Taking the Throne: The Brand is the New King
Content has been declared king for decades, but good content, alone, is no longer enough. In today's digital media age, artists must also have brands that are well-defined and compelling to achieve commercial success and longevity. Look at the many aspects involved in creating, cultivating, disseminating and monetizing artist brands - sound, image, marketing, social media, distribution and retail strategy.
T. J. Holmes is an award-winning journalist and national television personality. Holmes recently inked a multi-platform talent deal with BET Networks that includes programming on BET, as well as, content on BET.com. Prior to joining BET Networks, Holmes was a news anchor and correspondent at CNN for more than 5 years. Holmes reported from the scene of numerous breaking news events, including: Joplin, MO, which was devastated by multiple tornadoes in May of 2011; New Orleans during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010; and Blacksburg, Virginia immediately after the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech. Holmes is a graduate of the University of Arkansas.
In his role at BET, Reggie helps set the overall business and creative strategy for the department and manages the day-to-day operations. Prior to coming to BET, Reggie was the COO for Desi Hits!, a media company that created and distributed entertainment content for non-resident Indians and like-minded Indians in India. Prior to that, Reggie spent seven years at MTV Networks in a number of positions that concluded with his role as the SVP, Music Strategy. At MTVN, Reggie conceived and executed the overall company strategies and financial models for securing the use of music on MTVN's global TV and digital platforms. In addition to his responsibilities at MTVN, Reggie also pursued his creative interests by producing the 2006 HBO/Cinemax documentary, "Cutting Edge", which depicted a day in the life of a Harlem barber shop.
Prior to MTVN, Reggie was the Director of Corporate Development for Vanguarde NeoMedia. Before his tenure at Vanguarde, Reggie founded and was the CEO of nuRules.com, an urban lifestyle web site that featured news, reviews, articles, streaming media, secured digital downloads and e-commerce related to urban culture. Reggie began his career as a corporate lawyer at the New York office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker. He left Paul, Hastings to practice entertainment law at Epstein, Levinsohn, Bodine, Hurwitz and Weinstein, prior to founding nuRules.com. Reggie received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, where he studied philosophy, and his law degree from Harvard Law School.
Kevin Liles is President and Chief Executive Officer of KWL Management, a holistic talent management company, founded in 2009. Through a personalized, 360-degree artist management approach Liles pioneered as an executive at the world’s largest recording companies, KWL Management empowers elite talent to make the jump from artist to global brand through diversification and partnership development. He views personal relationships as the core of successful brand building, inspiring him to launch KWL to assist an intentionally limited roster of talent to reach new heights personally and professionally.
Rising from unpaid intern to head of global record label, Liles has one of the most storied careers in entertainment. While his interest in the music business grew out of being the original writer of “Girl You Know It’s True” – a song made famous through scandal by Milli Vanilli – his ascent began in 1991 as an unpaid intern for Def Jam in the Mid-Atlantic region. Through a meteoric rise within the organization, by 1998 Liles was named of President of the Def Jam Music Group. Following the merger of Island and Def Jam Music Group in 2002, Liles became Executive Vice President of the new company. By providing leadership sensitive to both the bottom-line and the freedom artists need to create, In this role, Liles was instrumental in the leap of artists from “performer” to “global brand,” leading this transformation for many of the biggest names in hip-hop, rock, and R&B.
In 2004, Liles joined Warner Music Group as Executive Vice President and served on the executive team that took WMG public. As the chief executive behind the implementation of WMG’s innovative “360-degree” strategy for enhanced artist partnerships, Liles oversaw the expansion of the traditional record company role in the artist’s career with a more personalized approach that has become the cornerstone of KWL Management’s success.
At age 16 Kendrick released his first mixtape Y.H.N.I.C., creating a buzz in his hometown of Compton, California, and garnering the attention of TopDawg Entertainment's CEO. From then on, Kendrick worked to perfect his skill under TopDawg, releasing four new projects in a five year span; Training Day, No Sleep Till NYC, The Kendrick Lamar EP and his most recent project The Kendrick Lamar OD which received praise from some of the most respected online music sources. Additionally, he has released multiple tracks under the group name Black Hippy with fellow TopDawg counterparts Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. Through these efforts Kendrick was able to showcase to the world his unparalleled ability and humorous word play.
Kendrick's handwork and unmatched talent has allowed him to work with a wide range of respected music vets such as The Game, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Little Brother, Jay Rock, DJ Quik, Scott Storch and Cool & Dre. He is currently working on his debut album, and alongside legendary producer Dr. Dre on his highly anticipated upcoming release Detox.
Tatiana Grace Simonian is the head of music for Twitter and leads all music-related media initiatives. She also runs @TwitterMusic. She was previously at the helm of social media marketing for Disney Music Group, Hot Topic Inc. and ran her own consultancy which managed campaigns for artists such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Placebo. A former music journalist, Simonian wrote for Rolling Stone, the LA Times, LA Weekly and was associate editor of Anthem Magazine. She's a pianist of 27 years and performs shows when not attending them. A dual citizen of Brazil and US, she speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English. You can follow her: @tatiana and @twittermusic.
Jana Fleishman began her career almost 20 years ago at Mercury Records where she worked with Tony, Toni, Tone, Black Sheep, Lionel Richie, Brian McKnight and Vanessa Williams.
After working at Elektra Records under Sylvia Rhone, she rejoined Def Jam in 2000 where she worked with artists such as JAY Z, Rihanna, Method Man, Ne-Yo and LL Cool J. In 2009 she joined JAY Z’s multi-media company, Roc Nation working with J Cole, Willow Smith, Melanie Fiona, Rihanna and The Ting Tings.