As ever, this year’s Music Week Women In Music awards proved to be one of the greatest days on the music industry’s awards calendar.
Held on November 11 at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, the third annual ceremony – held in association with AIM and UK Music and headline sponsored by Live Nation Entertainment – honoured a range of brilliant women from across the music industry. For a full list of winners click here.
But there was much, much more to it than that. Here, Music Week highlights five incredible things about the 2016 event…
Other awards ceremonies can be a seething bearpit of competing egos. Not Women In Music. Despite the lunchtime kick-off and the considerable alcohol consumption, the vibe remained celebratory, supportive and respectful throughout, with every speaker and video afforded respectful silence and wild applause, as appropriate. Nice one.
Music Week understands that some lesser music business awards ceremonies claim to be sold out when they’re not in order to, er, try and shift more tickets. Women In Music, however, sold every single seat weeks in advance – and what a crowd it was. There were star artists, from Inspirational Artist winner KT Tunstall to Cerys Matthews, Imelda May, Lucy Rose, Years & Years’ Olly Alexander and more. There were inspirational women executives from every nook and cranny of the music business, many of whom had brought their female co-workers, junior and senior, along with them as a celebration of their work. Meanwhile, the presence of so many senior executives, male and female – including David Joseph, chairman/CEO of Universal Music UK & Ireland; Jason Iley, chairman/CEO of Sony Music UK & Ireland; UK Music CEO Jo Dipple; PPL chief executive Peter Leathem, MPA Group Of Companies CEO Jane Dyball and Mike Smith, new managing director of Warner/Chappell UK, while incoming Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer flew in from the US especially for the ceremony – shows how seriously the issues (and the awards) are now being taken across the biz. And the sheer depth of talent – both executive and artistic – featured in Tuer’s tribute video was remarkable.
It goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway: this year’s winners are a remarkable bunch and they showed it in their acceptance speeches. From Alison Tickell (Julie’s Bicycle and Campaigner winner) talking about the need to redouble environmental efforts following Donald Trump’s win in the US Presidental Election to MOBO founder and Media Pioneer winner Kanya King – remarkably, winning her first-ever music industry award – offering the advice that young executives should “strive not to be a person of success, but a person of merit”, inspiration was everywhere. Add in Dipple’s both-barrels riposte on Trump, Outstanding Contribution winner Alison Wenham’s overview of the changes during her incredible career, Tuer’s straight-talking and KT Tunstall’s heartfelt plea for no let-up in the encouragement of female musicians and it was impossible to leave the room without a renewed sense of what can be achieved.
Women In Music may have a serious purpose at its core, but it’s also a lot of fun. From Alice Levine’s witty hosting, to Jason Iley hoping that he’ll “last a bit longer than some Sony chairman” seen by his Businesswoman Of The Year-winning colleague Nicola Tuer, to the Manic Street Preachers’ Nicky Wire telling Tuer she’d “aged a lot better than we have, that’s for sure”, there were lolz at every turn. Our favourite moment? Shadow Minister Dawn Butler MP, presenting King with her Media Pioneer gong, looking out at the female-dominated crowd and declaring it’s what the Houses Of Parliament should look like – while fellow MP Nigel Adams looked on.
The focus might be on career achievement, but there were also plenty of emotional moments at the ceremony. Olly Alexander spoke beautifully – from the heart and without notes – about his manager Martha Kinn’s drive to “make the industry a more inclusive place”. Rising Star winner Kinn’s response was even more moving, meaning a good portion of the crowd was in tears after the first award. More was to come – Alison Wenham’s dedication to her daughters, who’d come to see their mother pick up her Outstanding Contribution gong, and John Deacon’s tribute to the late Fiona Haycock, posthumously inducted onto the Roll Of Honour in the presence of her mother, ensured there was barely a dry eye in the house by the end.