Business

Executive of the Week: Roc Nation Senior VP Artist Management Mike Brinkley

Mike Brinkley
Courtesy Photo

Mike Brinkley

"We have our sights set on developing Bagg’s presence globally."

This week, Memphis-based rapper Moneybagg Yo went somewhere he never has before: the top of the Billboard 200. His 11th charting album since just 2017, A Gangsta’s Pain (released via Yo Gotti’s CMG label, along with N-Less and Interscope) debuted atop the chart with 110,000 equivalent album units in the United States, according to MRC Data, a figure driven almost entirely by streaming and the highest one-week total in his career to date.

That feat, and Moneybagg Yo’s sheer prolific output over the past few years, has represented a steady grind to the top for the MC, one that has been helped over the past year and a half by his singing to Roc Nation for management in January 2020. Since then he’s had three albums in the top 10, and four straight overall, and has seen his biggest radio successes to date with singles "Time Today" and "Said Sum," the latter of which is at No. 17 on the Hot 100 this week, his highest-charting song to date on the list. And all of those victories help make his manager and Roc Nation senior vp artist management Mike Brinkley earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.

Here, Brinkley talks about Moneybagg Yo’s successes, the impact of consistency and radio play and how to take the next step in developing the artist as a global force, beyond the U.S. "For a release to be successful," he says, "We must have an aligned vision, push ourselves and clients to reach their full potential, hold ourselves accountable and maintain transparent lines of communication."

Moneybagg Yo just notched his first Billboard 200 No. 1 album of his career with A Gangsta’s Pain. What key decisions did you make to help make that happen?

It was truly a team effort and a testament to the collaboration between Roc Nation, CMG, N Less and Interscope. After Bagg released his Time Served album at the onset of 2020, we all made a conscious effort to expand his brand, amplify his profile and grow his fan base. Our team at Interscope has worked overtime and have been great partners. A tremendous amount of credit also goes to Yo Gotti and Marcus “Head” Howell, who put people like myself and the rest of the team in the appropriate positions to oversee and implement the strategy. We were truly in sync across the board and it’s rewarding to see Bagg reap the benefits of all the hard work that he put into this project.

A Gangsta’s Pain is his fourth straight top 10 album on the chart. How has that consistency paid off for him?

Bagg is one of the most disciplined individuals that I know -- keep in mind that he balanced the demands of this album rollout all while he was fasting for Ramadan. Through the ups and downs, Bagg never took his eye off the prize, regardless of how exhausted he was from his commitments. Over the past year, he really showed another level of determination, persistence and maturity and he invested in his own success. He bought into the vision, put in the work, reached his goal and now he deservedly enjoys the praise.

Between "Time Today" and "Said Sum," he’s had the two highest-charting singles of his career over the past six months, with significant radio play. Has radio been a particular focus over the last few projects?

There is no doubt that radio -- and the broader DJ community -- has played an integral role in his development and progression and that has been a priority for the entire team. We are big believers in touching the people directly and the reality is that DJs control the clubs and the streets.

It’s been a little over a year since Moneybagg signed with Roc Nation. How have you helped him grow his brand over that time?

We’ve just collaborated closely with Gotti to put the right team around him -- from digital to branding -- and equip him with the resources to succeed. It didn’t take long for Bagg to truly get an understanding of his audience, the overall music business and what he wants to achieve in this game. Honestly, we feel like this is just the beginning for Bagg and he’s only scratching the surface of his potential. He remains committed to developing his talent in the studio and on stage as a performer. With Bagg’s tremendous work ethic, he’s determined to be a power player in hip-hop for years to come.

How do you build on this momentum moving forward?

We have our sights set on developing Bagg’s presence globally and we’re confident that we’ll reach that next objective. Bagg is very cognizant of his brand and understands how he wants to present himself to audiences. You can see it in everything he does, from his styling to the overall aesthetic of his music videos. But at the end of the day, we take the all-hands-on-deck approach with all of our clients, from Bagg to Gotti to Meek to Lil Uzi Vert. For a release to be successful, we must have an aligned vision, push ourselves and clients to reach their full potential, hold ourselves accountable and maintain transparent lines of communication.

How have you had to adjust your approach as a manager during the pandemic?

It’s a challenge when you’re not able to connect with your clients in person like you’re accustomed, but it pushed me to be a more versatile executive. I focused on over-communicating, utilizing the team, finding new ways to generate opportunities for clients and identifying new methods for them to maintain their momentum. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of several releases with a wide array of artists over the past year in COVID and, thankfully, we’ve been able to stay in sync by educating ourselves and investing the time to over-communicate ideas, thoughts and strategies.