Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lots of great advice for anyone in or thinking of getting into the Music Business, especially females.

I Am Womack, Hear Me Roar


Her seated posture is perfect. Her hands are tightly clasped and laid squarely in her lap. Then, singing from her diaphragm—the way the great ones do—Lee Ann Womack reminds us that her voice is just as disciplined. Immediately, Womack’s suite at Austin’s tony Hotel Saint Cecilia, designed as a tribute to the decadence of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. period, is transformed into a house of worship. When she sings “Send It On Down,” a song about the intersection of God and the bottle, and gets to the hook—“Jesus, can you save me from going crazy?”—the dozen of us in attendance look on reverentially. There are no camera phones, no movement. Just silence. She’s so inside the song—each line struck with a precise fusion of righteousness and weariness—that even before her brief, four-song set is over, we’re left with an indelible takeaway: if all you know about Lee Ann Womack is the schmaltzy megahit “I Hope You Dance,” then you probably don’t understand her at all.
This modest get-together held for the benefit of a handful of journalists may seem an odd choice for a high-wattage star who has won a Grammy, six Country Music Association awards, and five Academy of Country Music awards and sold more than six million records. For years the Jacksonville native traveled with the sort of entourage modern country stars believe they’re supposed to travel with. Label representatives. An assistant. Publicists. Hair and makeup people. Press and documentary-video crews. Once, the story goes, when she misplaced her driver’s license, her publicist persuaded TSA personnel to let her board a plane by matching her face to an album cover.
For this brief promotional trip, though, Womack was downright giddy about doing things the rest of us do because we have to: booking her own flight from Nashville, renting a car on her own, and making her own hotel reservation. “It’s like being seventeen and getting your first car,” says Womack, over coffee at Jo’s, a casual spot in the shadow of one of downtown Austin’s gleaming new skyscrapers, the day before her performance. “And then you take your first road trip and there’s that exhilarating feeling of ‘I’m out here, by myself. I’m responsible.’ This feels normal. And exciting.”
It’s not lost on Lee Ann Womack that you probably just rolled your eyes a little. But she isn’t trying to sell her current situation as a woe-is-me story. In fact, she corrects her friends when they use words like “bold” or “brave” to describe her departure from the Nashville hit-making machine and her embrace of the world of independent labels and self-promotion. You don’t deserve a pat on the back for being yourself, says the 48-year-old, especially when it took so long to do it. But to understand why her new album, The Way I’m Livin’, released on the small but respected bluegrass and Americana label Sugar Hill Records, feels like freedom, you have to know where’s she been. 
“When I was little, I listened almost exclusively to men—George Jones, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard—singers who sing in their true voice, so when they talk to you or sing to you, it’s the same,” says Womack, whose father deejayed at a string of East Texas country radio stations when she was growing up. “It’s not like ‘Now I’m going to perform!’ Merle picks up his guitar and it’s like he’s talking to you, only really pretty. I’d like to think I’m one of those singers, singing in my true voice.”
After graduating from Jacksonville High School, in 1984, Womack spent a year at South Plains College, in Levelland (“It was basically a bunch of hippies that wanted to play music; it was the best thing I ever did for myself”), before decamping to Nashville, where she interned for a while in MCA’s A&R department. In 1990 she married Ricky Skaggs’s bassist, Jason Sellers, and had a daughter, Aubrey. Womack took a job at a day-care center to make ends meet. “I didn’t just think I would be a country singer,” she says. “I knew it, almost like I’d already seen the movie. But when I was pregnant with Aubrey, I thought I might have blown it. I knew it was going to be tough to compete with a kid at home.”
Despite her reservations, Womack never quite gave up; she spent the little free time she had writing songs and showcasing in tiny Nashville clubs. And in 1996, 31 years old and heading for divorce, she signed a seven-album deal with MCA’s Decca Records. “It was the Nashville fairy tale, if your fairy tale involves a ten-year wait, a marriage, a child, and a divorce,” she says.  
As a little girl, Womack dreamed of sitting next to Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty at award shows. Instead, by the time she got there, Shania Twain and Toby Keith were her peers. And while there are some traditional country songs in her catalog, there are just as many examples of her swinging for the fences with a glossy, overproduced pop ballad. “I’m guilty of playing the game,” she admits. But she argues that there’s a difference between selling out and doing the job you were hired to do.
“I was raised to honor responsibilities,” says Womack. “I signed a contract to make commercial music that Decca could sell. I wanted to do the best job of it I could do for them. At every turn, I tried to give them as much as I could without giving away too much of myself. But my husband [producer Frank Liddell, whom she married in 1999] says it’s like being a bar of soap: they’re just going to keep going and going till there’s nothing left.”
Womack’s traditional-leaning 1997 debut earned her a Top New Female Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music. The blood was in the water. “Once they sell that many records on you,” she says, “they want to do it again.”
But the business, she noticed, started getting less and less country. “Eventually they’d let me cut some of the kinds of songs I like, but they wouldn’t put them out as singles,” she says. “The whole time I was saying, ‘One day. One day. One day it’s gonna be driven by the music, not by the marketing and radio departments.’ But it was never ugly. I was trying to do my best, and they were trying to do theirs.”
Three records in, “I Hope You Dance” changed everything—except the pressure to produce more hits. It topped the country chart and helped sell three million copies of the album of the same name. Womack sang what would go on to become a wedding standard at the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize concert and the 2004 Republican National Convention. “The little girl who wanted to be a country star got to be a country star,” she says, although it wasn’t quite what she imagined.
“You think being rich and famous is going to make you happy,” says Womack. “And it didn’t. It can be part of what makes you happy. I wanted to sing; that’s what makes me happy. But after ‘I Hope You Dance,’ I spent very little time singing. A lot of time talking. A lot of time smiling. And a lot of time pursuing things for other people’s agendas. These aren’t things you picture when you’re a little girl.”
Instead of using her newfound clout to make the records she’d always hoped to, Womack folded under the pressure to keep crossing over with 2002’s slickSomething Worth Leaving Behind. The rootsier There’s More Where That Came From (2005) was a step in the right direction, but a couple of years after 2008’s Call Me Crazy—the last record she officially owed Decca—things got interesting. In 2010, during his tenure as chairman and CEO of Decca’s parent company, Universal Music Group Nashville, the well-regarded label veteran Luke Lewis gave Womack carte blanche to make the record she’d always wanted to make, no strings attached. With Liddell co-producing, she cut The Way I’m Livin’ in two 3-day sessions. 
Before Lewis could figure out the specifics of its release, Universal merged with Capitol/EMI, and he was replaced by longtime Capitol Nashville chief Mike Dungan. Almost immediately, Universal shifted focus to an even more hit-driven approach and asked Womack if she’d consider going back to cut a radio single or two to include on the record. She thought about it and declined. And in a move that was, by all accounts, a rarity for the music industry—and a sign of respect for someone who always pleasantly honored her end of a deal—Dungan arranged for Womack to leave the label with the unreleased album. She owned the masters, free and clear.
Then, she says, time got away from her. What she imagined as a three-year gap between record releases became six. She played the occasional gig but mostly raised her kids (she has a second daughter, Anna, with Liddell) while she considered and, again, declined offers from major Nashville labels that thought they could do something with The Way I’m Livin’. Ultimately, she went with the independent Sugar Hill, whose artist-friendly ethos appealed to her sensibilities.
For all those complications, The Way I’m Livin’ doesn’t sound terribly threatening. In fact, much of it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Miranda Lambert or Kacey Musgraves record. And there’s a reason for that: Liddell co-produced all five of Lambert’s albums. But Womack isn’t jumping on some country-grrrl bandwagon. The raw, unadorned songs she and Liddell chose for the record feature characters so rough-hewn and sad that even Musgraves might shy away from them. Womack describes the tracks—one written by Austin’s Hayes Carll and two by Austin’s Bruce Robison—as “songs that tear holes in life.” The characters who populate the album question their faith, their identity, and, just as often, whether or not to ask the bartender to pour one more. 
“I don’t look for dark songs,” she says. “But I’m drawn to them. I think it’s the way I was raised. There was a lot of church—services every Sunday, youth group on Wednesdays. And football games on Friday nights. We ate at the same table every night. But later, I also spent a lot of time in bars, a lot of drinking for entertainment. And I saw a lot of folks using happiness as a mask. When somebody comes through the door acting like they have the world on a string, the first thing I think is, ‘I bet she’s miserable.’ ”
Womack doesn’t seem the least bit miserable about the fact that her days as a country radio star are likely behind her. “I’d probably look foolish trying to play that game,” she says. One of the best outcomes she could hope for is to learn the answer to this question: What if the most honest album of your career reached the smallest audience of your career? Womack says she’s excited to shift from playing hockey rinks and the rotating stages at rodeos to the theater circuit, where people she loves, like Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin, play to audiences that come to hear the music. She’s got a few shows scheduled, but she’s willing to wait and see what kind of demand there is for more. For the moment, she says she’s thrilled by the uncertainty of it all.
“One thing that I had when I started was a real strong gut,” she says, “and the more success I had, the more of that gut I lost. And I feel like I have it back again. I don’t have anything planned. None of it. But I have a gut feeling it’s all going to work out.” 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dave Kusek, Founder And Former CEO Of Berkleemusic, Launches New Online Course For Independent Musicians

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Email: charlie@layersmarketing.com
Website: http://newartistmodel.com
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Dave Kusek's New Artist Model ( http://newartistmodel.com ) online course for independent musicians will start its first class on Monday, February 17, 2014. The 8-week course will be offered as a Master Class featuring personalized and individual coaching from Dave Kusek (http://twitter.com/davekusek ) and also in a self-paced Essential Class.

The first class offering will be limited to 200 participants. Musicians can view several sneak preview videos with Dave Kusek athttp://newartistmodel.com andhttp://newartistmodel.kajabi.com/sq/33329-get-the-life . Musicians can enroll now at http://newartistmodel.com/enroll/ .

The course's curriculum will help musicians create a career plan, how to build a team, how to book gigs and tours, how to collaborate in the digital era, how to make money and manage it, understand copyrights and licensing and publishing, time-management, crowdfunding and financing projects, digital marketing strategies, and how to build an audience and network. A full syllabus is available at http://newartistmodel.com/the-course.

"In the digital era, independent musicians have enormous opportunities to manage their own careers, but musicians themselves need to think more like entrepreneurs and coordinate and manage a wide variety of activities," states Kusek. "The idea behind this course is to teach musicians skills and knowledge to fully manage their careers, from planning through execution. After they have finished the course in just short eight weeks, musicians will be better prepared to orchestrate all the pieces and people who will help them succeed."

Dave Kusek has worked in the music business all of his life with independent musicians, songwriters, performers, and educators. In 2005 he co-wrote one of the best selling music business books, The Future of Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0876390599/futureofmusic-20/104-9870276-1729555 ), which has sold over 50,000 copies around the world. Kusek helped to get the MIDI technical standard started long ago and was a pioneer of digital music at Passport Music Software, where he helped hundreds of thousands of musicians create music.

As the founder and former CEO of Berkleemusic ( http://online.berklee.edu), the world's largest music school, Kusek helped teach tens of thousands of students from around the world. Berkleemusic won the award for the Best Online Course eight years in a row from the University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). Kusek taught music business at Berklee College of Music for 14 years and has worked with tens of thousands of musicians to help shape their careers. He has helped artists, songwriters, performers, promoters, managers, label executives, publishers, booking agents, and A&R reps looking for guidance.

New Artist Model is an essential online course and Success Framework for independent musicians, performers and songwriters. It teaches musicians to understand the dynamic music business ecosystem, how to build a team to support your goals and create opportunities in the marketplace, how to leverage multiple revenue streams including publishing, touring, merchandise, and recording, how to develop an online presence to grow and monetize your relationship with fans, how to understand the impact of copyright law and protect yourself and your music, how to budget and finance your projects, and how to get access to resources and people that can help grow a vital musician's network.

To get similar training from Berklee Online or Full Sail University, musicians would need to take certificate or degree programs costing tens of thousands of dollars and 2-3 years to complete. With New Artist Model, musicians can do it all in 8 weeks at a fraction of the cost.

New Artist Model offers both an Essential Class with access to the online course as well as a Master Class with personalized and individual coaching from Dave Kusek himself. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Artist Promotion 101

1. Is there a mindset for self-promotion that you think leads musicians to more viable careers?
Self promotion in general is hard for people. We were told from a young age, “Don’t brag,” so we’ve been programmed to avoid it.
I think you hit the nail on the head with the word “mindset”. Here are some mental shifts I think can help shed a different light on the process of self-promotion:
• Think opportunity, not obligation. Your work is more than a good idea or a way to make some money; it’s a benefit to those you serve. Instead of thinking about how difficult, unpleasant, time-consuming, and costly it is to market yourself, shift your attention instead to how eager you are to let others know about what you offer.
• Think connection, not activity. Self-marketing is about making connections with people who may need what you offer. It’s not about just keeping busy racking up sales. Put the focus on connecting – building a bridge – not just the end result.
• Think communication, not manipulation. Often people think self-promotion is about being cute and clever, creating a lot of hype or sizzle, especially in the entertainment business.  Worse, they fear it’s about being manipulative. Sizzling, cute and clever hype may attract attention, but it doesn’t build trust, respect, or value.
Instead of worrying about being cute and clever or manipulative, think about getting your message across.  Shift your attention to what it is about that you do that’s important to those you’re communicating with. Think about how you can communicate your message to them in terms they’ll understand. Think about how you can help them see the benefits of what you offer.
In a counter-intuitive way, self promotion (and a viable career, in general) begins with others-promotion. It begins with generosity.

2. What mistakes do musicians make, regarding promoting their work? Are there common ways that they waste money?
Some common ways musicians waste money in promoting their work are:
• Making it all about the music and not minding the business end of their career. We all know of the stories of artists who were exploited by industry players. What’s not often said is that it was the inattention and ignorance of the artist regarding how industry dynamics work, that often led to the exploitation. The solution is educating yourself about how business works, tapping into the awesome free business resources on the web, and doing your own business with an artist’s hand – in other words, arrange and conduct your business activities with the same attention you give to your music. I wrote The Self-Promoting Musician to address this very thing.
• Exhausting all funds on recording, packaging and manufacturing, and leaving none for promotion and marketing. The solution is smarter budgeting and, perhaps, delaying a recording project until you are financially ready to deal with the whole enchilada.
• Taking a “spray & pray” approach to marketing. Similar to trying to hit the bulls eye on a target with a shotgun rather than arrow. This wastes gobs of time, money and energy. The solution is researching and thinking about where the best touch-points are in the marketplace for your music projects.
3. When should an artist hire a manager?
Depending on the kind of project the artist is working on, a manager can enter the picture fairly early in an artist’s career. We see a lot of early artist/manager match ups at Berklee. For example, earlier this year freshman student Shun Ng (an amazing thumb-slapping guitarist) teamed up with local manager Ralph Jaccodine which led to an audience (and development deal) with Quincy Jones’ company; the duo Karmin found their manager in fellow-student Nils Gums and together they built a powerful visibility strategy. These relationships came together while these artists were students.
In general, though, artists must take the reigns of their own career and build enough visibility and success first on their own before they can attract the appropriate management. It’s also important for artists to understand that managers (as well as booking agents) tend to work on commission. So, until an artist is generating enough commissionable income, it will be hard to attract their interest.
I think the smartest approach today is to find someone who has complementary skills to yours and who believes in your music and your artistry. Rather than base the reward on commission percentages, create a profit-sharing partnership where both have ownership in the project for a set term, say three years. Work it like a business partnership.

4. Have you seen any particularly creative approaches to marketing or PR that paid off? If so, what is the replicable lesson to be learned from it?
Sure, I can give both an online and offline example. For online, Berklee alumnus, Greg Arney, wanted to start a private guitar instruction service while still a student. How does one get a guitar instruction service off the ground in an over-crowded market like Boston where everyone and his brother offer lessons? Greg saw an opportunity in Google. While most people were hanging fliers in supermarkets, Arney decided to learn how SEO (search engine optimization) works. He created aweb page and used his SEO chops to ensure that when someone searched on the keywords “guitar lessons Boston,” his page would appear first in the results. Soon he had more students than he could handle and he began referring some to other instructors. A rising tide lifts all boats. The lesson?: As far as the web goes, you are what Google says you are, so learn how to design your web presence so you show up in results the way you want to.
As an offline example of creative marketing and publicity, Zoe Keating provides some cool inspiration. Do people expect to see a cellist at a nuclear commemoration event thrown by pyromaniacs in the middle of the desert? Or at a Ruby on Rails (information architect) conference? Keating’s unusual alliances and bold moves led to massive publicity via a National Public Radio (NPR) interview, resulting in about $10,000 in download income. The lesson?: seek out creative alliances which intersect with some of your other interests or skills. Being unusual, they tend to attract media attention, giving your music project more visibility, greater demand and, hopefully, more reward.

5. How do you think artists should monitor/measure their success?
I was discussing this very topic with a class yesterday. “Success” is one of those putty words. Its meaning seems to bend with the unfolding phases of one’s life.
I see “success” as the gradual realization of a worthwhile goal. If you set a long-range goal and reflect that goal in your activities each day, then I think you are “successful”.
In other words, success isn’t someday, it’s everyday.

6. What easy, cheap thing an artist should do right now that is likely to have a significant impact?
One thing is clear about all career paths today: the demands on our time, energy and resources are at an all-time high. Technology and globalism have lowered the barriers for market entry, creating more competition on every front and a 24/7, always on, style of work that is stretching people to their limits.
So, in light of this, I’m going to recommend three easy and cheap ways artists can have more career success each day of their lives. Ready?  Drink a gallon of water every day, take ten minutes out to stretch your body, and deep breathe while you’re stretching. Do these three things for yourself every day and I guarantee you will have more strength, be more creative, and have a powerful new focus in your work.
Water is a true miracle. It is 60% of our bodies and 70% of our brains. If our thoughts are electric pulses, if atoms have positive and negative charges, then we want to ensure there’s enough conduction to enable these processes, right? That’s where water comes in. Add extension (stretching) and oxygenation (deep breathing) and you open further channels in your body and mind to these conduction powers.
These three things are so basic. Yet, in our rush to get through our days, they can easily be forgotten. I put the challenge out to all music careerists – give yourself these three gifts every day and watch what happens. I dare you.

Ways For Artist to Earn More Money

Cash Generation


The music industry has undergone a sea of changes since the days of vinyl records and cassette tapes. While the current mobile downloading setup offers plenty of convenience for the average consumer, it can spell financial ruin for musicians and producers dependent on record sales. After all, illegal downloads still eat into profits, with theRecording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reporting that piracy caused music industry profits to fall from $15 billion in 1999 to just $8.5 billion in 2009. In order to survive in this environment of piracy, musicians must think outside of the box, taking advantage of social media, mobile technology, merchandising and, of course, live performances. Together, these elements can spell great profit, even in an age of iTunes and illegal downloading.
Offer VIP Packages for Concerts
Critics of social media may complain of young people wasting their lives behind computer screens, but the truth is, music fans still love attending live shows. You still can profit handsomely off of traditional concerts, but if you're looking to amp up returns on your tour, consider throwing in VIP concert options. These could include special meet-and-greets before or after shows, or even private performances for your most dedicated fans. Many will gladly pay two, three, even four times the going rate for your concert if it means getting up close and personal.
Sell Merchandise at Live Shows
Music fans love showing off their favorites, be it through social media or old-fashioned band tees. The great thing about old school merchandise sales is that they can be incredibly profitable, particularly if you take on a multi-faceted approach including both online and in-person sales. Selling band merch is easier than ever, thanks to useful services such as Intuit QuickBooks, and the various on-the-fly payment systems that are available in the form of an app. Be sure to offer a wide array of products, so as to entice as many fans as possible to invest in the cause. These could include posters, clothing or vinyl records, which still retain a surprising level of popularity among music aficionados. AMusic Think Tank post from last year suggests asking fans on Twitter and Facebook for merchandise suggestions, and then holding a poll to determine which options would garner the most interest.
Build a Dedicated Following With Social Media
The greater your social media following, the better chance you stand of benefiting from merch sales and VIP packages. Examples of musicians building dedicated fan bases through social media include Justin Bieber and Lily Allen serving as two of the most successful MySpace musicians. Today, the focus is on Facebook and Twitter, with several musicians also benefiting from the use of Soundcloud, a social network aimed directly at 'sound creators.' According to “Tech Crunch,” Soundcloud currently boasts over 250 million users, many of whom share their favorite bands and singers with their friends through the site's popular social networking setup.
Launch a Kickstarter Campaign

If you're really struggling to make a living in the music industry, consider asking your fans through help by launching a Kickstarter campaign. According to “Rolling Stone,” this approach has helped to fund numerous musical projects, including the recording of new albums and the launching of nationwide tours. To make the most of your campaign, you'll want to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter; diehard fans will gladly contribute if it means that you'll be able to continue to develop new music and perform your hits for the adoring masses.

......From Music Think Tank 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Being A Woman In Music Is Really Like ..... (Excellent Article)

Posted: 25 Mar 2014 02:00 AM PDT
Emily Gonneau

It has to be said: the progressive stages of acceptance leading to the writing of this specific article have taken me very much by surprise and are nothing short of an initiatic journey.

After many stops, starts and twisted circumvolutions, I became aware of the impossibility to treat the topic any other way than sincerely and personally. It was also the only path I was deeply reticent to tread because it being so close to home, so ‘out-there’, I was exposing myself to being shouted into silence by the usual suspects: a horde of people online I don’t know but ever-ready to disqualify my own voice and deny me the legitimacy of my word on a topic they are ignorant of,  just because I am a woman.

Yes, I am a woman in the music industry. And? Well, it makes a difference. A big difference actually.

It’s feeling between a rock and a hard place when you have to promote a female artist according to standards you wouldn’t want for yourself, for a first. It’s having to compose with a biased system in which the male gaze prevails in pretty much everything. It’s having to manage the glass ceiling your (female) artist hits when some guy somewhere, not the most honest or competent, has decided to portray her as “difficult” and “aggressive” just because she was being assertive and confident in where she wanted to go.

An increasing number of female artists are speaking up against the everyday sexism and double standards they face (Nicki Minaj, Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry, Lily Allen, and many more) and that’s a wonderfully inspiring trend to see.

But the whole industry will not change the way it portrays women and female artists in particular until a majority of our male-dominated industry contributes to either avoid the reproduction of sexist/misogynistic stereotypes; or (more realistically), more women populate the music industry’s ‘behind the scenes’ talent, at all levels, not just the lower ones.

We desperately need more women artist managers, record label execs, publishers, tour/live promoters, brand execs, start-up founders and entrepreneurs because the current status quo only perpetuates criteria for competence and success that imply late nights out away from your kids, talking the talk and dazzling artists into thinking music industry folk should be expected to stand on call 24/7. Look no further: it’s a freedom of life and lifestyle that only men are really allowed in our current societies.

What is the difference when you’re a woman working in the music industry, but not as an artist?

Not being in the limelight has some advantages (hopefully, this article won’t change that): luckily, we aren’t expected to flash our breasts countless times in a video for people to remember our song or listen to what we have to say. We don’t have the press naming and shaming us on the world stage when we’ve had a bad hair day or gone for a swim in the sea with an imperfect yet real body. We are also spared the flood of vicious, hateful, deeply violent comments online that female artists get every single day (cf. Chvrches) because we aren’t in the limelight. Last but not least, we still have the right to our privacy meaning who we date, marry or parent with is not widely covered by… anyone at all. And thank bloody goodness for that.

No, as women ‘behind the scenes’, we face other issues. Our problem is how we battle daily to stay apparent in this business, to not be dismissed as irrelevant in comparison with our male counterparts on the basis of fallacious beliefs which all stem from widespread prejudice about what women are intellectually and physically capable of doing. More often than not, the arguments justifying these preconceptions are based on hazardous biological notions so rampant they have become ‘knowledge’. As a result, we women are judged on the basis of our gender and our bodies before we utter a word or thought. How comforting.

Being a woman in the music industry really is quite an experience…

- It’s attending countless professional meetings as the only woman in the room with all other participants making sexist jokes as a systematic preamble to any discussion while watching you closely to see if you’ll laugh along or flare up like a ‘typical’ woman

- It’s hearing a label head openly explain to his A&Rs that his masterplan for a successful female R‘n’B artist’s new album release is to pay her a mandatory facelift and boob job. Otherwise, she’s doomed (said artist is usually no older than 23)

- It’s seeing female colleagues labeled as ‘whores’ because they made out with male colleagues at the office Christmas party and ‘attention whores’ if they complain about it. Women always lose out in the reputation game

- It’s realising the only ones who got promoted in a team of people you worked with six years ago are the men

- It’s seeing one of the rare female A&Rs in the industry get belittled and malevolently portrayed as a drunk. Her previous track record obviously wasn’t enough for her boss, who stole her achievements and systematically ‘forgot’ to include her in email loops and meetings

- It’s having threats of physical violence shouted at you by an incompetent self-proclaimed label owner, utterly scandalised you actually expect him to do what he legally committed to after he tried to rip off an artist you manage

- It’s being told “Product manager in this industry is a man’s job” as you integrate an all-male team of 15 people. (May I suggest implementing testosterone checks for all team members upon entering the building every morning? The company’s whole future apparently depends upon this)

- It’s being briefed army-style on your first day by the label head about the golden rule: “You mustn’t ever sleep with the artist.” (Oh dear, I was grossly mislead on the level of fun I was going to enjoy. How unfair we can’t all behave like animals!)

- It’s being let in on the company gossip by a female colleague with a well-meaning wink informing you that Exec x-y-z thinks you’re “super hot” and wouldn’t mind “bedding you”. (You flatter me. May I suggest updating my job description to include a list of all the things I am apparently expected to accomplish without the help of my brain?)

- It’s being advised by your immediate boss that the best way to secure a solid future for yourself is to get impregnated by a rich artist you work with because “he likes you”. (A more than welcome “only kidding” sadly never followed)

- It’s the panic attack you get 3 days after the happiness surge of learning you are pregnant, and then wondering how you are ever going to reconcile two very different lives of company owner and mother

- It’s the fear that builds up before having to break the news of your pregnancy to a male artist with whom you work with and the lucid understanding it’s the very thing that instantly disqualifies you from ‘taking care of’ said artist. (Darling, I’ll give you a hint: you’re 30 years older than future-human-being, but if you really want to compare yourself with him or her, my pregnancy might not be your biggest life issue)

- It’s the number of people who tell you how to do your job despite you founding your own company years ago; or who advise you to “mother” the all-male 20-something band you manage.

And so on and so forth. Think I’ve had it rough? Oh no I haven’t. I’ve had it really easy, actually.
Because I’m not alone. I’m lucky to have an amazing husband who supports me and my career choices, who does his all so we both enjoy fulfilling lives and both follow up on exciting professional opportunities. Sure, it takes a more planning ahead but our kid is happy because he sees both his parents are happy.

Because I come from a bilingual and super supportive family that relentlessly told me from day one that the sky was the limit, that I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted. That structures your mind as a human being and builds your confidence as a woman. Thank you Mum, merci Paps.

Because I’m a boring heterosexual. I’ve never had to lie by omission on topics unrelated to my professional field that would have nonetheless had an impact on my reputation.

Because I am white. I’m acutely aware of how much more discrimination wasn’t thrown my way because of my skin colour and of the staggering amount of racist fetishist fantasies women of colour are projected on and have to deal with on top of sexism and everything I mentioned above.

We need this industry to change, and fast. It’s cruel to see women work so hard, be so passionate and stellar at their jobs and yet accumulate so much lack of recognition while paying such a high personal and professional price just because they are women. I yearn for the carefreeness of life in which you don’t have to start off battling, deconstructing prejudice and proving your worth before you have even gotten a chance to say a word. Is it so much to ask, after all?

Luckily, some people value our thoughts and give us a voice and the space to speak up. Some men believed in me and gave me my big break. midemblog, and James Martin particularly, also have my full gratitude for giving me the complete latitude to choose my topics, tone, thoughts and views expressed, timing and frequency. It’s so rare. All the more because I am no exception: regular contributors and writers of some of midemblog’s most popular (read and shared) articles have been written by fellow female professionals: US manager extraordinaire Emily White, and fellow Brits Lucy Blair and Alison Lamb. Ladies, you shine, and your ideas are well worth guiding the world.

So. Where to from here? And how can men help?

First gentlemen, please realise we want partners, not saviours. We want to solve our problems with solutions we came up with ourselves. It’s not just a question of pride, it’s also a matter of adequacy. “So why do you tell me about all this? I feel useless” is usually the next thing you say. Please don’t get us wrong: when we talk to you about the amount of discrimination we confront on a daily basis, we are only trying to explain to you what we feel and think. We are just processing differently. Our feelings and thoughts don’t need to have their validity assessed or approved. Our feelings are valid. Our thoughts are valid. Our solutions are valid. And they way we individually and collectively as women choose to deal with wide-scale discrimination and combat oppression is valid. We don’t need or want you to tell us what we should be thinking and how we should be emotionally dealing with something you have never experienced.

However, what we do want, what we really really want, is for you to listen to us (our experiences, our thoughts on sexism in the music industry) with as little prejudice as possible so as to consequently work out for yourselves and at your level how you can best help things change on a daily basis towards full equality between you and us.

It’s not laughing at a rape joke; rather, telling the colleague who thought it was a good idea why it’s offensive. It’s stating that the millionth music video synopsis “glorifying” x-y-z female artist’s beauty and sexiness is not only unoriginal and terribly boring, it’s essentially missing the point of her message. It’s not ogling another female music biz counterpart or making comments about how ‘fit’ she is in the middle of a meeting. It’s thinking twice before interrupting a female colleague who is presenting a new idea because she is taking too long or her voice is too shrill, give her space, let her speak, let her finish. It’s shaking off the habit of organising impromptu meetings at 6pm without a thought about whom it excludes. It’s expecting your female colleague to say something smart and to excel, not the opposite.

Because things will never change until men also contribute to our long and tiring journey to full equality. Until men see their interest in giving up the power and advantages they benefit from in a patriarchal society, our voices will go unheard and our frustration grow to unprecedented heights. A world in which men and women are treated equally will mean there will be less pressure on men to conform to social norms, to violence, to spending their lives living up to imposed standards of what ‘success’ has been defined to be. They too can benefit from it if they are willing to look over the glasses of their own privilege.

The story of women in the music industry is a story of legitimacy and entitlement. Or lack thereof. Inferiority leads to illegitimacy, a pervasively deep-rooted problem. Except there are factually no grounds for being convinced of our own inferiority. Really, we women should know our place isn’t only at a man’s side, at the back of the room or at the bottom of the organisational chart: it’s right where we want to be and on our very own terms. And there’s no need for us to justify ourselves about it either.

More about music as a social change driver with will.i.am’s Midem 2014 intervention; followed by a panel discussion featuring Maureen Ford, Live Nation Network; Neeta Ragoowansi, Women in Music; and Ralph Simon, Mobilium Global & MEF.
Emily Gonneau is the manager of artists like Emilie Chick, and a consultant for OK Go. Read all of her midemblog posts here. You can follow her company, Unicum Music, on Twitter & check out its website here.