The Culture Theory's Jake Posner on A R I Z O N A, Natania, and Metallica's Masterclass

Plus, why brands should take more exploratory meetings with artists they admire

Jake Posner, an entertainment executive, entrepreneur and artist advocate, is founder and CEO of The Culture Theory, originally an impassioned late-night impulse that has now become a full-scale music management company for artists, producers and songwriters as well as an incubator for future execs.

His clients have had major cuts with artists like Bella Poarch, Kygo, David Guetta, Sigala, Jamie T, Rosa Linn, Kah-Lo and collaborative partnerships with Apple, Netflix and more. Originally, the company was built off the heels of discovering A R I Z O N A on Reddit in 2015. Over the past seven years, the band has grown from a group of unknown basement producers to an established streaming and touring act, now signed to Elektra Music Group and having graced main stages of nearly every North American music festival.

In 2020, while simultaneously running his company, Jake also became the SVP of A&R and NYC ops for Hallwood Media, helping build the company and its roster alongside CEO Neil Jacobson. Throughout his career, he's always been involved in many different facets of marketing and brand strategy from image management for an apparel company to creative collaboration on marketing campaigns for major music releases.

We caught up with Jake for our Liner Notes series to learn more about his musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work he's proud of and admired.


Jake, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Long Island, New York, about 30 minutes outside of New York City and still very, very proudly call New York my home … only now I'm in Manhattan soaking up all the incredible—and chaotic to the best degree—energy that the best city in the world has to offer. :)

Your earliest musical memory.

 I have a few specific flashbulbs: 

  • The first time I heard "Faint" by Linkin Park on my Sony Walkman G Force—that classic first "anti-skip" Walkman with the big orange "G" on it.
  • Drum lessons where I attempted—and failed somewhat spectacularly—to play "Faint" by Linkin Park.
  • My dad driving me around in his car blasting Pearl Jam, Phil Collins and Genesis, tapping all sorts of percussive rhythms on the steering wheel—a trait I very proudly inherited.
Your first concert.

Avril Lavigne for a friend's birthday at Nassau Coliseum. Prime "Let Go" era. I don't honestly remember much from the show outside of it being my first and also the first time I was in a suite—classic Long Island—but I'm honored to have bore witness to "Complicated" in its prime. 

Your favorite bands/musicians. 

I mean this with all and no bias at the same time—A R I Z O N A. I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have discovered—and get to manage—my favorite band, and the music honestly only continues to get better … not to mention the love for it all only deepens as we have gotten closer and experienced so much together over the years.

Aside from AZ, my guilty pleasure is house music—so in that world, Chris Lake is the GOAT in terms of the music he makes and the impact he's made on, and for, the genre. In terms of rising stars, my vote is Emmit Fenn hands down: incredibly versatile—put him on shuffle and you'll either start crying or dancing in a way you haven't before. 

How you get your music these days.

I'm a big fan of Spotify radio on songs I'm loving. I tend to obsess over specific songs for elongated periods of time, so from there I love to let the algorithm do the work and show me what I might be missing … it's often incredibly on point.

Your favorite place to see a concert.

If indoors, Brooklyn Steel. If outdoors, Brooklyn Mirage. No question. 

Your favorite music video.

Childish Gambino, "This Is America." Iconic. Music videos are intended not only to serve as companion and visually voice an artist's creative vision, but also—especially when crafted by true visionaries such as Donald Glover and director Hiro Murai—leave a lasting impact in a way the audio alone never could. The world still watches and this video is just as relevant as it ever was. 

Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast. 

Not necessarily music-related TV or podcast, but I recently watched the Metallica Masterclass on "Being a Band." Incredible, spot on, and highly recommended.

A recent project you're proud of.

The latest Apple One global ad campaign. I only just entered the world of songwriter/producer management at the start of quarantine and have been developing my roster and relationships on that side of the business ever since, so not only am I incredibly proud of how far my team—and my amazing songwriter/artist Natania whose song the campaign is centered around—has come already, but I'm also incredibly proud to have placed the song with Apple myself.

It's truly a testament to my philosophy on building genuine relationships and never forcing business, but rather letting things happen naturally as they should—great music will inevitably always find a way!

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

Fred again… I admire him not only for the energy he gives the world and his fans but I'm loving literally everything he is doing right now … most recently his Boiler Room set, for both the music and the way he so genuinely interacts with every single fan whether they interrupt his set or not—you'll have to watch to see those moments, and I promise they are worth it. He treats everyone as friends and deserves all the shine he's gotten lately.

How musicians should approach working with brands. 

Genuinely and authentically. Never try to force a fit. The best collaborations happen when both parties have a genuine interest and passion for each other as the ideas for collaboration truly become endless!

How brands should approach working with musicians.

Don't be afraid to reach out even if you're not exactly sure how they might be able to fit your upcoming priorities/marketing plans … If you feel the music and (observable) ethos is interesting enough, it's always worth a short and simple intro to see where deeper parallels lie. From experience, you'll never know unless you have a real conversation with the artist(s) themselves. Not to mention when the fit is truly genuine and authentic the impact will always be unquestionably great.

What music can do that nothing else can.

Might be a bit punny, but music truly cuts straight through all the noise. No matter what you might be doing or how many things are running through your head in a given moment, a great song never ceases to pull you in and away from everything else in the most powerful and beautiful way.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world. 

I'd honestly probably be a therapist who goes to concerts every week … I love people just as much as I love music and nothing feeds my soul more than helping others. :)

Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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