Troy Carter, Lady Gaga's business manager: How he has merged old-time marketing with radical new techniques to turn Gaga…

The most innovative and practical thinkers of our time.
July 18 2011 11:57 AM

Troy Carter, Business Manager for Lady Gaga

How he has merged old-time marketing with radical new techniques to turn Gaga Inc. into a powerhouse of music, fashion, and media.

 Troy Carter, business manager for Lady Gaga
 Troy Carter, business manager for Lady Gaga

The meat dress. The ubiquitous power pop. The sax solo. Lady Gaga is a culturally dominant creative product, and a commercially dominant one, too. A whole team of designers, producers, and songwriters contributes to her success, but the most important, and perhaps most radical, is her business manager, Troy Carter. He is merging old-time marketing techniques with radically new ones to make Gaga a new kind of star.

A low-profile Philly native in his late 30s, Carter started his career working for Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment and Sean "Diddy" Combs at Bad Boy Records, where he helped promote artists including the Notorious BIG. He graduated to managing his own artists and now heads the Coalition Media Group, which takes care of YouTube star Greyson Chance and his superstar, Gaga.

Slate's list of the 25 Americans who combine inventive genius and practicality—our best real-world problem solvers. Read more about how we chose them.

Carter described his partnership with Gaga as "95-5" to AdAge: She makes 95 percent of the creative decisions, and he 5 percent. He makes 95 percent of the business decisions, and she 5 percent. Whatever the breakdown, it is working. She pulled in $90 million last year, Forbes estimates, thanks to her three platinum albums, multiple successful tours, and huge endorsement deals.

Advertisement

The last decade has been anxious for the music industry, as producers, distributors, and artists fretted about how they would make money in a digital world. Carter and Gaga have shown how. The enterprise includes old-stalwart commercial deals, including contracts with Polaroid, Virgin Mobile, Monster Cable, and Mac's makeup line Viva Glam. But Carter is also harnessing technology to capitalize on Gaga's enormous online following—the Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube fans who made her a true success in the first place.

To promote the album Born this Way, for instance, Gaga Inc. teamed up with Facebook game-maker Zynga to launch Gagaville, a site within Farmville where fans could "unlock" songs before the music hit stores. Capitalizing on Gaga's fashion cred, Gaga Inc. engineered a deal with the flash-sale site Gilt.com to promote the album as well. Gaga's fashion director, Nicola Formichetti, selected a number of Gaga-inspired looks that crazed-fan shoppers could pick up. The sale also included preorders of her album, VIP access to Gaga-related events, and a Thierry Mugler dress she wore on tour.

Now Carter and Gaga plan to streamline and rationalize the notoriously chaotic world of celebrity marketing. Carter has just launched a start-up, the Backplane, that helps artists, musicians, and athletes integrate their social networks. Tomorrow Ventures, the venture capital firm run by Google's Eric Schmidt, is backing the project, and Gaga is a 20 percent stakeholder.

Check out the rest of our business Top Right:

Do Won Chang, founder of Forever 21.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netfix.

Eric Ryan, co-founder of Method.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Behold
Sept. 21 2014 11:00 AM Sometimes You Just Need to Print Your Photos the Old-Fashioned Way 
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.