Yesterday night, Matt Goldstein, Jake Fain, and I hosted the 2017 Billboard 40 Under 40 nominees in New York City – About 20 of us were able to make time out of our intense Grammy week schedules to come together for the evening.

We sat at one table and about halfway through dinner narrowed down the conversation to one big group discussion, ranging on topics from influencing up the corporate ladder to the benefits of diversity and how to create more of it within our companies.

At the end of the night, James Rubin from WME identified two things all of us have in common: a laser-like focus on our vision and an unwillingness to take no for answer on artists and initiatives we believe in. We get things done. That is how we got here, but we’re just beginning. And where we’re headed is even more important.

Throughout the evening, here were two things I believe we as leaders committed to creating –

1. Building diverse companies open to evolution, innovation, and made to last.

Many of us started our careers during a time when the outlook on recorded music was bleak – We could have done anything with our lives and chose to dedicate them to music when the future wasn’t certain.

Now that the industry is poised to be more successful than ever, we are blessed with intelligent and experienced executive talent coming into music from a variety of industries. This group is very important as we will work together to create a more efficient and effective industry.

The influx of established high-level talent and the rising talent who are and will continue to enter from the next generation see a significant future financial opportunity, in addition to following their hearts.

This doesn’t make them any less passionate about music than we are.

When you look at the biggest success stories in music history, some of the individuals we look up to cashed out hundreds of millions of dollars and never looked forward or back. They built amazing catalogs, which will forever be the soundtracks to our lives. But the companies themselves were not created to sustain the future music ecosystem, supply future jobs and lead the significant innovation our industry needed.

The executives at these companies which were sold received incredible experience under their leaders and permeated themselves through the industry, but what could have been if the individuals in the top spot were committed to developing the next generation of leaders? Would we have recognized the opportunity of streaming even earlier? Where would we be today? Would the iPod or Spotify or Echo been created within the walls of our industry instead of by the tech companies?

We as a group believe diversity will be key in the next phase of industry evolution – Having every perspective at the table will enable us to better understand how to connect to artists and music listeners across the globe.

Which leads me to the second thing we are committed to creating…

2. As much as we are capable of effectively influencing our organizations at the highest level, we are as committed to developing the next generation of executive talent.

“The art of music is young, but the business is old.” -Kristen Fraser at Beats by Dre

Kristen digs through the resumes sent to her and takes a phone call every week with a young person aspiring to enter the industry – She works in marketing not human resources. Throughout last year, she built relationships with many of these individuals and puts them forward for job opportunities. She is committed to the next generation.

As a group, we are adamant about teaching the next generation how to create value in our organizations. It’s more than building numbers online – It’s creating a vision which will drive revenue and new business opportunity. We will teach these skills and empower young leaders to see and pave the vision for the future.

We will not accept entitlement, but instead create a roadmap for what is possible.

We are grateful for our mentors. We also had to figure out a lot of things for ourselves in the school of hard knocks – we earned this.

The opportunities to be taught firsthand and in some cases get a job in the first place were limited as we came up – we are dedicated to working with programs and influencing our respective HR teams and processes in a way conducive to creating diversity, long-term learning, and the most sustainable future possible.

I acknowledge Billboard for choosing such an eclectic and brilliant group of people for your list last year.

Getting this group together was a special and rare experience. We are already creating business and building life long friendships together. The diverse perspectives from all aspects of the industry created a discussion that couldn’t be had anywhere else in the city last night. I look forward to coming together again – maybe at the next Grammys!


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