The annual Billboard Women in Music event is always a star-studded ceremony that recognizes the accomplishments of many talented and skilled individuals working in the industry.
Recognition is always given to a wide range of all-stars in the music industry, from artists and executives to other strong female voices that provide vital behind-the-scenes support.
The 2019 event, held at the end of the year, was especially noteworthy because of two significant announcements about Desiree Perez, the then Chief Operating Officer of Roc Nation.
Desiree Perez, Billboard Executive of the Year and Roc Nation CEO
Desiree Perez was named Executive of the Year at the 2019 Billboard Women in Music ceremony, a high honor for industry executives. A press release from Roc Nation followed shortly after, announcing Perez as its new Chief Executive Officer.
Before her new role as Roc Nation CEO, Perez served as Chief Operating Officer since 2009.
The gala event announcement instantly increased the longtime music executive’s prominence, visibility, and responsibilities within the company.
As CEO, Perez now has an active role in developing all the different facets of Roc Nation, starting with music. The organization is also involved in publishing, touring, philanthropy, apparel, film and television projects, and overall branding and talent management.
It also partners with various charitable organizations and foundations, including the Cara Lionel Foundation, the REFORM Alliance, the RC24 Foundation, Team Roc, and the Shawn Carter Foundation. Perez succeeded Jay Brown, the previous CEO, who, following the announcement, became vice-chairman of the Roc Nation board of directors.
Shawn Carter, who goes by the performing name Jay-Z, founded Roc Nation in 2008, bringing together numerous successful companies, including his brand. It includes everything from music production to consumer goods like cologne and cognac. Roc Nation has grown significantly over the years and now has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Nashville, and employs more than 400 workers. It also manages several subsidiaries, including Roc Nation Sports, Roc Nation UK, and ESM Productions.
Desiree Perez and Humble Beginnings
Desiree Perez has been an excellent example of working hard, paying your dues, and working your way up. The daughter of a Cuban immigrant, Perez was born in the Bronx. She started her career in the music industry as the part-time assistant manager of a nightclub. In 1996, she crossed paths with Jay-Z and DJ Clark Kent when she booked them to play her club. Then she was asked to help launch The 40/40 Club, located in Manhattan.
When Jay-Z launched Roc Nation, he remembered her abilities and personality and asked her to join the organization, praising her ability to keep an eye on financial data, network well with artists, and be a strong negotiator when legal contracts are involved.
Perez’s strong business acumen is evident in the notable deals she’s credited with helping coordinate, such as Samsung’s contract with Rihanna and putting together the Beyoncé Formation World Tour.
Her industry peers have not only praised her abilities and personality but her commitment to social issues. Desiree Perez has been an advocate for criminal justice reform as well as equality for women.
During her acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music event, Desiree Perez thanked an extensive list of people who have helped and supported her and those who joined her in promoting equality and diversity at Roc Nation. She also had kind words for Jay-Z and Jay Brown as they continue to provide leadership and a commitment to equality.
Many of the artists who are part of Roc Nation also received a shout-out, and she announced that she is so proud to work with such incredible talent every day.
Besides Jay-Z, the Roc Nation music and entertainment label also includes J. Cole, Willow Smith, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Mariah Carey, Robin Thick, Megan Thee Stallion, Shakira, and many more prominent artists, as well as several successful athletes and authors.
Roc Nation also has ties to the NFL and has coordinated events such as the halftime show at past Super Bowls.
Desiree Perez is married to Juan Perez, who is head of Roc Nation Sports.
Jay-Z continues to count on Desiree Perez for support and also provides recognition for her efforts. It was shown publicly in “Everything is Love,” the collaboration between him and his wife Beyoncé, where they mentioned Desiree and Juan on the album.