Warner Records announced today the launch of an innovative strategic partnership with BPG Music, founded by influential industry leaders Gee Roberson and longtime business partner Jean Nelson. BPG Music/Warner Records’ unique approach focuses on providing a gateway for young black artists and entrepreneurs who are looking for the global reach of a major label while retaining their creative autonomy. Alongside their roles as CEOs of BPG Music, Roberson and Nelson also serve as advisors to Warner Records.
“Our goal at BPG/Warner is to discover, mentor, and grow the next generation of musical and cultural innovators and disruptors,” said Roberson and Nelson. “We want to use our knowledge and experience to help them navigate the process and take their careers to the next level, while maintaining their creative and business independence. Aaron, Tom, and the outstanding new team at Warner Records are the perfect partners for us to realize BPG’s unconventional vision.”
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Gee and Jean on this forward-thinking partnership,” said Warner Records Co-Chairman & CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and Co-Chairman & COO Tom Corson. “They’re bringing their brilliant A&R minds and industry expertise to a unique portal that champions artistic freedom. This fresh business model charts new territory in the relationship between original talent and the major label ecosphere. They’ve already brought us two amazing artists in Erica Banks and David Sabastian, with whom we have very different, specially tailored deals, and we’re looking forward to collaborating on many more exciting projects.”
The new BPG/Warner partnership is exemplified by the pact that brought 1501 Certified Entertainment Dallas rapper Erica Banks to the company. She was first discovered and signed by 1501 Certified Entertainment CEO and former MLB All-Star Carl Crawford. 1501, also home to rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion, was looking for a major label partner for Erica when Roberson stepped in and connected Carl and J. Prince with Warner. Banks’s acclaimed single, “Buss It,” released via 1501 Certified/Warner Records, is a viral sensation, racking up more than 33.9M global streams and 150M combined YouTube views, while becoming a TikTok phenomenon with over 2.4B hashtag views and 4.6M videos created as part of the fan-generated #bussitchallenge.
This new partnership has also brought multi-faceted rapper, fashion designer, activist, visual artist, and arts educator David Sabastian into the Warner fold. The founder of Believe in Yourself Records, Sabastian created what he calls a “holistic audio healing experience” on his new album, We Are God. Over a three-month span, he generated over six figures in fan donations to the project, producing one-of-a-kind Instagram visuals, and driving a call to action through art and activism. Under Roberson’s and Nelson’s guidance, Sabastian has brought Believe in Yourself Records under the BPG/Warner umbrella.
An inspirational curator, Sabastian’s diverse accomplishments include working with Drake on the design of the Air Drake jet, directing and designing for more than forty fashion and streetwear brands, serving on the frontlines of helping Los Angeles’ Skid Row homeless population, and teaching art classes to young people.
Roberson began his music industry career under the tutelage of Jay-Z, serving as VP of A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records. He went on to senior label posts as SVP at Atlantic Records and Chairman of Geffen Records and is a founding partner of the Maverick management firm. Today, Roberson is Founder & CEO of BPG Music as well as Co-CEO of the management company, The Blueprint Group. He has played a key role in the careers of artists such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, T.I., Nicki Minaj, G-Eazy, and Lil Nas X.
Nelson is a Long Island, New York native and started his music career while in high school under the tutelage of Sean “Puffy” Combs with whom he brought Craig Mack to the label. He served roles as SVP of A&R at Atlantic Records, Head of Urban A&R at Geffen Records, and is presently co-CEO of BPG Music. Nelson has played key roles in the careers of artists such as Craig Mack, Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim, T.I. , Nicki Minaj, Rich The Kid, Mary J. Blige, Trippie Redd, and G-Eazy.