PARTNER & CO-HEAD OF HIP-HOP/R&B
Who doesn’t love a mailroom-to-the-corner-office story?
The music industry has more of them than most other businesses but its easy to be cynical and incredulous when someone makes the claim that they worked their way up.
Kevin Shivers did it, though. After graduating from the University of Texas, he moved to Los Angeles to make movies but learned a lesson about himself: he loved movies, but he didn’t love the business of movies. So he took a gig in the mailroom at William Morris in 2008. Now, 15 years later, he’s a partner at WME and co-head of hip-hop and R&B and had a stellar year.
“Kali Uchis’ tour has been a huge success,” he tells Pollstar. “I was just at two sold-out Radio City shows and the energy around her has been amazing. Getting Snoop Dogg back on the road around the world was a huge accomplishment for us this past year and working closely with him has truly been an honor. It’s also been great building out Lil Baby’s career.”
Shivers, one of the most senior Black agents in the industry, is also outspoken in his advocacy for diversity. He routinely emphasizes the need to recruit and mentor people of color who want to be successful. Yes, that’s paying it forward – he readily admits he had plenty of mentors who took a chance on the guy in the mailroom – but he’s also not afraid to call the industry to account, because for all the strides that have been made, leadership at top agencies is still overwhelmingly white and male.
“The industry has to actually try – we are simply too comfortable with the norm and the only way to change is to do the opposite of what we’ve been doing,” he says.
Shivers is well-known for his openness and availability – he responds to emails and hops on calls with people trying to get a foot in the door, connecting them with his vast network, helping them find jobs.
After all, the new person in the mailroom might just be the person in the corner office one day.