Benjy Grinberg, 34, is making strides for independent music. As president of indie Rostrum Records, Grinberg has helped guide the rise of signees including Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. In March 2011, Khalifa's debut, Rolling Papers, hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with 197,000 sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and has since sold 757,000 total copies. Meanwhile Miller parlayed mixtape buzz into his debut, Blue Slide Park, which became the first independent album since 1995 to land atop the chart, moving 144,000 its first week. (It's sold 338,000 total copies.)
"We did it on our own with our small team and no major players behind us," explains Grinberg, who learned the business as Antonio "L.A." Reid's assistant. "We were able to prove that a multifaceted approach -- touring, great music and social networking -- worked."
Since early 2011, Khalifa has netted $3.1 million from 22 shows while Miller has grossed $1.2 million from 23 gigs, according to reports to Billboard Boxscore. The rappers are hitting the road this summer on the Under the Influence tour, but Grinberg's main focus is meeting the demands of Rostrum's roster. "I don't want our artists to ever outgrow us, so I'm always working to grow the label," he says. "It's about building up and building the infrastructure so that we can support anything our artists need."