After studying audio production and working at a recording studio straight out of college, Jenna LoMonaco started her office-bound career at PR and marketing agency Girlie Action in 2005.
Two years later she was one of the very first employees at Glassnote records as Head of New Media. In her five years there she helped break and develop artists including Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, and Childish Gambino.
From Glassnote she joined the newly-formed Label Services branch at Kobalt, handling digital strategy for artists such as Martina McBride, Lenny Kravitz, and New Kids on the Block.
In 2015 she entered Major Label Land via Island Records, which had just been consciously un-coupled from Def Jam, to run the Digital Marketing department. At the time it was an increasingly important role at the helm of an increasingly influential discipline – a trend she would prove and evolve through the social media strategy around the then just-signed artist Shawn Mendes.
She also led the digital marketing efforts for artists such as Jessie Reyez, Nick Jonas, The Killers, Elton John, Bon Jovi, Tove Lo, Fall Out Boy, and Demi Lovato.
18 months ago she joined the ONErpm team as Head of US Marketing. Since then, LoMonaco has grown the project management, DSP and direct-to-fan teams, whilst also launching brand partnerships, digital strategy and sync teams as the company continues its trajectory from distribution platform to fully-rounded, new-model record company.
Here she discusses her career highlights, mentors and the future of ONErpm…
What was it like working at Glassnote in the very early days of that company?
I started at Glassnote when the label was brand new. I was the third or fourth employee. We had a ton of up-and-coming artists back then including emo artist Secondhand Serenade whose single, Fall For You, we were able to break into the top 15 of Top 40, but still, we were seen as the underdog. Then we signed Phoenix.
I remember Pitchfork made fun of us, asking why they would sign with this random little label. Then 1901 hit No.1 after 31 weeks, followed by them winning the Best Alternative Grammy. We broke them wide open and no one made jokes after that.
After the success of Phoenix, then came Mumford and Sons, who became one of the biggest bands in the world. It was all a completely life-changing experience.
What was Daniel like to work with and what did you learn from him?
Daniel taught me how to shamelessly self-promote [laughs]. He really taught you how to hustle: you had to get it done, you had to get people to answer you. I learned a level of sheer determination from him and nothing will be a challenge after that experience.
You also spent some time within the major label ecosystem, at Island, how did you enjoy that?
I got hired not long after David Massey had become President and they separated from Def Jam. It was such an incredible experience, because we had so many artists that were new and breaking, like Tove Lo and Nick Jonas.
We had also just signed Shawn Mendes, who, at the time, was still just a kid making music in his bedroom for Vine. I worked directly under Eric Wong [Island COO at the time, now President and Chief Marketing Officer at Warner Music], who I still consider a mentor to this day.
Also, working for David Massey was an amazing experience as he has that same determined attitude and he truly understands how to break artists, what makes them tick, and what a true hit sounds like.
“Like so many of us, music is what got me through my adolescence and I just knew very early on I wanted to be a part of this.”
Getting the chance to be a part of Shawn Mendes’ team and help his career grow was so exciting and one of the favorite chapters of my own career. Shawn just ‘got it’ and he understood the work that needs to be put in.
He also had such an exciting fan base (The Mendes Army). They were so emotionally invested in his career so we really tried to include them in every moment and make them feel like his success was their success, because it was. The way we got them to rally behind every launch was honestly just so fun. You can do so many creative and fun campaigns when you have an artist that’s willing to work like that – plus fans who are so truly dedicated to the artist.
The whole reason I wanted to work in music was because I was such a giant fan myself. Like so many of us, music is what got me through my adolescence and I just knew very early on I wanted to be a part of this. My thinking was, if I can’t make music, I want to help get music to the fans that need to hear it. Music is such an emotional savior, and if I can be a part of that, that’s my whole inspiration for doing what I do.
How did you arrive at ONErpm and why was that a company you wanted to join at that time?
After leaving Island Records, I took a few months off to try to figure out what it was that I wanted to do next. I knew that I didn’t want to be just the Head of Digital somewhere else; that didn’t feel like a challenge to me anymore. I had considered going out on my own as a freelancer, but then I got an email from somebody saying ONErpm wanted to meet with me.
“I was blown away by the technology. I had just spent years working at one of the most powerful labels in the world and they had nothing like this.”
I met with Emmanuel Zunz [founder and CEO of ONErpm], and I immediately felt like this was what I wanted to do. I was so blown away by the technology that he had created. I had just spent years working at one of the most powerful labels in the world and they had nothing like this. The opportunity to not only lead the marketing team here, but have the ability to turn it into my vision of what a marketing team should look like, that was something I had to be a part of.
What do you think is the ONErpm difference, for artists and managers?
I think it’s two things. Number one is the combination of the technology and the transparency. With our platform, nothing is a secret from our artists and managers. They can see everything as it happens and when it’s happening. It just allows everything to happen so much more smoothly; everything you need is clearly laid out, giving us the opportunity to work together as a team.
Alongside that is our ability to offer a fair deal to artists and then to be able to execute. We have such an incredible team that has worked really hard to build out all of these services which help artists at various levels. We can be laser-focused on what it is each artist wants to achieve. We sign artists early on and we aren’t just looking for an artist with a story – we help create the story.
What are the most important changes taking place at ONErpm right now?
We have evolved so much over the past two years in terms of what we are able to offer our artists. We have doubled the number of Project Managers we have. We have incredible relationships with all of the key partners.
Our digital strategy team is working directly with artists to help them grow their social fan base, overall engagement and monetize their content. We launched branding and sync services.
On the Tech side we also launched our Amplifier platform which offers artists 100% marketing transparency. And most importantly we have an incredible team of people here. We have everything an artist needs to elevate their career.
Is ONErpm becoming more like a label than ever?
Absolutely, we are. We consider ourselves the modern version of a label. There’s this antiquated idea people have about record labels, because they have been the same for so long.
OneRPM is changing that and offering different types of deals based around artists’ needs and the specifics they need help with. Sometimes that’s help with DSPs and socials, sometimes it’s the full gamut, like the deal we have with Chance Peña [pictured].
We beat every label to sign Chance and we’re going to be working with him on all aspects. He’s this new breed of artist that is really smart and they don’t want to just go and do the same old thing. They know that there’s the ability to work with people as part of a true partnership, and that’s what we do.
Is part of the wider ambition for ONErpm to become a partner/label that artists don’t feel the need to leave once they reach a certain level?
It is, yes. We have everything an artist needs in-house now, so there is no reason to go elsewhere. We have all of the teams that you need, plus tech that no one else can compete with. I think artists like the idea of a traditional label in theory, but what we offer allows for true growth without the fear that people will move you to the bottom of the list if you have a bad month.
How would you describe the culture at ONErpm?
I would say that we’re extremely hard-working and that the people who work at ONErpm take it very personally, because we’re all very emotionally invested in what we do. It’s a really exciting time to be here and we all feel like we are a part of something really special.
It’s a group of really passionate, invested people who are all very encouraging of each other. We work really hard to make sure that our teams know they’re not working against each other, nobody’s in competition with each other. We are to work as a unit and when we have success, we have success together; we rise together.
Within the question of culture I would also highlight the fact that we are very women executive-heavy here. It’s so fantastic to be at a company that values women in leadership and treats us as actual equals, which is a rarity still, unfortunately.
“To be at a company that not only values and supports female leadership, but work alongside women who inspire and support each other, that’s just such a special thing and creates such a positive work environment.”
Globally we have Iasmine Amazonas as our Head of Marketing in Brazil. She’s brilliant, a big part of our overall strategy and has done so much for the branding of ONErpm. Osagie [Osarenz], who is our lead in Africa, has built a very strong team very quickly. Then there is Ahu Ozisik, our country lead in Turkey, which is a market showing really strong growth for us as well as Malaika Lepine who handles all of our marketing efforts out of Jamaica. She led the Grammy Award-winning kabaka pyramid campaign.
Here in the US there are a lot of senior female leaders who I truly admire. We have Julia Mcleod our Senior Project Manager who also handles all of our Digital Partner relationships, Casey Childers our Head of Digital Strategy, we have Juliana Otero who leads all Latin marketing out of Miami, Erin Dunleavy who is our new Head of Branding and so many others the list goes on really!
To be at a company that not only values and supports female leadership, but work alongside women who inspire and support each other, that’s just such a special thing and creates such a positive work environment.
What’s the one thing you would change about the industry right now?
I think what I would change about the music industry is also very much related to why I work at ONErpm. There is so much talk about how artists can’t live off the money they make on streaming platforms, yet the only thing we look at as success is the 1% of artists who break through into the mainstream.
Sure, there is nothing more thrilling than breaking an artist into that 1% – but for everyone else, how do you live a happy life and a sustainable life off of your music? Why is that not more of a conversation? That is a focus for us here at ONErpm: getting artists to a place where they can do what they love and actually be financially able to do so.
Virgin Music Group is the global independent music division of Universal Music Group, which brings together UMG’s label and artist service businesses including Virgin and Ingrooves.Music Business Worldwide