Roc Nation’s co-presidents reveal the key to becoming a “legacy artist”

Sitting at the heart of Roc Nation’s music empire are two executives masterfully orchestrating a roster of distinct artists all united by one specific trait: authenticity. 

From Rihanna to J.Cole to Maeta, each individual artist signed under the Roc Nation label is strategically positioned to unleash the next major music sensation, guided by the expertise of co-presidents Shari Bryant and Omar Grant. 

Operating from opposite coasts, the dynamic duo started their dichotomous roles at Jay-Z’s entertainment powerhouse in 2019. Focusing on their specialities, Bryant works on marketing from the label’s New York City office, while Grant, based in Los Angeles, prioritizes artist and repertoire, also known as A&R. 

“Those two points are like the nucleus of any core label development,” Bryant told Fortune in an interview at Roc Nation’s New York headquarters. 

While navigating their personal beats, the two have found the perfect harmony in collaborating from different time zones. Grant emphasizes that there’s virtually nothing they don’t tackle together. Serving as the backbone for the label’s foundation and overseeing everything from “A to Z,” Bryant and Grant have also mutually decided on what to look for when selecting and signing remarkable talent. 

“The main thing is [based] off of gut,” Grant said. “We still believe in signing artists and developing them off of their talent and who we feel like is going to be a long-term superstar.” 

For Bryant and Grant, the essence of being a superstar lies in staying true to one’s artistry. The co-presidents say they aren’t in pursuit of a perfect formula, and instead focus on “authenticity” above all else when selecting artists for the label. Their criteria doesn’t include being “super polished,” and they seek out individuals with raw talent and a willingness to hustle.

Artists Ambré and Maeta are their “success stories,” Grant said. Both were signed to Roc Nation early in their careers with no social media following and minimal records in the marketplace. Yet, the label saw something special and “stuck with them for years.” 

But as the two co-presidents work together to shape the next generation of music and add more artists to their current roster of 27, they are steering clear of “viral moments.”

TikTok is ‘cluttering’ the music industry

With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok “helps and it hurts” when it comes to artists getting their music out, Grant said. 

The app’s introduction of the Artist Account in November 2023, revolutionized artists’ presence, offering exclusive features like the new release tool and curated music tab. These features enable artists to unlock deeper discoverability on the platform, with things like the ability to highlight a track for up to 14 days before release and 30 days after its release.

But as Grant notes, discovery is just “one piece of the puzzle.” While TikTok facilitates artist exposure, breaking through the music industry requires more than just “virality” to become a “legacy artist,” according to the Roc Nation’s executives. 

Social media has given aspiring artists the platform to release music independently, but Grant says it also contributes to “a lot of clutter” in the music business, making it potentially challenging for artists to be discovered quickly. 

Yet, TikTok can serve as a catapult to stardom if an artist remains consistent and continues to produce great music, Grant believes. Despite the clutter, he says staying true to one’s artistry and consistently “putting out quality music” can be the gateway to cutting through the noise and rising to the top.

Bryant and Grant emphasize that becoming a long-term artist involves more than natural talent. It requires a combination of believing in your gift and putting in the work. Their dedication and hard work set the foundation for the entire label. 

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Bryant said. “You got to be hustling as hard as us because we are working 24/7.”

The commitment to working around the clock isn’t an exaggeration for this duo. Bryant and Grant gave Fortune an exclusive look into their caffeine-free daily routines, commencing with an early-morning workout.

Shari Bryant’s East Coast Routine

6:45 a.m.: Prior to hitting the gym, Bryant’s morning ritual includes daily prayers, a 15-minute stretch, and skincare. To replenish after the workout, she ensures her water bottle is filled with electrolytes to combat the sweat lost during her gym session.

“I’m usually doing the stairmaster while I’m in the gym,” Bryant said. “Then I go into weight training, and I end with a walk.”

Post-workout, Bryant relaxes in the sauna and spends some time reading a book. 

8:00 a.m: Back at home, she efficiently juggles packing meals into containers, showering, and preparing to head to the office, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Upon reaching the office, Bryant delves into her daily schedule provided by her assistant. While reviewing the schedule, she compiles a to-do list.

“I’m big on lists, it keeps me in line outside of my assistant,” Bryant said. 

10:30 a.m.: While no day looks exactly the same for Bryant, meetings often take precedence.

Mondays consist of a lot of check-ins with the marketing team and weekly scheduling, while Tuesdays may kick off with international calls. Biweekly artists meetings add further variety to her schedule depending on which artists are in town. 

“It’s very hard to predict what our days will consist of outside of our scheduled meetings,” she said. 

Some weeks, Bryant may have to fly to places like London, Atlanta, or Miami, whether it’s to meet with an artist, go to an event, or attend Roc Nation’s R&B nights. 

7:30 p.m.: The day at the office usually wraps up around late-evening for Bryant, but she never stops taking calls or responding to emails. 

11:30 p.m.: Bryant retires for the night just before midnight, making sure everything is completely checked-off for the day before closing her eyes.

“I usually go to sleep checking my last email,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s healthy, but that’s just where I am at this point in my life.”

“I’m big on making every minute count and I hate to lose time.” 

Omar Grant’s L.A. Studio Sessions

5:00 a.m.: Waking up before the sun hits the horizon, Grant starts his day by engaging in a moment of prayer. 

6:00 a.m.: Heading to his gym, Grant partakes in an early workout session, guided by his trainer. In an effort to maintain the morning for himself, Grant avoids screens, refrains from answering emails, and stays away from social media. When arriving home from the gym, Grant walks his dogs and gets his “mind ready and focused for the day.” 

8:00 a.m.: Operating on the West Coast time zone, Grant dives into early meetings before taking a shower and heading to the office. 

9:00 a.m.: Grant’s day consists of a combination of Zoom and in-house meetings. 

“The productivity for me comes outside of the office when 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. hits and I start making my way to the studio.” 

5:00 p.m.: Studio sessions for Grant extend into the late hours, sometimes lasting until the following morning. According to the co-president, a lot of Roc Nation’s artists are “nocturnal’ and “night owls,” bringing a unique dynamic to each session. 

“I’ve been with artists where we’ve done 48-hour shifts in the studio,” Grant said, revealing he occasionally takes power naps in between.

Sometimes, Grant doesn’t return home for three days, depending upon the projects at hand. Studio sessions can vary from discussing the musical direction artists want to go in or even deciding which producers and songwriters to work with. Other nights, Grant finds himself simply immersed listening to songs on repeat.

For Grant, the studio is a sanctuary of creativity, where he feels he contributes the most to Roc Nation. 

“My favorite thing is the studio,” Grant said. “Honestly, that’s kind of where I feel at home.” 

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