Warner Records launches Defiant Records joint venture with Steve ‘Steve-O’ Carless


Warner Records has launched Defiant Records, a joint venture led by Steve “Steve-O” Carless, President of A&R, Warner Records.

Carless has held senior leadership roles across the major label business, including at Atlantic Records, Def Jam Recordings, Republic Records, and Uptown Records, before accepting the President of A&R role at Warner Records in September 2021.

Across his career, he has worked with artists including Pusha-T, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz Nipsey Hussle and Polo G.

Carless and Nipsey Hussle co-founded The Marathon Agency together and he continues to play a role in safeguarding the legacy and estate of Nipsey Hussle.

Coinciding with the launch of Defiant Records, Carless has announced the release of Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey (ft. MCVERTT), which pairs emerging producer and artist MCVERTT with rappers Bandmanrill and Sha EK.

The Defiant Presents: Jiggy In Jersey ft. MCVERTT project arrives on the heels of the recent “Face Down” single which features signature MCVERTT production with Sexyy Red and A$AP Ferg.

Prior to Warner, Carless was Executive Vice President of A&R at Universal Music Group’s Republic Records.

He has worn multiple hats during his climb up the ranks of the music business. He began his music career in 2003 as an office assistant at Star Trak Entertainment, home of the Neptunes.

The following year, he joined Def Jam Recordings, working as Director, Lifestyle & Radio Promotions. In 2012, he moved to Atlantic Records, where he oversaw multiple platinum-certified projects for YG and Jeezy, while also serving as President of Jeezy’s Atlanta-based CTE World Recordings.

He returned to Def Jam in 2015 as Senior Director, A&R & Special Projects before being named Senior Vice President A&R, Artist Relations & Development.

Alongside his label posts, Carless has worked independently on a number of award-winning projects. In 2014, he co-founded the Marathon Agency, and began to manage the career of the late artist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle. Forming a partnership with Atlantic Records, they released Nipsey’s acclaimed debut album, the Grammy-nominated Victory Lap, followed by two posthumous Grammy wins in 2020.

In 2019, he worked with Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment to help A&R her No.1 album, The Lion King: The Gift and acclaimed Black Is King visual album.

“Defiant will be filled with individuals who are always challenging the status quo, always going to be in an innovation phase of their career.”

Steve ‘Steve-O’ Carless

“Defiant will be filled with individuals who are always challenging the status quo, always going to be in an innovation phase of their career,” said Carless.

Carless has headed several entrepreneurial ventures, including the lifestyle branding company, Best of Both Offices, which he co-founded in 2005.

A passionate activist, while at UMG/Republic, he was organizer of the Republic Records Action Committee and a member of UMG’s Meaningful Change Task Force.Music Business Worldwide



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