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Meet Play MPE’s Rock & Alternative Expert: Lynn McDonnell

Team Play MPE

March 27, 2024

“It’s not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves” ~ William Shakespeare

When we say we have music industry experts on the Play MPE team, “what does that mean?” – you might wonder. May we introduce you to none other than, Lynn McDonnell, a Senior Account Executive on our industry relations team. Read more to learn why Lynn is our Rock & Alternative radio expert!

You Hold Your Destiny! Rock It! 

Lynn is one of those people you hope you are lucky enough to cross paths with. You know the ones, with the stories of legend, that you can’t even believe are real, but they are. She is not only incredible at what she does, but she has the most genuine, and magical, rock n’ roll heart to match. She is also just a really cool chick, and the go-to expert if you want to promote your music to Rock and/or Alternative in the US. She truly knows her stuff, and now it’s time to get to know her! She just might be checking out your music one of these days. And you will soon learn why that is pretty freaking cool. 

We figured it was best to let her tell you a bit about herself, in her own words. 

Let’s get to know Play MPE’s Rock & Alternative US Market expert…. Lynn McDonnell! 

A little snapshot before we delve in. 

Pat Benatar & Lynn (Photo by: Lester Cohen)

What is your favorite music-related movie?

“Almost Famous”

What is your favorite music biography or autobiography?

“The Creative Act”  by Rick Ruben”

If you could play any instrument instantly, which one would you choose?


Without further adieu… drum roll, please…

Introducing Play MPE’s Rock & Alternative expert, Lynn McDonnell!!!

How and when did you first fall in love with music?

“I have loved music since I was a kid. I know this example will age me, but I loved listening to vinyl while laying on my bedroom floor reading all the lyrics in the album notes with my head between the speakers.”

What was your path into the music industry?

“I actually fell into the music industry. I never knew jobs like record label promotion existed. I have a degree in journalism, and wanted to be the next Diane Sawyer on ABC News. I moved from Buffalo to Los Angeles 10 days after graduating college with $2k and no job. I landed a job at KFWB All News 98 working overnights and weekends. I met a girl named Yvonne Olsen who was the new talk editor for Radio & Records magazine, at the time. She was working at the station to make extra cash for her impending wedding. They had a full-time job at R&R as an assistant editor. This was the beginning of a lifelong love for this business, friendships, and an illustrious career.”

Do you have a fun story you want to share from your early days?

“Which one?! There are so many…I spent a week on the road with Mike Ness from Social Distortion promoting his solo “Cheating At Solitaire” album and by the end of the week, he was trying to play matchmaker for me, haha. Or there was the time I had to pick up Chris Cornell for a morning show interview at KROQ and lost my contact lens and had to drive him there with one eye closed. Another time, I had to get Snoop Dogg for a KROQ morning show interview, waited 45 minutes to get him out the door, got a contact high on the way there and completely missed the interview because we were late.”

Disturbed & Lynn (photo provided by Lynn McDonnell from her private collection)

What do you bring to the table as far as music industry expertise?

“I am a well-rounded human and my superpower is PEOPLE and connections. I have the knack of getting along with all walks of life, finding what makes them tick, and then playing on their strengths to move the team forward. I once described a radio promotion job (the one I had most of my career)  as being a manager, booking agent, travel agent, accountant, sales executive, therapist and babysitter all in one gig. I would guess anyone who’s had the job will get it.” 

How do you help clients have the best chance for success?

“The most important thing to do is reverse engineer their end game desires and then start from where they are now. For a brand new artist, I would map out a plan that suits their budget and creates a solid foundation to build from. For an existing client, I would craft a plan on how we can expand the groundwork they’ve already done by servicing new distribution lists to expand their reach to new markets in other territories”

When you assess a song for radio… What are you listening & looking for?

“Honestly it’s really not up to me to decide for the artist, BUT, I would see what’s working currently at each format and see how their music may fit. I would look at their social media platforms and their streaming story. For instance, I would not encourage a brand new artist with a small platform to start out servicing US Pop Radio, even if the song is poppy. UNLESS they have a team in place to help them beyond servicing the song. It’s a very competitive format, and it would end up in a vacuum. So I would recommend building up to that by promoting to other lists (see next answer), that may be more receptive initially, and then gauging progress. However, it’s their journey and their budget. I am just here as a guidepost.” 

How do you know which radio formats work best for a song or artist?

“Sometimes you don’t, that is the beauty of testing things out. Usually, a good starting point is College and Non-Commecial radio because they have a variety of shows in their programming and the most open-minded programmers.”

How do you help a newer artist, looking to break into the industry?

“I always go back to reverse engineering. What is the end game? I want to play stadiums, I want a #1 pop song on the radio, I want a Grammy. OK, now find someone you respect who accomplished those things, and see how they did it. Do some research and then model it in your own way. Keep on going even if you are only playing to 5 people. One of those people in the room could be a major label A&R person, or a good friend of a popular artist, who can tell them about you. Always be open to doing anything and everything to sharpen your skills. DISCIPLINE is key. Writing great songs is paramount. So practice writing every day, even if you don’t feel like it. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. “

What would you say to an artist who might be considering promoting their music with Play MPE for the first time?

“Play MPE is the most vast and global-reaching platform in the industry. We can help your music be heard at every level of your career.”

Are you ready to promote your music to curators in Rock, Alternative, or any other music format? Play MPE distributes music promotions across 6 continents in all music genres and radio formats. To book a 1:1 with one of our industry relations reps, head here. To learn more about Caster, the industry-leading music promotion distribution tool – loved by indie artists and major labels alike – learn more about Caster

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