Music is said to be the universal language that connects all humans. Across genres, it is used to tell stories, invoke emotion, and inspire personal growth. As listeners, we rarely look past the artists themselves and into the teams behind the curtain. One woman responsible for exposing us to some of the most generationally identifiable songs on the radio is Co-General Manager of Harvest Records, Jacqueline Saturn.
At Harvest Records, a subsidiary of the Capitol Music Group, Jacqueline is carrying the torch in her quest to discover, nurture and promote new artists that have that “it” factor. Some of the artists recently added to her labels’ newly formed roster include Banks, Glass Animals, Matt and Kim, TV on the Radio, and Best Coast.
MiLLENNiAL was invited to spend the morning with Jacqueline at the Harvest Records headquarters located in the famous Capitol Tower Building in Hollywood, California where we learned about the challenges and accomplishments she has experienced while in her position of cultural influence.
How a Girl from Tennessee Made It in the Big Apple
Growing up in Nashville, Jacqueline was surrounded by music. When she became a teenager, the country stereotypes were changing, “It was during the time of R.E.M, the BoDeans, and Elvis Costello,” she tells us, “it was all about live bands, live acts, live shows.”
Playing piano since childhood, Jacqueline confesses, “I didn’t want to play. I just wanted to be around [music].” It was this early exposure, in a city known for their music, that led her to dive behind the scenes of the music business. But coming from a family of lawyers, she decided to study political science at Syracuse University.
After graduating and taking the LSAT, Jacqueline quickly realized law wasn’t for her and decided to move to New York City to figure out how to get involved with what she truly loved: music. “I really have a lot of respect for how hard it is,” she says. ”I knew no one but I knew what I wanted and that is what moved me forward everyday.”
At 23 years old, she pounded the pavement in search of anyone who would help her get into the business. “When I meet with people [today] and they say they want to be in the music business, I know that feeling. I was and still am, THAT person.” It was this yearning passion to make something big happen that ultimately began attracting opportunities.
The Breakthrough Call
Months into trying to meet the right people, a family friend from Nashville who was living in New York at the time called Jacqueline to tell her a new label was starting and they were looking for a receptionist.
She immediately scheduled an interview. “I literally said I’m not leaving until I get this job. I think back and I can’t believe I was so bold. But I got the job,” she explains laughingly. The brand new label was called Savage Records. “I was so into it. They were these young men from Europe, and they were starting to sign acts…that was all I needed to hear!” While the label was premature, it had some clout within the city. Along with its development, the owners were also interested in starting a management company, which attracted Michael Jackson’s then manager, Frank DiLeo.
Under the Wing of Frank DiLeo
Savage Records was growing at an unsustainable rate and closed shop soon after Jacqueline was hired. Luckily for her, she had established enough of a relationship with DiLeo for him to hire her as his summer assistant.
“Bless Frank. He took me under his wing and believed in me enough to help me meet people,” she reminisces. While working for him, DiLeo was setting up interviews for her to meet some of the bigger names in the business. One of these meeting was with Harvey Leeds, SVP of Radio Promotion at Epic Records. “I kept facing this question of everyone I interviewed with: ‘Do you have enough experience?’ I would think to myself, NO, but answer OF COURSE. I got a lot of no’s, but finally Harvey said he would hire me and take a chance.”
This hiring decision led to a 19-year ride for Jacqueline at Epic Records, a division of Sony Music, where she went from being Harvey’s assistant to taking over his position as the SVP of Radio Promotion. “It is not easy getting a job, and it is certainly not easy to get a job in the music business. But I am an example of once you are in, you can really be in if you are willing to make the commitment to work and not take no for an answer.”
Radio Promotion At Epic Records
“My very first couple of weeks at Epic, Pearl Jam’s sophomore record, VS, was just out. The first song I worked on radio was “Go” and I remember listening and getting goosebumps.” Moments like this are truly defining in one’s career, and Jacqueline’s passion for all of her artists manifested from that point.
This isn’t to say the job is easy. As she points out, “[radio promotion] is very hard because part of your job is hearing NO all day from programmers. It was like door-to-door sales, eventually someone is going to buy it, and you just need one to say yes.”
While most believe that New York and LA are on the forefront of debuting the latest artists, Jacqueline informs us that “sometimes it would be these smaller markets that would break the best music, somewhere like Mobile, Alabama, and you say to yourself ‘great, its on the radio, we can keep going’. Those markets are the gold.”
The Power of Radio in a Digital Era
Jacqueline firmly believes that “radio promotion has never changed because radio is still so powerful.” And with new tools like Shazam or Soundhound, it’s easier for listeners to identify a particular song and the artist who performs it, which could turn them on enough to buy it.
“The music industry is as exciting as ever,” she says. Fans are finding artists on all mediums of radio, including traditional FM/AM stations, in addition to Spotify, Pandora, Soundcloud and HypeMachine.
“One of the things that is the most important about the music business is that people are completely open to changes and growth, and it really is about being able to expose the artist. That keeps me and my team very busy.”
From Radio to Artist Development
Moving forward in developing Harvest as the Co-GM, Jacqueline admits, “everything I’ve learned was from promotion.” She doesn’t see a classification to the musical era that we are in today, but rather, is building a unique group of artists who remain authentic to their sounds. “As the business develops and changes, I am still so committed to the artists and what they have to offer.”
Harvest Records is the label that brought us all of Pink Floyd’s albums including their most famous, Dark Side of the Moon. However, Harvest closed its doors when it merged with EMI in the 80s. It wasn’t until Steve Barnett, former President of Epic Records, became the Chairman and CEO of the Capitol Music Group that he decided to reopen Harvest, bringing Jacqueline on as Co-GM.
Along with that decision, he also recruited Piero Giramonti, who led the marketing and international departments for Epic, as her Co-GM to launch the label in 2014. “It was like putting a brain together,” she laughs.
As the new, very unified Harvest continues to grow, Jacqueline explains, “We want to nurture and grow these artists that we think can be huge.” And in order to find exceptional talent, she confirms, “We listen to everything that gets sent to us…it’s important that we are proud of everything on the label, that there is a sense of cool.”
Having Your Kids and Career Too
While working long hours to nurture the blossoming artists signed to Harvest Records, Jacqueline is also a wife and mother of two beautiful girls. She is often asked by fellow women, how she is able to do it all, to which she answers, “It’s always hard, but I don’t know any different. I love my family and I love my career.” She admits being a working mom hurts, but she credits her husband as her family’s saving grace.
“The dinner table is the lifeline of the family unit,” she says. “We want there to be normalcy in the home. And we want there to be a parent there, always. So if I can’t be home for dinner, he is home, and if he can’t be home, I’m home. It’s such an important time with your kids.”
Looking back on her career, she advises millennials to “understand that people really work hard to get to where they are. When you climb up the ladder, you truly have to climb every step, you can’t skip a step, or you’ll stumble and not learn something that was designed to get you even higher.” She stresses the importance of making the most of the job and owning your choices.
“You can do anything you put your mind to. It may sound cliche, but the trick is keeping your cool in unsettling situations, asking a tons of questions, learning from your mistakes and making yourself invaluable.” Jacqueline also suggests, “not being so reactive…write the email and hit save.” Lessons like this may prevent unfavorable decisions from arising.
As the woman in charge of Harvest Records, Jacqueline has transitioned from being an assistant to now the head of a label. She is proof that anyone can live out his or her visions with enough perseverance and commitment.
To learn more about Jacqueline Saturn or the artists signed to Harvest Records, visit HarvestRecords.com.