THIS MONTH’S FEATURE IS: ZACH KATZ
For nearly a decade, Zach Katz has, as a music attorney, music executive and manager, guided the careers of some of the industry’s most important artists and producers. “Navigating through the music business is much like living in the Matrix”, says Zach Katz. “If you don’t have Neo as your guide, you’re lost.” In an ever-changing industry where no one or nothing is really who or what they seem to be, success largely depends on who is guiding your career.
Zach Katz earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola School of Law in 1996 and made the bold decision to go into private practice in his home city of Los Angeles. Having to fend for himself Mr. Katz had to quickly gain experience in the music business and attract a stable client base. He quickly found success and became the go-to guy for numerous notable artists, producers, record labels, distributors and publishing companies who heard about the young music attorney with a true love for music, particularly hip-hop. “I always thought outside the box and outside of my role as a lawyer. I was never satisfied with just drafting and negotiating agreements. Securing endorsements, merchandising opportunities, and touring engagements for my clients were prominent parts of my practice”. This unorthodox “lawyering” became a natural transition into the next stage of Zach Katz’s career in the music industry.
In 2000, one of Zach Katz’s legal clients Groove Attack GMBH, a European music distribution powerhouse decided to launch a U.S. hip-hop record label. Based on his work with Groove Attack, Zach Katz was asked to become the CEO of the new enterprise. During his two years as the Company’s CEO, Zach Katz successfully oversaw the production, distribution and marketing of several critically acclaimed albums, including the solo album from A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg. Phife’s album went on to sell more than one hundred thousand units in the United States alone. Zach Katz’s work with Groove Attack largely took him away from his work as a lawyer, a place Mr. Katz was not eager to return to.
At the end of 2001 while Zach Katz was legally representing producer extraordinaire Hi-Tek, the opportunity to become Hi-Tek’s manager opened up. “Hi-Tek was changing management, and, seeing the progress we had made together, asked me to take on a hands-on role in guiding his career”, explains Mr. Katz. With his first management client seeing immediate success as a producer, artist and music executive under Mr. Katz’s guidance, Zach Katz immediately knew that he could never be just a lawyer again. “Managing Hi-Tek proved to be very exciting. As a manager I had the opportunity to continue the creative work that I began as the CEO of Groove Attack. But it was very challenging to prove to the people around me that someone who was once a lawyer, had the creative vision to be a music manager. At first, many people simply didn’t want to see me in my new role”, he explains. The non-believers were quickly converted when Zach Katz expanded his management roster to include the legendary rapper Rakim. “When I officially became Rakim’s manager, people had to accept that I was in the management game. Rakim is one of the most respected people in the music industry. Everyone knows that he’s extremely selective with the people he surrounds himself with.”
As Rakim’s manager, Zach Katz saw tremendous potential to expand his client’s hip-hop icon status into
an equally sizeable brand name. Thinking on a global level, Zach Katz successfully identified and forged relationships with corporate entities, who naturally fit the class, integrity and uniqueness of Rakim’s brand. The first of these brand marriages was with Reebok, who created a national Rakim Classic campaign.
The campaign was an equally huge success for both Reebok and Rakim. The second branding opportunity came when Zach Katz successfully pitched and landed the Never Blend In campaign with Hennessy. The Never Blend In campaign was a perfect match for Rakim, who’s unmistakable class and style has stood out from its inception. The Hennessy campaign continues to run to this date via full page advertisements in music’s most credible publications.
As Rakim and Hi-Tek’s manager Zach Katz quickly forged a strong alliance with Aftermath Records that continues to grow to this day. Mr. Katz’s introduction to what’s arguably the most powerful record label in hip-hop came when Dr. Dre invited Hi-Tek to produce music for some of Aftermath’s artists. Seeing Zach Katz’s business savvy as well as his relentless dedication to his clients encouraged Dre to introduce Mr. Katz to Rakim, who was looking for management. In addition, Zach Katz added Joe Beast, a talented Pittsburgh rapper, also signed to Aftermath, to his management roster. “Having two artists on Aftermath, I spent countless nights in the studio with Dr. Dre and witnessed Dre at work. Many people would pay top dollar to see what I saw and learn what I learned from Dre. I got to see the science behind some of people’s favorite rap records. And I paid very close attention to everything that I heard and saw”, explains Zach Katz.
Although both Rakim and Joe Beast eventually parted ways with Aftermath, Zach Katz’s relationship with the label continued to grow. In 2002 Zach Katz began managing, as a producer and solo artist, Denaun Porter p/k/a Konartis of D-12. Denaun had already begun producing with Dre when he joined Mr. Katz’s management roster.
With music management as his primary focus during the past few years, Mr. Katz represents some of today’s most notable urban producers. In addition to managing Hi-Tek and Denaun Porter, Zach Katz discovered and introduced to the music world Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem, who many are calling the next Dr. Dre. A classically trained pianist, J.R. has, in a period of six months, produced more records for A list artists (50 Cent, Lil Kim, Fabulous, Dr. Dre, etc.) than most producers succeed in producing during their entire careers. All in all Mr. Katz’s clients are personally responsible for contributing to worldwide record sales that exceed 50 million units. Mr. Katz has also assisted many of his clients in creating record companies and music publishing entities, over which he presently presides.
Always planning his next move, Zach Katz is focused on utilizing his experience, connections and army of hit making producers to establish the next entertainment powerhouse. “I want to keep a close roster of management clients together with whom I can build an empire. I’m constantly looking for artists who are worthy of really getting behind. I’m approached by artists every day that are pretty good. But if I’m going to put my blood, sweat and tears into an artist, they have to be no less than exceptional.” With that kind of dedication, Zach Katz is sure to win.
As you can see there is a very evident Shady/Aftermath/G-Unit/Interscope flavor to Zach’s clientele list as
all of the above have been very active on projects from 50 Cent, Get Rich Or Die Trying OST, Obie Trice, Game, Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep and even putting in work on Dr. Dre’s upcoming Detox LP.
In addition to managing Hi-Tek, Denaun Porter (D-12) and Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem, a joint venture between Zach’s company, Cinematic Music and Def Jam has resulted in the signing of 334 M.O.B.B. (a new two man duo/brothers from Montgomery, AL who now reside in Atlanta, GA–334 M.O.B.B will release there Def Jam debut in 2006). True story, at 334 M.O.B.B.’s recent showcase in NYC, LA Reid was so impressed with them, he would not let them leave the building until he signed them–LITERALLY!!
Zach is making so many moves for his clients that its hard to keep up with him, so here is a breakdown of what his clients are currently up too. As you will see, everyone is doing VERY BIG THINGS!