Career Jam 2022 Career Jam 2022
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2. Building Your Own Seat & Table: Black CEOs in Music

- EDT
Creative Technology Center 150 Massachusetts Avenue

Cortez Bryant
CEO / Entertainment Manager, The Blueprint Group

Cortez “Tez” Bryant not only guides artists under his purview as a manager, but he also shepherds the next vanguard of executives as a dedicated educator and mentor. The Co-C.E.O. of The Blueprint Group (BPG) unlocks the knowledge of a storied career galvanizing game-changing talent such as Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj in his role as a professor at Jackson State University and co-founder of Assemble.

His run has been widely lauded and thoroughly chronicled, to say the least. He’s notably graced the cover of Billboard Magazine and consistently occupies spots on coveted lists such as “Power 100” and R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players as well as appearing in the Urban Power Issue. Among other achievements Complex celebrated him among the “25 Most Powerful People in Rap.” Currently, The Blueprint Group manages a high-powered roster, including Kanye West, Lil Nas X, T.I., and G-Eazy in addition to overseeing various tech ventures and spearheading Blueprint Distro—the distribution arm of The Blueprint Group.

Ultimately, he approaches each endeavor with the same reverence and respect for the music. “We’re managers first,” he states. “We’re always thinking about the artists and not P&L statements or bottom-line analytics. We believe in development. We’re here for the ride, so we train our artists to be real businessmen and women. We nurture them hands-on.”

That’s how his career began. Tez’s childhood best friend Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. needed help navigating the music business, so he asked Tez to manage him. The proud HBCU graduate planned on pursuing a career in education, but “looking out for my best friend in this crazy business” derailed that plan. For the next 16 years, he oversaw all aspects of Lil Wayne’s career as he notched three #1 albums, dozens of multi platinum plaques, and five GRAMMY® Awards. His second client would be none other than Drake as Tez fueled his transformation into the most successful artist of his generation. As Nicki Minaj’s manager, he ushered her to legendary status as “the most successful female rapper of all- time.” Simultaneously, he served as C.O.O. of Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment AND worked alongside The Revels Group to introduce G-Eazy as a multiplatinum chart-topping force. Most recently, BPG welcomed Lil Nas X as a client, guiding him to superstardom as a diamond-selling outlier. Plus, he advises on tech collaborations with companies Display, Triller, and more.

Beyond The Blueprint Group, he joined the faculty at his alma mater Jackson State University in the Fall of 2020, teaching the popular “Careers in Music” class. He also launched the interactive educational platform Assemble. The latter hosts online courses taught by influential black innovators, artists, and thought leaders.

“When I got into the music business and peeled back the curtain, the representation for jobs didn’t look like the talent for the most part,” he explains. “There weren’t many black people. In the poor urban neighborhoods a lot of us grew up in, we didn’t receive the exposure to even know these jobs exist in the business. It’s still a problem now. So, I decided to pay it forward. I returned to my roots at a school that gave me a lot of survival tools and finally presented that exposure. I’m doing the same thing with Assemble.”

In the end, Tez is paving a path for the industry’s future on the stage and behind-the-scenes.

“If you do business with us, we will work as fair partners straight up,” he leaves off. “We’re also going to take what we do and give back as much as possible.”

Tiffany Miranda
President/Founder, Girls Make Beats

Tiffany "Delilah" Miranda is an accomplished DJ, producer, engineer, singer and founder of the nonprofit organization, Girls Make Beats. The Miami native started as a recording artist at age 15, appearing on shows like American Idol and X Factor. After facing many challenges in a male dominated industry, Tiffany found a sense of creative control by learning about the music production and audio engineering fields.

Building her own home studio to interning at various major studios in Miami, she quickly noticed there were not a lot of women in these fields nor was there a sense of support for women trying to break into these positions. Despite often being the “only woman in the room”, she landed an in-house engineer position and obtained her Avid certification. She then helmed her skills to become one of the most sought after recording engineers and producers in the industry working with heavy hitters Lil Uzi Vert, French Montana, TI, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe and much more.

In efforts to position girls at the forefront of music technology, Tiffany founded Girls Make Beats (GMB) in 2012. The organization empowers young girls to become music producers, DJs and audio engineers. She has forged partnerships with industry titans like Apple, Spotify, Facebook as well as various major record labels to create unparalleled opportunities for the girls in the program. This includes an official remix for Janet Jackson and spearheading programs to engage the girls with music industry professionals such as Janelle Monae, Chloe x Halle, Tinashe and Eve. The work she is doing with GMB has been featured on Billboard, grammy.com, Good Morning America and more.

Tiffany has been a keynote speaker and panelist for many events with a focus on female empowerment, diversity and inclusion including Today at Apple, Avid Learning Partner Summit, the State of California Education AME Conference, JBL Black History Month, and more.

With the Girls Make Beats movement, Tiffany has mentored hundreds of girls globally and she continues to break glass barriers for women and young girls. To learn more about her work visit www.girlsmakebeats.org.

Madeline Nelson
CEO, Heads Music

Madeline Nelson is the founder of Heads Music, a boutique music management company in New York City that is dedicated to “true artist development.” Heads Music is led and staffed entirely by women, a reflection of Nelson’s dedication to making sure that women have a voice within the music industry. Her dedication to her work and fighting for her beliefs has been forged through Nelson’s illustrious career in the music industry.

Madeline Nelson has also been instrumental in the shaping of entertainment and music culture behind the scenes in her roles as producer, executive, artist manager, and trusted advisor for over three decades. Her repertoire ranges from her work as manager of Grammy Award-winning R&B supergroup Blackstreet in the 1990s, to her A&R work with Michael Jackson, to major label corporate executive as SVP of A&R at Sony Music, to her current management of Wyclef Jean. Madeline firmly believes in exploring new technology as a strong way forward for the music business and embraces digital streaming services as an opportunity for artists to take more control of their careers and be paid more fairly.

Madeline currently serves as Head of Independent Record Labels at Amazon Music.

Tonya Butler - Moderator
Chair, Music Business/Management, Berklee College of Music

Professor Tonya Butler, J.D., LL.M., is chair of the Music Business/Management Department at Berklee College of Music. She is the first women and the first person of color to lead the department in its 30-year history.

A seasoned veteran of the music business, Butler has more than 14 years of expertise as an entertainment attorney and record label executive, as well as 16 years of undergraduate- and graduate-level teaching experience. She has a Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law and a Master of Laws in Entertainment and Media from Southwestern University School of Law/Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, England.

Butler is an award-winning motivational speaker, Toastmaster, and author of the self-published career guide The Music Business Is Corrupt, or Maybe You Just Can’t Sing? She also hosts a weekly podcast on the business and legal aspects of the music industry, entitled the B.O.M.B. (Business of Music Bootcamp) Podcast.


Hear from established veteran artist manager, Cortez “Tez” Bryant (Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj), Beatmaster Tiffany Miranda (Janelle Monae, Chloe x Halle, Tinashe), and the powHERful Madeline Nelson, CEO of Heads Music and the Head of Independent Label Relations at Amazon Music. Our guests share how they’ve broken the glass ceiling—not only for themselves—but for artists, songwriters, producers, managers, and other passionate industry professionals of color. Come and explore how their journey, and driving the evolution of their business, permanently restructured the relationships between artists of color and labels, which in turn ultimately changed the culture of the industry as we know it.