This week’s Billboard cover story features a trio of the most powerful black women at the three major-label groups, Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam, Epic Records President Sylvia Rhone, and Atlantic Executive VP Juliette, Jones.
These women are redefining leadership in a music business that – with label revenue strong, Spotify stock rising and startups proliferating – requires a wider talent pool than ever, from blockchain engineers to bilingual vocal coaches. Says Epic president Sylvia Rhone: “Aspiring female executives will be able to find their place in this music ecosystem – and change the world."
Ethiopia Habtemariam on others trying to negate her success: “I heard people say, ‘Oh, she got the job just because she’s a black woman and they’re just trying to cover their asses,’ ” she says. “OK, cool. Even if that was the case, it’s on me. What am I going to do to make an impact and assure that other people get these kinds of opportunities in the future? Plus, I love proving people wrong.”
Epic Records President Sylvia Rhone on being a woman running a label: “As a woman, you have to come from a position of confidence,” she says. “There’s a certain gift that women have in their management style that’s more inclusive than a male counterpart’s. One of the keys is to always be your best self. There’s no secret formula to it. You just have to understand that you’re managing a team of people, whether it’s two or 100, that is far more important than you.”
Atlantic Executive VP Juliette Jones on the frustration of being a female exec often mistaken for a groupie at shows: "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.’ ”
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Photo credit: Shot by Sami Drasin exclusively for Billboard
BILLBOARD ISSUE 16 – COVER DATE JUNE 30, 2018
Caption: Jorge Mejia photographed on June 13 at Sony/ATV Music Publishing in Miami. Grooming by Sarah Leddick at Zenobia Agency.
Credit: Jeffrey Salter
Caption: Juice WRLD photographed on June 18 at The Dream Factory LA Studio in Los Angeles. Grooming by Christina Guerra at Celestine Agency. Styling by Shane Gonzales at Midnight Studios.
Credit: Cara Robbins
Caption: From left, 070 Malick, Phi, Ralphy River, 070 Shake, and Treee Safari photographed on June 13 at 934 Music Studio in Totowa, NJ. Hair and Makeup by Kristy Strate using IT Cosmetics at Ennis Inc.
Credit: Matthew Salacuse
Ethiopia Habtemariam, Sylvia Rhone, and Juliette Jones
Caption: Ethiopia Habtemariam, Sylvia Rhone, and Juliette Jones photographed on June 1st at Line 204 in Los Angeles. Habtemariam: Hair by Alex Armand. Makeup by Melanesia Hunter. Rhone: Hair and Makeup by Hector Rosario. Jones: Hair by Justine Marjan. Makeup by Joanna Simkin at The Wall Group.
Credit: Sami Drasin
Caption: Taeko Saito and her dog Joonbug photographed on June 15th at Downtown Music Publishing in Los Angeles. Hair & Makeup by Chechel Joson at Dew Beauty Agency.
Credit: Yuri Hasegawa
Caption: From left, DJ Khaled and Ivan Berrios photographed on June 18th in Los Angeles.
Credit: Sami Drasin
Dasha Smith Dwin
Caption: Dasha Smith Dwin photographed on June 13th at Sony Music Entertainment in New York. Hair and Makeup by Monae Everett at Epiphany Agency.
Credit: Mackenzie Stroh