NEW YORK, NY-- Warner Music Group Corp. (NYSE: WMG) and Chris Lighty, founder and CEO of the artist management company Violator Management, today announced the formation of a new joint venture to be known as Brand Asset Group. The Group is designed to increase revenue by more aggressively managing artist brands from all genres and capitalize on the value of those brands through corporate sponsorships, strategic and integrated marketing campaigns and comprehensive brand extensions.
Lighty will serve as CEO of Brand Asset Group, where he will develop product endorsement opportunities and implement strategic, integrated marketing campaigns with artists for the vast array of Fortune 500 companies. The company will seek to serve artists in all genres of music and entertainment -- including, but not limited to -- artists on WMG's labels.
In making the announcement, Lyor Cohen, Chairman and CEO, U.S. Recorded Music for Warner Music Group, said, "Music and artists are at the core of everything we do. Our job is to build an infrastructure that can provide opportunities for artists. Few people in the entertainment industry have been as successful as Chris has been in uniting artists and brands, and we're thrilled that through this new venture, we'll be able to bring Chris' talents and skill to bear on WMG's roster as well as artists from other labels.
Kevin Liles, Warner Music Group's Executive Vice President, said, "Chris' ability to transform artists into successful multi-media brands has made him a true pioneer. Having worked with Chris for years, I'm confident that together we can build Brand Asset Group into another powerful resource for our artists."
"WMG is a company full of innovators," said Violator CEO Chris Lighty. "Together, we can leverage our skills, relationships and our combined strengths in order to benefit the music industry. There are new and significant brand extension opportunities for artists with different companies that have never been contemplated before. We are eager to work together for the mutual benefit of artists, fans, corporate sponsors and WMG."
Lighty will continue in his role as CEO of Violator. As CEO of Brand Asset Group, he will report to Kevin Liles and work closely with executives at Warner Music Group's labels including The Atlantic Records Group and Warner Bros. Records in identifying sponsorship and brand extension opportunities for artists.
Lighty founded New York's Violator Management & Records in 1990. In 2006, Forbes Magazine named him "one of the industry's most influential talent managers" based on his many accomplishments including transforming his longtime client 50 Cent from a multi-platinum artist to a $200 million industry encompassing CDs, films, tours, video games, book deals, a clothing line (G-unit) and investment/endorsement deals with Glaceau's Vitamin Water.
Other artists managed by Violator include Diddy, Missy Elliott, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes. His clients have sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.
Over the course of his career, Lighty has become well-known for his ability to link artists with major corporate brands. Watershed moments in brand extension were realized in the early 90s as a result of Lighty's efforts. LL Cool J became one of the first hip hop artists to appear in a commercial for The Gap. Lighty has also secured major brand commercial opportunities for Busta Rhymes with Mountain Dew, A Tribe Called Quest with Sprite, and the Missy Elliot campaign with MAC. These were breakthrough brand extension deals in the entertainment industry at the time.
Lighty began his career carrying crates of records for DJ Red Alert. In 1989, Lighty joined Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen at RUSH Management. Shortly after, he started the indie label Violator signing Fat Joe and Beatnuts. In the early 90s he moved the label to Def Jam, signing multi-platinum artists Warren G and Foxy Brown. In 1999, while maintaining his management position, Lighty sold the Violator Records roster and catalog to Def Jam.