asia is such a dynamic region, with dramatic growth prospects, which is also driving the latest tech developments in music streaming and the wider ecosystem. We need to continue to innovate to ensure that Warner Music is the first choice for artists with global aspirations. We’re constantly looking to better monetise the huge consumption of music in all its forms across the region to the benefit our artists.”
Jonathan Serbin adds: “Chris and I are determined to give a launch pad to all the amazing artists emerging from all corners of Asia, so they can take their rightful place on the global stage. From hip-hop to dance, rock to pop, Asian artists are redefining genres and connecting with audiences like never before. The wider world is waking up to the huge level of talent in this region and the next few years will see Asian artists becoming increasingly influential and successful on the world stage. We want Warner Music to be leading this revolution.”
Simon Robson concludes: “Chris and Jonathan are hugely talented and experienced execs who’ve already been very impactful at Warner Music Asia. Jonathan has spent almost 20 years in mainland China, building and managing entertainment and music companies with influence across Asia, while Chris has more than two decades’ experience as a commercial COO and CFO across a wide range of sectors. Their skills complement each other perfectly and make for a formidable partnership, which will be hugely beneficial to growing the success of Warner Music’s domestic and international artists in Asia and beyond.”
Gobalakrishna joined Warner Music Asia in 2020 as SVP, Finance and Operations. He has already helped develop and improve the company’s financial ecosystem, supported the transformation of the business across the region, and played a pivotal role as part of the senior management team.
He started his career at BMG in 1994 and over the next decade rose through the ranks to become Vice President of Finance for BMG International. A spell at Sony Music Entertainment followed, where he was Senior Vice President, Global Digital Business and New Business Initiatives. During almost 20 years at both BMG and Sony, he helped shape their digital transition and grow their direct-to-consumer offerings, with an emphasis on expanding global operations.
Gobalakrishna then became CFO, Digital, Enterprises, Research, Marketing, Events and Social Media for Univision Communications in 2012, before working in senior finance roles at a number of private, equity-backed business including Workstride, Beachbody and Tone It Up.
He is a Wharton MBA alumnus and holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Serbin also joined Warner Music Asia in 2020, becoming CEO of Greater China and Head of Strategic Investment. During his time with the company, he has been instrumental in driving several commercial deals, recruiting top level talent to help drive its continuing transformation, launching genre-focused regional imprints, and significantly enhancing its artist roster in mainland China.
He joined the company from Billboard, where he served as Head of Asia, launching the brand in China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, and looking after licensing, digital and social media, charts, festivals and publications.
Serbin began his career as a corporate music lawyer in New York, before moving into investment banking with a specialism in media and entertainment mergers and acquisitions. He moved to mainland China in 2002 and held a number of senior roles at companies specialising in the digital distribution of music and other content, before joining Billboard in 2014. Serbin also sat on the board of the international subsidiary of Avex, one of Japan’s largest record companies, advising on its China market strategy.
He is a Columbia University MBA alumnus, holds a BA in Economics from Washington University in St Louis, and a Juris doctorate in Law from Boston University’s School of Law.