On Friday, April 21 the Brooklyn Entertainment and Sports Law Society (BESLS) hosted the inaugural Brooklyn Law Entertainment Law Symposium. The Symposium theme was “Contemporary Legal Issues in the Entertainment Industry” and had many students, faculty, practitioners, family, and friends in attendance – BESLS is already excited for next year!
The Keynote Discussion, “The Anatomy of a Star: The Rise of ATL Jacob,” was moderated by Professor Vernon Brown (Founder of V. Brown & Co.; Professor at Brooklyn Law School) and focused on the creative and business strategies involved in the evolution of the career of Grammy-Award-winning producer ATL Jacob. Professor Brown was joined by his long-time colleagues Michael Reinert (Partner at Fox Rothschild; Former Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Universal Motown Republic Group; Former Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at PolyGram Records), Danielle Price (Executive Vice President at Republic Records; Former Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at 10k Records), Monte Lipman (Founder and CEO of Republic Records, and Grammy Award-winning producer ATL Jacob.
The panelists pulled back the curtain and revealed how to stand out among the masses and make a star. Inspired by Dan Passman’s premier book, All You Need to Know About the Music Business, the discussion centered around how to select a winning team of advisors.
The Star: ATL Jacob
ATL Jacob said that from a young age, he was obsessed with music and dreamed of being an artist. He recalled that he and Playboi Carti used to make beats together at school. Even today, he focuses on making music that he likes, that he feels will be “hot in the future,” rather than focusing solely on recreating what is popular right now – he shared the motto “ride the wave or drown in it.” When ATL Jacob decided he wanted to become a star, he built a team to help him launch his career to the next level.
The Lawyer: Michael Reinert
Mr. Reinert recalled that when ATL Jacob came to him seeking representation, that he told ATL Jacob to come back in six months. Six months later, Mr. Reinert was surprised to find ATL Jacob had recouped on his 3-song deal in the year prior and had already written 15 new songs. Mr. Reinert recalled seeing a special combination of qualities in ATL Jacob: work ethic, passion, authenticity, and focus. He knew these qualities would carry ATL Jacob’s talent forward and wanted to ensure that ATL Jacob achieved the career that he deserved.
The Business Manager: Vernon Brown
After beginning their professional relationship, Mr. Reinert introduced ATL Jacob to Professor Brown. At that point, ATL Jacob had already signed with a publishing company, and the basic elements of a team were in place. Mr. Reinert and Professor Brown recalled deciding that the next step would be formalizing a proper business structure, in part by setting up LLC’s and squaring away ATL Jacob’s finances. Professor Brown emphasized the importance of maintaining respect in all business relationships and negotiations, particularly at this stage of the star-making process. Even though negotiations may get heated, respect for your team and adversary remains paramount.
The Record Label: Monte Lipman and Danielle Price
Mr. Reinert shared that he had known Mr. Lipman from decades of working in the music industry together and that their trusted relationships assured him that Mr. Lipman was the person to trust with ATL Jacob’s budding career. However, Mr. Reinert said that he believes in protecting the creative process when choosing a record label, and that the choice should ultimately be up to the artist. He said that artists should feel like they find a home when they choose a record label. He believes that lawyers should focus on making the best deal for their client at the place where the people “you believe in, also believe in you.”
ATL Jacob claimed that joining Republic Records felt like being welcomed home. This was attributed to Mr. Lipman’s dynamic approach to working with artists. Mr. Lipman said that he does not sign artists; he creates strategic partnerships by surrounding himself with dynamic professionals. Mr. Lipman noted that identifying executive talent that can make a difference is just as important as identifying creative talent. Really believing in his employees fosters a family and community environment at Republic Records – a feeling which translates to the artists.
Before ATL Jacob had signed with Republic Records, Ms. Price had heard the buzz around ATL Jacob. Ms. Price met ATL Jacob in a meeting with Mr. Lipman and recalled that her first impression of the artist was that he was levelheaded, focused, and business-oriented, on top of being a creative genius. The connection was instant, and she left the meeting feeling confident about his infinite potential.
Creating a Star
The panelists moved into a discussion about what it takes to build a star. The panelists, who often find themselves sitting at opposite sides of the negotiation table, agreed that sometimes landing on the choices and terms for the artist’s various agreements can feel like negotiating with family. However, they agreed that at the end of the day, business is business and that the key to a healthy label-artist team relationship is that negotiations remain respectful. Mr. Reinert emphasized that the lawyer, as a paid advocate, must always preserve the client’s interest.
The panel closed out with the panelists pointing to the fact that successful team members are composed of dedicated workers with a sense of urgency. Deals like ATL Jacob’s are quick; Republic Records signed ATL Jacob before he looked anywhere else. Ms. Price emphasized that great team members possess obsession, competitive spirit, attention to detail, and most importantly, curiosity – creative deal-making is of the utmost importance, and is often overlooked. Mr. Reinert added that lawyers should know exactly what they want to accomplish at every step of the way. He emphasized that sometimes this means sacrificing short-term decisions for overall strategic goals – a star’s team must creatively tailor deals to service the big picture.
BESLS and everyone in attendance would like to thank our amazing panelists, ATL Jacob, Mr. Reinert, Mr. Lipman, Ms. Price and moderator Professor Brown for an unbelievable conversation about the anatomy of a star in the music industry.
Written by: Natalia Perez-Flores
Natalia is a 2025 J.D. Candidate at Brooklyn Law School