Women To Watch: JoJamie Hahr

(By Charese Fruge’) JoJamie Hahr is the EVP of BMG Nashville. She currently oversees all day-to-day operations with each department for all artists and projects for the company. Like many on the record side of the business, the passion for it started with radio.

“I began my career as a Promotion intern at K92.3/Orlando (Cox) during my first semester at UCF. This turned into a role on the morning show while I was in college and eventually a full-time position as an Events Coordinator and On-Air Personality,” explains Hahr. 

“From there, I moved to Nashville as the Promotion Director for WSIX/iHeart. After nearly two years in this role, I moved over to record promotion as a Promotion Coordinator for MCA/UMG and moved into the Manager/Secondary Promotion role after a year. Following the stint at UMG, I joined Broken Bow Records as Director of Southeast Promotion, before starting at The Valory Music Co. as a part of the Big Machine Label Group with Scott Borchetta and Jon Loba.

“Finally, after six years in promotion at Valory, I came back to the newly formed BBR Music Group (now with multiple imprints) as the VP of Promotion for our management division at the time before becoming VP/Marketing. From there, I was promoted to SVP/BBR Music Group and then to EVP/BMG Nashville.”

It’s a bit ironic how Hahr ended up in the music business. “I was the rare young person that didn’t know the music business even existed,” she says. “I grew up in a super small town called Inverness, Florida where the extent I knew about the music business was radio DJs playing my favorite songs from the request line. I just knew I loved artists and country music.

“When I saw a flyer in the Communications wing at UCF that said, ‘If you love country music and want to have fun, call Mike Moore at K92FM,’ I jumped at the chance for my first internship. I had no idea at the time this would be my life’s calling. I started there my first semester of college (at 18 years old) and knew immediately that’s what I wanted to do.”

So far in her career, Hahr contributes all her professional accomplishments to teamwork. “You can’t do it without a team in this business!” she says. “The last two years have been magical with the rise of both Lainey Wilson and Jelly Roll. Two of my favorite moments would be Lainey winning ‘Song of the Year’ at the ACM Awards last year (She’s won many more awards since then of course, but this one was so big and so unexpected). And the other: seeing Jelly Roll sweep the CMT Awards at his first-ever award show, as well as sell out the Bridgestone Arena last year.  

“When I think back nearly 20 years, one of my most proud moments was Jason Aldean winning ‘New Male Vocalist’ at the ACM Awards,” Hahr adds. “We were a tiny company at the time, and our owner Benny Brown paid for every single person to go to the awards in Vegas. We sat in the 300 section at the very top row (literally).  I’ll never forget that feeling of hearing them say ‘Jason Aldean’ as the winner.  I knew then that helping make others’ dreams come true would be my dream being fulfilled. 

“And finally, and perhaps the most important accomplishment to me,” she says, “I’m most proud of the time I served on the St. Jude Country Cares Advisory board. During my time, along with Chad Shultz and many other forward-thinking members, we were able to make strides in how the digital space in Country music (outside of just Country radio) could also help the kids and families of St. Jude.”

One of Hahr’s not-so-proud moments of her career? “I’m sure Thomas Rhett remembers a radio tour run where at the start of the first day, I ran up a curb at McDonald’s while he was drinking his orange juice, and he spilled it all over his shirt. On that same run, I couldn’t remember what Marriott property I booked near the Jacksonville airport (if you’ve been, you know there are 3-4 different ones in a row nearby). This was before getting the reservation electronically sent to you was a thing and I must’ve lost the printout, so we stopped at each hotel, after a long day, to find out which one I had booked. Not my best moment, but good thing TR was a champ and laughed along with me. He even unloaded and reloaded the luggage into the SUV each time. I think his career has turned out just fine.”

Hahr started in the business at the age of eighteen and it hasn’t always been easy for her. “As a young female, I always felt the pressure to be ‘taken seriously.’  I’m still shocked at some of the advice I got as I came up through the ranks like ‘don’t wear a dress to concerts’ or ‘never use pink font’ or even ‘don’t show what outfits you’re wearing on social media because it’s not ‘executive’ behavior.’ With the help of my dear friend and best-selling author Cara Alwill’s book ‘Girl Code’ (highly recommend this to all women of any age in business), along with a boss in Jon Loba who always stands behind me and champions my uniqueness, I’ve been able to continue to forge ahead while dancing to 80’s music in my kitchen on social media.  

“I am so passionate about helping other young people know that the most important thing isn’t about what you wear, or how you look. It’s about how you do your job, how you treat people, and about being the hardest working person at the table (I could do an entire interview just on this subject).”

The music industry is everchanging, and quickly, and Hahr admits, the last few years with COVID, the economy, and the inconsistency of the radio industry, it’s been pretty challenging. “It certainly has been tough!” says Hahr. “But what I find so inspiring and astounding is the adaptability of the great professionals and artists around me. We just always find a way.  During COVID, Jon Loba and I had our entire team on alternating zoom calls with each artist every day to check in and see how they were doing, brainstorm ideas, and keep everyone’s (including our) spirits up.  

“The true artists, established and new alike, really broke through during this time. They found ways to connect with their fans. They found ways to bring in income, pay their bands and crews, and write and make new music. Lainey Wilson arguably broke through bigger than ever during COVID. This is the sign of an icon in the making. We will forever be facing multiple challenges and changes in the music business, but we have proven as an industry to take the punches and keep getting back up, no matter what it takes.”

One of the biggest challenges in the industry right now is engaging a younger fan base for artists and brands and creating loyalty among them. According to Hahr, there’s a reason for that. “This is an easy one a lot of artists miss,” she explains. “You just talk to them (younger audience). Plain and simple. You post content, and you talk to them authentically and from your heart. This may mean several hours a day on social media, answering every comment on Facebook, dueting fans on TikTok, and sharing mentions on Instagram. A fan will never forget that recognition and connection. They will tell 10 of their friends, who will tell 10 of their friends. It’s contagious; it’s authentic; it’s how a great artist becomes a superstar.”

Speaking of superstars, as Hahr mentioned earlier, success in the music business is also largely dependent on an artist’s team. “We have so many bright young people at BMG/Nashville. I’m especially proud of Lauren Crawford, our head of marketing, for her initiative, attention to detail, creativity, and passion for what we do. I’m also a huge fan of Kristen Dowling, Mitchell Tenpenny’s manager.  I’ve known her since she was 16 years old, and she came to town on a mission and works harder than anyone I know.  She’s a bright light for any young person to look up to. There are so many people I’d love to mention, but finally, Tyler Corrado, Niko Moon, and Jordan Harvey’s manager. He used to work for us at BMG. His heart, talent, curiosity, and calm demeanor are admirable. I’m sure I’ll be working for him one day. 

“As far as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I’m very proud to work at BMG Nashville where these are very important priorities for us,” says Hahr, “As you can see showcased in our extremely varied roster of artists and their music. We nurture all talent and creativity and encourage our team to always uphold our BMG mission, which is to support artists and what they want to create first and foremost.”

What keeps Hahr up at night? “My team and our artists (sometimes literally LOL!),” says Hahr. “I love our BMG Nashville family so much, and my biggest desire is to be a great leader for them…someone they can count on, someone who is loyal and fair, someone who always has their back and their best interests at heart, and someone who always does the right thing. Additionally, our artists are the most important thing in our ecosystem. Their well-being and individual definition of success are crucial to how I live and work.

“I do manage to find balance for myself as well,” adds Hahr. “My balance is my God. Without my faith, I am nothing. Specifically, I spend 30 minutes to an hour every morning (no matter where I am) meditating on scripture, reading devotionals, and praying for friends. Other things that keep me sane are Orange Theory, shopping, travel to NYC, and time with my mom and dad who just moved to Nashville last year!”

As far as what’s ahead for Hahr and her team, “Our next big project is Jason Aldean’s 11th album, Highway Desperado, out November 3rdWorking with Jason Aldean will be the greatest triumph of my career,” she says. “From the first radio show (WDXB, Birmingham) we did together, where three people showed up, to the multiple arenas and stadiums he’s selling out now, Jason is still the exact same person I met 20 years ago. His humility and integrity are rare and unmatched. Jason changed the face and sound of country music when he hit the scene.  Every album feels big and exciting, but I think this one may be our biggest yet.”

Follow JoJamie Hahr @jojamie on Instagram and www.BBRmusicgroup.com