Joel A. Katz
Katz, former chairman of the American Bar Association’s Entertainment & Sports Law Section, is a legal top gun. Key clients include James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson, along with music producers, record companies, concert promoters, and such Fortune 500 companies as Microsoft and Coca Cola. He has worked with Nokia developing and implementing European and Middle East deals for its “Comes with Music” program that lets consumers buy a Nokia device with a year of unlimited music tracks, recently hammered out a new ABC deal for the CMA, is negotiating a new Grammy deal with CBS and closed a new Tony Awards deal with the Eye. “It’s been a very busy year and very challenging because of all the management changes at many companies,” he says.
KEY DEALS: Katz is co-general counsel with John Branca and Howard Weitzman repping the Michael Jackson estate in ongoing negotiations with Sony on the ATV transaction and financing. Also teamed with Branca on the Jackson recording contract of 2009 — the largest ever negotiated.
SPARE TIME: Golf.
TOP CAUSE: T.J. Martell Foundation.
The vet music biz lawyer, business advisor and sometime investment banker has repped everyone from Michael Jackson and the Stones to Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac and Santana. Branca recently orchestrated the high-profile sale of the fabled Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and the rights to all their songs and plays, including “Sound of Music” and “South Pacific.” He did the Live Nation 360 deals for Shakira and Nickelback, and national touring deals for several bands. “While revenues in the record business have declined, publishing and touring have remained strong,” he reports.
KEY DEALS: As co-executor and co-manager of the Michael Jackson estate, Branca been effective in overseeing both the creative side as well as the legal and business side, with such successes as “This Is It” (film and album), the record-breaking album deal with Sony, and merchandising deals. The result? The estate reportedly earned close to $300 million over the past year — five times what Elvis’ estate earned.
SPARE TIME: Italian antiques, vintage baseball cards.
TOP CAUSE: MusiCares. Rob Stringer
Chairman of the Columbia/Epic Label Group, a Sony division.
A key player in the less-publicized British invasion of execs (he’s the kid brother of Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer), Rob Stringer is a self-described “big music fan and fiscal conservative” overseeing a diverse roster that includes Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith and Pearl Jam. Since being named chairman in 2006, he’s cut costs and steered the group in new directions, including TV and gaming. “You’ve got to recognize you’re in the entertainment business, not just the record business,” he says, “and all the changes (in our business) are exciting and a big reason why I moved here.”
KEY DEALS: Has been active on deals for “Glee,” Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush” and Jay-Z — as well as a Michael Jackson computer game — all part of an “all-inclusive, common-sense” deal with the Jackson estate that extends through 2017 and happens to be one of the biggest music pacts ever signed, worth a quarter of a billion dollars.
SPARE TIME: English soccer team Luton.
TOP CAUSE: “Lots of causes, but I’m very British about it — I’d never name them.”