Troy Carter will be leaving Spotify, Variety has confirmed. He will stay on through early September after which he’ll assume an advisory role at the streaming company. Nick Holmstén, who has been with the company since 2013 and holds the title of VP, Global Head of Shows & Editorial, will take on Carter’s duties come the fall.
Said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a statement: “By all measures, Troy has made a tremendous impact at Spotify. When he joined our team, there was skepticism from the artist community on streaming overall. Troy has been instrumental in changing that perception and his efforts to establish true partnerships across the industry will be felt for years to come. He’s built a very capable, global team that embodies an artist-first approach and this philosophy has been adopted across Spotify. We are in an excellent position to build on the momentum we’ve established well into the future.”
Added Carter: “I came to this company to help bridge the gap between Spotify and the creative community. Over time, that goal evolved from fixing a challenge to building a global team focused on changing the game for artists around the world, partnering with them to help bring their creative visions to life in new and innovative ways. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved but with so much accomplished, it was the right time to move out of the day-to-day into an advisory role. The knowledge, relationships and personal experiences will remain with me and I know that this talented team is committed to continuing this important work.”
The departure of the executive, who is currently Spotify’s global head of creator services and also the entertainment advisor to the $300 million Prince estate, has been rumored for months. Recently, the Prince estate has struck a licensing deal with Sony Music. It was unclear whether Carter will remain in his role with the estate.
Rumors of Carter’s imminent exit spread quickly in the wake of Spotify’s controversial “anti-hate” policies, which banned certain artists from the platform’s playlists on the basis of what it deemed “hateful conduct.” Initially R. Kelly was the only target of that policy, but it was quickly extended to rappers XXXTentacion (who died last month) and Tay-K; all three artists have strong allegations of violent or sexually inappropriate behavior against them, yet none have been convicted. According to multiple reports, Carter was furious with the policy, which was pushed forward by Spotify executive Jonathan Prince, and threatened to leave the company. Within days Spotify cofounder/CEO Daniel Ek had called off the “hateful conduct” aspect of the policy, although Kelly remains banned from its playlists, and last month both the company and Carter publicly denied that he was leaving.
As Spotify’s head of global creative services — which he described to Variety as “a sort of conduit between the music business and Spotify, a bit of a translator and a bit of a diplomat” — Carter heads up a team of several dozen employees and has instituted several artist-development programs, including ones for emerging artists as well as a program to promote songwriters called Secret Genius (along with an awards show) and a songwriters’ camp. Yet perhaps more significantly he has acted as a strong and vocal liaison to the artist and industry communities.
As entertainment adviser to the Prince estate he has helped bring order to its business affairs, which were in considerable disarray after the artist died from an accidental drug overdose in April of 2016, apparently without leaving behind a will. Since he was appointed to the role in April of last year, Carter negotiated and executed the Sony deal — a substantial effort, as a $31 million deal with Universal for similar assets was rescinded after the assets were found to have been misrepresented by the estate’s previous entertainment advisers — oversaw the relocation and restoration of Prince’s “vault” containing thousands of recordings from the artist’s Paisley Park compound in Minnesota to a climate-controlled storage facility in Los Angeles; helped prepare two albums of unreleased material for release; settled a long-standing dispute with streaming service Tidal over a contested deal Prince negotiated before his death; and oversaw the design and launch of two elaborate websites, one an “immersive discography” filled with photographs, video and editorial commentary, and another where fans can share memories. The previous advisors also negotiated several major agreements, including a recorded-music deal with Warner Music and deals for publishing with Universal, performing rights with Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights, and merchandising with Universal’s Bravado.
Prior to taking his job at Spotify, Carter was for many years an artist manager, most notably for Lady Gaga, whose career he oversaw from her early days until 2013; his Atom Factory company also oversaw the careers of Meghan Trainor, Charlie Puth and Lindsey Stirling. He began his career as a teen in Philadelphia working with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and then worked as an intern for Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. Last week he and Ek were honored by the United Jewish Appeal with its Music Visionary of the Year Award; singer Patti LaBelle and basketball legend Julius Erving — both of whom have known Carter since his childhood in Philadelphia — paid homage to him.