A Look Into The Team Behind Diplo's Phenomenal Success

Posted at August 17th, 2016 | by Yash Vikram Singh | in

Diplo is having the time of his life, he is dominating dance music and by extension pop music, he just celebrated the 10th anniversary of Mad Decent and most importantly hasn’t hitched his wagon to the generic gods. Also, he just got a 8 million bump up in his annual revenue since last year. Everything seems to be going for him.

There are multiple personalities involved when something this august unfolds. Let’s have a look at the people that made it all possible for Thomas Wesley Pentz spread like the plague that he is.


Andrew McInnes & Kevin Kusatsu, TMWRK

Kusatsu has been managing Diplo since 2006. He joined hands with Andrew McInnes and started TMWRK, their management company that makes it rain for the whole Mad Decent Fam.

“Kevin is very good at dreaming up ideas, he’s a creative,” McInnes explains. “I’m good at strategy and execution. There’s a lot of partnerships in music where there’s two different personality types. Together we form a very good team. We’re good at manifesting things into reality.”

When it comes to Diplo, McInnes says “the goal is always like Mad Decent is the Def Jam of electronic music – the cool, big pop label in electronic music. It’s a strategy that a lot of people have attempted, but not a lot have succeeded at: you should own your own label. You should own your own publishing company. Everything should tie back to the Mad Decent brand.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 7.00.51 pm


Belinda Law, Echo Location

Belinda Law admits she took Diplo on by chance. Her agency got bought out by a bigger agency and she was asked to take him on as a client.

“I’ve been with him for a very long time,” she said. “What started out as something very, very small grew – and grew, and grew.”

Law is responsible for booking Diplo in Europe and Australia. “He likes to be busy,” she says. “While you have Major Lazer and Diplo doing huge festivals, even if he’s played two festival shows in a day, he will be totally fine and up for playing a really cool club show that night.”


Carla Sacks, Sacks & Co

Carla Sacks checks off Diplo’s PR requirements and is also the founder of her own firm. She has taken on clients like Flume, Florence + the machine & Passion Pit among others.


David Rappaport, Manatt, Phelps and Phillips

David Rappaport and Diplo share the same hometown, Philadelphia. He befriended Kusatsu and when he heard that Kusatsu reps someone from Philly he asked to be introduced. One thing led to another and he was soon aiding Diplo produce hits.

“Kevin gave me one deal to do,” Rappaport remembers. “It was the deal for ‘Paper Planes’ with M.I.A.” Paper Planes was the first mainstream hit Diplo produced. He is head of Legal affairs for Diplo.

“Wes is like six or seven clients in one because of all the businesses he has,” Rappaport says. “You constantly have a new kind of deal that you’ve never heard of before.”


Mike Lieberman, In2une

Mike Lieberman was one of many who anticipated Diplo‘s hit making abilities. He discovered how Diplo was ahead of his time. Lieberman helps Diplo with radio promotion.

“At the beginning, the radio guys that knew about him would always say to me, ‘you’ll have that record we’re going to play, but your guy is 6 – 9 months ahead of the game,'” Lieberman ruefully explains to Billboard Dance.

“Instead of just sending records out and saying, ‘check out our hot new record,’ Lieberman continues, “they made a point of saying, ‘let’s go sit with these radio programmers and DJs and let’s build a relationship – talk about the vision, go to some shows.”

“Literally as I sat with the guy, an email came through from management saying, ‘hey, check out the new Major Lazer record,'” Lieberman recalls. “I played it, and he was like, ‘holy shit Mike, that’s your fucking record. That’s a record.'” Lieberman describes the first time he heard ‘Lean On’.


Sam Hunt, Windish Agency

Although Sam Hunt only started working together with Diplo after 2007 but he distinctly remembers being a fanatic since 2004.

“At the time, Hunt remembers Diplo was on a triple bill with RJD2 as “first of the three, getting $150 a night.”

“If there’s an open night, there’s a pretty reasonable chance that he’ll hit me up and say, ‘why is that night open?'” Hunt explains. “Or if there’s a show that ends at 9 p.m., and there’s not an after party, he’ll ask me where there’s an after party. He likes DJing. In fact, he loves DJing.” Hunt said.


Ron Perry, SONGS Publishing

Ron Perry was responsible for bursting the Diplo/Major Lazor bubble in 2013/2014. He is the president of SONGS Publishing and helps out Diplo with A & R. He helps him curate ideas for features, collaborations and production ideas among other things.

“You can’t stay ahead of Diplo,” Perry continues. “He’s ahead of everyone. He knows the next thing, the thing after that – he was doing reggae with Major Lazer before reggae was popular, five years ago. What we do is just try to get the best quality projects and run them by him.”


Renee Brodeur, TMWRK

“At the end of the day, all roads lead to Diplo,” Brodeur tells Billboard Dance. As the executive vice president of TMWRK, her duties include pretty much everything: “from Wes getting my opinion on how music sounds or a feature he should put on a song, to commissioning music videos, to getting remixes made, to being the point of contact for all our international partners – we’ve got seven or eight label partners worldwide.”

“Coming on board and being able to listen to clients that I would listen to in my spare time was an awesome opportunity,” she remembers. “EDM – I hate that term – was taking off, and our guys stand out from the bunch. They’re not just showing up at festivals, throwing their hands in the air, and making a ton of money. They’re entrepreneurs in and of their own right: record labels, publishing companies.”

She draws a line between Diplo and other artists, the way everyone operates is that they go in make an album or go on a tour following but that is not the case with Diplo, there’s no start and no finish. It’s going on all the time.


Source: Billboard

Yash Vikram Singh


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