FaZe Clan, the native digital media, entertainment and esports platform, has hired music industry veteran Zach Katz as President and COO.
Katz joins from music technology investment venture fund Raised In Space Enterprises, which he co-founded in 2019 — in partnership with Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings — and led as CEO.
In his new role, Katz will oversee FaZe Clan’s content, talent, merchandise, consumer goods, sponsorships, and esports activities. He will report to CEO Lee Trink.
The company has 500 million subscribers on social platforms around the world who engage in a range of entertainment offerings in esports and youth culture, including live streams of popular gaming tournaments. Last year, the company announced plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) with B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the coming months.
Katz began his career as a music lawyer and former manager of Sean Kingston and hitmaker JR Rotem, with whom he co-founded the Beluga Heights label. He joined BMG in 2012 as Chief Creative Officer and was promoted to President of US Music Publishing soon after, eventually taking on responsibilities on the recorded music side. He stepped down in December 2018 as part of a broader overhaul of BMG.
Katz and Trink, a former label executive himself who held executive positions at Capitol Records and Virgin, have a longstanding relationship. Katz’s homework, says Trink Variety, will include “meeting the commitments we’ve made to our ecosystem while identifying and developing verticals for FaZe Clan’s next chapter of growth.” Additionally, Katz’s operational role tasks him with building internal systems that maximize efficiency and meet the demands of the 12-year-old brand’s fanbase.
“My North Star and biggest passion has always been helping people, both creators and leaders, find their ‘super power,’” says Katz. “There is nothing more powerful and rewarding than truly knowing who you are and having the support system to reach that highest potential. I hope to bring that philosophy to FaZe, combined with an unwavering commitment to determine what happens next. With that, we’ll be well on our way to building something that everyone wants to be a part of.
Historically, the music industry has been slow to adapt to new technologies, and its relationship with gaming has had too few moments of critical mass. The fact that the popular Gen Z digital destination is led by two successful music executives bodes well, as the music industry turns to Web3 to promote its own artists and content.
Asked for his perspective, Trink replies, “I don’t think the music industry fully appreciates the way gaming stimulates youth culture in general. The music industry is attracted by the size of the gaming audience, [but] takes a simplistic approach to tap into this audience.
Trink points to recent data from Deloitte that shows that “Gen Z’s top entertainment choice is gaming, with music in second place, and movies and TV (combined) a distant fifth.”
(Note: In April, FaZe Clan revealed plans to expand into mainstream TV formats with both unscripted and scripted content, including a slated-to-launch “Saturday Night Live” style series called “unFaZed.” on Twitch in June.)
“Gamers seem to inherit the land and it would be helpful for labels to understand and embrace this huge, engaged and growing community,” Trink continues. “Artists, on the other hand, seem to have a better appreciation for the impact and importance of gaming. … The future will be gamified.