Georgia Music Partners (a Georgia not-for-profit 501(c)(6) corporation) exists because we believe that music matters to the people of Georgia – in our communities, in our schools, and in our economy. Our mission is to help Georgia’s music industry grow to become one of the country’s biggest and best, which promotes both job growth and culture in our state. We believe this is an exciting cause worth focusing on, as it fuses arts, sciences and business in a unique manner that impacts multiple silos in our marketplace.
Georgia has a very rich music history, being the home of legendary artists such as Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers, R.E.M., the B-52s, Outkast, Ludakris and many others (see Legacy). According to a 2011 study conducted by B. William Riall, Ph.D., the estimated economic impact of the music industry in Georgia is already $3.7 billion annually. Additionally, the study credits the industry with creating 19,955 jobs and generating more than $313 million in tax revenues for state and local governments. In recent years, however, Georgia has been losing its music industry as artists, producers, managers, and other industry professionals moved to places like Nashville, New York and Los Angeles.
Making this loss more poignant, the erosion of the Georgia music industry took place against the backdrop of an immense boom in Georgia’s non-music entertainment industry (i.e., film, television and digital entertainment productions). The growth of the film and television industry was in large part the result of Georgia passing a competitive film tax credit in 2008. While the music industry shrunk in Georgia, direct spending in film and television production grew from $67 million in 2007 to $2.7 billion in 2017.
In order to halt and reverse the losses to Georgia’s music industry, and in hopes of replicating the success of Georgia’s film tax credit, GMP has been fighting for a music incentive in the past several years. These efforts produced a surprise win during the 2017 legislative session. Effective January 1, 2018, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia Music Investment Act, which creates a new tax incentive for music production in Georgia.
GMP’s objectives for 2020 are as follows:
- Work with legislators and industry leaders to get HB 347 passed and align the mechanics of the Georgia Music Investment Act with the ones working so well for the rest of the Entertainment sector in our state.
- Build national awareness of Georgia’s Music Investment Act’s among key industry stakeholders.
- Develop workforce readiness “best practices” in collaboration with schools and universities to help students chart the path to gainful employment in the local music industry.
- Continue government relations and advocacy work with elected officials, acting as the intermediary between our Members and Georgia’s Legislators.
Board of Directors
President: Shachar Oren
Between 2018 and 2019, Shachar Oren served as VP of Music at Peloton, the leader in home fitness devices and programming; and the CEO of its B2B music-centric subsidiary Neurotic Media, which he founded in 2001 and led as President & CEO till 2019. Neurotic Media successfully navigated several distribution paradigm shifts, from music downloads to ringtones, lockers, and on-demand streaming. In 2018, Neurotic Media was acquired by Peloton Interactive. Peloton instructors choreograph daily classes with music for Tread, Bootcamp, Cycle, Yoga, Meditation, and Outdoor classes – and deliver its live and VOD programming via the Peloton Digital app and on Peloton’s devices. The Neurotic Media Platform serves as the ‘source of truth’ for all things music within Peloton’s services, powering a growing music-related feature-set for Peloton’s fast-growing Members community.
Previously, Shachar served as Senior VP of International Business Development at Amplified Holdings, the first business-to-business digital distribution company in the industry. Prior to joining the high-tech side of the business, Shachar worked at Ichiban Records in A&R and in radio marketing and operated his own ShoeString Records label in the mid-90s. Shachar graduated in 1995 from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Music Industry and Music Production.
Shachar serves as President of Georgia Music Partners (GMP) since 2017, having joined its Board in 2013.
In addition, Shachar serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the Georgia Tech College of Design. Shachar also advises entrepreneurs at Georgia’s ATDC, GA Tech’s Create-X, TechStars Music (LA), and some directly.
Treasurer: Robert Polay, Polay & Clark
Robert Polay founded Polay & Clark in 1999, after working at a traditional CPA firm for over a decade, where he developed a niche as an expert in entertainment accounting. Robert was inspired by his grandfather, who was the road manager for Fats Domino in the mid-1950s. His grandfather educated him about both sides of the music business – the good and the bad.
Secretary: Aneesah Bray, C3
VP, Public Relations: Tara Murphy, 360Media
Tara Murphy is the founder of 360 Media, a leading Atlanta-based public relations boutique agency specializing in entertainment, lifestyle and hospitality clientele. Since establishing the firm in 1996, Tara has become well-known as one of Atlanta’s foremost public relations and media mavens, having represented many of the top festivals/events, venues, hotels, restaurants, personalities, brands and bands. Prior to starting 360 Media, Tara was the Director of PR for Ichiban Records and before that she did PR for Concert Southern Promotions, now Live Nation Atlanta.
With clients and connections that span the globe, 360 clients have included Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Music Midtown, Voodoo Music Experience, BottleRock Napa Valley, Lakewood Amphitheater, Candler Park Music + Food Festival, Charlotte Marriott City Center Hotel, Krog Street Market, Netherworld Haunted House, Marriott Marquis, Miracle Christmas Pop Up, ADAC, Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway Hotel, Jennifer Nettles/Sugarland, 10th Anniversary of the Olympics, The Atlanta Jazz Festival, W Atlanta Downtown, Cousins Properties, The Lawrence, radio personality Bert Weiss of Q100 and The Bert Show, Eight Sushi Lounge and non-profits such as Bert’s Big Adventure, Jane Fonda’s G-CAPP, The Frank Ski Kids Foundation, Grady Health Foundation and March of Dimes.
Tara is an active member in the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) and is the recipient of several professional awards. She was also named as “One of the 25 Power Women to Watch,” and was nominated as one of Atlanta’s Top 25 Women by Rolling Out Magazine.
VP, Workforce Readiness: Lyn Schenbeck
Dr. Lyn Schenbeck has been teaching and performing for 50 years. With a bachelor, masters, and doctorate in music, her career spans both the United States and Eastern Europe. Currently, she, and her musicologist husband, Dr. Lawrence Schenbeck, are reconstructing and creating a critical edition of Shuffle Along, an African-American musical from 1921, by Ragtime and Jazz composer Eubie Blake and singer/lyricist Noble Sissle, which started the careers of Paul Robeson, Hall Johnson, Florence Mills, and Josephine Baker. It will soon be published in the series Music of the United States of America. As an avid supporter of the Civil Rights movement, during her undergraduate days, she sang and played folk music in coffee houses all over the country.
Dr. Schenbeck currently serves on the Atlanta Board of Governors and co-chairs the Education Committee of The Grammy Recording Academy. She has written dozens of CD and record liner notes. Most recently, she just completed liner notes for a recording of Civility, a piece by composer Lee Johnson, with narration by former President Jimmy Carter. It is due to be released shortly. She has conducted and performed in more than 30 musicals, sung background vocals on recordings, and done a great deal of studio work. She has worked for many years as a Music Therapist and intends to continue her work in that field.
Her teaching career has included chairing the Music Industry Program at Georgia State University, being Director of Choral and Orchestral Activities at Agnes Scott College and Director of Career Development at LaGrange College. She just retired as Director of the Music Technology, Performance, Business, and Medicine Program at Central Educational Center, a publicly funded Charter College and Career Academy in Newnan, GA.
VP, Government Relations: Tammy Hurt, Placement Music
(Co-Founder, President Emeritus of GMP)
Serial entrepreneur, music industry advocate and rock drummer (IG: @tammyhurtonthedrums), Tammy Hurt began playing drums at the age of four and has been playing professionally since the age of 14. Among her numerous credits, she has recorded and performed live with the GRAMMY Award-winning Indigo Girls, GRAMMY Award-winning producer Brendan O’Brien, GRAMMY Award-winning engineer/mixer/producer Nick DiDia and most recently with members of the band Grouplove on an upcoming release in Spring 2020.
She is the managing partner at Placement Music, a boutique entertainment firm specializing in custom music, scoring and post-audio for all forms of media. Highlights include: being commissioned by FOX Sports (twice) to create original, full orchestral scores for their worldwide Super Bowl broadcasts for which they were awarded two silver Telly Awards – and providing music for film and television clients including Paramount Pictures, SONY, CBS, Lifetime, NFL and NASCAR.
Tammy is a co-founder of Georgia Music Partners (GMP), the non-profit behind the passage of the Georgia Music Investment Act (tax incentive). She was recently elected as Vice Chair of the National Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy and she is a recipient of Catalyst Magazine’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs and Ones to Watch Award.
Director, Social Media: Shani Sammons, Shani Sammons Marketing Group
Shani Sammons focuses on connecting fans with their favorite artists through strategic social and digital strategies. Shani has worked with Sugarland, AT&T Country Deep/DirectTV, Verizon, Sean Kingston, Styx, Sonia Leigh, Cole Taylor, Delta Air Lines, Turner Broadcasting, Verizon, Nike Athlete and Olympic Gold Medalist, Elena Delle Donne, and NASCAR. She has also managed projects with – Lady Antebellum, Florida Georgia Line, and the CMA Awards.
While working with Sugarland, Shani led Sugarland’s social media and fan engagement while traveling with the band on a national tour. In 2011, Shani launched SSMG, a digital marketing firm for entertainers and athletes. In 2013, Shani also joined AT&T to lead their marketing strategy for their newest U-verse music channel, Country Deep. While at AT&T, Shani launched a national 15-city tour with CAA and four country artists – Sam Hunt, Jana Kramer, David Nail, and Canaan Smith. Shani graduated from Georgia Tech with a Masters in Business Administration. Shani also serves on the Board of Governors for the Recording Academy, Atlanta Chapter.
Kendall A. Minter
Kendall Minter is a Partner at Taylor English Duma LLP. Minter boasts more than 40 years of experience as an internationally renowned entertainment attorney. Prior to joining Taylor English in 2019, Minter established Minter & Associates, LLC in Atlanta, a boutique law firm that represented a diverse international clientele in entertainment, corporate, intellectual property, sports and new media matters.
Minter has represented a variety of high-profile clients including Jermaine Dupri, The Backstreet Boys, Evander Holyfield, Lena Horne, Peter Tosh, Ashanti, Third World, Roy Ayers, Teddy Riley, Jagged Edge, Najee, Cassandra Wilson, Musiq Soulchild and the Ying Yang Twins.
Minter is a co-founder and the inaugural Executive Director of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyer Association, where he continues to serve on its Advisory Board. Additionally, he was a founding Director of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and is Chairman Emeritus of that organization. Minter is also a member of the Board of Directors and General Counsel for the Living Legends Foundation and is a Director of Sound Exchange, Inc.
Representative of his work in the entertainment sector, Minter received the National Bar Association’s Entertainment & Sports Law Section “Living Legend Entertainment Attorney Award” in 2015. He is also listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in Entertainment, Who’s Who in The East and Who’s Who Amongst Black Americans and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama, as well as numerous other awards, including a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles.
Currently, Minter is an adjunct professor at Georgia State University teaching copyright and music publishing.
Minter earned his bachelor’s degree and law degree from Cornell University.
Bernie Lawrence-Watkins is a seasoned principal attorney at the law firm of B. Lawrence Watkins & Associates, PC, concentrating in the areas of Entertainment, Media Technology, Licensing, Copyright, Trademark, Business Transactions, Litigation, and Corporate Formations. Her clients include Grammy® Award-winning music producers, artists, and songwriters, some of who have sold over 10 million units in sales. She also represents major label record executives, Deejays, independent record labels, managers, music and film/television production companies, screenplay writers, and clothing designers.
Ms. Lawrence-Watkins has over nineteen years of experience in drafting and negotiating complex agreements ranging from licensing, employment, corporate transactions, to product endorsement and influencer deals on behalf of entertainment and corporate brands. Ms. Lawrence-Watkins’ sharp negotiating skills have earned her clients over millions of dollars in advances and residual income. She periodically appears as a guest lecturer and panelist at colleges, law schools and conferences nationally and internationally.
In 2007, Ms. Lawrence-Watkins received the Metro Atlanta Community Champion Award from MADD and was honored by Rolling Out Magazine as one of Atlanta’s 25 Most Influential Women. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Georgia appointed her as a Mentor in the Transition into Law Practice Program to assist newly admitted lawyers to the State Bar of Georgia, and she currently participates as a mentor. During that same year, she also received The Token of Appreciation Award from Music in the Metro, a non-profit organization located in Des Moines, Iowa for bringing youth and the music industry together. In 2012, she was presented the Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Award by Women of Wealth Magazine and was honored by ASCAP as one of The Women Behind the Music. In 2014, Ms. Lawrence-Watkins received the Chairman’s Award from the Entertainment, Sports & Art Law Section of the National Bar Association. In 2015, she was honored with an Icon Award by Writing Sessions America – Atlanta, and Rolling Out Magazine honored her as one of the Top 25 Women of Atlanta for the second time. In 2017, she was featured in Attorney at Law Magazine as one of the attorneys to watch and in Who’s Who in Black Atlanta. In 2018, She received the Rising In Community Excellence (R.I.C.E.) Award and was selected by her peers to receive the Diverse Professional Achievement Award.
Ms. Lawrence-Watkins received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Howard University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore, School of Law.
Ian is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, professional musician, producer, and music industry businessman with over a decade of full-time performing & recording experience. He is well versed in Funk, Rock, EDM, Jam, Indie, Acoustic, Americana, Blues, R&B and Soul. He has served actively at set.fm, helping artists connect to fans through superlative live recordings and excellent direct-to-fan distribution.
In the Spring of 2019, Ian has been elected Secretary of The Recording Academy/Grammys Atlanta Chapter.
Judiffier Pearson is a professor and consultant whose work intersects business, academia, and entertainment (music, film, tv, and digital media). Her passionate advocacy for creative economies is grounded in the solutions that these industries offer for business development, job creation, and community revitalization.
Judiffier is a Lecturer of Management at Clayton State University’s College of Business, teaching courses in Entertainment Management, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Principles of Management. She also remains active in industry practice with over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience. Her company, Quest5 Consulting, focuses on entertainment economics, strategic planning, and leadership development. Judiffier has developed long-term growth strategies for executives and creatives; secured financing for recording studios; and established supply chain relationships for production companies. She has also created several executive education programs to help entertainment-adjacent companies build capacity and optimize state tax credits.
Community engagement is a cornerstone of Judiffier’s work. She serves as a Board Member for InvestAtlanta’s Creative Industries Loan Fund, a financing program that assists independent content creators and creative entrepreneurs. She also serves as a consultant on the Film Supplier & Workforce Development Taskforce, comprised of Tyler Perry Studios, InvestAtlanta, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.
Judiffier earned her Master of Business Administration degree in Leadership and Organization Management from Georgia State University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Global Policy from The University of Georgia.
Isaac Hayes III – Isaac Hayes Enterprises
Isaac is the President and CEO of Isaac Hayes Enterprises, where he is responsible for maintaining and growing the Isaac Hayes brand, managing the entire unreleased Isaac Hayes masters & publishing catalog, and overseeing music licenses, negotiate & clear samples & organize the catalog for future recording & entertainment projects. Isaac is also a songwriter, publisher, producer, and voice artist himself, and has been a long-term advocate for the growth of our local music scene.
Phillana Williams, Director, Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment | City of Atlanta
Elliston “GENIUS” Clarke, Operating Manager, RARE Sound
GENIUS is a Jamaican born & Atlanta raised Disc Jockey. Over the past few years, Genius has evolved as one of the elite music curators in the Atlanta Hip Hop scene; helping break major artists such as 2 Chainz, Migos, and his main business partner, K Camp.
GENIUS is the CEO of Mixtape Monopoly, an Urban Digital Distribution, Marketing, & Management firm, and Operations Manager at RARE Sound/RARE Studios. While serving in these roles, GENIUS has also managed to build a music career by independently distributing his own musical work, which has acquired millions of streams and views.
DiAndria Green, Manager, Benneth Thrasher
DiAndria Green is a Manager in Bennett Thrasher’s State and Local Tax (SALT) consulting practice where she primarily focuses on providing state income/franchise tax consulting, sales/use tax consulting and other state tax services to clients of varying sizes and legal entity types.
While at Bennett Thrasher, she has also advised motion picture studios, television networks, independent film producers and digital entertainment companies across the country on how to pursue, utilize and monetize movie production incentives and film tax credits. Her work primarily consisted of educating clients on the law surrounding available state film tax credits and the qualifications required in pursuing those credits. While assisting clients with claiming film tax credits, DiAndria also analyzed production expenses to determine qualifying expenditures, conducted due diligence reviews and drafted due diligence reports that indicated relevant procedures and findings. With the recent passage of the Georgia Music Investment Act, she has started educating clients and the public on the potential of utilizing and monetizing a music production company’s qualified production expenditures in the state.
DiAndria has over 12 years of tax consulting and business development experience. Prior to joining Bennett Thrasher, DiAndria worked at Ernst & Young where she focused on Research & Development (R&D) credit study services and at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Washington National Tax Office, where she focused on providing Merger and Acquisition tax consulting services to public and privately held corporate clients.
DiAndria graduated from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She received her Juris Doctor from Texas Southern University (Thurgood Marshall School of Law) and her Masters of Taxation (LLM) in from Boston University.
Randie Brooks, VP Entertainment, Sports and Private Client Banking, CNB
Randie has been providing clients and their families with various financial services for over 20 years. She has been specifically working with clients in the Entertainment, Sports, and Private Banking areas at City National Bank for 10 years. This includes business managers, CPAs, and attorneys along with the clients’ established teams. She strive to better understand clients’ business and personal needs so she can make the best recommendations for how to achieve their financial goals – both short and long term.
Randie has been an outstanding advocate and supporter of GMP over the years.
Prior to CNB Randie held positions with H&R Block, LPL Financial, and Wells Fargo.
Creative Advisory Circle
David Barbe: Producer / Engineer – Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt, Amy Ray, New Madrid / Musician – Sugar, Mercyland, Drive-By Truckers, The Bar-B-Q Killers / Director – UGA Music Business Program
Katie Deal: Vocalist / Performer
John Driskell Hopkins: Zac Brown Band
Chuck Leavell, Keyboardist: Rolling Stones
Matt Still: Producer / Engineer / Mixer – Elton John, Lady GaGa, Outkast
Peter Stroud: Guitarist, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLaughlin, Don Henley
Jan Smith: Vocal Producer / Instructor – Usher, The Band Perry, Rob Thomas, Justin Bieber, Drake, TLC
Phil Tan: Mixer – Coldplay, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, NE-YO, Ludacris, Usher, Janelle Monae
Tom E. Marzullo: Production Designer / Production Manager – Justin Bieber, KISS, Prince, Chris Brown, Pitch Perfect 2 (performance scenes), T-Pain, NE-YO
Joel Katz: Greenberg-Traurig
Peggy Still Johnson: President and CCO at Roadshow Equity Partners
Brian Hudson: Managing Principal, The Hudson Group
Rich Levy: Senior Vice President / Alliances, Live Nation
GMP with friends