Larry Mestel

CEO, Primary Wave Music

Larry Mestel

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Mestel is the Founder and CEO of Primary Wave Music, headquartered in New York, NY.

Mestel previously held positions at Island Entertainment Group, Arista Records, and Virgin Records.

Mestel has produced and/or co-produced films including the critically acclaimed documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

Larry Mestel: Career History

During the 1990s, Larry Mestel was Chief Operating Officer of Chris Blackwell’s Island Entertainment Group, which included Island Records, Island Music Publishing, and Island Pictures.

After nine years with Blackwell’s company, Mestel moved to Arista Records in 2000 to become the label’s Executive Vice President and General Manager.

In this role, Mestel managed sales, international and strategic marketing, A&R and marketing administration, finance, and business affairs. He also helped develop some of the label’s major artists including Outkast, Usher, Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Carlos Santana.

Four years later in 2004, Mestel jumped ship to Virgin Records to become Chief Operating Officer and General Manager.

At Virgin, Mestel oversaw the company’s marketing, sales, and the general day-to-day business operations. He continued to work with historic artists such as The Rolling Stones, Jermaine Dupri, Lenny Kravitz, and Janet Jackson.

At the beginning of 2006, Mestel founded Primary Wave Records. He quickly struck a deal with Courtney Love, the widow of Kurt Cobain, to purchase 25% of her share of Nirvana’s publishing catalog for over $50 million dollars.

He continued by purchasing portions of catalogs from John Lennon, Chicago, and Steven Tyler, just to name a few.

As Primary Wave Records continued to acquire music rights, Mestel expanded the firm to include talent management, marketing, and television and film development.

In October 2022, Primary Wave inked a $2 billion deal with financial giant Brookfield. The agreement saw Brookfield commit $1.7 billion into a new “permanent capital vehicle” – essentially a fourth fund – in which Primary Wave itself was also a minority owner.

Today, Mestel and Primary Wave control songs from legendary artists including Bob Marley, Prince, Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Bing Crosby, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles, and Aerosmith.

Larry Mestel: Professional philosophy

In an October 2022 interview with Music Business Worldwide, Larry Mestel said: “When you buy the right music assets and you truly add value to those assets, you keep your partners happy,” smiles Mestel. “There is typically a good outcome that comes from that strategy.”

He added: “We’ve had a successful growth strategy in place for 16 years now – enhancing value not only for us but for our artistic partners as well [Primary Wave often strikes deals where the songwriter/artist/estate involved keeps a minority interest].

“Primary Wave has a history of being friendly to artists, plus artists know we close deals.”

Larry Mestel, speaking in 2022

“Primary Wave has a history of being friendly to artists, plus artists know we close deals – we don’t walk away from signed letters of intent.

“When you look at the enhancement of streaming for iconic artists [Primary Wave has achieved], when you look at the marketing and then the podcasts, documentaries, brand opportunities that we’ve implemented, you understand why our revenue has grown dramatically.”Music Business Worldwide

Larry Mestel In The News

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