Music business

Sylvia Rhone – The godmother of the music industry

Sylvia Rhone is a pioneer in the field of music. Read about her arrival and how she’s still impacting the culture!

Female music industry executives are hard to find and black female industry executives are rare.


However, one woman has managed to transcend all barriers: Sylvia Rhone, considered the most influential female executive in the history of music.

Having held executive positions at three major record labels, she has overseen the careers of artists as diverse as Lil Wayne, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes and even Metallica.

Sylvia Rhone was born in Philadelphia on March 11, 1952.

She grew up in Harlem, where her exposure to R&B influences like Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin and rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix gave her a foundation for a wide range of music.

While she initially worked at Bankers Trust in New York after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, her passion for music took over and she landed a secretarial role for Buddha Records in 1974.

Sylvia Rhone rose through the ranks in the white male-dominated industry of the time, landing gigs at record labels such as ABC Records, Ariola Records, and Elektra Records.

By 1986, she had received a promotion to senior vice president and general manager of Atlantic Records, where she managed a variety of artists, including Brandy and En Vogue.

In 1990, she became the first African-American woman to lead a major record label. Over the years, her roles on numerous record labels have not only seen her foster new talent, but have also reinvigorated and advanced the careers of artists who were on the ditch.

In 1994, she became president of the Elektra Entertainment Group, where she oversaw the merger of three different record labels into one of the most diverse record labels in the business.

Artists like Busta Rhymes and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were label mates with various artists like Tracy Chapman, AC/DC, Pantera, Bjork, Metallica and Missy Elliott.

In 2004, her life came full circle when she was named president of Motown Records. Under his leadership, Motown began to match the success of major music industry platforms by adding contemporary artists such as Chamillionaire, Migos, Akon and Lil Wayne to the label.

Since 2014, she has served as President and CEO of Epic Records, where she has elevated hip-hop artists such as 21 Savage, Bobby Shmruda and Future to worldwide success.

His visionary approach comes from his upbringing in Harlem. She has used her experience to enrich the cultural and artistic identity of the music industry by focusing on a diverse environment, musically, culturally and racially.

Sylvia Rhone is a complete trailblazer in every sense of the word, having been the first African-American woman to serve as CEO of a major Fortune 500-owned record label. Its accolades are only secondary to its approach to cultural preservation and protection.

After receiving the Culture Creators Icon Award in 2018, in her acceptance speech, she said, “Our only common goal is to protect culture.

Her role is not just that of a pioneering black woman in modern America, but it is the fact that her duties come from a place where she wants to protect her identity.