Mixing law and music, Paul Butler ’94 discovers that this is his time

For Paul Butler ’94, it’s been gospel music 24/7—ever since he joined the Gospel Music Channel in 2006, as vice president of business affairs and development.

It was his love of music, Butler says, that steered him toward his first job in the industry as general counsel for Queen Latifah’s entertainment company in 1996, and then brought him to Viacom’s MTV and VH1 networks in New York City.

And it was the music, and its business potential, that drew him to Atlanta-based GMC, which he calls “one of the fastest-growing cable channels in television today.” The 24-hour channel offers a mix of traditional gospel music, Christian pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B, featuring concerts, music videos and artist biographies. It’s Butler’s job to plan its growth and development, and to support the kind of programming “that was meant to stand against mainstream music and cable television networks,” he says. He’s involved in various aspects of the channel’s business, from talent agreements to brand development as well as production management tasks.

Butler says he is always aware of the channel’s impact—as of December, GMC had reached more than 22 million households. “There’s a message in the music that is being delivered … to people looking for a connection,” he says. The audience includes younger listeners who are part of a Christian youth movement and “want something different in terms of music programming and entertainment.”

Ever since law school, along with his career goals, Butler has pursued a long-term commitment to providing opportunities for young people. It started when he worked at the Boston Juvenile Court and managed the Black Law Students Association’s street law program while at HLS. For the past eight years, he has served on the board of Brotherhood/Sister Sol, a Harlem-based youth development program for black and Latino youth. Even there he exposes young people to the music industry he loves.

When asked to pick a gospel favorite, Butler scrolls through his iPod and clicks on “Seasons,” a song about being grateful when things come together. “This is really our time,” says Butler, using words from the song to describe the potential of GMC and the promise of the young people with whom he works. “It’s staggering where it can go.”