Thuy-An Julien is a Grammy award-winning entertainment and technology executive, with more than 20 years experience at the intersection of music and technology. She has worked at numerous Fortune 500 Companies including Apple Inc., Time Inc., Sports Illustrated, and other major companies.
Currently, Julien is CEO of Hartman’s House, LLC, a management and digital consulting company. She and her team set artists free to be creative while managing all other aspects of their careers and assist companies to bridge the gap between entertainment and technology. Her clients include Grammy Award winner Timothy Bloom, and former American Idol contestant Shevonne Philidor.
Previously, she worked at Apple Inc. for 15 years and headed up original content brands in North America for iTunes and was “low-key” one of the most important figures bringing Hip-Hop and urban acts to the mammoth corporate entity. She played an integral role in the success of iTunes Store in multiple market segments. Some she created, while significantly expanding others. She also created the Urban Marketing department—the first ever targeted marketing group at iTunes—to address missed opportunities in the focus of the original iTunes platform, originally designed only for mainstream music.
She is also currently responsible for market and growth development at Dash Radio. She successfully builds audiences, brands, and profits for the largest digital radio network in the world. She is also a Partner at Creator’s Capital, a business incubator/fund that was created to help creative- both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs create their visions.
We talked to Thuy-An about her business and other matters of extreme importance.
AllHipHop: Explain what your job entails:
Thuy-An Julien: I run a company that does a few several things. We do artist management, creative incubation and marketing consulting. I manage some amazing artists to get their music out in the world and steer their careers towards what we have determined is their goal, be it songwriting, producing, performing, etc. As for the incubation, I partner with Creators Capital to help music, film, TV and digital media entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs make their ideas for projects and companies investable, and then we give them access to sources of capital.
AllHipHop: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job and your duties:
Thuy-An Julien: I love helping people achieve their goals. I believe people need to realize that every short-term goal that is achieved takes you one step closer to your long-term goal.
I love being around the creative. Hearing the music being created, attending the live shows, watching the vision turn into a business and knowing that I helped in some way make it successful.
AllHipHop: What is the hardest part:
Thuy-An Julien: I think there are two things that are the hardest.
1. The doors that get slammed in your face when you know an artist or a project deserves that shot hurts. It is hard, but I never give up.
- Getting underestimated as a woman when you walk into the room. I used to record live sessions for iTunes. I just remember numerous times having someone ask the sound engineer something and they would have to remind them that I was the producer. As a woman, you have to be assertive and yet walk the fine line between being too nice and being too “b#####.” When I negotiated deals at iTunes, often people would want to speak to my boss or a colleague who was a man because they didn’t think I had the power to execute. This is a foolish mistake on their part but just made me more determined.
AllHipHop: What advice do you have to offer people that want to be where you are or aspire to make it in the business?
Thuy-An Julien: My advice to everyone is to follow your dream. Don’t just hear that and not do it. Regardless of what you do with your life, it will be difficult. So you might as well pursue that which you truly want to do. But be smart about it. Get the tools you need- be it higher education, internship, get a mentor- whatever it takes so you are dressed for battle and have everything you need. I never thought I would use half the things I learned at the University of Delaware but you’d be surprised when random knowledge you learned comes into play.
For young ladies, my additional advice would be to learn how to win in a man’s world, because it is still a man’s world, as we saw with the last Presidential election. We still get paid less than men for doing the same job. But show and prove yourself. Less complaining and more doing. I’m not saying take any abuse or discrimination that comes your way. I am saying know that the deck is stacked against you and know you will have to work harder and smarter — but show them your value.
AllHipHop: Can you describe a moment of adversity personal and in your career?
Thuy-An Julien: This thing we call life is full of experiences both good and bad. There are a few moments that come to mind but here’s one that people in the industry can relate to.
Before I started my company, I was at iTunes for a very long time, Pretty much since their launch. Most people in the industry associated me with iTunes. It became so prevalent that I felt like my name was “Thuy-An From iTunes.” When I left iTunes, it was very interesting and a bit hurtful when people I had helped for years didn’t answer my emails or calls. It really played with my self-value and made me think that I was a less valuable person overall because of it. But we all know this industry is about what you can do for me and that’s why there are the term industry friends but I never thought it would happen to me. But two good friends said something to me that I will always remember. David Banner was quick to remind me that I was not defined by the company I worked for, but who I was, and that I had always helped people because of my big heart. And the OG Herbie Hancock just turned to me when I told him about this and said: “Good Riddance to fake friends.” My circle is definitely smaller but it’s also real.
So remember do not value yourself by who you know or who says they are your friend or what events you can and can’t get into, but value yourself for who you are.
AllHipHop: What keeps you from giving up working within a male dominated industry?
Thuy-An Julien: I believe it’s a calling. Music is a gift from God that needs to be protected. Ask yourself where are all the great painters today? They are graphic designers. Unless we want all the great musicians to become jingle writers for commercials, we need to protect the art and those who create it. There needs to be heart associated with it because the musicians are pouring their hearts into what they are creating for us.
There may be people who say I care too much, that I lead with my heart in a ruthless industry. I have found a balance that works for me. I have helped hundreds of artists, both super famous and unknown. I never treat anyone differently because to me, every artist is someone with a dream. Yes, sometimes I have to be strong and forceful but I never lose sight of the fact that there are real people with real hopes and dreams attached to every song.
I believe the music industry needs a woman’s touch. And there are now a lot of great women making sure that happens.
AllHipHop: Who inspired you to become a leader or boss?
Thuy-An Julien: I don’t think anyone inspired me directly but it evolved. I was always encouraged by my parents who think I’m meant for great things, but most parents think that. I started being a leader when I saw things that were not right in the companies where I worked inside and no one was saying anything or doing anything. I was definitely born with a leader’s personality but there is always the choice of leading or stepping back into the safety of the crowd. I was always able to muster up the courage to step out. And standing on the edge of the nest when everyone is standing behind you in safety afraid to step out is lonely and terrifying that the moment you take flight, you know you did the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, there were times I splatted on the ground, but as my father would say “you can lay down and die or you can get up, evaluate where you went wrong and keep going.” I’ve never had the quitting spirit in me.
AllHipHop: How do you balance work and personal life?
Thuy-An Julien: That’s always a challenge. I make it a point to go see my parents at least once a month. Luckily my entire family lives within a 20-mile radius so I can see them all in one visit.
I make sure I take time for myself every day. I usually work out in the morning to get my head clear and get my goals for the day. There are days that the hamster on the wheel in my head has caused me to have crazy thoughts or dreams during the night so a good workout is my way of shaking that off and getting ready for the day. One of my clients will yell at me because after I run for 30 minutes I start doing emails while lifting weights. If I text him while at the gym I will get the response of “WORK OUT!”
That brings me to one of the most important parts of balance. Have people around you who get you. They understand your goals, they understand who you are and how you operate and will kindly remind you to take care of yourself.
As for that elusive life partner, I had one once and it didn’t fit.
My ex-husband would claim our marriage was a casualty of my career. I prefer to think I have yet to meet the man who can understand the demands, the joys and the sorrows of this business and know that a powerful woman is no less a woman at the end of the day.
AllHipHop: What do you do for fun?
Thuy-An Julien: My sister would tell you I sit on the couch and watch ratchet TV. I confess I do watch but since a few folks on those shows are my friends I like to see how TV has edited their behaviors down to things.
I love music so I go to shows and clubs and concerts that I am not working and just become a fan.
One of my favorite things to do when I am out on the road either with an artist or for a client is to wander whatever city I am in by foot without music and just experience the soul of a city.
AllHipHop: What are some things you’ve had to deal with that a man wouldn’t?
Thuy-An Julien: Where does the list begin…
- Walking into a meeting and having everyone think you’re an assistant.
- Going up to security at the venue and telling them you know the artists and having them think you are a groupie.
- Being backstage with an artist and having their GF/Wife/Friends wonder “Who is this b#### and what does she want with my man”
- Getting hit on by managers, artists, band members, roadies.
- Having to convince someone that you actually do know about production and technology.
- Having to worry that if you wear a dress and your hair down you’ll look too sexy for the meeting and no one will take you seriously.
- Having people think you slept your way to the top.
- Having people think you’ve slept with a ton of artists.
- Having people think you are sleeping with the artists you manage.
- Having people judge your bag and shoes to see if you are successful.
- Having people worry you will get in a relationship and lose focus.
- Having people worry you will get pregnant and quit.
AllHipHop: Final words?
Thuy-An Julien: Business is about money. Not about what’s fair but about what will make a company money. If you want to move a company in a direction of fairness, show them how they are losing money by not having fair practices. No one cared about Urban Marketing at iTunes until I showed them how much money they were losing. Money. That’s what runs companies. If you know the secret, you can move mountains.