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…
Karma Bertelsen, Marketing Manager, Kilimanjaro Live
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I am beyond honoured and privileged to join so many incredibly talented, hard working and inspiring women.”
How did you get into the music business?
“I was classically trained but I really wanted to be a rock star, so I joined a rock band during my ‘rebellious’ teens. But I guess stage fright doesn’t come hand-in-hand with ‘rock star’ status. I loved music, loved going to concerts, couldn’t stop listening to music everywhere I went, so why wouldn’t I try to make a career out of something I loved? Once I decided I’d rather work ‘backstage’ than onstage, I studied music business at the Academy Of Contemporary Music. After ACM, I took to stacking the shelves of HMV. I got my break and moved to London to work as junior business manager at celebrity business management company Thomas St John.”
Did you have a mentor and/or role model who helped/inspired you in the early part of your career?
“In the early part of my career, I didn’t have a role model or mentor but, as it progressed, some of the women I met in the industry (such as Lara Baker) came to be my role models, and people who pushed me to achieve my goals, giving me advice and inspiring me every day.”
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career?
“Being in a position where I can act as a mentor to myself and others. Supporting diversity in music, and helping change the industry for the better.”
Do you think there is parity of opportunity and remuneration for women in the UK music industry at the moment?
“Although I can see the industry improving and steps being taken to create equal opportunities, we are not there yet – and there is still a lot of work to do to get us there.”
Have things improved during your career? What more needs to be done?
“Things have slowly improved but there still needs to be a focus on diversity and equality at all times. We need to actively review and seek out where we aren’t being diverse in relation to gender, sexual orientation and identification and ethnic origin, and make sure we are creating opportunities. Simply ‘not discriminating’ is a good start, but it is not enough. We have to work towards creating opportunities as well.”
The issue of sexual harassment in the entertainment industries has dominated the news agenda lately. Does the music business have a problem?
“Yes, it’s no exception to the entertainment industry. It has a problem. We need to work together to fix it – and we will.”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in the music business?
“Treat everyone as you’d like to be treated. There is a common misconception you have to be an asshole to work in music. Believe in yourself, do not be afraid to push for what you deserve. And, do not burn yourself out – don’t work 24/7, set boundaries and protect your mental health by taking a time out if you need it.”