With longtime Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg officially stepping into the CEO role at Def Jam Records in the new year, his executive team is beginning to take shape. Coming into the label as EVP and head of A&R effective immediately is Steven Victor. He will oversee A&R efforts for a roster that includes Kanye West, Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, Logic, Alessia Cara, Desiigner, and Vince Staples, among others.
The 37-year-old Victor, who is among the industry “New Leaders” profiled in the latest issue of Variety, arrives from Universal Music Group, where, in Nov. 2016, he was named SVP of A&R working across multiple UMG labels including Def Jam, Republic and Interscope-Geffen-A&M.
Victor says that weeks after meeting Rosenberg, whose appointment was announced in early August, an offer was presented to join the label and came with the blessing of UMG chairman Lucian Grainge. “Paul and I had a meeting to talk about music and the artists I was working with, and we just hit it off. … We found out we had very similar tastes in music and we’ve been in constant communication — daily — ever since.” Of course, adds Victor, “Sir Lucian was my first call.”
Asked to describe the corporate mandate of his new home under Rosenberg, Victor says Def Jam stands for “a cutting edge hip-hop label embedded in the culture of music.” The plan for the not-too-distant future includes staffing up, but Victor is also relying on skills from his own experience. “I come from a management background, and whether it’s the marketing or the making of an album, you interact with people from all over the entertainment industry,” he says. “I know how to leverage these different platforms for my artists.”
During Victor’s previous position at UMG, he simultaneously ran G.O.O.D. Music, the imprint founded by Kanye West and distributed through Def Jam, as well as his own William Victor Management Group. But it was his work “in the center of multiple labels across multiple genres” that allowed Victor a view of the “global network” that Universal offered. “I moved around,” he says. “I was in publishing; I worked with Bravdo, the merch company; I spent a lot of time in Japan and Europe. I took advantage of my position to learn all the different things UMG could do as a company.”
Victor joins another recent hire from within the Universal family: Scott Greer, who was named Def Jam’s EVP of Marketing & Commerce in mid-August, arriving from Capitol Records. The label’s longtime EVP of promotion, Rick Sackheim, however, is bound for Sony Music’s Epic Records at the end of the year when his contract with Def Jam expires. CEO Steve Bartels remains during a transition period. He has held the top post at Def Jam since 2014.