The trustees of Jazz at Lincoln Center have reached into the ranks of business leaders in the digital media sector for a new executive director, hiring Greg Scholl, a former NBC Universal executive with a background in digital music distribution, to manage the nonprofit arts institution.
Mr. Scholl, 42, will on June 1 replace Adrian Ellis, who resigned in January after steering the organization through a turbulent period of growth. Mr. Scholl’s appointment is part of a reorganization being carried out by Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter and artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, often referred to by the initials J.A.L.C.
Mr. Marsalis has in the past focused mostly on programming concerts and leading the organization’s orchestra, but he said in a press release this week that he wanted to take “formal responsibility for longterm strategic planning and for leading J.A.L.C. into a new era of innovation.”
Mr. Scholl said the position was a chance for him to return to the music world, where he spent much of his career as a digital distributor for independent labels. He is an avid fan of American roots music, he said, and has collected more than 2,000 78 rpm recordings, stretching from pre-war blues to bebop.
“Personally blues, jazz and American roots music are things I am very passionate about,” he said. “I looked around at NBC and said: ‘I think I’m the only guy here that’s hosting 78 rpm listening parties. Maybe this is something I should take seriously as a philosophical career change rather than a business career change.’ And I’m incredibly excited about it.”
Mr. Scholl’s arrival comes as the longtime chairwoman of the board of trustees, Lisa Schiff, a jazz label owner, is stepping down and Robert J. Appel, a financier and philanthropist, has been elected to lead the board.
Mr. Marsalis has yet to release details of his reorganization plans, but there have been some clues. He recently created a new position of general manager to oversee day to day operations, and, at a fund-raising dinner last week, he said he wanted to tighten the chain of command at the institution, without elaborating. “I want the way we run to be just like the way a band runs,” he said. He has also expressed an interest finding ways to distribute the organizations’ large archive of recordings, officials inside the nonprofit say.
Mr. Scholl brings expertise in both social media and digital music distribution to the job. Since 2009, he has overseen the digital operations at NBC’s local television stations, fashioning a successful strategy to build audiences through social media. He was responsible for the introduction of several new mobile applications for smart phones and tablets, as well as for designing online entertainment and news programs.
Before going to NBC, Mr. Scholl was the president and chief executive of The Orchard, a company that bought music from independent and foreign labels then sold it to iTunes and other digital music services. There he pioneered many marketing and distribution practices for digital music and videos. He remains a recognized leader in that field.
Asked about his plans for the organization, Mr. Scholl said he had some ideas, but did not want to reveal them yet. He added he would rather “talk about stuff we did, not stuff we are going to do.”