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  • Writer's pictureSarah Scott

Industry Feature Friday: Janelle Johnson (Co-Founder & Publicist at Johnson Talent Management)

Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!

Please welcome to the stage, Janelle Johnson! What an absolute joy to get this wonderful person on the IFF blog this week! Thank you so much for joining me this week, Janelle!

Talent, great songwriting and music are thought of as a sure-fire formula for success in the music biz, however, there is one thing missing factor from the equation – a good team from a good entertainment and management company!

Janelle is the fabulous Co-Founder of and Publicist for one of those companies - Johnson Talent Management (JTM) with her brother Jeremy (Johnson).

(Hi Jeremy!)

"Johnson Talent Management (JTM) is an artist management and music promotion company with offices in Toronto and Winnipeg. Established by siblings Jeremy and Janelle Johnson, JTM represents some of Canada's strongest indie talent in the Canadian Country music scene. Combining artist management expertise with an extensive national media and industry network, the music industry duo have embraced the family spirit and passion for great music to build an impressive indie roster." The JTM Website.

Here are some JTM highlights:

  • Their artists have earned over a 10 million streams.

  • Charted 4 x Top 30 Canadian Country Radio singles.

  • Won awards across Canada such as CCMA's and MCMAs.

  • Represented: Serena Ryder, Jully Black, Patricia Conroy, Victoria Duffield and emerging artists such as Command Sisters (Universal).

  • Currently represent Gold Selling Artist Jason Benoit, 5 x MCMA winner Kendra Kay, BCMA Nominee Katy Hurt and 4 x Saskatchewan Country Music Award Winner Jake Vaadeland.

  • Promoted concerts in 65 Canadian/USA markets and worked with companies such as the CFL, CBC, Showtime Concerts (Australia), Sirius XM and Garnier Canada.

- Stats from the JTM Website -

Providing Artist Management, Music Publicity, Video Production and Artist Development, Johnson Talent Management is high-level entertainment company dedicated to their artists and to their work.

For over 10 years, Janelle's passion for working with musicians has shone so brightly! She is committed to and steadfast in providing services that deliver results and expand music careers. Whether it's developing relationships with radio stations, generating press around musicians' tours, getting those shows, or planning a knock out social media campaign, Janelle and her team at JTM will provide a successful course of action and get your name out there!

So excited for you to hear more from and learn more about Janelle this week! *eeeee*

Get to know more about Janelle Johnson here:

Tell us about one of your most favourite artist campaign you worked on and what made it so successful and special to you?

Wow! There has been so many over the 10 years I’ve been doing this. It is so hard to just pick one but I would have to say one that happened more recently is when we worked Kendra Kay’s ‘Homegrown Heart’ campaign. It was so special because Kendra and I grew up in the same small town and she wrote that single partly about our hometown so I felt really connected to it. It was successful because there were some first for Kendra for that campaign. We were able to secure national interviews with outlets like etalk and Entertainment Tonight.

This may seem like a basic question, but I think it's an important one because I've had a few discussions with artists about trying to find the right "PR" or publicists, but let's start off with the basic - What does a music publicist do, and when and why should an artist hire one?

That is a great question, I get asked that a lot too! I’m pretty sure my mom still doesn’t know what I actually do haha!

In all seriousness, a publicist, in the music industry anyways, will work with an artist’s overall vision (or help them create it if they aren’t sure) to promote their career, it could be anything from a new release or career milestone. A publicist will craft a story and give media and the public a narrative about you as an artist. Publicists work hard to develop a strong network of media partners that they can approach to create media opportunities.

As far as finding the right publicist, like anything, make sure they are the right fit for you. Make sure you feel comfortable chatting with them and that they understand your vision and are willing to help you achieve it. A publicist needs to believe in your music. One thing I tell artists all the time is, don’t hire a publicist that is going to guarantee you media coverage. No one can do that, media moves quickly and is everchanging so there is never a guarantee, right up to the day of a scheduled interview.

An artist should hire a publicist when they have had a major career development or they are seeing some different success then they have before. For example, they have won awards that they have not in the past, added to stations and getting radio airplay that they haven’t in the past, reached a streaming milestone. An artist also has to have a budget for a publicist. Most publicist are willing to have a chat with no strings attached to find out if there is a good hook, the right fit and to discuss budget expectations.

Some artists are out here doing their own publicity and I get asked this question ALL the time. What makes a good publicity pitch to (hopefully!) secure an interview, airplay and/or a gig? What should an artist do?

Make sure you have a great reason to approach the media. Find a hook or something that makes your story stand out. Make it as easy as possible for media to cover your story. For example, if you are pitching to print media make sure you include high-res photos that they can easily access, craft part of the story for them it helps them to easily identified what the story is. If you are pitching to radio about a new single and you want to come into the studio for an interview, make sure your single is on DMDS so they can easily access it. For TV interviews, have high quality video they can use during your interview give them a reason to interview.

This might be obvious but if you have a Holiday song coming out, you could pitch to them by saying ‘I have this holiday single if you are doing any specials.’ If they ask you to perform, be prepared. Things typically happen quickly with TV so make sure you show up camera ready, your instrument is tuned and don’t give them any surprises. If you asked them for 2 DIs for tech and you show up with an extra player/singer that won’t look good on you.

I think we can see the trending theme in all of this. Media is busy so give them a good story and make it as easy as possible for them. If you are easy to work with and give them a great story then the next pitch will likely be a lot easier.

On to more of the management side of things: Recording contracts are a significant part of the music industry, and it’s important to know when to start looking for one and knowing when it's an appropriate time to have one. When is the right time to start looking for a recording contract for an artist and how does/can the role change of a manager once they get signed?

Look for a label when you feel you have something to offer, a brand, new music, a strong tour history, it's a business so labels are looking for good partners, creative artists who show up on time, do what they say they will do and come up with new ideas, along with the ability to support the execution of those ideas. Each label is different, so do your research and try to find ways to reach out and build genuine relationships to find the right fit.

A manager will work with you and the label to set goals and find ways to achieve them. Since managers are looking after your overall career, labels are another team member that will help expand your network and opportunities. Artists can think of managers as the filter for every part of their career, everything funnels through them including labels and publicists.

If you're interested in working with or learning more about Janelle or JTM here's where to look:

Instagram: @johnsontalentmanagement and @janellejohnson

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