Tommy Brown, the songwriter-producer who’s notched multiple hit songs with Ariana Grande, including “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings,” has partnered with Universal Music Group (UMG) to launch Champagne Therapy Music Group. Under the global label deal, Brown will sign and develop new artists to Champagne Therapy, which Brown describes as “the next step for me to grow as a producer and entrepreneur.” In a statement announcing the partnership, Brown thanks UMG chairman Sir Lucian Grainge (pictured above) and Naim McNair, SVP of A&R for UMG and Interscope Geffen A&M (IGA), for the opportunity,
A native of Pittsburgh, Brown relocated to Los Angeles in 2008 and went on to work on albums by Grande, Nas and T.I. as well as tracks with Big Sean, DJ Khaled, Fifth Harmony, 2 Chainz and Meghan Trainor, among others. He’s also partnered with manager Scooter Braun on “Magic in the Hamptons” duo Social House.
Brown’s first at-bat came 16 years ago when he followed another Pittsburgh music-maker, Anthony Jones, AKA TONE, down the road to making beats. What started as something he did for fun in his mom’s basement has turned into one of the most successful careers in pop, with Grammy nominations and many platinum plaques to his name.
Brown spoke to Variety about his work with Grande and plans going forward.
How would you describe your role in music?
[I’m] the facilitator of the function. I put it all together. I like to do classic music and try to give each artist a little bit of me when I’m in the studio, as opposed to giving them a little of everybody else.
What do you envision for Champagne Therapy Music Group?
I want to have a boutique label for boutique artists — the sort of artists that push the culture forward and leave their fingerprint on the earth. … It’s not about followers, it’s not about likes, it’s not about any of that. It’s about doing music that’s gonna touch the world.
How did the idea come about?
I’ve always thought about it, but now is the time to launch because the opportunity presented itself. I’ve had so much time helping other people build up their labels, now I’m doing it for myself.
Do you have a roster?
Not that I’m ready to talk about now.
Does the name have significance?
I chose that name because, a lot of times in the studio, as soon I get there, I bring in the champagne. That opens up the artist to speak about who they truly are, what they’re really going through. Everybody can put their real emotions into the music, as opposed to making up a story. It’s always a vibe with champagne. The music is therapy.
Did you and Ariana pop some bubbly when you finished “Thank U, Next?”
We definitely had champagne flowing. It’s different because we’re really close friends, so we know a lot about each other’s lives. When we talk about it, it’d be like “man, let’s just put it in the song.” Then it just came out, freely. … We ended up doing three versions of the song and [decided] to stick with the original because it was the most honest.
How has it been to see Ariana’s career flourish?
Great! The thing about her, she just works so hard. Nobody’s ever gonna outwork her. She’s gonna be unbeatable for a while.
What was the highlight of her set at Coachella?
There were two: when she performed a song I produced called “Needy” and the whole crowd was singing [along with] it. It was insane! Then seeing the fireworks at the end of the show to “Thank U, Next.”
How has your relationship evolved over the years?
I don’t think we even really look at it like that. We still kick back and watch Netflix, or just hang, or go to dinner.
What are some short- and long-term goals?
Short-term is just to introduce the artists I have to the world. Long-term goal is to make it last.
How do you make it last?