During this conversation, Gwen will speak to Julie about her established career in the entertainment industry, focusing on success factors,
advice for those interested in careers in entertainment and music, and lessons learned along the way
Julie Greenwald joined Atlantic Records as President in 2004 and was named Chairman/COO in 2009. The New York native began her music career in 1992 at Def Jam Records, and just a decade later, she was named President of Island Records, becoming one of the rare women to hold that title at a major label. When Greenwald moved to Atlantic, it marked the second time in her career that she was charged with helping rebuild an iconic brand.
Not bad for someone who originally wasn’t even seeking a job in the music industry. After graduating from Tulane University in 1992 with a double major in Political Science and English, Julie became involved with the “Teach for America” program, educating underprivileged third graders in the New Orleans area. Heading back north during the school’s summer break, Greenwald began searching for a temporary job. Thanks to her sister and a cousin, both of whom were working for famed hip-hop concern Rush Management, she became executive assistant to Def Jam’s Lyor Cohen.
After just three months on the job, Greenwald was named the label’s Promotion Coordinator, working with the likes of LL Cool J and Public Enemy. Julie hit the ground running, coordinating everything from tour itineraries to the multi-act “Phat Jam” concert at the Gavin Convention and the seminal “Slam Censorship” event in Washington, D.C. The latter, designed in part to show Congressional skeptics that hip-hop was not simply about preaching violence and negativity, but was an important part of urban culture, proved a massive success.
Greenwald’s subsequent rise through the ranks at Def Jam was impressive. Promoted to General Manager of Promotion, she held that position for two years until the company severed its ties with Sony, whereupon she became Head of Marketing and helped shape the company into an urban music powerhouse, developing campaigns for the likes of Redman, DMX, Ja Rule, and Jay-Z.
In 1998, when PolyGram was purchased by Seagram and merged with the latter’s Universal Music Group, Greenwald was charged with overseeing the entire marketing department of the newly formed Island Def Jam Music Group. “That was really my first entry into rock,” she notes, “but I felt confident, because of all my experiences with our hip-hop artists… We knew that Limp Bizkit and Korn were in the same CD players as Jay-Z and DMX.” Throughout the ’90s, Julie helped the label land dozens of platinum and gold records. See more...
Gwen Thompkins is a freelance journalist and writer in New Orleans and host of the weekly public radio program, Music Inside Out. Thompkins (Newcomb '87) began her career at the Times-Picayune newspaper, then moved to National Public Radio, where she worked as senior editor of Weekend Edition Saturday and as NPR’s East Africa bureau chief. She returned to New Orleans in 2011, following a fellowship year at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
On Music Inside Out, Thompkins interviews the finest musicians in Louisiana, which boasts an unusually varied cultural landscape. The state is home to a never-ending line-up of musicians whose work grabs the world by the ears. For more information, or to stream the program, please visit www.musicinsideout.org.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 firstname.lastname@example.org