Variety has promoted Jem Aswad to lead all music content across digital, print and live media platforms as executive editor, music.
Aswad will oversee all aspects of Variety‘s music-related editorial operations and staff. He will also continue to serve as Variety‘s leading voice on the business of music, penning cover stories, deep-dive features, investigative stories, personality profiles and reviews. With his promotion, Aswad will also help steer Variety‘s music-related event franchises, including Hitmakers and Music Mogul of the Year, and contribute significantly to developing music programming for live media events.
Aswad is based in Variety‘s New York office and reports to co-editors in chief Cynthia Littleton and Ramin Setoodeh. Shirley Halperin, Variety’s executive editor, music since 2017, is stepping down to become editor in chief of Los Angeles magazine.
“We could not be more excited to announce that Jem will be leading Variety’s music team,” say co-editor-in-chiefs Cynthia Littleton and Ramin Setoodeh. “Throughout his career, Jem has built his reputation as an award-winning reporter and editor who is respected for his in-depth knowledge of the music business and unparalleled access to artists. He will thrive in this new role. We also want to thank Shirley for her enormous contributions to Variety, and we wish her nothing but great things in her next chapter.”
Aswad, who was named the Los Angeles Press Club’s Journalist of the Year/Online in 2021 and 2022 and its Best Music Critic twice, began working with Halperin at Billboard in 2014. Halperin and Aswad relocated to Variety in 2017, relaunching the venerable entertainment news brand into music coverage after a nearly decade-long break. In recent years, Aswad has written cover stories on Billie Eilish, the Weeknd, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John & Dua Lipa, Spotify, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, Lil Nas X and others, as well as award-winning feature, trend and commentary stories, including “Inside the Dirty Business of Hit Songwriting” and “Learning to Be OK With the Word ‘Vinyls.’”
“Working with Shirley for the past nine years has been the best job I’ve ever had, but I absolutely respect and admire her desire to take on a new challenge, especially when we’re at the top of our game,” Aswad said. “I am so proud of what we’ve built at Variety, and as much as I’m going to feel like Paul without John or Snoop without Dre, we have such an incredible team and there is so much more we can do. I’m endlessly excited for what’s to come, and so grateful to Michelle, Cynthia, Ramin and everyone at Variety for their confidence and support.”
Over the past three decades, Aswad has held senior editorial posts at Billboard, MTV News, Spin, Time Out New York and CMJ. He’s worked for three major music labels: Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. Records and Caroline, as well as two record stores and one performing-rights organization (ASCAP). A lifelong music obsessive, Aswad started out writing concert reviews for his high school newspaper. Over the years his work has been published in Rolling Stone, New York magazine, the Village Voice, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, the Trouser Press Record Guide and many other publications. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course.