Troy Carter is born in West Philadelphia to Gilda Carter, who cleans surgical instruments at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His parents divorce when he is two years old. Carter grows up on 52d Street and Larchwood Avenue, in a two-bedroom apartment with kerosene heat and sometimes no running water. His mother says her three boys always had hot meals, love, and high expectations, however she often has to scrape change for bus fare.
You know, we were broke. You can, as a kid, kind of recognize the pain in your mother’s face.
He spends much of his time around the corner with his grandmother, who recalls him writing that he wanted to be a millionaire by age 25, and his granduncle, the owner of a popular shoeshine store who gives him encouragement. Grandmother:
Troy always had a composition book and pen, jotting down what he had in mind to do.
He attends Huey Elementary and Sayre Middle School.
I was always the kid in the front of the line because I was the smallest. and [my fifth grade teacher] used to call me ‘The Big Guy.’ Just by the way she would talk to me, she gave me the sense that I could do anything.
He tests well but prefers the nearby public library.
I read every single thing about the music business.
In his senior year, Carter stops going to school. He spends his time on his rap group, 2 Too Many — a name they choose because there were three of them, but always only enough bus fare for one, or food money for one, or whatever they needed or wanted, only enough for one. He also promotes house parties all over Philadelphia, hiring a DJ and charging $1 to $5 a head. His mother, however, insists that he get a diploma or the equivalent, and enrolls him in Job Corps, a federal education and training program, at a rural Maryland high school, where he earns his GED and returns home.
You got a couple of choices: drug dealers were the role models – you didn’t have doctors and hedge fund managers that looked like you. At that time, hip hop culture was exploding . . . and coming from the family I came from, drugs was not an option
Every day Carter walks to Delaware Avenue, to the studio of DJ Jazzy Jeff (Townes) and the Fresh Prince (Smith). One day, a friend who is recording in the studio lets him in. Townes, Smith and Lassiter, Smith’s business partner are in the lounge. Carter:
We literally just walked into the room and said we want to play some music for you. Will told us to go ahead and pop the tape in. [The room was too small for our routine] so everyone went outside and we danced in the snow…They just fell in love with us. We pretty much sucked as a group. They loved us and our tenacity more than anything else.
Every night someone was down there trying to get put on. It was something about these three kids and their personality and sense of humor that we responded to. I don’t remember if we thought they were talented or not. They just didn’t give up…We would just laugh at them. I remember plenty of times driving them home. I would say, ‘How are you getting home?’ They hadn’t thought it through. They didn’t have gloves. They didn’t have a Plan B.
Lassiter and Smith give 2 Too Many a record deal on their WilJam label.
Carter graduates from throwing house parties to promoting rap concerts. While promoting a Notorious B.I.G. show in Philadelphia — where Biggie Smalls is a no-show — Carter gets talking to Combs, who had signed B.I.G to his label:
We were having a conversation and I said to Puff, ‘Well, tell me about what you do.’ And he told me, and I said, ‘I want to come work with you.’ ‘Well, your first job is to get me that girl behind the bar.’ And I went and got him that girl from behind the bar, introduced him. So I started interning for Bad Boy.
Carter spends a year and a half with Puff Daddy, taking the Greyhound bus to New York three days a week.
Jeffers hires Carter to manage her rap career. Carter makes Eve his full-time job and starts building his talent-management company, Boy Wonder.
Facing eviction from his office, Carter is introduced to Lady Gaga by Herbert, the executive producer at her record label. Carter becomes her manager.
Vince is a big guy, and I see him walking through the reception area. And behind him, I see this girl with these big shoes, and big black eyeglasses, and fishnet stockings, and no pants, just a leotard. We hit it off right away. Everything she is today she was when she walked through the door. She just had a point of view. The music was there. You don’t meet a lot of artists with vision, not early artists, not at the beginning.
He was going to lose his house. He had no Christmas gifts for his kids. But at the end of the day, if you’re a good person like Troy is, good things will come to you…People still to this day, they don’t understand, and try to figure it out. We still live in this world where there’s black people and white people, and people say: ‘Vince, you guys are two black guys. Why did you let this black guy be the manager of this white girl?’ Because in music no one looks at color. They just look at each other’s heart. And when you look at that, it has every color in the book.
DeGeneres chooses Lady Gaga’s manager, Carter, and Madonna’s manager, Oseary, to co-manage Chance.
Gaga and Carter travel to Cupertino to meet with Jobs at his request to discuss Apple’s music-centered social network Ping. Gaga and Carter criticize Ping’s lack of connectivity to other social networks, especially Facebook, as well as its design. It is reported that the leave “respecting Mr. Jobs’ overall vision.” After the meeting Carter calls Michelsen, a well-connected technology investor and entrepreneur, to find a platform for entertainers that could help them manage their fan base across all major social networks. Michelsen:
I said why try to find a platform, let’s try to build one.
Carter praises Born This Way:
We’re just starting to play music for the label. We’re very excited about it. We’re starting to play a little for people and getting a feel for it, and she’s done an incredible job, a really incredible job.
Carter also says he and Gaga have yet to decide on how to market the album.
Well, you know what, it’s not where I go from a business standpoint, it’s more about where she goes creatively because, truth be told, we built the business around her creative infrastructure and that business that was built is unique to Lady Gaga.
Banks signs Carter as her manager.
I just switched management.. Literally like three days ago, and have a whole new set of resources to take advantage of. We’re gonna vamp this up and make it official.. No more ghetto mixes and closet recording.. I have a budget now.
Carter helps enlist Nas to become RapGenius’ first verified rapper. Carter:
Our thinking was, ‘You get Nas and a lot of people are going to follow. He’s going to be able to give you great advice on the product. He built so much credibility on the rap side, that now people are annotating presidential speeches, Shakespearean plays, country lyrics. Our bet, and Andreessen Horowitz’s bet now, is that after a few months people are going to be able to utilize the site for just about anything.
Chopra hires Carter as her manager. Carter:
She’s a triple threat—she has the ability to sing, dance, and act which is a rare trait amongst artists. She will be the first bonafide pop artist to come directly out of India. The primary plan is to let the music speak for itself. Priyanka and Red One made a great record that we think will stand on its own. People won’t buy the music just because she is who she is. We want them to buy it because it’s good. PC’s strength is her work ethic. She’s one of the hardest working artists that I know. I was really impressed by the level of dedication she’s given to the recording process. She’s approached it in a manner that a seasoned artist would approach it.
Stirling signs Carter as her manager. Carter first discovers Stirling through Atom Factory’s Stiklorius, who encourages her boss to check out Stirling’s YouTube channel. He flies to Orlando, FL., to check out one of her gigs, and is impressed by her ability to sell out a 1,200-seat venue without any mainstream radio support. Stirling has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, a sold-out European tour and has sold 108,000 copies of her self-titled, self-released album. Carter:
By looking at the numbers, automatically you could see this girl knew how to move the needle and understood YouTube was a venue to engage fans both online and offline.
Several companies had approached Stirling about representation:
After every other meeting I remember feeling so confused. But with Atom Factory, they were up to date on current things and trying new stuff all the time, and I felt so creatively alive when I met with them.
Gaga writes a message on her site, apologizing for the delayed Do What U Want video, saying she has been betrayed by management.
It is late because, just like with the Applause video unfortunately, I was given a week to plan and execute it. It is very devastating for someone like me, I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you. All my my most successful videos were planned over a period of time when I was rested and my creativity was honored. Those who have betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result. Millions of dollars are not enough for some people. They want billions. Then they need trillions. I was not enough for some people. They wanted more.
Please forgive me that I did not foresee this coming, I never thought after all the years of hard work that those I called friends and partners would ever care so little at a time I needed them the most. Give me a chance to show you the meaning of seeing art all around you. There are always ups and downs. my heart breaks from the people i have trusted and loved who i’ve worked so closely with, who have used me, lied to me, worked me into the ground for the personal gain. When i woke up in the hospital after my surgery there were many people that were not there. my health did not matter. I did not matter unless i could perform. This is a very hard lesson. I have lost love ones to the greed of money. It is not Interscope. They in fact love me very much and will see ARTPOP to the end.
Mayer hires Carter as his manager, the first time Carter’s will work with a major rock artist. A source says they met through mutual friends:
It’s just getting started but great new things will be announced as the year progresses.
Erving and Stiklorius are named co-presidents of Atom Factory by Carter. Carter:
J and I have a long history, dating back to 2000 when we co-founded Erving Wonder Management. He has proven to be an exceptional deal maker and music manager. Ty has been an incredible addition to the team. Her strategic thinking and creativity has given the company and our clients a tremendous amount of added value. I’m looking forward to having the two of them help grow and scale our management business.
Troy and I both grew up in Philly and have been friends since early on in our careers. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he has accomplished, and I am looking forward to adding value to the Atom Factory platform; whether it is in branding, technology, or management.
Atom Factory provides an innovative and creative platform for artists to thrive in, and I am pleased to partner with Troy and J to help lead the company in continuing to push the boundaries of what a forward-thinking artist management company can be.
Trainor hires Carter as her manager. Carter will co manage with Stiklorius.
Carter is named drexel University’s Close School’s Dean’s Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship.
Carter takes the Ice Bucket Challenge in aid of ALS research. He nominates Daniel Ek of Spotify and John Legend. He says because of the drought that he will only douse himself with a glass of water. However, he is surprised by Stirling, who throws water on him from the roof of the building.
I was just gonna donate but now I feel the peer pressure.
Carter is quoted as an “upstart” in Billboard’s 2014 Year in Music, alongside Meghan Trainor and Nico and Vinz:
Last year, when people came to Atom Factory, a lot of it was on me to be able to deliver. I had to show up to every meeting; the focus was on me. And this year, I think the focus has been on us. We all understand that we’re only as good as the talent we represent.
Carter executive produces (along with John Legend and Mike Jackson) this 90-minute documentary film, directed by Gillian Laub for HBO. The film examines race relations, a segregated prom, politics, and the killing of an unarmed young black man that joins the residents of two Georgia towns.
TechCrunch announces that Carter will participate in a live on-stage interview at Disrupt SF 2015 on September 21st-23rd at San Francisco’s Pier 70. It will be Carter’s second appearance at the conference.
Carter will appear as a Guest Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, taking the place of Kevin O’Leary on one show. The season, which premieres on September 25, will also have Chris Sacca and Ashton Kutcher as Guest Sharks. Carter says he is excited to join because of the show’s ability to reach Americans outside the Bay Area and New York hubs, “specifically kids that look like me” from less privileged or minority backgrounds.
I love Silicon Valley, but it doesn’t have a patent on innovation and entrepreneurship. These are legitimate business negotiations with entrepreneurs who are spending their own money.
As for dealing with the other sharks:
The daggers were out along with the checkbooks.
Carter writes a guest editorial for The Hollywood Reporter, about his investment in Uber.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Uber would now be worth close to $100 billion, but I believe it could become one of the most important companies in the world. As an investor, I initially had questions about Uber’s long-term potential given the pushback the company was getting from the San Francisco taxi industry, but CEO Travis Kalanick explained that someday Uber wouldn’t just move people, it would become a global logistics platform with the ability to move things.
Carter is hired by Spotify to be the Global Head of Creative Services. As part of the transition, Carter will also step away from managing Meghan Trainor,
Through Atom Factory, my team will stay in place to run our tech, culture and hustle outlet SMASHD.co as well as launch a brand innovation agency. And through Smashd Labs and Cross Culture VC, I’ll still continue investing in great founders that have the ability to deliver next wave disruption to culture.
Carter comments on Drake’s One Dance feat. WizKid and Kyla passing one billion streams on Spotify, during the eight months since it was released.
It’s a phenomenal record, that’s where it starts. It’s just one of those rare records that translates throughout the world. Drake’s always been great at really capturing hip-hop and pop sensibilities, but to be able to do that globally with a record like this is just amazing…Hit records make us look really smart. [Laughs] I think Drake made a monster of a record and people responded, and I think our guys within Spotify are just getting better and better at how to put music out in front of more and more people and when it all comes together it works.
Carter, in his role as Prince’s estate advisor, says unreleased material will be released ‘soon,’ but does not give details as to when, or which label might release the songs.
He was a guy who practically lived in a recording studio, and once we started going through [the unreleased material] we really started finding some gems. I heard some music the other night that was pretty mind-blowing and we’re getting some stuff mixed right now. We’ve got great projects in the works that I’m excited to talk about. So the answer is yes, there will be unreleased Prince music coming soon.