Welcome to A2IM’s Featured Executive column, where we highlight executives making moves and supporting the growth of the independent community. To submit yourself or a friend for a potential feature, fill out this form.
Rob Weitzner has consistently delivered success for innovative artists, influential labels, and cutting-edge startups at the nexus of music and technology. After a decade in artist management, eMusic recruited him as Vice President of Business Development and Head of the NY Office, helping lead the successful launch of the first-ever digital music subscription service in 2000.
From there, he moved to TVT Records, where he steered business development and digital strategy for a diverse array of artists including Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz, and Lil Jon.
Following this experience, Rob took a leadership role launching trade body A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) as a Founding Executive before moving to IODA as Head of Global Business Development. Rob’s impact in the independent sector pushed him to become Head of Business Development, Strategy & Partnerships for Consolidated Independent (CI), The state51 Music Group’s digital supply chain company. Over the course of the next decade he built the franchise into a marketplace leader, securing partnerships and working with culturally impactful indies including Beggars, Secretly Group, Reach, Redeye, Sub Pop, Hopeless Records, Kobalt, PIAS and many more.
In early 2022, Weitzner joined Artist Growth as Executive Vice President to drive the growth of the company’s product ecosystem including AG’s industry-leading SaaS collaboration platform. Rob also spent eight years as an Assistant Professor in the Music Industry Program at Drexel University—named one of Billboard Magazine’s “Top 10 Music Industry Programs.” He is an active participant in the Music Business Association’s Education and Scholarship Committees. Rob holds a BA in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
How did you get your start in the music industry, and how it
lead to the work you do today?
I got my start in the industry by falling in love with great music on the radio and then trying to figure out how I could get involved with it. I quickly discovered that being a “vicarious musician” would be the best path for me. So at the ripe old age of 13, I formed my first artist management company and managed a couple of friends navigate booking gigs at the local YMYWHA. Throughout high school I excelled in truancy and mostly hung out in the NYC offices of Aucoin Management running errands for KISS and other Bill Aucoin clients. For a couple of gap years pre-college I worked as a tech for various acts, learning the ropes of the road life.
After coming off the road and getting my educational life together on the West Coast, music’s powerful siren call kept me rushing back into her arms and I remained ever committed to the industry. I graduated, moved back East, became a DJ at a local rock club, found some artists that needed help and launched my second management company, Monster Management. It was an incredibly exciting and fulfilling decade working with many artists at all levels, including influential hiphop/metal pioneers Shootyz Groove who toured incessantly with the likes of 311, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Killing Joke, WuTang and Slayer among others while putting out music through Mercury, RoadRunner and Reprise.
I then sold my interest in Monster and ran off to Boston in pursuit of “greener” pastures and an MBA. Of course, to quote Michael Corleone, “just when I thought I was out …” keeping in mind that this was the turn of the century, the perfect storm of creative destruction that Napster unleashed “pulled me back in.” So many amazing opportunities arose from the malestrom of entrepreneurial invention that Napster spawned and I dove right into the deep-end of the rapidly evolving digital side of the business, agreeing to head up eMusic’s NY office and help architect the industry’s first-ever digital music subscription service in 2000. From that gig onwards, I’ve been committed to pursuing and executing on ideas that marry music and technology all with the purpose of driving greater business efficiency and further empowering artistic expression.
Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?
I will put humility aside and share that I am most proud of playing an instrumental role in the successful launch of A2IM. I fondly remember the summer day 17 years ago when we held our inaugural Label Conclave at the Maritime Hotel in NYC’s meatpacking district. We had about 125 label owners and principals in attendance and essentially established a “Declaration of Independents.” I went around that day with a clipboard (it was 2005 after-all) and collected signatures from the gathered who pledged their support and willingness to pay dues to manifest the collective vision. It was incredibly exciting and the energy in the room was sizzlingly electric.
The original staff of A2IM was just me and Don Rose (A2IM’s first President and RykoDisc founder) with huge assists from 7 amazing founding Board members (Steve Gottlieb/TVT, Molly Neuman/Lookout, Glenn Morrow/Bar-None, Cess Wessels/Roadrunner, Tom Silverman/Tommy Boy, Peter Gordon/Thirsty Ear, and Lesley Bleakley/Beggars Group US). We met incessantly, worked unendingly, and traveled constantly across the country proselytizing the organization’s mission and message with the mantra that “The market size of a copyright owner should not dictate the market value of the copyrights owned.” We formed regional chapters with the help of our impassioned member labels and took on the biggest global corporations in the industry with the aim of leveling the playing field and establishing a coordinated way to amplify and advocate for the concerns and challenges of the Indies. In our first 16 months we went from being just a collective dream to becoming a nationally organized and internationally-recognized reality; a trade association with, at the time, 180+ dues paying label members from 7 regional chapters. We had established a solid foundation with the efforts of the entire Indie community — a true DIY success story that epitomizes of the spirit of the amazing entrepreneurs who operate the companies that make up the membership of A2IM.
We then passed the baton to the team of Rich Bengloff, Jim Mahoney and Jen Masset who took that solid foundation and built a strong skyscraper. And of course, today’s excellent team guided by the thoughtful and strategic vision of the vastly talented and capable Richard Burgess has led A2IM to even greater heights and broader industry impact. I am astounded, amazed, and humbled by the enduring impact and success of A2IM — the power of individuals executing a collective vision.
Outside of your work in music, do you have any other hobbies/ particular areas of expertise/interest etc.?
Family, travel, cycling (racing and plain ole enjoyment), pop culture, fine art, excellent meals with great friends.
Are there any projects you’re working on or company updates that you’re most excited about?
After a decade of product evolution that saw Artist Growth (“AG”) become the standard platform for real-time collaboration among leading artist teams in the industry, we have fully reimagined and greatly expanded our offering and are super-pumped to launch a new set of products over the next few months. Our entire purpose-driven mission at AG is to be a company that exists to leverage technology to the benefit of the world’s artists and the teams that support them because we believe that human civilization must have an empowered artistic community in order to continue to thrive. Admittedly, that is a lofty and audacious ambition, but we all embrace it at AG and can’t wait for the entire industry to benefit from the next decade of AG’s offering. So stay tuned…
Anything else to add?
Leave the world a better place than you found it.
Let fear be a tailwind, not a headwind.
Without music, life would have no meaning.
A willingness to embrace failing is required to succeed.
Do you or someone you know fit the bill? Submit an executive here.