Black Music Month: Power Players Behind the Scenes

Today marks the end of Black Music Month, a time for us to celebrate the great musicians that so many of our amazing artists produce for us. Romantic love songs, soulful and emotional ballads, upbeat dance songs or real thought provoking raps and the songs that make ABSOLUTELY no sense but stay stuck in our heads for way too long, the variety of our music is is a reflection of our eclectic tastes and musical capabilities.

Side note: They give us February and June; neither of em make it to 31 days but that’s not my business…

kermit biz

While we are all familiar with the faces in front of the cameras, like Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay Z, Nas and more, few of us are aware of the team behind the scenes that does all the work to ensure the success of these superstars. A celebrity is only as good as his or her team and from producers to managers, attorneys and publicists there are many who contribute to each musician’s reign.

Let’s take a look at some of the top executives in the music industry who help keep our music and musicians at the top of the charts.

Cortez Bryant, CEO, The Blueprint Group

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The 35 year old co-CEO of management firm, The Blueprint Group is hotter than ever. His clients include Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and TI. In 2013, his company was the force behind world tours for Nicki Minaj and Drake, branding ventures for Beats By Dre, Pepsi and Mountain Dew (for Minaj and Drake and Lil Wayne) and numerous other brand partnership deals. His company’s skill for matching some of the biggest artists with some of the most prolific brands to create one of a kind marketing campaigns makes Cortez a huge force to be reckoned with in music marketing and management.

Alfred Liggins III, CEO, Radio One

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Since assuming the role (from his legendary mother) of CEO, Liggins has grown the company into a multimedia empire with 70 stations, across 22 markets billions in assets, over 18 million listeners nationwide. They are now expanding into XM Satellite Radio, Web, cable television (TV One), and an expanding national talk-show network. As one of the reigning kings of radio, his work not only provides channels for us to hear our music, but acts as a platform for new artists to receive their big breaks.

Abou ‘Bu’ Thiam, VP of A&R, Atlantic Records

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The driving force behind hits from some of the biggest artists, such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Akon and Chris Brown, this Senegal-born executive’s knack for finding talent and having an ear for good music. He has been as successful at discovering new artists, such as Lady Gaga and T-Pain, as he is for managing the careers of top musical acts and helping them take their careers to the next level.

Ethiopia Habtemariam

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Universal Music Publishing Group’s President of Urban Music, Ethiopia Habtemariam is one of the top-ranking women in the business. She has helped UMPG to assemble an all-star list of writers including Miguel, Chris Brown, Hit Boy, Ari Levine, J Cole, Ester Dean and Justin Beiber. The UMPG Urban Music Group’s urban division includes Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo and Eminem.

Kevin Liles, Founder & CEO, KWL Management

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With one of the longest resumes and list of accomplishments in the industry (Def Jam/Island Def Jam/Warner Music Group), Liles has branched out on his own to create KWL Management. His coveted client list includes billboard toppers like Big Sean, Trey Songz, Nelly and Young Jeezy. He is also well-diversified with a published book, Make it Happen: The Hop Hop Generation Guide to Success.

Damien Granderson, Entertainment Attorney

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Granderson is a young yet accomplished entertainment lawyer and a rising star in the business. His most recent news-worthy accomplishments include negotiating the deals for A$AP Rocky and Trinidad James. Other clients of his include Ne-Yo, Timbaland, Tyga, Shaggy, Sean Garrett, Aloe Blacc and Gucci Mane.

Mark Pitts, President of Urban Music, RCA Records & CEO, Bystorm Entertainment

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Pitts’ Bystorm Entertainment specializes in artist management, Publishing, Film and Television and a record label. He manages two of the hottest clients, J Cole and Miguel. As President of RCA’s Urban roster, Pitt oversees the careers of artists including Usher, Chris Brown, Monica, T-Pain, Mario and Marsha Ambrosius.

Melissa Victor, VP Media & Artist Relations, Island Def Jam

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As one of the top publicists in the game, Melissa oversees a diverse line-up of artists across genres, including Justin Beiber, Ludacris, Jhene Aiko and Pusha T. That means she keeps their names in the press from interviews, to magazine covers, TV appearances and more.

Troy Carter, CEO, The Atom Factory

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His expansive management roster includes Lady Gaga, Mindless Behavior and John Legend. Even more impressive, Carter is a highly sought conference speaker and recently founded, along with Lady Gaga, Backplane, a new social media platform that blends celebrity and technology. If that’s not enough, he is also an investor in transportation technology company Uber, political platform Votizen and summarized news site Summly.

Karen Civil, CEO & Live Civil

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Karen began as an intern for Funkmaster Flex and with hard work and strong networking skills, was able to create her own career path. Beats by Dre Ambassador. Digital Marketing Specialist. Blogger. Clothing Designer. In just 33 years, Karen has been able to dominate across fields and is a true testament to creating a way for yourself when there is none.

To learn about other successful behind the scenes executives, read the full article here.