The powerhouse indie label and distributor Empire has launched a publishing division led by industry vets Al “Butter” McLean and Vinny Kumar.
“Empire Publishing has built out its proprietary system to revolutionize the publishing industry, similar to what was done with music distribution in 2010, and is now ready to scale the vertical with maximum impact,” the announcement says.
McLean was most recently a senior VP of creative for Kobalt Music. Over the years he has worked with DJ Premier, Childish Gambino, Mike Will Made it, Noah “40” Shebib, 50 Cent, Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Kid Cudi, Kirk Franklin, Faith Evans, Ski Mask The Slump God, and many more.
Kumar is currently the VP of legal and business affairs for Empire Publishing, having moved over from the distribution division. Early in his career, he worked with Teddy Riley at Future Records, in Business Affairs at Slip-N-Slide Records, and in the legal/business affairs department at Universal Music Publishing in Miami. Since 2005, he has practiced entertainment law with the Atlanta-based law firm, Keniley & Kumar.
The EMPIRE label has released albums by Snoop Dogg, Iggy Azalea, Robin Thicke and Young Dolph, and the company has represented releases by Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, DRAM and Anderson. Paak in various capacities.
“Over the past few years, our development team has worked tirelessly to build a proprietary system to bring transparency and accountability to the publishing industry – and to first and foremost protect artists rights,” says Empire CEO Ghazi. “With our new technology in place and Al ‘Butta’ McLean and Vinny Kumar at the helm, we are now ready to shake up the music publishing business.”
“Music is Magic and what Empire has accomplished over the last 10 years for the culture has been magical,” says McLean. “I’m grateful for this opportunity to help lead EMPIRE into the realm of publishing and publishing administration.”
“Over the past few years, Empire has become one of the leading independent labels and distributors by focusing on empowering artists,” says Kumar. “We are looking forward to expanding the brand into the world of publishing and supporting our writers in the same way.”
The announcement comes with a manifesto about the company’s perspective on the industry. “Empire’s Publishing division aims to bring the same transparency to the industry as they do on both the Record Label and Distribution side,” it reads. “The Publishing industry is cluttered with artists not seeing the money that they earn for years because of simple things such as address changes, bank account changes, and a handful of other easily fixable situations. After a certain period of time, that money can be lost forever and the artist may never see their true earnings potential. It is EMPIRE Publishing’s mission to be the antidote to that, providing flexibility and clarity for their artists and their earnings.”
Initial signings to Empire Publishing include:
!llmind – (“Moana” soundtrack, Russ, Drake, Beyonce & Jay-Z)
Mooktoven (Lil Keed, Money Man & Peewee Longway)
Justin Love (H.E.R.)
Dr. Zeuz (Kim Viera, Tory Lanez)
India Got Them Beats (NBA Youngboy)
Natra Average (XXXTENTACION, Ski Mask the Slump God)
Mook on the Beat (NBA Youngboy, Rod Wave, NLE Choppa)
Rippa on the Beat (Rod Wave, Kevin Gates, Kodak Black)
EMPIRE Artists signed to Publishing:
(Pictured above, left: Al “Butter” McLean)