Over the course of her career in radio promotion that has seen her work with such stars as Bruno Mars, Whitney Houston, Cardi B, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Tank, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, Meek Mill and countless more, Atlantic Records Executive Vice President Juliette Jones has evolved into a well-rounded music executive. Adept at handling talent, supporting her staff and paving a way for other women, Jones is direct, but modest. She believes in letting artists garner the attention and stand in the limelight.
Most recently, it’s been the Evanston, Illinois native who has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention of her own. In 2018, Juliette was recognized as one of the most powerful African-American women in the music industry in a Billboard Magazine cover story. The same year she ranked on both Billboard and Variety’s Women In Music Power List issues. In the spring of 2019, she was honored by the prestigious National Sawdust Organization alongside David Byrne and Black Thought, and last summer she was a featured speaker at the Essence Festival’s 25th Annual Center Stage – “Beyond The Boardroom” platform. After years of hard work breaking new talent and music, she’s expanding her reach with a commitment to moving the ball forward for women in music and people of color in the boardroom.
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Officially kicking off her career as an intern at New York City’s famous WBLS radio station, Juliette Jones began building a reputation as a tenacious worker amongst her peers on the street level while learning the ropes in the executive offices. Her intuition and ambition led to her working internships simultaneously at WBLS and Arista Records. These
experiences helped her learn about the record business from numerous angles. She went on to work as an independent promoter working for numerous labels including RCA, Priority and Solar before landing her first official record label job with Jive Records in 1994 in Washington, DC as a regional promotions rep. Her ability to execute effective radio campaigns across numerous formats for multiple artists from Aaliyah and OutKast to Usher cemented her position as a future heavy-hitter in the world of Urban Music and radio promotion.
In a 25-year career, it’s understandably hard for Jones to pick a few critical moments that helped shaped her success, but her first massive hit provided her with the tenacity and insight she needed to further her career. “One song that was a big milestone for me was ‘I Believe I Can Fly.’ Urban radio stations didn’t want to play it, because they didn’t think it was urban,” she recalls. “I learned a lot about urban programming and their perception of who that audience was and how to overcome the perception that my format was limited. After the song crossed over and became such a smash hit no one to this day believes how incredibly challenging it was to get it played initially. But it was hard, and I learned a lot in that process and developed the skillset I needed to continue.”
Shortly after Jive, Juliette switched up the game and left the label side to discover a different aspect of the business: working for industry trade magazine, Hits which would serve as a portal to her learning all aspects of the music industry. After several years in California, Juliette returned to the label-world moving back to New York and taking a position at Virgin Records. From here on, Jones’ career would rocket launch; in 2007, she became Head of Urban Promotions at Capitol Records, from there she went to RCA, then Warner Brothers before eventually landing at Atlantic. Jones has worked at every music label group. Her hard-earned reputation is that of a smart, honest and shrewd EVP whose understanding of finding the audience for the music is second to none. She’s played a crucial role in the success of some of today’s most influential modern artists.
“I have a lot of interest in being a resource, being helpful and sharing my story with people that can take something away from it.”
After so many years of hard work ascending the ranks in a male dominated profession and proving her ability to break hit records and laying the groundwork for global stardom for many artists, Jones is also deeply committed to mentoring women in the music industry. It was the Billboard cover that led her to understand the impact her story can have on others, particularly young women who want to follow in her footsteps.
“I didn’t have a lot of resources as a young woman for the challenges I was facing as a woman in promotion,” she reflects. “It’s is a very male-dominated function of the business, and I want to be a resource for women who are growing in the music business as executives and entertainment overall.”
In addition to hard work, key ingredients to her longevity and success are her candor and artist friendly rapport. To this day, Jones feels Jill Scott and others who have worked with her for all these years respect and appreciate her honesty, especially in an industry where so many are afraid to speak out in fear of alienating talent or executives. “I think being authentic and honest is why I still am here. It is easy in such a shiny and interesting business to get a bunch of yes people who will tell you everything you want to hear. The hard thing is to get someone who will tell you the truth.”
In talking to Jones it’s easy to see some of the traits that have made her so successful, from self-determination and confidence to fearlessness and understanding of her value. Those are some of the lessons she often passes on to those that seek out her advice.
“I think it’s incredibly important for women to understand that someone else’s assessment of your skill set does not make it true,” she says. “I never had a lawyer until I was negotiating my first head of promotion job. I negotiated all of my contracts prior to that. As a regional I used to negotiate directly with the president of Jive because I always figured if you ask and they say no, they say no. What’s the worst thing that can happen?” It’s the idea of passing along 25 years of wisdom that has prompted Jones, who recently started a mentoring program, to come out from behind the curtain to speak and be heard.
Juliette’s top priority and her successes are numerous with her current roster of superstars. From R&B/Soul to Rap/Hip-Hop to Pop music, Juliette Jones’ consistent support for both her craft and her artists have provided life’s music score for generations to come and a future path for scores of women to follow.
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