Last week, the urban music industry lost super manager Chris Lighty (to a 9mm) and Steve Rifkind to a better industry and a better opportunity: the American Basketball League.
The selfish side of me is pissed off because I both like and respect Steve Rifkind. I can count on one hand the number of label guys I could say that about. But Rifkind is super bright, super interesting, and authentic in a world where genuine is rarely rewarded. Steve has always said what he’s meant and meant what he’s said to me. I respect him immensely.
Steve comes from a music industry family, all of whom have built success in this industry. Additionally, Rifkind has built some of the biggest stars we have in urban music. I’ll let his wikipedia page tell you his history so this doesn’t read like an obituary. But the thing I like most about Steve is that when I first met him, even with his incredible track record of success, the thing he was most proud of was the jobs and opportunities that he gave to many inner city young people that would have been deemed unemployable by mainstream America corporate standards. Rifkind changed lives. He knew it, and he was proud of it.
For years, I’ve watched Rifkind’s interest in basketball grow and he’s been involved in the high school leagues for years (and, if I’m not mistaken, has a son who plays). I’m glad he’s following his dream and doing something that he will both love and profit from. Meanwhile, the music industry has lost another architect of the urban music business and a man I admire profusely.
Here’s the press release for his next success:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: September 3, 2012
Music Mogul Steve Rifkind Partners with American Basketball League
Steve Rifkind, who is responsible for breaking in many of the biggest artists in music, has partnered with ABL founder Steve Haney, to brand and promote the United States’ first ever FIBA rules professional basketball league.
The American Basketball League will commence its inaugural 24 game season in January 2013 and will field a 12 team league set to challenge the recent economic and rather public failings of current minor league basketball organizations. Initial ABL markets include; Miami, San Antonio, San Marcos, Sugarland, College Station, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Sebring, and Corpus Christi. Future expansion is scheduled for California and New York.
Rifkind, one of America’s top music moguls, was the founder of Loud Records, which he sold to Sony in 1999, and currently is the president of SRC. In his distinguished 25 years in the business, Rifkind has long been associated with such artists as; New Edition, Akon, Wu Tang Clan, Three Six Mafia, Big Pun, Xzibit, David Banner, Melanie Fiona and others. In addition to managing the careers of many of the biggest names in music, Rifkind has also launched numerous high profile national marketing campaigns for such companies as; Nike, T-Mobile and HBO. By all accounts, Steve Rifkind has long been one of the most powerful names in the entertainment business.
Haney rose to national prominence through his representation of NBA Hall of Fame basketball icons Magic Johnson and Dominique Wilkins. In 1999, Haney spearheaded Magic Johnson’s well publicized comeback to basketball by negotiating a landmark licensing deal between the Laker great and European club team M7 Boras. During that time, Haney served as Vice President and General Counsel of Magic Johnson International, which included representing Magic Johnson’s European business interests. In 2005, Haney continued his historic accomplishments in the world of International basketball by coordinating the return of NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Dominique Wilkins to Athens, Greece. As the personal attorney to Wilkins, Haney negotiated his appearance at the Greek League All Star Game, marking Wilkins’ first return to Greece after leading his former club team Panathanaikos to the 1996 Euroleague Championship.