Troy Carter covers this week’s Billboard magazine, along side Guy Oseary (Madonna) and Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber). The article, titled “Power Trio”, is an interesting piece that gives insight into each of the managers respective businesses and investments. Check out an excerpt from Troy’s section below:
It’s four days before Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball is about to kick off its ill-fated North American run, but Troy Carter has plenty of other items of business to keep him busy — about 40, to be precise. That’s the number of logos printed on the walls of his offices at Atom Factory, illustrating all the investments he’s made in the last two years, ever since Braun brought him in on his first investment around Christmas 2010. That includes everything from link shorteners like Bre.ad, news apps like Summly (recently in the news when Yahoo bought it for an estimated $30 million last month), chat services like Socialcam and Tinychat and consumer products like Pop Chips and Warby Parker Eyewear. “There’s a lot of different sectors, but great founders are the common denominator,” he says.
On a busy Tuesday, several of those founders pass through Atom Factory’s headquarters — a bright, white warehouse situated directly across the street from the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles’ Culver City. The space is part office, part garage and part “brand studio,” with a whole suite of rooms dedicated to hosting business meetings with partner companies and testing products like Pop Water, a new low-calorie beverage Carter funded in-house that launches in Southern California in the spring. Atom Factory has a diverse, largely young staff of 24, including a VP of operations who’s a former schoolteacher and a director of technology partnerships, Allison Streuter, who used to work at William Morris Endeavor (WME) as head of music Marc Geiger’s assistant.
The guys from Rap Genius pop by for a quick check-in, having previously worked with Carter on one of the company’s biggest success stories. In May 2012, Carter helped enlist Nas, a former management client, to become the hip-hop annotation site’s first verified rapper. The site quickly exploded in audience and captured the interest of Silicon Valley behemoths Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, whose venture capital fund put $15 million into the site last October. “Our thinking was, ‘You get Nas and a lot of people are going to follow’,” Carter says. “He’s going to be able to give you great advice on the product. He built so much credibility on the rap side, that now people are annotating presidential speeches, Shakespearean plays, country lyrics. Our bet, and Andreessen Horowitz’s bet now, is that after a few months people are going to be able to utilize the site for just about anything.”
Later that day, Carter is sitting in his office, surrounded by various Gaga artifacts (the exploding bra from the “Bad Romance” video, and MTV Video Music Award), and he wants to discuss data and how to own it. That’s largely through direct relationships with Backplane’s launch of Little Monsters, a social network exclusively for Gaga fans. Designed to host in-depth connections among fans and with Gaga herself, the site was created in part with hopes that it could unlock fan data like “time spent” and amount of content created that Facebook and Twitter just aren’t equipped to isolate for artist pages. Many of Atom Factory’s other investments were made with in depth-connections to fans in mind. The same can be said of its management clients– earlier this month, Carter signed Lindsey Stirling, a violinist who became famous for her classical take on dubstep on YouTube and has translated her online following into sales of more than 100,000 copies of her self-released debut album.
“The next phase of data is going to be transparency and also a deep dive into analytics– it is being used in a way that doesn’t violate the trust between the artist and the fans and the consumer of the brands?” he says. One recent example of how Carter is preparing for the next phase of data lies in Atom Factory music client Ceremonies, an indie band whose music Carter shared with Songza to see how fans of similar bands would engage with it. “We wanted to see which songs they’re listening to from start to finish, which songs they’re skipping and which are the best playlists in which those songs could exist,” he says. “That’s helping us realize what sorts of music are going to work at which format, and whether this song should follow the other on a particular release. It’s and ongoing education and we’re learning a lot.”
Little Monsters has also acted as a presage hub for Gaga’s 2013 Born This Way Ball U.S. dates, giving fans an exclusive one-day jump on presages from sponsor Citi and promoter Live Nation. In some cities, Carter says, “we were doubling and even tripling what sponsor presales were and what other artists’ fan sites have done.” That included selling upwards of 6,000-7,000 tickets per show from Little Monsters presales alone, he adds.
No wonder the industry has its eyes on Backplane’s performance. “If Backplane launches successfully, it will move everything forward because Troy’s involved and connected it and developed it,” WME’s Geiger says. “And primarily because it’s written from the music business utility perspective outward, not tech inward.”
This is an excerpt from this week’s Billboard Magazine cover story entitled “Power Trio.” To read the rest of this story, purchase this week’s copy of Billboard right here.