Managing Partner, Tanjola Entertainment, Toronto, ON. Born: St. Kitts.
Ivan Berry is a music industry icon.
Michie Mee… Dream Warriors… Keshia Chanté… Tom Green… Glenn Lewis… Wyclef… Shiloh… These artists have all benefited from Ivan Berry’s guidance.
Ivan is a winner and he works with winners. Artists he’s worked with have sold millions of records worldwide and have collected countless industry honours, including JUNO awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent), SOCAN Awards, MuchMusic Video Awards, Canadian Urban Music Awards and a number of certified Gold & Platinum plaques.
Throughout his career as an entrepreneur, artist manager, record label owner, talent development executive and music publisher, Ivan has been a trailblazer, and a model of consistency and success. Through his current management/publishing company, tanjola, with partner Daniel Mekinda, Ivan currently counts Pop superstar singer/songwriter Shiloh, international superstar singer/songwriter Massari, world-class superstar songwriter Rupert Gayle, world-class songwriter/producer/remixer Alex “South Rakkas” Greggs, vibrant R&B songwriter Dru (In Essence), Pop songwriter Haydain Neale (jacksoul), Pop/Rock singer/songwriter Alonzo, pop/rock songwriter/producer Justin Forsley, Caribbean diva singer/songwriter Shazelle and pioneering Hip-Hop group Dream Warriors among his roster of artists.
In the summer of 2006, he began blazing a new trail in the world of music publishing when he launched his co-venture with ole, a global destination for world-class songwriters, composers and management talent. In this partnership, Ivan acquires urban song catalogues and develops urban songwriters, which is an evolution of the role that he played as ole’s Senior Partner, International since late 2004.
A proud native of St. Kitts, Ivan is actively involved in the development of the music business infrastructure across the Caribbean. He is co-creator of the annual St. Kitts Music Festival, which takes place each June and has attracted such international superstars as Kool & The Gang, Chaka Khan, Ludacris, DMX, Hugh Masekela, Boyz II Men and many more.
Ivan formally began his career in the music industry in 1982 when he started the BeatFactory brand with his partner, Rupert Gayle. He signed the first Canadian Rap artist to an international record deal (Michie Mee) and has signed more Hip-Hop and R&B artists to record and publishing deals than any other music manager in Canada. His efforts have also resulted in more international releases for Canadian Hip-Hop and R&B artists, and more Hip-Hop and R&B record sales worldwide than any other Canadian artist manager.
The BeatFactory record label, which Ivan launched in 1996, provided a home for many of Canada’s hottest urban artists, who previously lacked a solid infrastructure through which to share their music with a mass audience. BeatFactory’s RapEssentials and GroovEssentials compilations (distributed through EMI Music and BMG Music) set the example for collaborative efforts in Canada’s urban music industry.
Many of today’s top urban music industry executives, major label representatives and artist managers will tell you that their first job was with BeatFactory and that Ivan taught them what they know about the music business. He has also been an instructor at well-respected post-secondary music institutions including Harris Institute of the Arts and Durham College, and is in high-demand as a guest speaker/lecturer at various corporate/government events and industry conferences around the world.
As Head of A&R and International for Sony BMG Canada from 2000-2004, Berry was responsible for the development, recording and international marketing of Sony BMG Canada’s domestic roster, including artists such as Keshia Chanté, Wyclef, Shawn Desman, Sloan, Rascalz, Treble Charger, Gino Vannelli, In Essence, The Guess Who, Ryan Malcolm (Canadian Idol), Kalan Porter (Canadian Idol) and many more.
The community-at-large has recognized Ivan for his many achievements. In 2000, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC). In 2004, he received the Bob Marley Day Award for his continued success and for his on-going role in the community and the projection of a positive image for youth, and in 2005, Berry was honoured with the Music, Arts & Entertainment Award from the St. Kitts Canadian Association.
Ivan is truly an industry visionary, and lives by his favourite mantra: “To take advantage of an opportunity, you must first recognize it.”
Favourite book? Here’s a little secret about Ivan Berry, I do not read much. I wish I had more time to enjoy books. When I want to read a book, I get one of my kids to read it to me, or I listen to the CD when driving to and from work. I find I can read a 200 page agreement, but will fall asleep after reading 5 pages of a book. So, I just live by life experiences of others. However, don’t try this at home, it only works for me (smile).
Favourite quote? “To take advantage of an opportunity, you must first recognize it.” – I’ve used this quote for 25 years now. My career and entire life is built on these words.
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? I am an entrepreneur, a scuba diving “Divemaster” and a pilot. So, the only thing I would love to do that I have not done already is go to outerspace. I’m already there for most days (smile), but I think listening to music there would be a blast.
Who/what inspires you? The mixture of art and commerce inspires me. I have spent much more than half my life doing this and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without it. However, I am also inspired by small things that others may take for granted. Traveling around the world have changed my life as most people do not realize how lucky they are, just to be alive and enjoy the things that God has provided for us.
Why do you what you do? I do what I do because I am absolutely AMAZED by the creation of this organized noise we call music. I have worked with some extremely talented people over my 30 years in the music industry. Seeing songwriters come together to make this special song, then seeing it produced, then mixed, then mastered, then hearing the finished product on radio. This is still the most fantastic experience for me. It’s a joy to do what I do on a daily basis.