Every year, 12 industry game changers are inducted onto the Roll Of Honour at the Music Week Women In Music Awards, and this year’s list could be the strongest yet. Here, we meet the executives…
Caryn Tomlinson, Senior Vice President, Communications, Universal Music Group
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“It is incredibly uplifting. There are so many brilliant women in our industry, being included was a wonderful shock.”
How did you get into the music business?
“I had read about Tina Turner’s tough experiences during her early career and decided that I wanted to be an artist manager. I wrote to numerous managers asking for a job, to no avail.
While working in fashion, I enrolled in a sound engineering course to learn the foundations. I had absolutely no talent for recording, but at least I knew the drill! Once in London, Chris Morrison gave me my first job in music at CMO Management.
Simon Fuller and Danny Poku headhunted me after six months, to work at 19. After that, I started my longed-for music career travelling the world with the inimitable Cathy Dennis.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped or inspired you early in your career?
“I was fortunate to work with Sally Perryman (head of A&R), Deborah Harris (business affairs) and Fran Malyan (general manager) at EMI Music Publishing early in my career.
Three of the most fearless women I have ever met. Working in a supportive team can help young executives believe in themselves, be brave, speak up and grow.
What stood out was that they didn’t think it was unusual for women to be in their positions, they were just the right person for the job.”
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career?
“Seeing people that I have introduced connect and build a creative relationship or start to collaborate. These human connections across our industry and in the creative sector, are my proudest moments.”
Do you think there is parity of opportunity and remuneration for women in the UK music industry at the moment?
“Personally, I never thought I couldn’t achieve what I wanted in my career. I do see a great mix of gender and ages in the industry but, there need to be more women in leadership roles.”
Have things improved during your career? And what more needs to be done?
“I arrived in the industry at a time when there had already been major changes – more and more women hold management positions, we are certainly travelling in the right direction.”
The issue of sexual harassment in the entertainment industries has dominated the news agenda lately. Does the music business have a problem?
“I can’t comment across the board but, in my view, the current leadership (certainly in my company) is of a different mindset and generation.
Globally there is a conscious shift, people will not tolerate such behaviour. There will always be narcissists and power abusers across both sexes; we must therefore remain vigilant and make it easy for real abuse to be eradicated.”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in the music business?
“Be yourself. Don’t doubt your contribution, speak up and share your ideas.”
Story By: Music Week Staff