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Meeting pop star Shawn Mendes was cool. Sending his record to the top of the charts was cooler.

Photo: Shawn Mendes performs. Photo from Flickr.

Many pop music fans would be starstruck by an encounter with Shawn Mendes, but what mattered to Ashley Juliano is that she played a part in the success of his new self-titled album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

“I know he’s this 6-foot-2, gorgeous superstar every girl gushes over,” said Juliano, “but he’s also just a person and I have to talk to him like he’s a human and like I work for him.”

Juliano, whose recent co-op at Island Records drew on both of her majors, marketing and the music industry, was thrilled to work for a label whose acts include Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, and The Killers.

“Meeting the artists is really great and all, but what’s more rewarding is seeing how happy Mendes was with the success of his album,” said Juliano. “He gets his success because you did all your hard work the right way.”

Ashley Juliano said she was thrilled to work for a label whose acts include Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, and The Killers. Photo courtesy of Ashley Juliano.

“Shawn Mendes” was the first time she oversaw an album launch from start to finish. Juliano attended every planning meeting to help make decisions on promotional appearances and strategies. She even met with Mendes to provide feedback on his new songs, because he wanted to know what someone in his target audience thought of the album before it was released.

“I’m sitting here now with my signed ‘Shawn Mendes’ vinyl and it’s my baby because it’s the first album I got to work on,” Juliano recalled from her home in New Jersey.

She said her co-op at Island Records helped her realize that she wants to continue working at a record label after graduating in 2020. Her ultimate goal, she said, is to own a music venue in New York City.

When she arrived in New York to start working for Island Records, she was spending all her free time attending concerts. Once her co-workers noticed her interest in the live music scene, they started offering her tickets to see Island artists perform.

“Going to concerts with my co-workers really helped me bond with the team and fall in love with Island artists who weren’t necessarily on my radar before,” said Juliano, who did her first co-op with Superfly, a marketing company that founded the Bonnaroo music festival. “I love live music more than anything. I hope to one day get to work more closely with artists in the live space.”

“I’m sitting here now with my signed ‘Shawn Mendes’ vinyl and it’s my baby because it’s the first album I got to work on.”

Ashley Juliano Northeastern student

When people think of the music industry, they often envision raucous concerts and fun parties. While those things were certainly a part of her experience at Island Records, Juliano also got a behind-the-scenes look at the business end of the industry.

Juliano was responsible for designing marketing materials, working with the label’s college representatives to promote events, and keeping track of Island artists’ weekly sales and streaming numbers from services such as Spotify and Apple Music. She talked shop with Elton John’s manager, who wanted to promote a tribute album in honor of the singer-songwriter, and developed strategies to grow the reach of the label’s smaller acts.

Juliano said she made key connections with major players in the music industry. “In the music industry, experience and who you know are oftentimes more valuable than what you learn in a textbook.”

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