Why Roc Nation Has An Opportunity To Improve On The Disney Studios Expansion Strategy

Written by Staff
Roc Nation
Jay-Z and Meek Mill announce the launch of Dream Chasers record label in joint venture with Roc Nation at the Roc Nation headquarters on July 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Jay Z, Jay Brown, and Desiree Perez have made sweeping changes at Roc Nation, but those changes were critical for the company’s future, writes Dan Runcie.

Runcie is the founder of Trapital, a media company that covers hip-hop business and strategy. He assesses why and how hip-hop artists, partnerships, and companies make key decisions.

Here’s an excerpt from Runcie’s article, Why Roc Nation Needed to Restructure:

From Trapital. Written by Dan Runcie

In January, Phil McIntyre was out as president of Roc Nation Management. In March, Benny Pough, president of Roc Nation Records, was let go. In May, the company fired Azim Rashid (SVP Promotion), Orlando McGhee (SVP A&R), Gita Williams, (EVP Marketing), and Fairley McCaskill (Sr. Director Publicity).

I wasn’t surprised, but still, damn! Roc Nation cleaned house like a #1 seed that just got waxed in a second round playoff series.

Despite the changes, Roc Nation’s not moving on from its record label just yet. It’s turned a new leaf. Roc Nation’s Shari Bryant and Omar Grant have been named label co-presidents. The announcement came two days before Meek Mill and Jay Z announced the company’s new joint venture —Dream Chasers.

Promote from within

Roc Nation’s recently-fired execs all had brief stints at the company.

For an entire cohort of execs to depart, it means one of two things happened: One, the initial wave of 2017 and 2018 executive hirings was a strategic mistake. The company’s power trio (COO Desiree Perez, CEO Jay Brown, and Jay Z) made these hires with a particular vision in mind but made a costly pivot away from that. Or two, there was an HR-related issue.

An HR-related issue may be plausible, but the strategic misstep is much more likely. Most of these hires were high-ranking execs at other labels.

The elevation of Bryant and Grant sends a strong message. Bryant started her career as an intern back at Roc-a-Fella Records, while Grant had been with Roc Nation for nine years. Their hires echo a sentiment that’s close to Jay Z’s heart. At the Roc Nation-Dream Chasers press conference last week, Hov said “Got to clean the floors up before you own the building.”

Segment the business units

Last year, Roc Nation launched Equity Distribution—an independent distribution service company. There’s now a great opportunity to define the scope for Roc Nation, Dream Chasers, and Equity Distribution respectively.

Roc Nation’s label should still focus on the smaller segment of popular, experienced artists who are later in their careers. Dream Chasers should serve up-and-coming artists who have the potential to pop. And Equity Distribution should focus on the vast number of indie acts who are just starting out, or those who want to avoid record label contracts altogether.

It’s an opportunity to segment the long-tail:

Back in December, I wrote Why Roc Nation May Move on From Its Record Label. I compared Roc Nation’s strategy to Amazon since both companies started with a core product—books and record label contracts, respectively—then expanded. But a much better comparison (and aspiration for Roc Nation) is Disney Studios.

I compared Roc Nation’s strategy to Amazon since both companies started with a core product—books and record label contracts, respectively—then expanded. But a much better comparison (and aspiration for Roc Nation) is Disney Studios.

This is an excerpt from an article that was originally published on Trapital by Dan Runcie. Read the full article. Sign up for the Trapital newsletter.