Music Industry Veterans Launch Nashville-Based Independent Record Label, Leo33

Rachel Fontenot and Katie Dean will co-head the label.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

April 5, 2023

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Rachel Fontenot, Katie Dean; Photo by Robby Klein

Industry veterans Rachel Fontenot (Marketing and Operations) and Katie Dean (Promotion and Artist Development) have announced their new co-lead venture, Leo33. 

This Nashville-based independent record label officially launched Wednesday, April 6 in partnership with Global music companies Firebird Music and Red Light Ventures.

Fontenot has held several roles within well-known companies around Nashville including BMG Nashville (later Sony Music Nashville), UMG Nashville, where she served as VP of Marketing & Artist Development, and her own artist consulting firm, which she founded in 2017. Collectively, Fontenot has worked with artists including Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Maren Morris, Eric Church, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Jon Pardi and more.

Leo33 Logo
Leo33 Logo

Dean spent nearly 18 years at Universal Music Group, the last seven at the helm of the MCA Nashville imprint. Previous stops include the Country Music Association, Disney’s Lyric Street Records, Music.com, AristoMedia and Mediabase. Dean has had a hand in the careers of artists including Sam Hunt, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill, Jordan Davis, Parker McCollum, Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban and more.

According to a recent release, Leo33 embodies characteristics of the lion – and the lioness: courage, confidence and cooperation and nods to the iconic LP’s RPM, a music enthusiast’s nostalgic yet contemporary format for experiencing music.

“As the industry evolves, so does the role of the label,” says Dean. “We’re trying to build a model for the future – an entrepreneurial approach that combines the resources of a major with the agility and focus of an independent.”

“The members of this team have experienced so many different facets of this industry – each has a unique perspective and passion,” added Fontenot.

This group of diverse individuals brings decades worth of experience from working at major record labels and publishing companies. Each of them has devoted their time developing, finding, creating and sustaining the careers of music’s biggest stars, and with Leo33, they plan to build a whole new roster unlike any in music. 

They pledge to put creativity at the forefront as they develop an environment where artists know they are unique to the label and surrounded by a team who is accessible and available for their every need.

Daniel Lee, Natalie Osborne, Katie Dean, Rachel Fontenot; Photo by Robby Klein
Daniel Lee, Natalie Osborne, Katie Dean, Rachel Fontenot; Photo by Robby Klein

Alongside Rachel Fontenot and Katie Dean, Leo33’s in-house A&R, marketing and promotion team feature a core team that includes Daniel Lee (A&R) and Natalie Osborne (A&R). 

Lee has served as Creative Director for independent publisher Ten Ten Music Group, as VP of Creative for global music entity BMG, in A&R at Warner Records LA and as President of Altadena, an independent label and publishing venture he founded with late hit songwriter and producer busbee. He worked closely with country superstar Carly Pearce and eventually became an in-demand producer for artists like Maren Morris, Keith Urban and Gwen Stefani.

Osborne previously served as Senior Creative Director of Downtown Music Publishing, which has signed successful and emerging songwriters Madi Diaz, Alex Hall, Fancy Hagood, Sarah Buxton, Lucie Silvas, The Brummies and Yola. Throughout her career, she also worked with influential songwriters like Kendell Marvel, Kelly Archer, Marc Beeson and Big Al Anderson.

In the coming weeks, more details will continue to be revealed. For more information and updates, visit Leo33music.com.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.