Joel Katz: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 39

Joel Katz

Chairman, media and entertainment group, Greenberg Traurig

The dealmaker who thinks outside the box

Joel Katz is a lawyer who loves the music industry—which is a good thing, because he’s using his decades of music experience and insight to play a key role in helping reshape facets of the business by counseling a string of ground-breaking deals.

A leading lawyer for both artist talent (Justin Timberlake, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett) and top executives, as well as industry groups like the Recording Academy, Katz pulled together the pact in which Scooter Braun sold a stake in his management business and created a new $150 million fund to roll up other artist management firms. As general counsel to the Michael Jackson estate, in partnership with Shot Tower Capital, he worked on the $300 million refinancing of its stake in Sony/ATV. He also negotiated Troy Carter’s Atom Factory deal with Universal Music/Capitol and completed multiyear recording contract deals for Julio Iglesias, George Strait, the Civil Wars and Little Big Town, among others. On top of all that, he’s helping take the Grammy brand outside the United States with a U.K. TV show partnership to be revealed later this year.

“The lesson of 2013 is that all the big music companies are going to face competition from nimble boutique firms that are built as 360-degree businesses from the ground up,” Katz says, adding that this is one of the music sectors where he’d invest money—his own or a client’s. One example would be Irving Azoff’s new venture with James Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Co. to create Azoff MSG Entertainment. “Some of these businesses run by smart experienced entrepreneurs will eventually be bought in three to five years by the big businesses who realize they need to restructure their companies in a similar fashion.”