Greenwald, Julie

views updated

Greenwald, Julie


President of Atlantic Records

B orn in 1970; married Lewis Largent (a former MTV veejay); children: Tallulah Rose. Education: Tulane University, B.A.

Addresses: Office—Atlantic Records Group, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104.


T eacher in New Orleans, LA, c. 1991-92; Def Jam Records, personal assistant to the president, 1992, later head of marketing; Island Def Jam Music Group, senior vice president of marketing, 1999-2002, then executive vice president, 2002-04; president, Island Records, 2002-04; president, Atlantic Records, New York, NY, 2004—.


R ecord company executive Julie Greenwald was one of the few women to run a music label in the United States and one of the youngest. Beginning her career at Def Jam as an assistant to its president, she eventually founded the label’s effective marketing department.After a stint as the president of Island Records, Greenwald became the president of the Atlantic Records Group in 2004. In her time in the music industry, Greenwald was known for her toughness as well as her devotion to the artists with which she worked.

Born in 1970, Greenwald was the third of four daughters in her Jewish family. Raised in the Catskills, she later entered Tulane University. While a college student, Greenwald was already a music fan, favoring such bands as 10,000 Maniacs and The Smiths. After graduating with her B.A. from Tulane, she spent a year teaching as part of Teach for America in the Calliope projects of New Orleans.

Moving to New York City to be with her boyfriend after the year was up, Greenwald joined Def Jam Records as a personal assistant to the president of the label, Lyor Cohen, in 1992. Showing skill in her work for Cohen, Greenwald was given numerous promotions within Def Jam as well as a stake in the company. Greenwald eventually became the head of marketing and promotions at the hip-hop and rap-oriented label.

Greenwald’s work in marketing was widely respected as she established and built up the marketing team there. She was credited for contributing to the development of the talent on the label as well as the success of such Def Jam artists as Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and DMX. Greenwald’s efforts helped sell millions of records and earn the talent numerous gold and platinum records. One of her most successful marketing ideas for the label was Month of the Man, which promoted solo rappers Redman and Method Man. The promotion led to two albums and a franchise worth $20 million. Greenwald also put together the Survival of the Nest tour, featuring DMX, Onyx, and Ja Rule, in 1998.

In 1999, Greenwald was promoted to senior vice president of marketing for Def Jam’s newly created parent, Island Def Jam Music Group. There, Green-wald continued to build a strong marketing department. She oversaw marketing campaigns for a number of leading Def Jam artists including Jay-Z as well as Island rock musicians such as Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Sum 41, and Ryan Adams.

Greenwald moved to two new positions within Island Def Jam in 2002. She was named the president of Island Records and executive vice president of the parent company, Island Def Jam Music Group. She also oversaw not only marketing for the whole group, but all aspects of the rock and pop-oriented Island’s operation including A&R (artists and repertoire) and promotions. While Def Jam had had more success at the time than Island, one reason for moving Greenwald into the position was to build up Island and the rock side which had been lagging behind its rap/hip-hop counterpart. She spent two years working with Island artists with some success.

In 2004, Greenwald was on maternity leave when she decided to leave her positions at Island Def Jam for a job within Warner Music. Her mentor, Cohen, was now employed there as the head of U.S. operations, and Warner Music was undergoing a restructuring after a change in ownership. Greenwald was named the president of the Atlantic Records Group, a subsidiary of Warner Music, and continued to primarily focus on marketing and promotions.

Upon taking the position, Greenwald had to cut more than 20 percent of the staff as Warner was consolidating the Atlantic and Elektra labels as part of a larger cost-cutting effort. The number of artists and releases handled by Atlantic was also being reduced to better maximize effort and profits. Despite the cuts, Atlantic soon thrived under Greenwald’s leadership and within two years had increased its market share by 14 percent. By 2006, Atlantic was the number-three label in the United States in terms of market share. In one week in March of 2006 alone, Atlantic artists Juvenile and James Blunt had the top two spots on the Billboard album chart.

Still focused on the artists at Atlantic, Greenwald played an integral role in launching the careers of the band the Killers and the solo career of Rob Thomas, the frontman of Matchbox 20. Other success stories for Atlantic and Greenwald covered a variety of music genres and included Gnarls Barkley, Panic! at the Disco, Staind, and Death Cab for Cutie. Greenwald especially focused on building up the urban side of the label with gold records coming for Yung Joc, Cassie, and Young Dro in 2006. One reason for their success was Greenwald’s forward-thinking broad marketing campaigns. For example, she arranged strategic brand alliances, such as ring-tone deals, long before an album’s launch.

No matter what, the talent remained the central focus of Greenwald’s attention as label chief. Upon being hired at Atlantic, she told Catherine Hong of W, “I’m going to do everything I need to do for these artists. I will kill, maim, rape, and pillage for them.”



Marquis Who’s Who, Marquis Who’s Who, 2006.


Billboard, January 19, 2002, p. 88; June 11, 2005; September 2, 2006; December 9, 2006.

Business Wire, January 7, 2002.

Craig’s New York Business, January 31, 2005, p. 21.

Daily Variety, January 4, 2002, p. 1; March 29, 2004, p. 10.

New York Post, March 23, 2004, p. 33; March 19, 2006, p. 31.

PR Newswire, March 31, 2004.

W, February 2005, p. 106.


“Fast Talk: Brands on the Run,”, (August 12, 2007).

—A. Petruso

About this article

Greenwald, Julie

Updated About content Print Article