Earlier this month, we hosted our first Hear Her Voice executive panel for Women’s History Month. The panel featured four women music industry executives from different areas of the music business, sharing the tools and strategies they’re using to move music forward in their own ways.
Moderated by Aliyah Lopez, Audiomack’s Marketing Operations Manager, the panel was full of actionable insights from some of the industry’s most innovative women discussing business ethics, climbing the corporate ladder, and navigativing the industry as women.
Here are five key takeaways from our discussion:
Take advantage of every learning opportunity. No matter how many years you’ve been in an industry, you’re never too experienced to learn something new. One of the best ways to progress and excel in your craft is to understand the importance of acquiring new skills and being open to new ways of thinking.
“I can’t stress this enough to a lot of the younger people who want to know how to get in the music business: Intern, intern, intern! Network, network, network!” said Michelle “Breeze” Johnson, Senior Director of Music Programming & Talent Relations at BET Networks. “There was no job too small for me to do so I could just be around and observe… Whatever it was, it was an opportunity to show I was hungry.”
Be innovative. One of the most valuable skills is the ability to identify a need in the industry and provide the service to fill the void. The music business is just as competitive as any other industry and in order to build longevity in your career, finding innovative ways to move the industry forward is essential.
Gabrielle Mella, A&R and Product Manager at EMPIRE, noticed there was a lack of knowledge when it came to music publishing: “I started seeing a lot of Dominican [artists] submitting music videos but they didn’t have any publishing information. So I decided to start my own music publishing company. I was like, ‘I’m gonna learn music publishing. This is an opportunity I should take advantage of.’”
Transferable skills are everything. In the music industry, it’s not uncommon to play multiple positions or to pivot into a role you never imagined yourself in. Having transferable skills while working with artists is essential as you never know when a skillset will be valuable to solve problems that may arise.
MeLisa Heath, Artist Manager and Head of Label Operations at Freebandz, explained how skills she learned during days in the service industry were applicable to her current roles in the music business: “So much of my job as an artist manager is customer service and understanding and listening to people.”
Confidence is key. If you’re in the industry, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced Imposter Syndrome at some stage in your career. It doesn’t matter how much success you’ve seen; there will always be that inner dialogue that says you don’t deserve to be where you are. The women on the panel all gave their own tips for how they combat those intrusive thoughts and their advice to those who may experience unworthiness.
“Create your own alter ego,” said Suzy Ryoo, Co-Founder and President of Q&A. “Create that energy for yourself of what you bring to the table.”
MeLisa echoed these statements of confidence, saying, “What’s helped me is leaning into the results of my hard work. When you see the results of your hard work, you know you deserve to be in the room.”
Use your work to amplify the good. Since the start of 2020, many lives have been disrupted and displaced, whether through loss, sickness, job insecurity, or social and political injustice. This unique time in history has forced many people to look at life, and work, in a totally different way. Music executives too have had to find new meaning in the work they do and rethink what it means to have a platform.
MeLisa explained the importance of “finding ways to use [her] platform to amplify the work of nonprofits that have already been fighting the fight of social justice.”
“We amplify what’s going on through the power of media,” Breeze added.
“It’s devastating, the many pandemics we have going on,” said Suzy. “But hopefully the light in all this is we can see and be aware, and we can bring along others beside us in that awareness.”
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