Music industry visionary Jon Cohen ’90 will deliver the 2015 convocation address to bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates of Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) at the college’s convocation ceremony on Saturday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.
Cohen is co-CEO of Cornerstone, an award-winning global creative agency; co-founder of the FADER Inc., an award-winning music, style and culture publication and music media platform; and co-founder of FADER Label. He is a regular guest speaker for the Soyars Leadership Lecture Series in the multidisciplinary Bandier Program, which teaches students the business of the music industry, and he established the program’s Jon Cohen Family Endowed Scholarship.
“Jon exemplifies alumni engagement and its ability to impact the lives of SU students,” says VPA Dean Ann Clarke. “He is a caring advisor and mentor. He provides internship opportunities for current students and recruits SU graduates. Our students respect and admire his industry expertise and marketing genius. He truly bleeds Orange, and I’m delighted that he will serve as our keynote speaker.”
Cohen graduated from SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1990 with a dual bachelor’s degree in television, radio and film and marketing. In 1997, he became co-CEO, alongside Rob Stone, of Cornerstone, which has a dedicated staff of more than 100 employees. Headquartered in New York City, Cornerstone has additional offices in Los Angeles, London and São Paulo. Clients include Coca-Cola, Diageo, Anheuser-Busch InBev, BitTorrent and Converse.
Using unconventional immersion marketing techniques, Cohen knows how to create “buzz” from the inside out that successfully elevates brands to cult status.
“Cornerstone sits on the nexus of branding and music, and are arguably the pioneers in the movement,” declared Billboard Magazine.
In 2011, Cornerstone and Converse launched Converse Rubber Tracks, a state-of-the-art recording studio that is located in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. The 5,200 square-foot, full-service recording space aims to support emerging artists by providing them access to a top-level recording studio at no cost. Since the flagship studio opened, more than 900 emerging artists have had the opportunity to record. The program has also evolved globally over the past three years, with Converse creating pop-up Converse Rubber Tracks studios in key music cities in North America as well as internationally.
In 1999, Stone and Cohen launched the FADER, the unofficial guide to what’s next in music and culture. The publication, which the New York Times called the industry's “music and fashion bible,” has been credited with placing now A-list artists on its cover first. Additionally, Cohen co-founded FADER Label, which has released critically acclaimed albums by Matt & Kim, Editors and Saul Williams.
Prior to Cornerstone, Cohen served as vice president of Columbia Records’ alternative music department. While there, he was savvy enough to sense a shift in musical tastes and championed such alternative artists as Alice in Chains and Jeff Buckley and was instrumental in shaping their commercial success.
In 2012, Bandier Program students and alumni honored Cohen with the inaugural Bandier Alumni Association Award for his inspiration and guidance since the program’s inception in 2006.