Meet Jennifer Horton: The Ultimate A&R Female Power Player
an aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter.
There is plenty to be said about those who hustle. The determined nature of a hustla speaks to their intrinsic need to succeed; an insatiable grit that will not be quenched until they rise to victory. Resiliency and ambition flows through their veins and when they fall down, they get right back up — ready for the next win, the next lesson, and just ready for whatever comes their way. A hustla, in the words of LL Cool J, they keep “doin it and doin it and doin it well” and they do it so well, they just keep doin’ the damn thang — until it becomes gold and also certified platinum.
There is plenty to be said about those who hustle. So, there is most definitely a great deal to say about music executive aficionado, Jennifer Horton.
In a male-dominated music scene, Horton is the perfect definition of a female version of a hustla; as she is a phenom A&R diva in the music game. With over a decade of experience in the entertainment business as a successful manager, A&R consultant and business owner, she wears many hats, all the while crafting and pioneering power music moves by working with prominent artists. In her capacity as an A&R consultant at Artist Publishing Group (APG), Horton helped to place the Billboard hit single “Zero” off Chris Brown’s #1 album “Royalty” as well as four other records on the album; has contributed to the Chris Brown x Tyga “Fan of a Fan” album; and also is the A&R for multi-platinum APG producers, The Futuristics.
As President of Matrix Artists, she manages platinum producer Fki 1st, and is the principal force for the introduction of Post Malone and his platinum hit “White Iverson”, and is also responsible for production for Travis Scott, Iggy Azalea, 2 Chainz, TY$ and more. Most notably, she manages Los Angeles hip-hop group The Rej3ctz, popularly known for their international hit record “Cat Daddy”, which Horton spearheaded to sell over 600k singles independently and garnered over 150 million views online.
Owning and operating a full-service creative and production company called Matrix Productions, Horton oversees multi-million dollar touring accounts such as KPop stars BIGBANG and 2NE1. Representing top creative directors, music directors and visual directors who help to create live shows and content for a plethora of artists including Nicki Minaj, Martina McBride, Usher, Cee Lo, and Lil’ Wayne, just to name a few.
In a music industry where high-power women executives are anomalies, Horton stands above the pack, making potent behind-the-scenes moves; which ultimately sparks the magic on the sounds and screens across the globe. While others have left the music biz, Horton is still in the industry and shows no signs of slowing down, proving that she is one of the ultimate A&R female power players in the music game, making the ultimate power player moves.
Heed Magazine chatted with Horton and got the inside scoop on how she got started, who inspires her and why there needs to be more female empowerment in the music industry.
Jaimee Swift: You are a seasoned music professional who has worked with countless artists. How did you ‘break’ into the music business?
Jennifer Horton: I actually have to say that music has always been a part of my life. It has not just been music, but also the fine arts and performing arts as well. My mom actually worked at a fine arts institution in Houston, where I am from. She worked with the symphony, ballet, etcetera, and I was dancer and played instruments. So, I always had an appreciation for a lot of different kinds of styles and genres of music, so it was kind of embedded within in [me].
I never really had a taste of the business side before I started but I knew what it took to get to that place to be on stage or being that person who is creating. Fast forward, I landed a great internship and I believe that so many people start that way, and it is for a reason, most definitely. It really is a training ground to getting your feet wet. For me, this internship was back in the day of faxing your resume. I was in LA during college and I really wanted to see how I could get into the entertainment business. I applied to a several talent agencies, and I ended up going to in-person stops to say, ‘Hey, did you get my fax?’ And one of them took me.
However, jumping into my career really happened when I started my own business six years ago and that has been this great journey. I’ve worked with clients such as Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Ciara and Chris Brown, working with them on their live tours and shows. After switching to music management after five years, I worked with the Pussycat Dolls, Pink, actors and other triple-threats like Elise Neal.
One of my first big clients was Ciara, and she hired me to consult for her on her Fantasy Ride album. This was a great opportunity for me to strike out on my own and say, ‘Okay Jennifer, now you have to deliver.’
At that point, I felt that it was what I was going to continue to do.
JS: There are many things that can be said about you, Jennifer: You are a successful A&R manager, curator, and entrepreneur, and female power player in the music biz. In an industry that is so male-dominated, why is it imperative that women are thoroughly represented in the music industry and serve in these executive capacities?
JH: Music is an interesting area in entertainment because there are other areas like film and television and other capacities where more women serve in executive roles. The music industry is very much a grind. It is really hard and it takes a lot of sacrifice. It is 24/7 in a way that other entertainment industries aren’t, so it is something that you are willing to sacrifice and take on responsibilities above and beyond your job description.
The best way for women to be represented is to see other females doing the work in the business and make it all happen and do it with style and grace. There are a lot of implications that women have gotten these positions based on their looks and other things, but I have had a great opportunity to look up to other female music executives; whether I knew them or not or was just simply following their careers. Someone like Wendy Goldstein, for example, who is one of the highest-ranking female creative executives as an A&R at Republic Records, I knew who she was because they were not many of her. I looked at the A&R directory and was like, “Who is this woman — who is Wendy Goldstein?”
Fast forward, we ended up meeting each other years later because she wanted to sign one of my artists. I respect her highly as one of the generations kind of above me, but now we are peers in the sense that we do business together. I’ve always followed other women in the industry like Mona Scott and Tina Davis, and eventually got to meet them. Initially, it was motivating for me to know there were women out there doing it on the level that I wanted to do it.
As a business owner, a lot of what I do at my own company has a mentoring aspect to it. There have been young female interns, assistants and other mid-level people who I have been able to hire into my company that I encourage.. I think mentorship, in general, is important and it is important to share what I know to help others to keep pushing and achieving.
JS: Of all the artists that you worked with, who/what has been your greatest experience and why?
JH: One of my favorite artists to work with is definitely The Rej3ctz. They are from LA and I started with them seven years ago during really what brought LA back on the map. There was a lot of excitement about what was kind of the resurgence of the west and the LA sound and there was this new generation of music called the “New West.” A lot of artists that are shaping the sound today such as YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Kendrick, Tyga, and The Rej3ctz, are from the West.
The Rej3ctz are a bundle of positive energy and creativity. They come up with these dances and amazing songs, hooks and they are great on camera. They are really hardworking guys and they have gone through so much in their lives and they used their music as an opportunity for positivity and creativity. We did that whole run of the “Cat Daddy” independently, with no label and we go a gold record out of it and over 100 million views on Youtube. We’ve had everyone from Michelle Obama do the “cat daddy” to Bieber, athletes, — we really touched culture on every level.
The biggest excitement that came with it was from the kids. The Rej3ctz did hundreds of school shows, and it involved the whole family. Everybody was a part of that fun time. Every time I watch or hear “Cat Daddy” it really brings back something I am really proud of but also sparked a new chapter in music and really marked a generation on the West coast. So, shout out to The Rej3ctz!
JS: What has been your greatest moment in your profession thus far?
JH: Well, definitely getting a gold record independently has to be one of the greatest moments because that was no walk in the park. That really taught me what to do in this 2016-2017 era that we are in because I did not come up in the whole mentality of coming up with having millions of dollars. We really did everything in a grassroots capacity and that actually was one of the things that I took a big risk on and I took a big risk on my clients, who I believe in andwho are amazing guys. At that time, we just jumped on the deep end together and we went hard.
There was no label, there was no production company, there was no big partnership that I had. We did it. And that really started my opportunity to consult with other big artists and people who I looked up to. For example, getting hired by Polo Molina, who manages The Black Eyed Peas and having him come in and say, “Hey, I like what you’re doing over there…can you do that over here?”
Doing this journey for me independently and doing it as my own company, I just really had to blaze my own trail and believe in what I believe in. Now, here I am. I feel like in the landscape of the music industry, I watched a lot of people come and go. I watched a lot of people have success and didn’t know how to handle it when the money stops and the homies go. I have also seen the people who are on the Power 100 list. I think it gives you a sense of what it takes to stay around and how easy it is to fall off.
For me to still be in the game at a high-level, I feel that I represent something new in the business.
JS: What is the legacy that you are trying to leave in your career?
JH: It has become really special to me over the years to be a business owner. Being a business owner is a whole other responsibility within itself and you have to think about long-term decisions for your team. I want to see my team grow and I want to create a platform where other people can achieve their own success in the industry. And together, we have an opportunity to create that platform for our clients to get involved in our local community or on a national, global level.
Right now, I am teaching at the LA College of Music and I am on their Music Business faculty. It has been great to teach what I have learned to the next generation. I really just want to be in a position to where I can share and give back. Whatever I can do to create opportunities for people to learn the business and to do business the right way, that is what I am going to do.
For more information about Jennifer Horton’s company and clientele, please visit: www.matrixartists.com!
You can also follow her on Twitter at @JenniferJRH