Jonathan Hay, a celebrity publicist and record producer, has been called a “legendary music producer” and “pr maven” by major media outlets. He’s been dubbed an expert in crisis management by Rolling Stone Magazine. He was awarded the “TIDAL Rising” achievement by the streaming company owned by Jay Z. No stranger to controversy, Hay is outspoken with his views and has been seen on media outlets across the world, ranging from The Washington Post to TMZ. Hay has been involved in charities talked about in such prestigious publications as Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Jonathan Hay was born in Leesburg, Florida and was adopted as a child. Hay was raised in Louisville, Kentucky by his adoptive mother and stepdad, both who have been very influential throughout his life. From the Bluegrass state, Hay got his start in the music industry with Travis Meeks who was signed to Interscope Records and sold over three million records, including 17 weeks at #1 (which at the time was a modern rock record). Hay and Meeks (and his late father Gary Meeks) started a record label and offered Michael Jackson a record deal during Jackson’s public battle with Tommy Motolla and Sony Music. They received support from MJ’s close friend Uri Geller and they faxed over a letter of intent to The King of Pop’s manager Trudy Green. Although the deal never happened, Hay got to work with Jackson’s long time producers Teddy Riley and Bruce Swedien. Hay quit working for Meeks after a public dispute involving a press release that announced Meeks’ audition for the new band Velvet Revolver, formed by ex-Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. In the early millennium, Hay started working for John Houston Entertainment, a company owned by Whitney Houston’s father. The company also assisted the late iconic songstress. During that time, Hay also partnered up with Ringz & Partners Entertainment, a company owned by Cilvaringz. Cilvaringz, also known as Tarik Azzougarh, is the producer and concept inventor of Wu-Tang’s single copy album ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ (an album that was purchased for $2 Million dollars by a single buyer).
In 2005, Jonathan Hay helped publicize “Pon de Replay” the debut single from Rihanna, using controversial marketing tactics. The story of how Hay broke Rihanna’s single has remained a constant topic in the mainstream press since 2008, and was a trending topic in 2015 and 2016. Hay has worked with a plethora of artists and labels, from being a publicist for the iconic Death Row Records to being involved in a song with Prince that was nationally distributed to mammoth retail chains such as Best Buy and Tower Records back in the day.
Jonathan Hay played a significant role in a high-profile guardianship case involving teen actress Ariel Winter, a star on the TV series Modern Family. Winter’s mother, Chrisoula “Crystal” Workman, approached Hay about publicly leaking nude photos of her other daughter, Shanelle Gray, in an attempt to sway an ongoing legal battle in which Winter’s older sister was seeking emergency custody of the young actress. As a witness to the mother’s bizarre attempts, Hay signed a declaration for Ariel Winter in favor of her staying with her sister.
Hay co-founded SMH Records, a Charlotte, North Carolina based record label. The startup company got major media attention with its reported capital raise of $30 million. Through Hay’s long-standing relationship with Jim Urie, the label landed a distribution deal with Caroline, a division of Capitol/Universal Music Group. Highlights of Hay’s time with the label include a Kim Kardashian and Kanye West publicity scandal, a record deal offer to Lindsay Lohan, a $15 Million public offer to Jay Z to produce an album and a bidding war with Warner Brothers for Wu-Tang Clan. Jonathan Hay also helped launch Mike Smith’s One Shot, a TV show hosted by Sway Calloway airing this fall on BET. Hay was a music producer and mentor on the show which also features DJ Khaled, Tech N9ne, T.I., RZA, Twista, DJ Drama and others.
Hay was a co-executive producer and songwriter of an album by Kxng Crooked fka Crooked I of Slaughterhouse, a rap group that is signed to Eminem and Shady Records. Hay has also executive produced an album that featured film star Johnny Depp.
In February 2015, Hay negotiated a six-figure departure deal from SMH Records. He formed Urban Hitchcock and Jonathan Hay Celebrity with longtime business partner, Sabrina Hale. Hay co-produced When Music Worlds Collide, an album that was featured on Fox News, Billboard, Business Insider and more. His follow up production The Urban Hitchcock LP was seen on MTV News, Billboard, Yahoo Music, CBS, Vibe, TheDailyMail and numerous other sites and blogs.
Hay appeared on Inside Edition where he publicly apologized to Beyonce after an incorrect story appeared in the book Becoming Beyonce, a unauthorized biography written by New York bestselling author, J Randy Taraborrelli. Hay was mentioned numerous times in the book for his involvement in a publicity stunt in 2005 when he spread rumors that Def Jam CEO Jay Z was dating his newly signed artist Rihanna
Hay confessed that he started the rumors in order to boost the then 17-year-old’s debut single “Pon De Replay” after several failed attempts: “The PR stunt that I did was out of desperation to help break ‘Pon de Replay,'” Hay told New York Daily News. “It was reckless and I didn’t think it was going to work. I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick.”
Hay had never spoken with the author and was blindsided by the book’s release. He was disconcerted to learn that his quotes were taken out of context by Taraborrelli, which caused interference in promotional plans between Hay and TIDAL, a streaming company owned by Jay Z..