When Jacqueline Saturn attended Syracuse University, she studied political science with a French minor. An excessively active student, she was involved in student government and Greek life, soaking in all that college had to offer. “I got a taste of everything,” she says. “Syracuse opened my eyes to so many incredible experiences.”
“I got a taste of everything,” she says. “Syracuse opened my eyes to so many incredible experiences.”
As a Nashville native with music in her blood, she was especially fascinated with shows on campus—and confused by the lack of shows off campus. “When I was growing up in Nashville, Music City USA, every bar had a live band,” Saturn says. “Going out in Syracuse was different. I had never been to a bar where there wasn’t live music playing.”
These days, music is still the defining feature in Saturn’s life. She is the general manager of Harvest Records and Caroline, subsidiaries of Capitol Music Group, and in 2015 was named one of the 50 most powerful women executives in the music industry by Billboard magazine. For Saturn, who has returned to campus as a guest lecturer in the Bandier Program, including in November, the well-rounded experience she had at Syracuse helped give her the knowledge and confidence to move to New York City after graduation and pound the pavement for a music industry job. She worked as a paralegal and eventually heard about an opening for a receptionist at a tiny label, Savage. “I knew it was my best shot,” she recalls. “I met with them and thought, ‘I have to make this happen.’ I just told them, ‘I’m your person.’”
She got the job and through that met Frank Deleo, who had managed Michael Jackson, and he took her under his wing. She worked with him managing Taylor Dayne and Laura Branigan and that led to her being hired in the promotion department at Sony/Epic Records in 1993. “Getting hired at Epic was the best day of my work life,” she says. “It was a game changer.”
Getting hired at Epic was the best day of my work life. It was a game changer.
She stayed with Epic for 20 years, advancing to executive vice president of radio promotion, where she worked with Pearl Jam, Oasis, Rage Against the Machine, and other bands who rose under her care. In 2013, Saturn was tapped to become GM of Harvest Records. “At Epic, we had been successful in artist development, and Harvest needed a team to bring that magic,” she says. “I was excited because there aren’t a lot of women running major labels.”
Saturn was settled on the East Coast with her family, and the job required moving to Los Angeles. For advice, she met over lunch with Jon Cohen ’90, a music and media executive and close friend from SU. “He’s someone I’ve always trusted,” she says. “I told him the story and he said, ‘Jacqueline, run, don’t walk.’” Saturn made the jump and was soon asked to be GM of Caroline as well. “It’s a major undertaking, but this is my dream,” she says. “If you want to be in this business, you don’t turn down an opportunity. You just go for it.”
Today, Saturn is successfully handling her work and personal life in L.A., raising tween girls with her husband, and setting an example, especially for women who want to rise to the top of the business. “People always ask how I do it all,” she says. “The truth is I don’t, but I juggle and balance things like everything else in life. There are days that are hard and if I don’t laugh, I cry. But I always stay positive, because there are plenty of people who want to knock you down. They’ll say, ‘She can’t possibly do that, because she’s got kids.’ It’s frustrating to still hear that, but those kinds of comments are ultimately empowering because they make me want to bring it even more.”
This story was first published on December 14, 2017 and last updated on . It also appeared as “The Making of a Music Executive” in the issue of Syracuse University Magazine.
Also of Interest
Whether you're a performer or a fan, there are plenty of chances to enjoy music, theater, comedy, and dance on campus year-round.
Are you fascinated by the music industry, not as a performer, but as a business? In the Bandier Program, you will earn a degree in recording and allied entertainment industries.