|Alma mater||Boston University's School of Management|
|Known for||Former President of Epic Records|
|Title||President of The Republic Group of Universal Music Group|
Charlie Walk is an American music executive and entrepreneur. Walk is the President of the Republic Records Group, having served as an executive vice president at Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group, since 2013. He was president of Epic Records, a division of Sony Music from 2005 until 2008.
Walk has stated that he first wanted to work in the music industry when he was eight years old, when he listened to the Boston pop music station WRKO on an old transistor radio. Walk started out as a college marketing representative for Sony Music while he was attending Boston University's School of Management.
In 1990, Walk took on a full-time position at Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music, as a marketing and promotion manager. His first job was to work with the New Kids on the Block over their first days on their local promotion, trying to break them into the mainstream. During his time at Columbia he became vice president for promotion at the label, and was profiled by the New York Times as one of the music industry's "young guns" in 1998. At Columbia he worked directly with Destiny's Child and Beyoncé Knowles,Will Smith, Maxwell, John Legend, Mariah Carey, The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, John Mayer and the later careers of Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith.
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 he 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. In an interview, he said, "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." Part of what he did in his position was to work towards the legitimizing of music downloads as a source of revenue and distribution method, working with early download platforms to determine how the music industry could utilize the new technology.
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. His move from Columbia to Epic resulted in some artists from his roster following him to the new label, including Jessica Simpson. 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.
When discussing the launch of one of Shakira's new album, he said, "In marketing music, you have to have multiple platforms to let people hear the artists and make a decision." 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". For this track, Walk worked with Pras and Wyclef Jean to produce the song, which had originally been created for The Fugees. It became both Shakira and Jean's first number one hit song. 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. Walk signed and broke new artists including The Script, Sean Kingston, The Fray, Sara Bareilles and Natasha Bedingfield. He left the position in 2009, at which time Roger Friedman wrote that "Walk is the kind of brash music exec that made the industry what it was."
In 2009, he co-founded RJW Collective which is now the marketing firm JWALK. The company's clients include the retailer Lacoste and the television broadcaster ABC. Walk also partnered Endemol USA to produce TV, music and online content, with Walk executive producing the television content developed by the company. Walk is no longer involved with the day-to-day activities of the firm.
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. Walk said of the campaign, "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." On July 2, 2014, Walk produced a one-off revival episode of Total Request Live on MTV entitled "Total Ariana Live". He has also helped bring in John Varvatos Records.
In 2014, Walk led Enrique Iglesias’ "Bailando" single campaign, which crossed the song over from Latin radio to Top 40 radio. The song has a blend of English and Spanish lyrics, and became the highest charting bilingual single since "The Macarena" in 1996. 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. Additionally, Walk 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." Walk also signed Hailee Steinfeld to Republic.
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 said 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.) At the 2015 American Music Awards, The Weeknd referred to him as "The great Charlie Walk" while thanking him during an acceptance speech. In February 2016, Walk was named President of the Republic Group, a newly formed grouping under the Universal Music Group, where he is charged with developing strategic partnerships with sister labels in addition to his role in charge of promotions and artist development.
Philanthropy and recognition
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. 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. In 2015, Walk was the co-chair of the June VH1 Save the Music event, which raised $800,000. Walk is a member of the board of directors of the Phoenix House, that "helps families who have loved ones struggling with substance abuse and addiction", and has been involved with the charity City of Hope, on which he sits on the board of directors. Walk co-founded the Barclays Center’s Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Advisory Board in December 2014 with the CEO of Baclays Centre Brett Yormark. On November 18, 2014, Walk was honored at the Musicians on Call charity event with a video tribute to his work with the organization.
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 made a deal with John Varvatos Records in partnership with Republic Records, which led to the signing of the Zac Brown Band. In 2015 Walk was named to the 25A List of "Manhattan's Most Powerful Personalities", being listed at #10.
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- Emily Smith (November 19, 2014). "Jessie J opens up about overcoming illness". New York Post. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "Charlie Walk: The 2015 Billboard Power 100". Billboard. February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
- "25A List of "Manhattan's Most Powerful Personalities"". 25A Magazine. August 2015. p. 38.
|Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Epic Records