While Lady Gaga herself (real name: Stefani Joanne Germanotta) is the artist and creative mind behind Lady Gaga Inc., her lesser-known manager, Troy Carter, is leading the enterprise's digital strategy. He's using a unique strategy involving a broad range of online tools to "keep the Gaga machine in overdrive," the New York Times reports.
The combination of Gaga's star power and his aggressive deal making have made her the first Twitter user to reach 10 million followers (more than Justin Bieber or President Obama), and her Facebook page has 36 million fans. She's even begun promotional deals with Google, Zynga and Gilt.
"Troy and Gaga are doing things with communications and fan relationships that we haven't really seen before,” Gary Briggs, a vice president at Google who worked with Lady Gaga's team on her recent TV commercial for Chrome, told the New York Times.
Carter has worked with the star for more than four years, during which time the Internet has become increasingly important in music management. "There was a time when radio stations wouldn’t play Gaga's music because it was considered dance," Carter said. "Outside of live performances, the Internet became our primary tool to help people discover her music."
He represents an emerging group of Hollywood managers, actors, musicians and other industry players who are spending more time in Silicon Valley as technology upends the way people consume content. His own venture, Backplane, is attracting capital from prominent backers. Lady Gaga, who has acted as an informal consultant, is a major shareholder, with a 20 percent stake.
Carter has come a long way from lugging crates of records for D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (he met Will Smith in his hometown, West Philadelphia, in the late 1980s) to carrying the popularity and online presence of one of the world's biggest stars. And while he may prefer to remain behind the scenes, bridging technology and music for the "Gaga machine," it's obvious that her career isn't the only one "in overdrive" as a result of his talent.
Read more at the New York Times.
In other news: T-Pain Is Over Auto-Tune. He Promises.