Today is my birthday and, each year, I love to take a moment to reflect on the year behind, the state of the music business, and my love for music.
A few months ago, while everyone in the world I know went to SXSW, I took myself to a quiet beach for a few days to think, to write, and to and recharge.
While I was boarding the plane, my friend Marcus Taylor emailed, asking me to contribute a quote for his article “30 Pieces Of Advice From Music Industry Entrepreneurs” I fired it off and thought nothing of it.
During my break, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ and it got me thinking about being a woman in this business. Then Marcus’s article came out and I was the only woman included in it. Oops. A wonderful and telling string of comments appeared and the seed for this article was planted.
Here is the reality: Women are still under represented all over this business and sadly women in the music industry are practically invisible online.
Go ahead…. Google “Females in the Music Industry” or “Women Entrepreneurs in the Music Business”
Among the top hits you will find:
The Music Industry Discriminates Against Women, Chapter 10 …
Women in the music industry: chewed up and spat out? | Gigwise
“Sexism in the music industry ain’t nothing new.” Why aren’t female artists getting their due?
And few academic papers and theses
The Google image search is even more depressing – you will find Brittany, Gaga, Beyonce, Katy (naked) and Christina….
When I searched for “Music Degree Programs” I instantly found 204 colleges and universities in the US alone that offer degrees. I shudder to think how many young women are Googling “Female Music Executive” only to find Katy Perry’s naked ass (no offense Katy, your butt is great but… REALLY?)
So I put a call out on the Women In Music List and emailed every woman I could think of and I asked for female entrepreneurs to SHOW THEMSELVES (and show they did) lo an behold 51 Women heeded my call
I am delighted to bring you
51 FEMALE MUSIC ENTREPREUNEURS SHARE THEIR BEST ADVICE (PART 1)
I’m not going to stop at just 51
I want this article to be a PART 1 of many to come.
Entrepreunial Ladies – I want to grow this list! Please email me:
- Your Name
- Your Title
- Your Twitter Handle
- Your Photo
- Your Best Golden Nugget of advice
And I will make sure that we ALL get listed and we all get heard!
Here’s My Advice:
“Shine a light on others as much as you possibly can. Ask how can I help instead of how can others help me, and watch the magic that will unfold.”
Female Entrepreneur in the Music Business since 1996
Founder Cyber PR, Author and Cheerleader for Musicians
Artists and Coaches and Lawyers
Be Patient, Be Forgiving
“Remember that the world does not revolve around you. Be patient, be forgiving and be nice to everyone. Say thank you.Be prepared to hear “no” more than you hear “yes” and don’t lose sleep over it. When every door is closed you can always just make your own damn building.”
You Must Love What You Do
“Believe in yourself! – No really, believe in yourself! Being an entrepreneur is hard. You don’t get true “days off” or “vacations” because you carry what you do with you everywhere all the time. You must love what you are doing or you will not be able to keep the pace in order to succeed. Believing in yourself and what you are building is the key to making it all worthwhile because you can then enjoy the process as well as the results.”
Be Open to Constructive Criticism Heidi Drockelman
“I’ve been writing artist reviews, profiles and show previews since 1998. Before and during this time, I also worked in radio and marketing. I’ve interacted with hundreds – possibly thousands – of artists, publicists and music industry professionals over the years. All of that experience boils down to the simplest and most logical lessons you can gain when you put your artistry out there for the world to hear: Be open to constructive criticism. Be authentic if you want to connect. Be courteous. Be mindful of how you portray yourself. Be aware of your strongest supporters (and equally aware of others’ agendas). Be grateful for your fans. Be patient when the situation requires it. Be bold when it makes you most uncomfortable. And, above all, be YOURSELF at all times.”
Editor of Indie-Music.com
Be Fearless Enough to Stay The Course Joyce Dollinger, Esq.
“When building a business you have to think in the present moment and of the future. You need to pace yourself to create your big picture and long term vision. Simultaneously, you have to work with a sense of urgency and pound the pavement to swiftly close deals. Along the way, be kind to those on the same path; your competitors are also your peers. In this journey, it is not about being #1; it is about being persistent and fearless enough to stay the course, not quit, and accomplish your goals without compromise.” Entertainment Attorney
Dollinger, Gonski & Grossman
Do The Dance of Your Soul Gail Vareilles
“Always remember why you got into the music business in the first place. It’s about expressing yourself and speaking from the heart and hopefully touching someone else’s heart. It’s the dance of the soul. When it stops being that, and thing aren’t happening for you, go back to that truth. No matter what ultimately happens, you will be happier if you stay true to yourself.” President of Sandshifter Music, Inc. @gailvar
The Key to Creative Leadership
“I encourage my consulting clients to change one phrase “I have to do this” to “I GET to do this”! Remembering that you are powerful and you have choice is the key to creative leadership. While others complain, you can be creating and accomplishing your dreams.”
Artist & Creative Leadership and Success Coach
Let ‘What If’ Become Your Reality
“Think of the impossible. What if… Yes I know, obstacles and doubt will challenge you and people will believe that you are out of your mind but just smile. Create that new path for others to follow, surround yourself with the best people, never give up, and that passionate “what if” will suddenly become a reality.”
President, The Magic of Think
Never Underestimate the Power of Your Intuition
“My top advice would be, to use your Intuition and never underestimate it’s powerful assistance when Advocating for your self and your company. Also super important, is to reconnect everyday with why you created your company, your passion and connection to it, is KEY to keep it growing.”
Build a Team that is Better Than You
“You can only go as far as your team can go – no matter how brilliant you are. Build a team of people who are brighter + smarter than you, and are strong where you are weak. Use the Kolbe Index A before you hire and move on to new prospects when you aren’t getting results.”
Celebrity Voice Coach & New Music Business Mentor
Be Confident In Your Own Talents
“Be yourself and have confidence in your own individual talents. The combination of simplicity, flexibility and understanding will keep you growing and through the exchange of perspectives with others you come in contact with, your own creativity will flourish and help realize your own goals.”
President, Musikkverden Ent.
First Impressions Are Everything
“Let people show you who they are as opposed to you making them out to be who you are looking for. Pay close attention to how you feel when you meet someone for the first time, it’s a great indication of what you really feel about the person. As they say…First impressions are everything”.
Singer/Songwriter & Producer/Composer
Throw Spaghetti & See What Sticks
Jo-Na A. Williams
“Being an entrepreneur is like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. You always need room for trial and error. However, keep yourself from “spinning” by having a plan and a system. This will give you the freedom to create.”
Entertainment Lawyer & Business Coach,
Founder of The Artist Empowerment Firm
Plan 2 Years In Advance
“Create career and booking momentum by planning two years in advance. Get two fill-in-the-date wall calendars to keep in a constantly visible place. Enter future events, conferences, festivals, personal events that you know you either will be attending or would like to attend or to which you would like to get booked. Begin surrounding these dates with other bookings, like house concerts and other types of gigs. As you focus your bookings further into the future, you will avoid the last minute empty calendar syndrome and spark career momentum by visually seeing future dates on a filled calendar. This is great for moral, great for planning ahead for conference discounts and showcase applications and great for keeping band members and team members engaged and committed. Start planning two years in advance and your career will advance to your next logical level.”
President & Founder: Performingbiz, LLC
Your Proudest Moments…
“Some of the most difficult deals you will work on will become some of the proudest moments of your career.”
President, MAC Presents
Learn As You Do… Just Make Things Happen
“There is a simple truth about running your own business and this those who succeed do, they get out there and make things happen and keep making them happen. If you want to run an event then start one up. Go to a local venue and start a monthly club night, contact artists, do a bar deal and think of ways to promote your night. I know that sounds far simpler than it really is but in reality that is what it consists of. You will learn the skills you need as a promoter by doing it, of course you will make a few mistakes along the way and learn from them. I do not know any promoter of note who didn’t start this way. Learning skills in relation to finance, marketing and contract law will take you that step further and protect you and the people you represent. But ultimately it will be down to your personality, the relationships you cultivate, taking risks and a lot of luck. If after trying this you haven’t succeeded then don’t beat yourself up the reality is that very few do, but whatever the outcome the skills you have learned in trying will be useful to you whatever career direction you take in the future. ”
Managing Director, Green Man Festival
Never Be Afraid to Ask
“If you ask in the right way and have an interesting proposition, people will always say yes.’ This is how I grew my organisation and managed to work with everyone from the manager of The Rolling Stones, Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bragg and many more amazing people to come around the world to help develop the independent music infrastructure.”
Break Your Goals Into Daily Tasks
“Create an overall curriculum for your goals. Break it out into daily tasks. Then schedule them and do them everyday, on schedule. Otherwise, you’ll be pushed around by a tsunami of data and people, spinning in busy circles. Schedule yourself first, and do little baby steps every day, and you’ll reach the finish line every time.”
SF MusicTech Summit, Co-Producer
Learning The Art of Sales is Fundamental
“Getting your head around sales and how to make them is fundamental. It’s not about being pushy (it is a bit) or coercive (not at all), it’s all about helping people solve a problem they have, for which they pay you. So the problem you solve has to be worth paying for. My other advice is you have to be a fighter. Not in the sense of being aggressive, but in the sense of not giving in, not giving up, being determined, finding a way to be successful. ”
Founder, Radar Music Videos
Managers and Labels
Start Executing on Day 1
“As society has shifted from physical to digital across all mediums, I see nothing but opportunities for our musicians, comedians and even our firm’s athlete to connect with their audiences like never before. We don’t sit around and wait for magical things that may or may not come, we start executing on opportunities that make sense for our roster on Day 1. It’s a step by step process that intertwines hard work and almost ensures growth when executed on properly. I can’t wait for you all to see some of the larger picture projects we are working on that hopefully effects how we consume media on multiple platforms in ways that make sense for all.”
Co-Founder of Whitesmith Entertainment & Readymade Records
Start Local Before Global
“Conquer your own territory before you set out for bigger pastures.
As a label and management company I get a lot of emails asking me to check out a band that is on the other side of the world and who are not yet even headlining or touring in their own country. You need to make waves in your own region before the expense and work it takes to break a band over here is even a possible consideration. Grow locally and expand first. Don’t get caught up in trying to keep up with other bands you might see touring outside of your territory – this isn’t a race or competition. Patience, hard work and truly being a great live band every time you play will end up in those airplane tickets becoming a reality.”
Owner & Manager, Sargent House Records
Create Your Own Opportunity
“Instead of waiting around hoping for an opportunity to come, create your own. Stop depending on other people when you can do it yourself. Get out there and network, build and maintain your contacts, stay active on social media, be consistent and pay attention. There are opportunities where you least expect it.”
Founder & CEO, YA IndieGround House Mgmt, LLC
Rules Are Made to be Broken
“Always look to be innovative and exciting with everything you do in your business and with your clients. Rules are made to be broken.”
Director, Catherine Haridy Management
Personal Connections Are Critical
“Provide your clients the personable engagement, care and top quality service that you expect for yourself. In an era of texting, IM, emails, etc., the personal connection is still the most valuable. You won’t build your business by doing one-off jobs. Treat your clients in such a way that they’ll continue to return year after year.”
President, Hidden Pond Productions, Inc.
Think Outside The Box
Cindy da Silva
“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Start with an idea, and then work out how to put that idea into action.”
President – da Silva Artists, Inc.
Lead, Learn, Listen
“Lead your team and tell your story. Learn from mistakes and accept the consequences. Listen to everyone, especially your customers. They don’t care if you’re a man, woman or a goat, they just want a great product.”
Founder & Producer, Blue Coast Records
Never Work Harder Than the Artist is Prepared To
“As an artist manager and independent record label owner, I only work with artists who are prepared to work as hard as I do. This business is about team work so pick your team carefully and never be frightened to ‘tweak’ the line up when necessary.”
Owner at Red Grape Management
The 3 P’s
“Passionate, patience, perseverance”
Owner, Think Tank Media
Artist Marketing and PR
Always Reward Commitment
“Always put your committed fans first, and reward them for their commitment. Launching a new product? Give your core fans (or clients) first shot at buying it, or better still, give them an advance purchase discount (or other value add). Reward repeat costumers, and find ways to let them know how much you appreciate them. Consumer loyalty is a valuable asset, and be a core goal of your business model. It’s the safety net that can get you through lean times, and the engine that drives a key component of any marketing campaign (and which can’t be bought): word of mouth.”
Owner of Girlie Action Media & Marketing
Your First 5 Team Members
“Hire an experienced industry relations person as one of the first five team members. With or without technological advancements and revolutionary products, the business of art is rooted in relationships.
In addition to building appropriate industry relations, this person will be instrumental in finding & monitoring your best & most appropriate beta testers.”
Head of Digital Music Marketing & Strategy, Toolshed, Inc.
Work Hard, Play Hard
“Work hard, play hard, work even harder, keep smiling, stay focused, continue to learn new skills, don’t take anything personal, keep hustling, get the job done, a sense of humor is a must, and always make sure you enjoy your work!”
Founder, Funky Dumpling PR
Founder, Red Lipstick Mafia Video Productions
Technology Changes, People Don’t
“My piece of advice is to remember that as much as everything is constantly changing, it is so important to remember the fundamentals. Technology changes, but people don’t, and the underlying psychology of what motivates people to engage with you and your music, remains constant. Make great music that makes people feel something. Find your people. The rest comes after.”
CEO, The Spellbound Group
The Art of Speaking
Sara Jayne Crow
“Think before speaking, and speak with conviction.”
Director, Stray Poodle Media
Always Listen, Always Ask
“Never forget to listen…to your clients and customers, to your staff, to your colleagues…even to your own heart. And never stop asking questions – there’s always so much more to learn.”
President, Sneak Attack Media
No Slacking Allowed. Ever
“We can never know too much. We must continually expand, evolve and educate ourselves so that we can be at the top of our game to best serve our clients, projects, and companies. No slacking allowed. Ever.”
Founder & CEO, Navigation Partners LLC
It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You
“Your reputation and actions will say more about you than you ever can. Develop authentic working relationships with people and they will remember and respect you. Be confident without arrogance, be knowledgeable but open to learning, be steadfast in your goal but open to change. Ultimately, create a network of people who know who you are and like who they know.”
Founder & CEO, 1968media
What Is Your Company’s Value?
“Figure out your company’s values. It is a pain in the butt to do but is a critical need as you scale since it provides a foundational north star for you and your team. Afterwards, you will all know what the company is about and how you will be reviewed. It also helps everyone on your team to interview potential hires and select teammates who fit your ethos.”
Co-Founder & Partner, Red Magnet Media
Don’t Be a…
“I’ve been given a lot of great advice over the last few years, all of which I’ve kept close. You should follow your heart and find something that you love doing. Work as hard as possible to make that something your full time occupation. Don’t make excuses for yourself. Don’t blame other people for your failures. Try new things. Learn from your mistakes and listen to others. But still, the best piece of advice I have ever received is quite simply, ‘Don’t be a dick’.”
BBC TV Presenter, Owner, Kissability Records
Owner, Zero Core
Find a Good Mentor
“It’s important to find good mentors and people you can rely on for advice. While you should always trust your intuition, it’s vital to have a trusted network you can bounce ideas off of also. And don’t forget to pass it on. Be open to taking others under your wing.”
Owner, Undercover Tracks
Live Your Success… Even When it Hasn’t Come Yet
Caroline H. Aubrey
“Tackle every day like you already have a million dollars in the bank. Live and breath your success. Even when it hasn’t come yet.”
Founder & Owner, Suineg Music Group
Relationships Take Time To Build
“Build relationships and realize they are not built overnight – and be yourself.
As cliché as “Rome wasn’t built in a day” sounds, neither are business relationships. Some of our key deals are developed from relationships that we’ve built over time without ever having even known that it would later become a “business” relationship. Network and Be yourself – people will take you seriously and have more respect for what you do once they realize that the result in it can only reach a common good.”
President & Founder, InDigi Music
Smoke and Mirrors
“My advice is to be very patient with the music industry. It moves very slowly. You also have to know exactly what you want, try to be very specific. You will get the right answers only if you ask the right questions. Relationships rule the entertainment industry, that’s also a no brainer but worth repeating. Its crucial to organize your contacts, and to connect on a personal level. People see through you like you are glass of water in this industry. It’s a world of smoke and mirrors, so if you are down to earth and straight to the point, people will really appreciate it, like a breath of fresh air.”
Owner, Unemployable Music
Balance Risk and Process
“By definition entrepreneurs are often bringing new experiences or business models to existing industries and often run up against people and systems that are protecting the status quo – even when it may no longer be in the industry’s best interest. To effect real change, you need to figure out the right balance of risk and process – where to work within the system and where it needs disruption. You need to be adaptable, without losing your focus. And you need the right mix of urgency that comes from the passion for change and patience to convince others to buy into your vision.”
CEO, EvntLive, Inc.
Trust Your Vision
“You have to know and trust your vision. You will make many changes as you grow but you can’t waiver from your core values just to satisfy someone else’s opinions. Equally important is to enjoy the wins no matter how big or small. Entrepreneurship is a long hard journey – all wins are worth celebrating.”
Vice President of Affiliate Relations, ShowGo.tv
Be Adaptable, Be Prepared
“Be adaptable, be prepared! Things aren’t always going to go your way and you need to be able to deal with these changes on a daily basis. To be able to persevere or pivot are key to building a business.”
Don’t Let Anyone Put You In a Box
Ann E. Greenberg
“Don’t let anyone put you in a box. By definition, being an entrepreneur means charting new territory, originating cutting-edge products and executing in ways others will resist. Don’t let anyone put you in a box – not your co-workers, not your investors, and certainly not yourself.”
Founder & CEO, Sceneplay
Fix a Real Problem and Tell a Story
“Fix a real problem and tell a story. It’s tempting, especially in media, to build things just because the idea is cool or because you want to look cool, but that’s probably not going to stand up as a way to make money. Find a real problem people have, fix it and then tell a good story. Most people aren’t going to care about what you’re doing unless they can relate to it and stories are the easiest and cheapest way to do that. And don’t forget to make people laugh!”
Have Genuine Passion for What You Believe In
“Have genuine passion for what you do and believe in yourself.
If you have passion for what you do, you’ll look forward to each new day as a challenge and know that you can accomplish something amazing. Believe in yourself and trust in your instincts will help you make the right decisions when confronted with difficult challenges and unexpected situations.”
Passion Trumps Perfect
“Be authentic, be honest. Always treat everyone like you want to be treated, you never know who you’re sitting next to on the bus. Be true to yourself, make sure you are doing what you want to do and for the right reasons. Love what you do. Passion trumps perfect. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and inspiring to those around you. Do your homework and be visible and approachable. These things apply to anything you do in life.”
Mixer, Engineer, Producer
Don’t Underestimate The Power of Mentorship
Jennifer Newman Sharpe
“Seek out mentors and give back by mentoring those younger or less experienced than you.
Mentorship has been such a valuable part of my career. No matter where you are in life or your career, you can always learn from others. I’ve been very lucky to have some incredible mentors in my past and present, and I try to give back by regularly meeting with and mentoring young attorneys or people thinking of going into entertainment law or solo practice. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn, both as mentor and mentee.”
Avoid Drunken Sloppiness
“Delegation and teamwork are key, focus on what you are great at. Oh, and keep the alcohol at a minimal intake – as a woman, sloppiness is at times even more noticeable.”
Founder & Publisher
A few people went WAY out of their way to help me make this list as amazing as it is.
A Big Thank you to:
Marcus Taylor who inspired me to do this, Caroline Bottomely, the first responder to the original blog post who helped me gather up some amazing entries, Karen Allen, Brooke Segarra, Shane Harrington and Jon Ostrow who helped edit, and format.
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