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Fast Talk: Brands On The Run

Atlantic Records president Julie Greenwald on what it takes to make brands out of bands.

Fast Talk: Brands On The Run

Julie Greenwald

President, Atlantic Records
New York, New York

Greenwald, 36, started at Def Jam as a 22-year-old gofer. She became president of Atlantic in 2004, and since then has taken the label to No. 3 in the music industry. Here, she outlines how she unites artists and corporate brands to create beautiful music.

"We look for brand alliance opportunities from the beginning. Instead of racing to release albums, I take time to make sure we're lining up our corporate partnerships. Of course, we look for corporate brands that match our artist brands, like Sprint's influence in urban areas where [rapper] T.I. has fans. I take my artists to perform in front of executives to get the brands invested in the project early on. That way, instead of one big promotion the week the album comes out, we have multiple points of promotion, and we can still be selling it a year later.

We're interested in ways to go deeper than just licensing a song for a TV commercial. We tell companies that if the TV spot is successful, people will already think of the artist in connection with the product, so let's take it further. Verizon wanted to use a song from [retro rockers] Jet in a commercial for its new phone. We got it to sponsor a radio promotion to fly fans with Jet from L.A. to a concert in Vegas. When T.I. released his album King [in 2006], we didn't just want Sprint to cut us a check. Instead, Sprint promoted T.I. in every store and on its online store, and it sponsored radio spots and banner ads so it could sell millions of his ringtones and we could sell more albums, tour tickets, and merchandise.

I need them, and they need us. T.I.'s logo, Diddy's logo, James Blunt's logo are as important as GM's."

A version of this article appeared in the February 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.