About Us

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 generating more than $313 million in tax revenues for state and local governments. According to a 50 states of Music , the industry supports over 45,000 jobs with nearly 10,000 businesses including labels, studios and venues around the state.  Research from Oxford Economics affirms that the live music and entertainment industry generates significant economic impacts in Georgia with a total economic impact of $2.7 billion in 2019. This total economic impact supported 24,124 total jobs and generated $113 million in total state and local tax revenues.

GMD 2017

Georgia Music Day 2017, Georgia State Capitol Photo credit: Cara Pastore @f22studio 

Our 2022 goals are to educate, collaborate, promote and connect music professionals all around the state.  We are working on city and countywide efforts to enhance and grow the music ecosystem.  Post covid, music has a tremendous opportunity to re-set and reimagine the possibilities and be a catalyst in jobs recovery.  We represent the music educators, performers, producers and engineers and all those that make their living supporting the industry.   

GMP’s objectives for 2022 and this new decade are as follows:

  1. Increase meaningful partnerships utilizing our board, members and sponsors.  
  2. Focus on educational and informative event programming.
  3. Build broader reach across the state. 
  4. Foster relationships with music educators to assist in bridging between them and businesses.
  5. Spotlighting the music community and being better storytellers about how and why music is such an important part of our DNA as Georgians.
  6. Working with local and state government to establish asset mapping of the industry and establishing music commissions.

DEI Statement

As an organization focused on helping grow Georgia’s music industry from the ground up, we embrace our responsibility to drive real and meaningful change to ensure a culture of inclusion, belonging and respect for everyone. Music is the most diverse and equitable art and entertainment medium and since GMP’s inception, embracing and embodied this diversity has remained important.

We seek to inspire the music community and industry to thrive as a place where all voices are heard. We’re committed to developing programs to help educate and offer guidance on approaching the important issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s a priority within our organization to work together to not only support GMP members, but also create events and forums to move the needle forward and promote change.

  • Actively commit to a community engagement program that focuses on education, breaking down barriers, and supporting innovative and inclusive programming.
  • Amplify diversity, through our board, leadership and volunteers.
  • Examine our programming model with a focus on inclusion.
  • Partnership with diverse organizations that allow us to broaden efforts to those marginalized, underserved and underrepresented.
  • Mentor diverse individuals who are seeking careers in music and arts management.
  • Adapt our external language and communications with sensitivity towards race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender identity.

 

Board of Directors

 

President: Mala Sharma

Mala Sharma is a creative thinker with financial skills and a proven leader of high performing, collaborative, cross-functional teams. Sharma’s broad-based experience in the entertainment industry includes business development, management and strategic partnerships in music production and digital entertainment.

Sharma has been consulting In the creative industries since 2015, working with clients in all aspects of the entertainment industry clients include, Wabi Sabi Sound, Callonwolde Fine Arts Center, Avatar Events Group, Sound Diplomacy…

With 20+ years in the music & entertainment industry, Sharma has collaborated on some of the most successful albums of our time. Her work with GRAMMY-winning music producers Rick Rubin and Brendan O’Brien has resulted in timeless, multi-platinum recordings by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and more.

Sharma also established City National Bank’s presence in Atlanta as VP by building and fostering successful relationships with high-profile entertainment clients. Sharma oversaw marketing and sponsorship for the bank’s flagship Atlanta office. Sharma’s career also includes tenures at Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Def American Records and Fifty Seven Records (a Sony label).

In 2019, Sharma was appointed to the Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Commission by Governor Kemp. Additional board service includes US IP Alliance, Georgia IP Association Entertainment, Arts and Sports committee, the Board of Governors for The Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter and the advisory board for the UGA’s Music Business Program.

A recognized leader in entertainment advocacy, she frequently brings her industry expertise to speaking engagements to conferences, meetings and summits.

 

Secretary: Tate Henshaw, Polay & Clark

 

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 a part of the Music Industry since the age of thirteen, when she performed with the New York Musical Theatre Workshop and the Long Island Gilbert and Sullivan company. She has done studio singing and played violin as well. Her ardent desire, however, was to become a music educator. During her college days she sang and played folk guitar in numerous coffee houses around the country.

With a bachelor, masters, and doctorate in music, she has been teaching and performing for over 50 years. Her teaching career has included Chair of the Music Industry Program at Georgia State University, Director of Choral and Orchestral Activities at Agnes Scott College, and Director of Career Development at LaGrange College. She recently retired as Creator and Director of the Music Technology, Performance, Business, and Medicine Program at Central Educational Center (CEC), a publicly funded Charter College and Career Academy in Newnan, GA. She continues her affiliation with CEC as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors. In 2018, she and her musicologist husband, Dr. Lawrence Schenbeck published a critical edition of the Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle 1921 African American musical Shuffle Along, which won the Claude Palisca Award for best edition, given by the American Musicological Society.

Dr. Schenbeck has served on the Atlanta Board of Governors and is currently a member of the Atlanta Education Committee of The Grammy Recording Academy. She has written dozens of CD and record liner notes. Most recently, she completed liner notes for a recording of Civility, a piece by composer Lee Johnson, with narration by former President Jimmy Carter. 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 is currently a contract Music Therapist for Piedmont-Fayette Hospital. As Vice President for Workforce Development at Georgia Music Partners, she continues to mentor students and help them develop and hone the skills needed to be a part of today’s Music Industry.

 

VP, Government Relations: Tammy Hurt, Placement Music

(Co-Founder, President Emeritus of GMP)

As an independent music industry veteran, Tammy Hurt has been a driving force in Atlanta’s music scene for decades. An Emmy-nominated television producer for her work with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Hurt is the managing partner of Placement Music, a boutique entertainment firm specializing in custom music, scoring and licensing. FOX Sports commissioned the company for two consecutive Super Bowl broadcasts to create an original full orchestral score.

Additional credits include Paramount Pictures, CBS, MTV, HBO, BET, Sony, Lifetime, Hallmark, NFL, NASCAR, “True Blood,” “Dexter,” “Drop Dead Diva,” Mean Girls 2, and multiple custom placements in the indie film HITS, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.
 
Hurt’s most recent recording project, Sonic Rebel – We Made This With Our Hands, is a five-song instrumental EP that is a mashup of electronic, rock, glitch, dub trap, and hip-hop elements, released Summer 2021. Recorded at Big Trouble Recording in L5P Atlanta, the project features Dan Gleason and Ben Homola from Grouplove, engineer TJ Elias, multi-instrumentalist Kevin Spencer on guitar, and Hurt on the drums.

A co-founder of the nonprofit organization Georgia Music Partners, Hurt led the campaign, along with Mala Sharma, to create and pass Georgia’s first standalone music tax incentive, the Georgia Music Investment Act. She is a recipient of Catalyst Magazine’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs and Ones to Watch Award and was named by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a 2021 Most Admired CEO honoree for her significant contributions to the metro community. A featured speaker at the 2021 TEDxAtlana Summit, she received a formal Commendation from Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for her impact on the music industry in Georgia and the United States and was appointed to serve on the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Advisory Commission. 

She currently serves as Chair of the National Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy and is an openly LGBTQ+ officer of the Academy. Serving as president of Georgia Music Accord, Tammy is spearheading the efforts to build a GRAMMY Museum in Atlanta.

 

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

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.

 

Judiffier Pearson

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

Phillana is a Marketing Executive in the Entertainment and Government fields with skill sets that include product development, social media marketing, event management, public relations strategy and management, community engagement and workforce development. Prior to joining the Mayor’s office, she serves as VP, Artist Relations for TuneCore. 

 

DiAndria Green, Manager, Bennett 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 Brooks is a vice president and relationship manager with Entertainment Banking at City National Bank. Based in Atlanta, Ms. Brooks provides qualified financial solutions to support the music, film and television industries, as well as high-net-worth individuals, athletes, and entrepreneurs. Her broad base of entertainment clients from music producers, songwriters to film production companies, prop houses and costume shops gives her a unique insight on the type of service needed and a firm grasp on the revenue streams from independent artists to international talent.

Active in the community, Ms. Brooks serves on the board of Georgia Music Partners, Women in Film & Television Atlanta, and is a professional member of the Recording Academy. She is also an active member of City National Bank’s Black Colleague Alliance, Women’s Network, and Co-chairs the LinkedIn100; a business development group focused on engaging clients from diverse backgrounds.

Ms. Brooks resides in Atlanta with her husband and two of her three children. She volunteers her time with the Dunwoody Springs Elementary PTO Foundation, City National Bank’s Dollars + Sense Financial Literacy Program, and several community organizations.

 

David Barbe, Director, Music Business Certificate Program at University of Georgia

David has been the Director of the University of Georgia Music Business Program since 2010. He’s been in the music business since graduating The University of Georgia in 1986, serving as an engineer and producer with hundreds of artists (Drive-By Truckers, Deerhunter, Son Volt, Bettye Lavette, Harvey Milk). he is the owner of Chase Park Transduction Recording Studios (Animal Collective, The Whigs, Bright Eyes, Booker T Jones, Widespread Panic), as well as a musician (Sugar, Mercyland, Bar-B-Q Killers); songwriter, label owner and artist manager.

 

Advisory Board

Creative Advisory Circle

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

Tom E. Marzullo: Production Designer / Production Manager – Justin Bieber, KISS, Prince, Chris Brown, Pitch Perfect 2 (performance scenes), T-Pain, NE-YO

 

Advisors

Joel Katz: Greenberg-Traurig

Craig Hoffman

Peggy Still Johnson: Pendulum Music Productions and GO Media Productions

Brian Hudson: Managing Principal, The Hudson Group

Rich Levy: Senior Vice President / Alliances, Live Nation

Mark Neil: Soil of the South; Valdosta Advisor

Joe Stevenson: Gluestick Music; Augusta Advisor
 
Steve Moretti: Macon Pops; Macon Advisor
 
Arreasha Lawrence: Music and Entertainment Council; Columbus Advisor
 
Andrew Ratcliffe: Tweed Recording; Athens Advisor

 

GMP with friends

Bill Signing

The signing of The Georgia Music Investment Act with Governor Deal in 2018.

 

 

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The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc., owns, among others, the following
registered trademarks: National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences® and GRAMMY©
All Photos by Cara Pastore for F22 Studio