The former chief operating officer of Three Six Zero Group, the management and entertainment company that represents Calvin Harris, deadmau5 and Frank Ocean, has joined former AOL executives Erika Nardini and Ran Harnevo to launch their artist-to-fan mobile app, Bkstg.
James Sealey, 31, who oversaw Three Six Zero’s business and legal affairs and was a member of the board, has been tapped as senior vp, business development and head of music for Bkstg. The London native, who currently resides in Los Angeles, will lead the company’s overall business development and connect the music industry with the Bkstg product, leading artist development and fostering relationships with management companies, labels and other affiliated businesses.
Harnevo and Nardini — who are, respectively, CEO and president and chief revenue officer — and now Sealey intend to make Bkstg the single destination for fans to connect with their favorite acts across all platforms as well as a place for artists to obtain the tools and data that will enable them “to know who and where their fans are,” says Nardini, and even to distinguish between their die-hard and casual fans.
Earlier this year, Bkstg’s founders raised $20 million from a group of strategic investors that includes touring and ticketing giant Live Nation, Modest! Management, which represents the top-earning musical act of 2014, One Direction; Scooter Braun Projects, the parent company of Braun’s management firm, which guides the careers of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Carly Rae Jepsen, and Sealey’s former employer, Three Six Zero Group.
Sealey tells Billboard that, while working at Three Six Zero, “one of the things that really hit me is that the market is very much underserved in terms of artists and their managers’ focus on their fans. People are really looking at huge numbers in terms of social networks and how many streams they can aggregate, but they’re not really thinking about who’s behind those numbers — which is ultimately the fan.” He adds: “Bkstg is the first platform that I came into contact with that is addressing the issue of, ‘How do we connect artists and fan in the most direct and profound way?’ That was really the big motivation behind me deciding to join,” he says.
“What I really loved about James, first and foremost, was his experience at the epicenter of artists and talent management, and then his passion for driving innovation through technology,” Nardini tells Billboard. “He can help us think about what is in the mind of a manager and what is in the heart of an artist — how they’re thinking about their fans; how they’re thinking about their business; and how they’re driving fan engagement to create ongoing relationships or to drive album sales or to promote a tour. We’re really excited about his ability to thread all of those pieces together. “
Nardini says Bkstg is operating with slightly more than 50 employees currently and “deep into product development.” The company recently opened Los Angeles headquarters in Culver City and plans to open additional offices in Nashville and London. “James will help us oversee that effort,” she says.
“There are people who I’m very passionate about in terms of bringing them on to start building our team internationally,” Sealey says. “Given that the music industry is centered in those places, it’s very important that we have boots on the ground and people that are respected and can execute for the various clients that we have on the platform.”