In March of 2022, Pepsi hosted the first Pepsi Music Lab Summit, providing actionable advice to aspiring artists to further their music careers. The six virtual panels covered a variety of industry topics including "Monetizing Your Work" and "Building Your Brand & Audience." Check out the sessions below!
2022 pepsi music lab keynote
Mark Pitts has had a highly successful career in the music industry that spans decades. As the former manager of Notorious B.I.G., Executive Producer of iconic albums like the diamond-certified Confessions (2004) from Usher, Founder & CEO of Bystorm Entertainment and current President of RCA Records, Mark has made an incredible impact in the music industry. In this rare interview led by Rob Stone, Co-Founder of The Fader, you’ll get a behind the scenes look at Mark’s extraordinary career and learn some gems along the way.
Maximizing Creative Potential
For every artist who blows up and goes multi-platinum, there are countless others who show promise, get a deal, and still fall short. This session will focus on A&R and what it takes for new artists to make it in the industry. You’ll hear from Caroline "Baroline" Diaz, VP A&R at Interscope, and Ian Holder, SVP of Creative at Sony Music Publishing, who know better than anyone what it takes for young musicians to realize their potential and turn their talents into sustained success.
Building Your Brand & Audience
It's never been easier to make yourself available to the world as an artist. You can upload a song, talk about it and share it on social media — all without spending a cent. But who do you want to listen to your music? Who makes up your audience, what do they want, and — perhaps most importantly — how do you reach them? Chris Atlas, EVP of Marketing at Def Jam and Courtney Lowery, EVP of Media Strategy and Lifestyle at Motown Records, will share insight into what artists should think about when building their brand and audience.
Building Your Team
There's no such thing as a solo project. Behind every successful artist is a team of people working to make sure that things run smoothly — and that team is just as important for young musicians taking their first steps in the industry, as it is for those with dozens of platinum records. But who do you really need on your side if you want to build a sustainable career as an artist? You'll hear from Solomon Sounds, SVP of A&R at Capitol Records, & Angela Rogers, Principal at Rogers Law Group, to learn about the essential people you need on your team.
Monetizing Your Work
The process by which artists made money from their work remained pretty much stable — and relatively easy to understand — for an entire century. But over the past two decades, with the advent of streaming and the decline of physical formats, just about every aspect of the process has changed. Chayce Cheatham, Music Label Partnerships at TikTok & Drea Jackson, Artist Development at SoundCloud will share insight into how artists can monetize their work.
The Major Label v Independent Experience
Should you be aiming to sign with a major label, taking advantage of all their resources and connections? Or are you better suited to an independent, working outside the machine? To answer these questions, we have two people with unparalleled experience in the major and independent label worlds. Charlene Thomas, VP Marketing at Def Jam and Junia Abaidoo, Co-Founder of the independent label Love Renaissance, will give you insight into both paths.
As a driving force in hip-hop and R&B for over 25 years, Mark Pitts started in the industry working with Sean Combs at Bad Boy Entertainment and managing The Notorious B.I.G. After launching his own management company, ByStorm Entertainment, his career has been one success after another. As SVP of A&R at Arista, he worked with Usher, TLC, and Usher on multi-platinum projects. As President of Urban Music at RCA Records he helped guide the careers of superstars like J. Cole, Miguel, and Chris Brown. Last year he was named President of RCA, where he heads one of the world's most important labels and is responsible for the continued success of artists like Doja Cat, Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R., Latto, and Flo Milli. He's appeared on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop list for multiple years and he's had a hand in a remarkable 53 Grammy nominations. Mark continues to be one of the industry's truest tastemakers mentoring artists and rising executives.
The founder and Co-CEO of Cornerstone Agency and FADER Media, Rob Stone has been a pioneering force at the forefront of music media for almost three decades. Rob got his start at SBK Records before moving to Arista, where he was hired by the legendary Clive Davis. There Rob worked closely with icons like Sean "Puffy" Combs, Notorious B.I.G, Usher, and Outkast. He then founded Cornerstone Agency with Steve Rifkind founder of Loud Records, home to acts such as Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Big Pun and more. Over the past two decades he's overseen the growth and expansion of The FADER from an iconic magazine into an industry-leading website, podcast network, tv and film division, and record label, while ensuring that Cornerstone has stayed a step ahead of a constantly changing marketing industry. He's also a cancer survivor and founding member of mymusicrx a division of Children's Cancer Association delivering the healing power of music to kids facing cancer and other serious illnesses.
Caroline "Baroline" Diaz is one of the most exciting and innovative A&Rs in the industry. She started out at Def Jam, assisting on national campaigns for 2 Chainz and YG, who gave her the name "Baroline," which has stuck ever since. From there she moved into A&R at Columbia Records, where she signed Polo G and immediately earned the label a double-platinum record with "Pop Out." She quickly jumped from there to Interscope Records, where she’s now VP of A&R. At Interscope, she's been a driving force behind the success of superstars like DaBaby and rising stars like Lil Poppa.
Ian Holder has seen every side of the music industry over the past two decades. He started out at Epic in the early-aughts before being taken on as an A&R coordinator at Sony, working closely with Lil' Flip and Xzibit. In 2007 he moved to BMI, where he'd stay for a decade as Director of Writer-Publisher Relations, signing an incredible array of songwriters including Post Malone, Frank Ocean, Rae Sremmurd, Kiiara, MadeinTYO, and Pusha-T. He's now the Senior Vice President of Creative at Sony Music Publishing, where he’s signed Moneybagg Yo, Lil Tjay, Lil Durk, and Jack Harlow, among many others. Ian has also started his own label, his own management company, and the Artistic Reality Thru Search (A.R.T.S.) Music Business Program for high school teenagers.
Chris Atlas has spent a quarter-century forging partnerships and spearheading campaigns for some of the world's biggest brands and most impactful artists. He joined Cornerstone as VP of Urban Promotion and Marketing in 2001 and, after a brief spell at Amp'd Mobile, returned to The FADER's sister company as VP of Strategic Marketing. In 2008 he moved to Def Jam, where, over the course of almost a decade as EVP of Marketing, he was behind campaigns for Kanye West, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Jhene Aiko, and Ludacris, among others. Since 2018, he's been building strategies for marquee artists like NLE Choppa, Saweetie, Wale, and Shordie Shordie.
Over the course of his career Courtney Lowery has worked with some of the world’s most impactful artists, celebrities, brands, and social causes. He's been behind strategies for Future, DJ Khaled, and Swizz Beatz, and the internet-breaking phenomenon VERZUZ, been named to BET's list of "29 People You Should Know," and received a 2017 Culture Creators award. He’s now the Executive Vice President of Media Strategy and Lifestyle at Motown Records.
In his yearbook photo from Elmont Memorial High School, Solomon Sounds is seen holding up $61 in cash and three debit cards; the quote beneath him reads: "I want to be the next big music mogul... doesn't the stack speak for itself?" He's been making good on that goal ever since. He discovered and managed XXXTentacion until the rapper's death in 2018, and he's overseen the release of two posthumous X releases, 2018's Skins and 2019's Bad Vibes Forever. Sounds secured deals for ppcocaine, Cochise, 645Ar, and BFB Da Packman as well as managing StaySolidRocky. Last year he became Senior VP of A&R at Capitol Records, where he signs and develops artists for the company's flagship label.
Angela Rogers has over 15 years of experience as an entertainment lawyer, representing artists, producers, songwriters, publishing companies, and executives, as well as fashion bloggers, YouTubers, and start-ups. Angela received her Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law and received her Bachelor of Science from Hampton University. She interned at Sony and then at Epic before moving to James McMillan, where she was made partner and named to Billboard's prestigious 30 Under 30 list. She started her own practice, Rogers Law Group, in 2013.
Chayce Cheatham is an integral part of the label partnerships team at Tik Tok, where she works as the liaison between artists, managers, and labels to execute marketing initiatives and assist in artist on platform growth strategies. Prior to that, Chayce was the Sponsorship coordinator at Live Nation, where she worked with some of the biggest brands in the world to help create impactful music marketing campaigns. She also worked at HITCO, an indie label, where she was a key player in pushing SAINt JHN’s “Roses” to No. 1 four years after its initial release.
Drea Jackson is an Artist Development and Relations Manager at SoundCloud. There she is responsible for building and maintaining SoundCloud’s relationships with artists, managers, producers and agents, as well as educating the creator community on how to best utilize SoundCloud and its artist services to build and grow their careers. Prior to SoundCloud, Drea was a Strategist on the Brand Partnerships team at SoundCloud & Pandora, where she crafted narratives and sales strategies for potential sponsorships. In addition to her professional role, Drea helps lead Clouds of Color, one of SoundCloud’s diversity resource groups.
Charlene Thomas is one of the most influential executives in hip-hop. She signed and A&R’d Three 6 Mafia and Lil Flip at Loud Records, ran a 50-artist roster that included Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Funkmaster Flex, and Big Pun, and spearheaded marketing campaigns for heavyweights like JAY-Z and Rick Ross. Thomas has worked as a consultant for brands like Pepsi, Hugo Boss, and Levis, and sports stars such as Floyd Mayweather, Kenny Smith, and Kenyon Martin. She's now the Vice President of Marketing at Def Jam, where she's developing marketing strategies for Kanye West, Big Sean, Hit-Boy, LL Cool J, 2Chainz, and Jeezy.
Junia Abaidoo started Love Renaissance nine years ago with four of his classmates from Georgia State University. Since then it's grown into one of R&B's most important record labels, boasting platinum-selling artists like 6lack, Summer Walker, and BRS Kash, and managing Shelley FKA DRAM, Westside Boogie, and Dvsn. In 2017 LVRN signed a distribution deal with Interscope Records and launched LVRN Studios, a creative space in Atlanta. Since then Junia has helped the label to expand further, signing artists like Cruel Santino, Kitty Ca$h, and OMB Bloodbath.