As the chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, Julie Greenwald has played a role in the careers of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Portugal. The Man and Migos, and the list goes far beyond those with success in 2017.
One of the biggest current artists Greenwald has helped launched to stardom is Ed Sheeran, who presented her with the Executive of the Year award at this year’s Billboard Women In Music event Thursday night (Nov. 30). “I would not be where I am today without Julie’s vision and her passion for music,” he said. “If she fights in your corner, you know you’re going to win.”
After a round of superstars – including Mars, Cardi, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Diddy – congratulated Greenwald on her much-deserved honor, the COO took the stage herself. Greenwald delivered an inspiring speech to not only thank those responsible for getting her to where she is, but also to inspire women and men to change the industry for the better.
Starting off thanking her first boss and mentor Lyor Cohen, who hired her 25 years ago when she had no music industry experience. “He taught me about leadership, what it means to build real artist relationships, and the importance of a creative future-focused culture.”
Then reflecting on her first experience at Women in Music, Greenwald touched on how different the industry was back then and how it’s been a “male-dominated sport.”
“Now more than ever, it’s incumbent on every one of us to raise up the next generation of female leaders, so at the future Women in Music events, the executive of the year will stand up here and thank a woman for being her mentor,” she said. “Now it’s time to change the industry for the better. It’s all right here, in how we support each other, in how we’re committed to providing young women with a safer environment free from harassment and discrimination.”
Greenwald, a mom of two, went on to explain how balancing being the boss of a big company and a mother of a small family at the same time is no easy feat (“the juggle is real,” she quipped). But, it’s something that should be praised, and something that Atlantic Records — which is now 50 percent women, her “secret sauce” — has allowed her to do in a majorly successful way.
Even with the powerful message, it wasn’t all seriousness for Greenwald, who cracked some jokes while she thanked her partner, her “work husband,” her real husband, and her parents. She closed by thanking her own family who was tuning into the Los Angeles-based show from New York — and, naturally, with a witty remark of her achievements.
“To by hubby Lewis… I owe him my two amazing children, and probably my sanity,” she said, explaining that they met while she was working with LL Cool J and he was working at MTV. “It’s been 22 years of music, love and laughter. And to my wonderful two children, Eli and Lulu, you know, they had to grow up with a mom who constantly reminded them that she knew more about rap music than they ever would. It was tough for them to be teenagers. But I’ll tell you this, I love you so much — and JAY-Z is still the best.”