Charlie Walk

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Charlie Walk
Charlie Walk photograph 2014.jpg
Alma mater Boston University's School of Management
Occupation Record executive
Employer Republic Records
Known for Former President of Epic Records
Title Executive Vice President

Charlie Walk is an American music executive and entrepreneur. Currently, he is the Executive Vice President of Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group. He previously served as President of Epic Records, a division of Sony Music from 2005 until 2008.

Early life[edit]

Walk has stated that he first wanted to get into the music industry when he was eight years old, when he would listen to the Boston pop music station WRKO on an old transistor radio.[1] Walk started out as a college marketing representative for Sony Music while he was attending Boston University's School of Management.[2]

Columbia Records[edit]

In 1990, Walk took on a full-time position at Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music, as a Marketing and Promotion Manager. During his time there he became vice president for promotion at the label, and was profiled by the New York Times as one of the industry's top music executives in 1998.[3] At Columbia he worked with Destiny's Child and Beyoncé Knowles, whom he is credited for introducing to the music public,[4] as well as working directly with Will Smith, Maxwell, John Legend, Mariah Carey, The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, John Mayer and the later careers of Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith.[5][6][7]

He was promoted to Executive Vice President, Promotion in 2000 from the position of Senior Vice President of Pop Promotion. In 2004 he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Creative Marketing and Promotion at Columbia where Walk was in charge of developing strategies in non-traditional marketing areas, along with licensing and partnering deals. He was also the supervisor for all video and radio advertising the company implemented.[8][9] He stated that, "The music business will always be based on hit songs and artists ... But you have to make different types of deals to make consumers aware of them."[10]

Epic Records[edit]

In December 2005 Walk was appointed President of Epic Records, another division of Sony Music. He was also an advocate of wireless subscriptions for music consumption.[11][12] His move from Columbia to Epic resulted in some artists from his roster following him to the new label, including Jessica Simpson.[13] He also worked with the label’s established artists, including Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ozzy Osbourne, Duran Duran, RedOne, Tori Amos, Good Charlotte, Michael Jackson, and George Michael.[7][14][15]

When discussing the launch of one of Shakira's new album, he stated that, "In marketing music, you have to have multiple platforms to let people hear the artists and make a decision."[16] These kinds of initiatives included the first "personalized pop song", created for Jessica Simpson, and the first user-generated video, for Shakira's Hips Don't Lie.[14] He also created a partnership with ABC to integrate Epic artists into ABC programming, and enabling viewers to purchase songs they heard on their television shows.[17] Walk signed and broke new artists including The Script, Sean Kingston, The Fray, Sara Bareilles, and Natasha Bedingfield.[18] He left the position in 2009,[19] upon which time Roger Friedman wrote that "Walk is the kind of brash music exec that made the industry what it was."[20]


In 2009 he co-founded RJW Collective which is now the marketing firm JWALK.[19] According to an interview with Brulte, "As Chairman of JWalk, Charlie oversees all strategy and creative development for the brands in the JWalk portfolio as well as cultivates opportunities for new business ... Charlie brings to JWalk his extensive music management and marketing experience as well as his proven ability to identify trends and build companies through non-traditional strategies ... Some examples include, Equinox, DeLeon Tequila, VitaCoCo, Moonshine and SoulCycle."[14] The company's clients include the retailer Lacoste and television broadcaster ABC.[5][21] Walk also partnered with Endemol USA to produce TV, music and online content, with Walk executive producing the television content developed by the company.[17] Walk is no longer involved with the day-to-day activities of the firm.[22]

Republic Records[edit]

In 2013, Walk joined Republic Records as its Executive Vice President.[2] His position involves overseeing the marketing, PR, and promotion teams for the label.[19][23] When Walk was hired by Republic founder Monte Lipman, he stated that, "In the 25 years I’ve known him, it’s hard to imagine anyone more competitive, colorful and fearless than Charlie Walk. With parallel trajectories early in our careers, I’ve always found myself competing against Charlie for nearly two decades as we both pursued common goals. More than the success he’s had as a record executive, I’m even more impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to launch a thriving business of his own, in the unforgiving world of advertising and marketing."[24][25][26]

While working with Ariana Grande, Walk has developed campaigns that involve pushing her brand through live television performances, music videos, and appearances in television commercials for major retailers and companies, including Beats and Target.[27] Walk said of the campaign that, "We’re layering in different looks to the consumer so they can see they’re buying into a multi-faceted body of work, combined with performance and content."[28] On July 2, 2014, Walk produced a one-off revival episode of Total Request Live on MTV entitled Total Ariana Live.[29] He has also helped bring in John Varvatos Records.[30]

In 2014, Walk led Enrique Iglesias’ Bailando single campaign, which crossed the song over from Latin radio to Top 40 radio. The song features a blend of English and Spanish lyrics, and became the highest charting bilingual since The Macarena in 1996.[31][32] Walk spearheaded Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off campaign which led Swift to become the first artist to have a single debut at number one on the Pop music radio charts.[33] Additionally, Walk’s led the promotion for Lorde's quadruple platinum single Royals. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Walk "is working on creating partnerships with radio stations, concert venues and music publications or blogs that will circulate her music without catapulting it into the mainstream. Instead of sending her music to KIIS, a famous top-40 Los Angeles radio station, they've turned to San Francisco's Live105 and Chicago's Q101, alternative stations."[34]

In January 2015, Walk was a part of a Billboard Magazine round table on the future of radio during the "age of streaming". Walk stated that recording studios and radio are working more closely as partners in order to determine what music is most likely to sell well or be highly requested. He also stated that despite the growing number of independent artists able to break through by using the Internet or streaming services to distribute their music, labels still use a long-term A&R process to develop artists after they are signed, giving Grande as an example (she was signed at age 16 and did not break until several years later).[1]

Philanthropy and recognition[edit]

In July 2014 Walk was honored at the VH1 Save the Music foundation gala for his work in returning music programs to American public schools.[35] At the event Walk stated that music education is not just an arts class, but also a complement and enhancer of other more traditional studies a student takes while in school.[36] He is a member of the board of directors for the Phoenix House, that "helps families who have loved ones struggling with substance abuse and addiction",[37] and has been involved with the charity City of Hope, where he sits on the board of directors.[38][39] Walk cofounded the Barclays Center’s Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Advisory Board in December 2014 with the CEO of Baclays Centre Brett Yormark.[40] On November 18, 2014 Walk was honored at the Musicians on Call charity event with a video tribute to his work with the organization.[41]

In 2015 Walk was named one of Billboard's Power 100, citing his taking the lead on the campaigns for Ariana Grande, Lorde and Enrique Iglesias. In addition, Walk cut a deal with John Varvatos Records in partnership with Republic Records, which led to the signing of the Zac Brown Band.[42]


  1. ^ a b Shirley Halperin and Gary Trust (January 12, 2015). "Roundtable: Five Execs Examine Radio's Uncertain Future in the Streaming Age". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Charlie Walk Named EVP of Republic Records". The Hollywood Reporter. January 28, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ MONIQUE P. YAZIGI (August 16, 1998). "A NIGHT OUT WITH: The Young Guns; Working The Martini Shift". New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Roger Friedman (October 12, 2004). "Jacko Abandons Ailing 'Surrogate' Father". Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Billy Gray (September 12, 2012). "What’s On My Desk: Jwalks’s Charlie Walk". Haute Living. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "'SHORE'-INSPIRED". New York Post. May 12, 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "CHARLIE WALK JOINS REPUBLIC RECORDS AS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT". Universal Music Group. January 18, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ Phil Gallo (June 14, 2004). "Col takes Walk to exec VP". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Pullout Section; Brides; Celeb celebrations; Wedding day, Boston Herald, October 7, 1998 
  10. ^ "Angry Young Men - Page 6". Esquire Magazine. September 13, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Jessica Simpson Shifts To Epic". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Charlie Walk, 40". Details. March 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ Stephen M. Silverman (March 27, 2006). "Jessica Switches Homes – for Her Music". People Magazine. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c "Charlie Walk: The Innovation Interview". Brulteco. January 14, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  15. ^ Aida Alami (August 15, 2013). "Hollyworld: Meet Morocco's starmaker". Global Post. 
  16. ^ Mark Aspan (June 12, 2006). "For Shakira, First Came the Album, Then Came the Single". New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Charlie Walk’s in Endemol pact". Variety. February 3, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  18. ^ Callie Cunningham (11 December 2008). "Charlie Walk's Time Runs Out at Epic Records". American Songwriter. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c "Charlie Walk to Start Work as EVP of Republic Records as Soon as Monday: Sources". Billboard Magazine. January 23, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  20. ^ Roger Friedman (December 10, 2008). "Sony Music Fights For Life". Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ Andrew Adam Newman (August 23, 2011). "Lacoste Recasts Itself in Its Own Prestige". New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  22. ^ Noreen O'Leary (March 6, 2014). "This Agency Develops New Brand Categories JWalk also helps bolster the profiles of brands like DeLeon Tequila". Adweek. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  23. ^ Megan Buerger (July 26, 2013). "Lorde on the Rise". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 21, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Charlie is their darling". Hits Daily Double. January 28, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ Andy Greene (May 22, 2014). "How Ariana Grande and Max Martin Made 'Problem' the Song of the Summer". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ Andrew Hampp (December 19, 2013). "Austin Mahone Named Digital & Brand Strategist For Aquafina’s FlavorSplash: Inside the 17-Year-Old's First Strategy Meeting (Exclusive)". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Triple-Platform Push for Ariana Grande's Album - WSJ". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  28. ^ "HITS Daily Double: News". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  29. ^ Emily Blake (June 25, 2014). "Get Ready: Ariana Grande Is Bringing ‘TRL’ Back". MTV. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  30. ^ Kory Grow (February 18, 2014). "Style Guru John Varvatos Launches Music Label to 'Nurture' New Artists". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Ask Billboard: How Has Enrique Iglesias' 'Bailando' Become Such A Big Hit?". Billboard. 1958-08-04. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Enrique Iglesias breaks Spanish barriers, making ‘Bailando’ a #1 hit | Voxxi". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  33. ^ "HITS Daily Double: News". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  34. ^ "New Zealand Pop Singer Lorde Makes Waves - WSJ". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  35. ^ R. COURI HAY. "Charlie Walk's Secret to Finding the Next Music Star". Hamptons Magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Ingrid Michaelson, Poker Boost Education: Hamptons Scene - Bloomberg". 2014-07-30. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Music Exec Charlie Walk's Secret to Finding the Next Big Music Star". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  38. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 7. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  39. ^ "City of Hope Music, Film and Entertainment Industry". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  40. ^ Ray Waddell (December 3, 2014). "Scooter Braun, Charlie Walk, Rosie Perez and Nick Cannon Among Those Named to Barclays Center’s New Advisory Board". Billboard. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  41. ^ Emily Smith (November 19, 2014). "Jessie J opens up about overcoming illness". New York Post. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Charlie Walk: The 2015 Billboard Power 100". Billboard Magazine. February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
Preceded by
Polly Anthony
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Epic Records
Succeeded by
Amanda Ghost