The Weeknd Co-Manager SAL Joins Guy Oseary's Maverick: Exclusive

Kevin Wong
From left: Sal, The Weeknd and Belly toast Sal’s May 15 wedding to former Miss USA Rima Fakih.

SAL (full name: Wassim "SAL" Slaiby) has joined Maverick, the management consortium that's home to Guy Oseary (Madonna, U2), Larry Rudolph (Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus), Cortez Bryant and Gee Roberson (Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj) and Ron Laffitte (Pharrell Williams, OneRepublic), among others, in a new 50-50 partnership.

Operating under the name SAL&CO/Maverick, the 36-year-old, who emigrated from Lebanon to Canada at age 15, will maintain his Los Angeles and Toronto-based staff and bring with him a roster that includes The Weeknd (co-managed by Amir "Cash" Esmailian, who is not involved in the Maverick deal), Belly and Massari, as well as producer-songwriters DaHeala, Dannyboy, Ben Billions and Breyan Isaac.

The advantage to joining forces, says Roberson, is "the natural synergy between all the partners -- it's a true dynamic of like-minded individuals that have a common goal: to make one plus one equal eight." (Maverick's team also includes managers Adam Leber, Caron Veazey, Clarence Spalding, Scott Rodger and J Erving; Recently, Greg Thompson arrived from Capitol Music Group taking on the title of president, Maverick Music.) Or, as Sal describes it, Maverick is like music's "X-Men, where each -person has a certain power. ... We'll be using each other in the best way possible."​

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The first project of what Sal calls a "mutual partnership" is the May 27 release of Another Day in Paradise, a mixtape by Palestinian-born Canadian rapper Belly, who is signed to Roc Nation and doubles as a hit songwriter, counting six credits on The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness, which has sold 2.97 million in overall equivalent album units (album sales, SEA, TEA) in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. (The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, picked up eight Billboard Music Awards on May 22.) "The most important thing for me is longevity and growth for my clients," says Sal. "I can establish that with Maverick."

Sal declines to discuss financials. 

In recent years, the music industry has seen a surge of management partnerships. Roc Nation, for instance, boasts joint venture deals with Phil McIntyre's Philymack (Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, DNCE), New Community (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Strokes singer Julian Casablancas) and Three Six Zero (Calvin Harris, Deadmau5). Career Artist Management boss Jordan Feldstein brought aboard Chace Johnson (ASAP Rocky) and recently partnered with Tap Management (Lana Del Rey). Scooter Braun, too, has a management squad that includes Brandon Creed (Mark Ronson, Troye Sivan) and Jason Owen (Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town), among others. 

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For Sal, who is represented by attorney Ken Meiselas of Grubman, Shire & Meiselas, what attracted him to Maverick were the people. Specifically, partners Leber, who also works with Spears, Cyrus and pop act Fifth Harmony; Roberson, whom Sal met at a birthday party for Columbia Records A&R executive Shawn Holiday; and Oseary, whom Sal calls "the King Kong of the entertainment business." Finally, the involvement of Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino clinched the deal. "I don't look into companies; I look into people," he says.

"Sal has incredible instincts and is a real nurturer of talent," says Leber. "He has his finger on the pulse and personifies the type of partner you want at a company like Maverick, which is striving to innovate in a business that desperately needs innovation." Adds Oseary: "The man has the biggest heart. He's full of fresh ideas and he's fearless. He will do anything he can for his artists, his team, and his friends." Finally, Roberson offers, "Sal is the key missing ingredient to the perfect gumbo soup. It's priceless to have another like-minded and driven entrepreneur who is cut from the same cloth on your team."

A version of the article was originally published in the new issue of Billboard.