Behind the Curtains with Roc Nation’s Desiree Perez: Empowering Women in the Entertainment Industry

The global music and entertainment industry is a titan sector with estimated revenues of $17.2 billion in 2016 alone. This is more than a third of industry revenues for this sector worldwide. While leadership roles in this industry are predominantly held by males, there are zealous female seats at that table, too. The COO of Roc Nation, Desiree Perez is one of the most powerful female executives in the music industry, according to Billboard’s 2017 Women in Music list. The list entails names of the best female dealmakers, influencers and tastemakers who cover everything from making records to protecting rights, negotiating contracts to discovering talent.

Dez Perez’s name is among the industry’s top females – legendary music executives, presidents of top record labels, promotion managers, heads of marketing departments as well as other key female figures who were behind the success of popular music artists for the last two decades. This is in line with Perez’s reputation as a tough negotiator, but this also makes her a role model for women.

Roc Nation is a full-service entertainment company and record label, but it is so much more than that. The company manages songwriters, music artists, producers and sound engineers. Aside from publishing music, their label repertoire of activities includes handling touring, merchandising, TV and film deals. As an angel-investment firm, they also support music-related new business ventures. Some of the big names that the company has signed on include Rita Ora, Calvin Harris, Shakira, J. Cole, NO ID, Timbaland, Santigold and Wale.

Mention Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, and Desiree Perez’ name undoubtedly comes up as a key figure in Jay-Z’s evolution from rapper to business mogul. She has been part of Roc Nation since 2009, and she was also involved in SC enterprises as well as a critical part of the expansion of other Shawn Carter business interests in the industry.

According to, “Des has been helping Jay-Z expand his enterprise for the last 22 years.” Perez oversees Roc Nation’s publishing and labeling activities. She manages its overall support, running day-to-day operations, building long-term marketing and promotion strategies for the music artists she represents and coordinating music tours all while working together with Roc Nation’s founder Jay-Z and CEO Jay Brown. In short, she optimizes profits for both the company and its investors while maximum development of the talent that is under her care. According to insiders, “Des Perez is Jay-Z’s secret weapon when it comes to making critical business decisions and entering into high-level, high-pressure negotiations. Perez exudes confidence, charisma and a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to jumping on business opportunities that would add to corporate profitability.” It comes as no surprise that Jay-Z has kept her as a trusted business associate for over two decades.

Dez Perez has a substantial repertoire of client successes, including a $25-million Samsung collaboration negotiation for the promotion of Rihanna’s Anti tour. This lead to the artist’s standing as a bankable A-list performer and entertainment superstar. Dez Perez has become a key member of Rihanna’s inner circle, and this is an example of strong women tending to congregate together. As Rihanna’s future successes amass, there is no doubt that Perez will be her right hand, offering financial and business advice to advance her career even further.

Another example of Perez’s reputation as a notorious negotiator is Sprint’s $200 million investment in TIDAL that was announced in January of last year. This was paid off only a few months later with Jay-Z’s release of 4:44, his 14th Billboard No. 1. This was a Sprint-sponsored free download to 1 million people, and it earned the MC a platinum plaque before the album’s official release. Having racked up 600,000 equivalent album units, it has also served as an example of a powerful marketing campaign. Furthermore, in April of 2017 Roc Nation’s equity partner, Live Nation, signed a long-term $200 million touring partnership with Jay-Z. His 4:44 tour which was sponsored by Puma amassed 21% more profits than his 2013 Magna Carter Tour – all thanks to Dez Perez.

But Dez Perez is so much more than Roc Nation’s COO. She is the driving force behind some of the biggest female and male names in the music industry, which really makes her the driving force behind everything these artists stand for. One of the artists is Mariah Carey, who recently vocalized and demonstrated her support for the Time’s Up movement, the anti-sexual harassment initiative of women in Hollywood. Carey recently stated that it is not just Hollywood that needs to change and that the Time’s Up initiative must also come to the music industry. She offered to be a “consultant” to help take the campaign further, and she recently wore black to the Golden Globe awards as a sign of her support of the anti-sexual harassment initiative.

The notoriously private Perez and her husband, Juan Perez, are members of a collective of influencers and investors involved in the music and entertainment industry known as the Hova Circle of Influence. Undoubtedly, it was not easy for Desiree Perez to rise to the top of a male dominated industry. Her clients’ successes are examples of her strength, and while she can be seen next to the many individuals she turned into celebrities, she does not consider herself as one. And while Jay-Z may be the face of Roc Nation, Perez can be considered as its heart. She has the character combination of success – a combination of both compassion and steadiness and toughness and shrewdness that a business world requires.

For more information on Desiree Perez, find her on InstagramLinkedIn or Twitter.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.

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