money·3 min read

Skimm'd from the Couch: Julie Greenwald

Jun 29, 2020

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Julie Greenwald is a powerhouse in the music industry. She started out in the business as an assistant in 1992, and worked her way up to help build Def Jam Records. Now, she’s the chairman and COO of Atlantic Records. And she’s helped advance the careers of some artists you may be familiar with. Think: Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, and Ed Sheeran... to name a few. 

On Negotiating

Danielle: You are one of the top players in a traditionally male-dominated industry. What's your advice for specifically women who are trying to negotiate?

Julie: When you're negotiating, you have to know what your value is. You also have to know where you are in the career path too, and what you're delivering and how valuable you are. And so you have to understand the marketplace. You have to do your homework. You have to be informed.

...And so you just have to understand what the environment is too, and be thoughtful about it, because like I said, if we're going into a recession, and you're standing there asking for a bazillion dollars, you might be out of a gig, just period. And you’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to do your work. But you also have to know what your self-worth is too. You know? But if you don't put points on the board, don't ask for it, because then you're going to get put out.

On the “Balance” Myth

Danielle: Now having the opportunity to be both the boss and the mentor, what is your advice to people in that position who are trying to find what works for them [when thinking about their personal life]?

Julie: ...there's no such thing as balance. Stop striving for balance. Just do the best job you can and give yourself a break every so often, and stop beating yourself up.

But, you know, for those people that really want a career and want to get to the very top, you have to outwork everybody else. That's it. And I'm not saying it's got to be the longest amount of hours. It might be outwork with the best ideas… 

You’ve got to out-hustle people, because that's who gets the ring at the end of the day, are the people that are putting points on the board and showing they're the most valuable. That's why it's really important that if you want my chair, come for it. You’ve got to come for it, because if there's one thing I learned is no one gives you anything. You’ve got to really create your own path in this world.

On Changing Culture

Carly: How do you not create a culture of fear where it paralyzes people and instead motivates them?

Julie: People were scared for their jobs. And I was like, "Listen, I will lead you to safety, but I need to know that you are not going to be gripping, and that you're gonna be down to do things in a new and different way. And that we are going to be a company where it's all about artist development and signing great artists.

And however long it's going to take, it's going to take. And I'm patient for greatness, but I need you guys to be patient and understand the hard work it is to start over and really come along with me…”

And I had an openness in meetings [where I said], "Hey, I don't know everything. Give me your marketing ideas." But I was also very vocal that if I thought the idea was not a good idea, I said no. And that's what leadership is. [It’s] having a vision and driving it.

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