In early 2019, Columbia Records chairman/CEO Ron Perry DM’d Lil Nas X on Instagram. The rising artist wasn’t responding to Columbia’s A&R team, but he quickly hit Perry back — he liked the look of his feed. By March, the rapper signed to the label.
It’s one of the most striking recent examples of how social media, and Instagram in particular, has become an increasingly important tool for artists and executives alike. “Commenting on artist pages, you see Ron Perry do that all the time. You see [Columbia co-head of urban music] Phylicia Fant telling Lil Nas X he’s doing such a great job or giving him the heart-eyes [emoji],” says Fadia Kader, music partnerships manager at Instagram. “It’s building a different kind of relationship between the artist and the executive. It’s like having your own cheerleader.”
For executives themselves, it can be just as key to build a presence on the app. Kader points to Roc Nation senior vp Lenny S; Moe Shalizi, who manages Marshmello and Roddy Ricch; and Motown Records president/Capitol Music Group executive vp Ethiopia Habtemariam as examples of executives who use Instagram effectively, whether it’s sharing ultra-exclusive behind-the-scenes shots or commenting on artist and fan pages. (She notes that unlike rising artists, executives don’t face the pressure to pump up follower numbers.) Caroline and Harvest Records president Jacqueline Saturn in particular is, says Kader, “authentic and doesn’t feel overly promotional” on her feed. “She shows that you can literally have it all: You can support your artists, have a poppin’ label, an awesome family and go on vacation — and work out with your team in the morning.” Which has, in turn, led to some organic networking opportunities: Since Saturn started sharing her passion for fitness on Instagram, executives like Shalizi Group’s Krista Carnegie and Flighthouse’s Jacob Pace have asked to meet for a 6 a.m. workout.