Former Sony/ATV Music Publishing co-president Danny Strick has been named a senior advisor to CMNTY Culture, the multi-faceted company co-founded by Philip Lawrence, the producer-songwriter known for his work in The Smeezingtons production team alongside Bruno Mars.
Launched in 2020 and based in Los Angeles, CMNTY Culture spans a record label (CMNTY RCRDS), as well as production and film/TV. In April 2020, the label partnered with Warner Records to sign RMR, whose track “Rascal” went viral.
“I’ve always been a fan of Phillip’s talent and who he is as a person,” says Strick, who oversaw Sony/ATV’s New York, Nashville and Latin Music divisions before leaving in February 2020 during a restructuring when John Platt replaced Martin Bandier as chairman and CEO. (The company has since rebranded as Sony Music Publishing.)
After his departure, Strick transitioned to the transactional side of the music publishing market, working with private equity companies to source and close deals.
While working on the Calvin Harris catalog sale to Vine Alternative Investments, Strick met business manager Thomas St. John, a CMNTY Culture co-founder.
“He came to me and said, ‘You have to sit with Philip Lawrence,’” says Strick, who previously worked at Maverick Records and BMG Music Publishing. Even “in the thick of the pandemic,” Strick agreed to meet, and came away understanding Lawrence’s ambition to produce records, develop artists and run a publishing company. Now in the CMNTY Culture fold, Strick says he will help its record label and “look for opportunities for acquisitions” — not just publishing catalogs but “smaller operating companies.”
CMNTY Culture is an ambitious undertaking, betting that a purposefully nimble company has an advantage over larger ones. Lawrence, St. John and label veteran Malik Rasheed started the music-faceted company to take advantage of “the rise in independent artists, the ability to bypass the middleman,” says Lawrence. In addition, CMNTY Culture purchased three acres in Hollywood to build a campus — an “oasis,” says Lawrence — to encourage “spontaneous creativity.”
Seed funding came from St. John and Lawrence from the latter’s sale of his catalog last year for what he says was “a significant amount.”
CMNTY Culture was able to poach an impressive group of executives. Rasheed, president and co-founder, had been running Scooter Braun’s label and had worked with L.A. Reid at Epic Records. Chief Johnson, formerly a sports and entertainment marketing executive at apparel brand Puma, is the chief marketing officer. Additionally, Miles Cooley moved from law firm DLA Piper to become chief legal officer and chief operating officer. Marlena Kaplan, formerly with Blackstone, is the chief financial officer.