2 Minutes With ... Danielle Lee, President of Artist & Fan Experiences at Warner Music Group
Danielle Lee serves as president of artist and fan experiences at Warner Music Group, WMX. Danielle was named one of Billboard's Branding Power Players in 2019 and ranked among Adweek's Top 50 most indispensable executives in marketing, media and technology from 2016-18. Also, Business Insider has named her one of the Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising three times. Danielle holds an MBA in marketing and media management from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in political science from Columbia University.
We spent two minutes with Danielle to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.
Danielle, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Harlem, N.Y., and now live in Montclair, N.J.
Your earliest musical memory.
Music was always playing in my home, especially Motown. I recall dancing in our living room with my sister to Stevie Wonder's Song in the key of Life album when I was about 5 years old. Music amplified the joy in our home and when the storytelling was so rich, it made me feel like anything is possible.
Your favorite bands/musicians today.
There are too many to name so I'll mention two—Mary J. Blige and Lizzo. Their talent is undeniable, but it's their authenticity that really makes them stand out to me. I love the rawness of Mary's voice and the emotion that comes through in her sound. I admire Lizzo's confidence and message of self-love. She is unapologetically herself and encourages us all to stand in our truth.
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on, and why.
"A Whole New Game" was the campaign I developed when I was chief fan officer at the NBA. It is one of my favorite projects because it was so much more than traditional marketing. It was a reimagining of the NBA fan experience timed to the 2019-20 Restart. You will recall that the regular season was put on pause due to the pandemic. The campaign included virtual fan seats, a court-side experience with Facebook Oculus, mic-ing up players and coaches to give fans on court access to commentary, and so much more. We also launched the league’s social justice platform alongside the NBA restart. I will never forget the 'NBA Bubble" experience during the pandemic and I will forever be proud of the work we accomplished together through "A Whole New Game."
A recent project you're proud of, and why.
Burna Boy's "One Night In Space" was a special moment for the culture. Burna Boy is the first Nigerian artist to headline New York City's Madison Square Garden. For those that don't know Burna Boy, he's credited with creating Afro-Fusion music. He has been featured with Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, and others, and is helping to push Afrobeat into the mainstream. For him to headline and sell out Madison Square Garden was a massive cultural moment because it signaled that Afro-beat is in fact pop music. It was so significant that he named this one show differently from the rest of his tour, "One Night In Space" and WMX live-streamed the concert on YouTube, which had over 81,000 live viewers. We also dropped a range of limited-edition merch for fans that could be purchased at the venue and online with two of the three items selling out online.
One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.
I'm excited about all of the new and innovative ways that artists can now connect with their fans. Lately, we've been experimenting with using augmented reality to drive commerce. In the lead-up to Gorillaz's album release in February, we created an immersive shopping experience that integrated the new single from Cracker Island. Fans could try on branded merch and then go to the artist’s store to purchase. We saw huge lifts in engagement, store views, add-to-cart behavior, and purchases.
We're also dropping POAPs. POAPs are digital collectibles, which reward fans for attendance and build a community of fans the artist can engage in the future. Kevin Gates rewarded a limited number of fans on his Big Lyfe tour with digital collectibles for their attendance. He will reward this community of superfans with additional content, early access, and other benefits throughout the year.
Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.
I am inspired by Rihanna's work. She has really proven herself to be a powerhouse on many levels—from building a multi-billion dollar beauty business to revealing her baby bump during her Super Bowl performance. I admire how she has extended her brand into multiple businesses and has selectively chosen projects and partnerships that are purposeful and have a lasting impact.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
Finding Me by Viola Davis is a beautiful memoir about triumph and healing. I recommend listening to Viola narrate her story. It is special.
An artist you admire outside the world of music.
I'm a big fan of Sheryl Lee Ralph. She is the epitome of perseverance, longevity and grace. She is a beautiful example of doing what you love and is finally getting the recognition she deserves.
Your favorite fictional character.
Black Panther is my favorite fictional character because he is a fierce warrior king with a big heart. Wakanda Forever!
Someone worth following on social media.
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist that I enjoy following. He offers great leadership advice that is accessible to everyone.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
Creative strategy is an area in which I excel. It's both art and science and I enjoy bringing consumer insights and storytelling together to evoke an emotional response and inspire action.
Your biggest weakness.
Doing the most. At times, it is hard for me to say no. There are so many amazing opportunities afforded to me; while I would love to participate in all of them, it isn't possible. I don't like to disappoint people so I overcommit and kick myself later.
Something people would find surprising about you.
I played ice hockey in high school.
One thing that always makes you happy.
The beach is one place that always makes me feel happy. It is the place where I feel most connected to God.
One thing that always makes you sad.
The state of politics in America makes me sad. Our country is so divided and people have stopped trying to understand points of view that are different from their own.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.
I would advise founders and CEOs. I enjoy scaling businesses and have expertise in bringing products to market, a skill set that startups and growth-stage companies often lack.