Nick Jonas & Demi Lovato Manager-Turned-Label Exec Phil McIntyre Tests Kinder, Gentler Music-Biz Model

Yu Tsai

Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato and Phil McIntyre

As a high school senior in the town of State College, Pa., Phil McIntyre was sure his job as a production runner at the local arena would lead to a gig -- it just wasn't as Iron Maiden's merchandise guy. "I was devastated when that fell through," he says with a grin. Instead, McIntyre impressed Britney Spears' crew during rehearsals and won an assistant tour manager position.

Today, the 33-year-old sits at the head of a growing mini-empire in West Hollywood. This past spring, he joined Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas -- both of whom he has managed since early in their careers -- to launch SafeHouse Records, which aims to develop artists with "360-degree franchises of pop relevance." In addition to access to the resources of Island (CEO David Massey is closely involved), signees will get equity in the label. "It's the new Hollywood model," says McIntyre from his airy office, where a Peter Tunney art piece that reads "Everything Is Going to Be Amazing" sits above his desk.

Nick Jonas' 'Levels' Lands on Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks

That new model will be tested this fall: Lovato's fifth album is due in October, through a partnership between SafeHouse and Hollywood Records. It already has strong momentum: Single "Cool for the Summer" peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 16 and has sold 444,000 copies. Meanwhile, Jonas just released his new single, "Levels," on Aug. 21, and SafeHouse is laying the groundwork to expand its roster in early 2016.

McIntyre mobilized his Philymack production company during the July 4 weekend to launch "Cool for the Summer" with pool parties in eight U.S. cities. Lovato attended every one. It's testament to the man's knack for collaborating with artists, a quality he traces to two moments: when his first client, the Jonas Brothers, split and Nick told him, "I'm a 21-year-old has-been"; and when Lovato, addicted to cocaine, hit bottom in 2010. Lovato, on Instagram, recently thanked McIntyre for saving her life. "I learned to look at every decision through the lens of love before money," he says. "You don't have to be an asshole to be successful. We can create an amazing culture and still be at the top."

This article was originally published in the Sept. 5 issue of Billboard.