Music Mogul Troy Carter on the Future of Music Through the Lens of Artist Development in the Age of Streaming

Troy Carter, interviewed by music journalist Cherie Hu, explains why he’s launching a company in the distribution space, at a time of intensifying competition and consolidation there.

Troy Carter is the founder and CEO of Q&A, a modern music and technology company focused on building an integrated solution for artists via distribution, management, label services, and data analytics with a highly collaborative artist-driven approach.

Formerly, Troy Carter was the founder and CEO of Atom Factory and co-founder and Managing Partner of Cross Culture Ventures. He most recently served at Spotify as its Global Head of Creator Services, overseeing the company’s relationships with artists, producers, songwriters and record companies. In 2017, he was also named Entertainment Advisor to the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson.

Troy Carter rose to prominence in the music industry, nurturing the career of hip-hip sensation Eve before transforming Lady Gaga into a global pop phenomenon through the nascent innovation of social media. Since then he’s managed the careers of John Legend, Lindsey Stirling, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. His foray into the tech world resulted in the formation of Atom Factory’s angel fund and VC fund Cross Culture Ventures. Early-stage investments include Uber, Lyft, Dropbox, streaming service Spotify, Warby Parker, theSkimm, MOAT, Gimlet Media, Thrive Market, and ATTN.

WP Artists and label services

Troy Carter also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for The Aspen Institute and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as a board member for organizations including The Grammy Foundation, United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council and the James Madison Council at The Library of Congress. Carter spent time as a guest shark for Season 7 of ABC’s hit primetime show Shark Tank, and has been globally recognized on industry lists for Fast Company’s Most Creative People, Billboard’s Power 100, as well as The Hollywood Reporter’s Silicon Beach Power List.

Q&A is a modern music and technology company co-founded by Troy Carter (Atom Factory, Spotify), J. Erving (Human Re Sources, Atom Factory) and Suzy Ryoo (Atom Factory, OMD). The company seeks to empower the next generation of artists through technology, tools and services. In its first move toward expansion, Q&A merged with Human Re Sources, the digital distribution and label services company launched by J. Erving in 2018. The merger allows Q&A and Human Re Sources to build an integrated solution for artists via distribution, management, label services, and data analytics with a highly collaborative artist-driven approach. This new venture is dedicated to creating an ecosystem where the “artist as an entrepreneur” is truly supported throughout their entire career.

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Read the transcript of the session

Cherie Hu: Hello. Thank you all so much for being here, I am super excited for a conversation today. My name is Cherie Hu, I am a freelance journalist focused on the intersection of Music and Tech, so I am really excited about this conversation in particular. I wrote for Billboard, Forbes, Music Business Worldwide and I have my newsletter as well called Water and Music, and I am very excited to have Troy Carter here, he is the founder of a new music and tech company called Q&A. He also was the former Global Head of Creator Services at Spotify. Thank you so much for being here.

Troy Carter: Thank you for having me.

Cherie Hu: I want to start thinking like higher level about what is happening in the music industry right now, particularly with music distribution, which, from my understanding, is what Q&A is focusing a lot on, in terms of what you are building. There are so many interesting changes happening in this landscape right now. You and the audience may know that SoundCloud recently launched a distribution service and they just acquired Repost Network. Stem announced some interesting changes in this and it seems they are taking a much more curated closer project distribution now. Major labels keep acquiring distributors, Spotify has its own thing going on, so there are a lot of interesting changes and acquisitions happening. I would love to get your take on where you think this landscape is going, given that there are so many different changes and how they might be informing what you are doing at Q&A as well.

Troy Carter: The distribution space is definitely interesting. The distribution space is definitely interesting. Actually, prior to me going in to Spotify I had been looking at it, and seeing where the white space was: and seeing there were a ton of gaps. A lot of the distribution companies were like black holes where artists put their music into these pipes, and don’t know what comes out the other end. Then being inside Spotify, you know, a lot of music just shows up on the platform without context.


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