Leber has been in management for nearly two decades, having co-founded Reign Deer Entertainment in 2005 with Larry Rudolph and co-founding Maverick a decade later with a who’s-who of other big-name managers, including Rudolph, Guy Oseary, Clarence Spalding, Gee Roberson and more. Along the way, he’s co-managed the likes of Britney Spears, Travis Scott, Fifth Harmony and Aerosmith, while he’s worked with Cyrus and Lil Nas X for the past several years. Meanwhile, another management client, Labrinth, won an Emmy last year for his work on HBO’s Euphoria, for which Leber works as a music supervisor and himself received an Emmy nomination for his work.
Here, he tells Billboard about the success of Lil Nas X’s latest single, Cyrus’ new record deal and why he decided to form his new company.
Lil Nas X’s "Montero" just debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100, his first No. 1 since "Old Town Road" shattered the record for most weeks atop the chart in 2019. What key decisions did you make to help that happen?
Lil Nas is truly a visionary artist in every sense. He has a story to tell and he’s brilliant at telling it, whether visually, in his lyrics, or through his narrative on social media. I knew what he had created with "Montero" was incredibly special and would hold deeper meaning to a large segment of the global population, so we partnered with MSCHF, the company behind the Jesus sneaker, to create a piece of art that was directly tied to the message of the video. We had a lot more planned in addition to the Satan Sneaker, but I guess art does what art does sometimes and ended up pissing off a lot of people. We figured we’d quit while we were ahead.
Since the beginning of his career, he’s been a streaming juggernaut. What makes him so successful in that medium?
I think it’s simple. He’s probably the most gifted strategic marketer of this generation. The way he promotes himself and his music through his socials is textbook, because you’re never made to feel like you are being sold something, and that’s the way it's supposed to be.
Miley Cyrus recently secured a new record deal with Columbia. Why was that the right move for her?
Miley and [Columbia CEO] Ron Perry have been friends for a long time and connect really well musically. It all starts with the music. My company has also had incredible synergy with the Columbia staff on multiple clients and projects over the years. I wanted to put that synergy to work for Miley.
You just launched a new company, Rebel, in partnership with Live Nation after seven years with Maverick. Why did you want to launch your own company, and why did you decide to do it at this particular time?
I’ve had partners for my entire career and felt it was time to do my own thing. I still plan on working very closely with everyone at Maverick. We still talk regularly.
You’ve been a manager for much of the past two decades. How has management changed over the years?
Attention culture has changed the game significantly. You have to work twice as hard to keep people's attention for half the time. I believe the result is shorter life cycles for artists due to how visible they need to stay to keep people’s attention.