Welcome one and all to the second edition of our newest series on MindEqualsBlown entitled Boss Ladies, hosted by yours truly, Maria Gironas. In the past here at MEB, you’ve seen us go back stage at festivals like Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, and CMJ. You’ve seen us bring coverage from some of your favorite bands like Jack’s Mannequin, New Politics, Circa Survive, and even Taylor Swift. For this new series though, we are reviving our former ‘Inside The Industry’ series into more of a passion project of mine: highlighting the hardworking women that are pivotal leaders in the music industry, aka ‘Boss Ladies’.
This week, I caught up with Jenna LoMonaco who is the Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Island Records. For those who don’t know, about a year ago Universal Music Group announced a massive company reorganization that resulted in the separation of Island Def Jam Music Group into what we know now as Island Records and Def Jam Recordings. During this process, the company recruited to find the best and brightest of this industry that could take these organizations to the next level. Within the search process, Jenna was tapped to not only work her digital marketing mojo on acts like Shawn Mendes, Fall Out Boy, Tove Lo, and Brandon Flowers, but also to manage the entire/re-vamped digital marketing department at Island Records. Even with holding this incredibly distinguished position in the industry, that could easily coax some into becoming one of those pompous industry executive stereotypes, Jenna is easily one of the most beautiful people, inside and out, that you will ever meet. She displays a level of humility throughout her daily life that ever industry hopeful should strive to achieve. You’ll be able to gather from the interview below how much pride she has in her work, the work of her artist roster, and the work of her Island Records family. Take a read of Jenna’s interview below and be sure to comment with your thoughts!
Maria Gironas: Could you tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do and what your position is?
Jenna LoMonaco: Hi! My name is Jenna LoMonaco and I run the Digital Marketing department at Island Records
MG: Very cool! Could you tell me about what your position entails?
JL: Sure! Basically myself and my team here (Ethan Geltzer and Nazuka Kochhar) handle all of our artists’ social media. What that entails really varies from artist to artist, but overall we work with our Artists and their management teams to come up with creative and engaging content for their socials. We work with them to make sure that they are properly utilizing their socials as a tool for their music. Some artists like Shawn Mendes and Nick Jonas are exceptionally great at social media, but there are always ways we can help. We encourage finding a balance between promotional stuff, personalized items, interactive posts, and just different ways that they could speak to their fans on their social platforms.
We also come up with creative campaigns. For example; the night of the Super Bowl was also the night before Shawn Mendes’ album went up for pre-order, so we launched the “Shawn Mendes Handwritten Kick-Off” campaign. He had fans enter to win a surprise visit by sending a Vine of them and their friends having parties at their house and then he randomly showed up to one of their houses. He did various vines of him surprising the girls, performing for them, etc. Afterwards he did a live google hangout with his fans. That night his album pre-order debued at #1 on iTunes, we trended right below the superbowl on Tiwtter and we had almost a half a million tweets on Twitter! So that was a really fun campaign.
We also work with digital partners like Vevo, Shazam, and Spotify. We of course work to make sure that our artists are getting featured placements, but we also think try to use these huge platforms as creative marking tools. It’s so great that fans can discover your music on Spotify, but once they find you what else can you be doing to engage and interact with those fans? That is a really big focus for us.
MG: That’s really awesome! Was this something you always knew you wanted to do or what was kind of bringing you to this moment?
JL: Well, I actually went to school for audio engineering and my first job ever was running a studio in Hoboken. It was kind of a weird situation. I interned at the studio, and a week or two after I graduated, the manager of the studio left and they offered me the job. So I went from being an intern to everyone’s boss, which is really weird (Laughs). I realized really quickly that I really liked the business side of music. I wasn’t very good at the recording side. I’m not a musician so I wasn’t very good at being an engineer. I ended up leaving my job at the studio to start back at square one and go back to interning. I got an internship at the PR firm Girlie action Girlie Action and after a few months of interning they eventually hired me on. My first job there was running artist MySpace pages, so technically I did social media before it was thing (Laughs). I ran different artists’ MySpace pages and from there they made me a digital publicist. I left there and went to Glassnote Records, which when I started at Glassnote, nobody knew what it was because it was still such a new label. I was the third person they hired. I was there for over five years and I built their digital marketing department. I’m incredibly proud of my work there.
MG: That’s insane you were able to move up so quickly. What do you think helped with that? Was it good timing, was it reflective of your work ethic, and things like that?
JL: The key with interning is you always have to work harder than everyone else, and that’s what I always tell students when they come to intern for me. You could look at this experience two ways: you could come in and hangout, and cost through the experiance, or you could really kickass and be the one who wants to do everything possible. You want to be the person that when everybody says, “I have this project and it really sucks, who wants to do it?” You’ll be like “Me! I want to do it!” And when you show how eager you are and really hustle, it makes you standout form everyone else. That is truly what I did. I remember doing 500 piece vinyl press mailings, and leaving with giant paper cuts on my hands. But I never ever complained.
The other thing that helped was that I wasn’t afraid to take chances. I left a really good job at a highly respected studio to go intern again, because I knew that job wasn’t the right thing for me. When I left Girlie Action to go to this new record label that nobody ever heard of, people where questioning why I was leaving an established, well-known, firm to go to this company nobody ever heard of, but it was something that I really believed in. So I think it’s just all about the hustle. I did the same when I went to Kobalt. Leaving Glassnote was really hard, but Kobalts Label Service division seemed like a new and exciting opportunity so I needed to take that risk! Ultimately I realized that I love being part of a Label team, which is how I ended up here at Island, but I learned so much at my job at Kobalt. It was a fantastic experience.
MG: That totally makes sense and really good advice. So, this whole series is about women in music and I wanted to know what you think it means to be a woman in music today?
JL: Now is a really awesome time to be a women in this business. If you look at Billboard’s Women in Music list you will see Women at the top at every major company in this business. There are many brilliant and powerful women that I personally look up to and admire. And it just proves the skys the limit for any of us. I love that challenge. I want to be one of those women one day.
MG: Did you every think you wouldn’t make it to the point you are at now? What has motivated you to work as hard as you do?
JL: I always had a very clear vision of what I wanted and I always had a clear set of goals. I always focused on where I wanted to be when I turned 30. I had a firm goal of where I wanted to be in terms of my title, my salary, general career achievements etc and Where am I on that road in correlation to getting there. I knew that this is really where I wanted to be and I just did everything I had to in order to get here. It takes a lot of sacrifice, it’s a lot of really hard work. It’s a lot of putting yourself second…but I think that if you have a really clear vision as to where you want to be, you can make it happen, you just need to have that roadmap the will to kick ass. Now I focus on where I want to be in my next phase.
MG: What is the worst part of your job and what is the best part of your job?
JL: I think the worst part of my job and the best part of my job is probably the same thing, and it’s the fact that so much of an artists career, dreams, and their future is on my shoulders (as well as everyone else on the team). I take that really seriously and that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself, but these Artists have a vision and dream of what they could be and they come to you wanting to know how you can help. At that point, it really is up to you to help them, they have gotten to the point where they can take themselves and now it’s up to the label team to get them to that next level. There is an overwhelming feeling of needing to do a good job for these people because if I don’t I’m crushing their dreams! (Laughs) That’s why I say we are always working and that there’s a lot of pressure on our shoulders because you could say that I don’t really have time for this one artist and that I want to go home, go watch a movie, or I have a family party this weekend, so I’m not going to do a fun campaign for the new single that comes out this week, but then it might not sell a lot because they are a digital based artist. So it is a lot of pressure to have that kind of weight on you and people might think that is over dramatic, but it is something I take very seriously… but it is also the most exciting part. The perfect example is Shawn Mendes, his new album came out last week and we’ve been working really, really hard to find new ways to use his social presence as a way to reach new people. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done on that project and now the album is out so I feel like there is a huge chunk of my heart that is now out for sale. Now there is this pressure of like, oh God, what if this doesn’t do well because you put so much of your heart into it. (Shawn’s album, Handwritten premiered at #1 on Billboard that week)
MG: Can you remember the first album you bought?
JL: Honestly (Laughs) When I eight years old I got my first ever boom box, cause that’s what they were called back then haha, and my aunt bought me the Free Willy Soundtrack (Laughs) so that was my first ever CD. And also when I was a kid I had a record player and only had one record. It was Donna Summer She Works Hard For Her Money. I used to play it over and over and over again, and I still have it and it’s so scratched up that it doesn’t play anymore, but I’m on the hunt for another copy of it.
MG: So you’ve been working at Island less than a year, but what has been your favorite memory on the job so far?
JL: This is going to be cheesy and heck but, my first week at Island Pete (Wentz) came into the office to play us the new Fall Out Boy album. FOB was a HUGE part of my teenage years and still to this day is one of my favorite bands. As I was sitting there listening to this amazing album by this band that I have loved for years with Pete in the room I just had this overwhelming sense of like, holy crap I actually did this. All that work and I’m here. Cheesey but true =)
MG: Final question, as a woman in music today, what kind of advice would you offer someone that wants to enter this music industry? And I know you kind of gave a couple key pieces of advice already, but anything you’d like to add specifically for that upcoming girl that really wants to make it to a position like yours one day?
JL: I would say work really hard, have focused goals, and do the extra work. Don’t think about being a women in music. Think about being a person who is going to kick ass no matter what the obstacles. Man or Women people can’t deny you when you’re kicking ass.
Thanks so much for joining us this week! Stay tuned for Friday next week to read about our next Boss Lady.
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If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my interview last month with Director of Communication at Bandsintown, Leah Taylor.