President and CEO of Wind-up Entertainment, he has established his label in the alternative/indie rock market with such acts as Creed, Evanescence, Seether and Filter.

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

CEO/President, Wind-Up Entertainment

“Money comes and goes, but it’s the passion for what you do that keeps you going.”—Edward Vetri ’85

A Passion for Creative Business

By Valerie Mikell

In the heart of New York City, a group of guys with lots of long hair, dressed in leather and denim, stride into the large, open offices of Wind-up Entertainment. At first glance, you know they’re not your average nine-to-fivers. But neither is the man they’ve come to see. Wind-up Entertainment President and CEO Ed Vetri ’85 lights up at their arrival, tries to remember each of their names and admits that he hopes to sign them. His enthusiasm is palpable. And it’s obvious that following his passion has led him to a career he loves.

Mr. Vetri is a music lover. Look around his office and you’d be impressed by his memorabilia, which include signed guitars, certified records, photos with VIPs and posters from concerts of bands he loves. But, while an avid music fan, Mr. Vetri takes the business of music seriously. At Wind-up for nearly 15 years, he has adapted its business model to succeed in an industry that has been increasingly challenged by digital technology. Yet he has grown the company exponentially. “I currently manage 30 in-house employees and 20 artists who [each] employ a team of four additional people,” Mr. Vetri says. “So it’s like managing more than 100 people.”

With seven multiplatinum albums, seven gold albums and one diamond album, Wind-up has made its mark in the alternative/indie rock market with such acts as Creed, Evanescence, Seether, Filter and more. “We’re not just a record company—we’re a full-service music company that includes publishing, management, merchandising and marketing,” Mr. Vetri says. “Wind-up has a team of creative artist and recording (A&R) scouts, writers, engineers and music, radio and marketing promotion—all located in house.” Wind-up has licensed music to several shows and motion pictures and released the soundtracks for popular movies such as Daredevil and Walk the Line. In the process of expanding its roster to include artists in other music genres, Mr. Vetri has ushered in partnerships with Sony and Universal for distribution into 300 countries around the world. “What started out as the little label that could has evolved into a fullscale, creative think tank,” he says.

Mr. Vetri uses his favorite artist, Bruce Springsteen (whom he’s seen in concert hundreds of times around the world), as inspiration for his new artists. “I want to show them an example of longevity and how to have a long career and still be relevant,” he says. He also allows himself two nights a week to go out and listen to new bands, which keeps him in the know. He has two talent scouts, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, but he also consults with his teenaged children, who are the perfect soundboards to gauge the appeal of potential new artists. The self-proclaimed “cool dad” says, “They know what’s popular, and they’ll tell me when they think someone is really good.” Mr. Vetri’s appreciation for music was also cultivated as a teenager by his father, who played the Rolling Stones’ Black and Blue album for hours on end.

Mr. Vetri, a certified public accountant, climbed the ranks in investment banking after earning his B.S. in Finance from Adelphi, but says his work at Wind-up has been transformational. “I took a leap of faith and discovered that I could be successful doing what I love,” he says. His motto is, “It beats selling shoes.” And he knows of what he speaks. From stocking shelves at his aunt’s shoe store at age 12 to becoming a force for innovation in the entertainment industry, Mr. Vetri has one life lesson to share: “Money comes and goes, but it’s the passion for what you do that keeps you going.”

This piece appeared in the Adelphi University Magazine Spring 2013 edition.

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