Entertainment lawyer Katz's Atlanta-based practice, which he started 40 years ago, boasts such high-profile clients as the Michael Jackson estate, the Grammy Awards, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson, along with Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola and Nokia.KEY DEALS: Just completed an unprecedented new 10-year contract between the Recording Academy and CBS Television for the Grammy awards and affiliated television specials."It was a very tough negotiation, but we finally got it done," says Katz, who also just hammered out another new 10-year contract with the CMA and ABC Television for the Country Music Awards and affiliated television specials.He's also working with the Jackson estate and Sony on Sony's bid for EMI music publishing, did L.A. Reid's new deal at Epic Records as well as his "X Factor" agreement, and started up EAC, the USO's first-ever entertainment advisory council, on which he serves as chairman."The entertainment business is going through so much change," he notes. "Record companies are becoming entertainment companies."SPARE TIME: Golf.TOP CAUSE: TJ Martell Foundation, Kennesaw State U.Return to the Dealmakers Impact Report 2011 >>
Music’s contract consigliere is the negotiator of choice for executives in the million-dollar club and companies seeking clout in corporate deals.
As chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s global entertainment and media practice, Joel Katz has engineered contracts for SB Projects’ Scooter Braun, RCA president and COO Tom Corson, UMG Nashville’s Mike Dungan and Republic Records chairman and CEO Monte Lipman and president and COO Avery Lipman.
Based in Atlanta, where he became the firm’s founding shareholder in 1998, the 72-year-old spends about half his time globetrotting. Recent travels have taken him to Russia, where he represented United Music Agency in a historic licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.
He crafted the nation of Gabon’s agreement with Berklee to build a pan-African music school in Libreville, and is currently working with China’s Alibaba and Thoughtful Media Group on acquisitions and licensing agreements.
As general counsel to the Grammys, Katz in 2016 secured a $600 million pact for the show to run on CBS through 2026. Other career-defining deals include representing the estate of Michael Jackson in its sale of half of Sony/ATV to Sony Corp. for $750 million, as well the $2.2 billion sale of EMI to Sony/ATV in 2012.
Katz started his 47-year career in 1971 by negotiating a multi-million dollar label contract for James Brown. Since then, he’s worked on behalf of Justin Timberlake, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, George Strait and Julio Iglesias. His cites as prized possessions guitars gifted by Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson, who have been clients for 40 years.
He is equally committed to philanthropic causes. In March Katz was named head of the T.J. Martel Foundation. He is also a reliable fundraiser for the City of Hope and Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, and donates time to the Recording Academy and Country Music Hall of Fame.