“I said I’d been taught that all is fair in love and promotion,” recalls the frank-talking Jones. “So if that’s what we have to do to get records played, then I’ll be in line -- right after the men. And he said, ‘You’re going to do great at this job.'”
And she did. Jones has parlayed that entry-level gig as Jive Records’ first mid-Atlantic regional promotion director for urban music into a nearly 25-year career that has included corporate-ladder-climbing stops at Virgin, J/RCA and Warner Bros. Traded from Warner to Atlantic in 2012 as senior vp urban promotion, Jones was promoted to her current post as executive vp in 2013. She has been the driving force behind radio hits by Bruno Mars, Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Gucci Mane and 2017 breakthrough superstar Cardi B, among others.
All these years later, Jones finds herself among a small circle of female promotion executives at major labels, including fellow Atlantic evp Andrea Ganis, Interscope president of promotion Brenda Romano, Columbia senior vp Ayelet Schiffman, Def Jam senior vp Nicki Farag and Epic executive vp Traci Adams. Overall, record promotion remains a male bastion. Asked if she has faced more challenges as a woman or as a person of color in promotion, Jones says woman.
And so she continues to share her story of the ’94 interview with the women -- five on a 15-member team -- who work in her department. “I tell them to feel free to use it if you’re ever faced with a similar programmer conversation,” says Jones. “I try to be very candid with them about issues unique to women who work in promotion.”
Such as: being mistaken for a groupie, which happened to Jones as recently as 2017. “Consistently in my career, when I’m with artists, I’ve been harassed because it’s assumed the woman is a groupie,” says Jones. “Ten men with no credentials will walk ahead of me, but security will stop me. ‘Oh, that’s right,’” she says, laughing. “‘I’m here to try to sleep with Young Thug.’”
But the Evanston, Ill., native doesn't regret her decision to not become a doctor or to quit the University of Maryland, where she majored in accounting. She first discovered promotion when she and Arlinda Garrett, a radio promotion/marketing vet, worked as-customer service reps for MCI in Washington, D.C. Garrett was returning to the music business and asked Jones to be her intern. Between handing out tapes at clubs and attending industry conventions, Jones became hooked.