As the Music Week Women In Music Awards return on November 9, so too does the Roll Of Honour, recognising outstanding achievements across all corners of the industry. Join us as we gather this year's inductees to hear their remarkable stories...
FOUNDER/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE MIDI MUSIC COMPANY; ARTIST MANAGER, UNITED VIBRATIONS & CHAINSKA BRASSIKA
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“Surprised… And extremely humbled about receiving my first-ever music industry recognition for my contribution. I can see more and more young women believing in themselves within the music business and the Roll Of Honour not only helps to raise profiles, but encourages and inspires more females to join labels, publishers, distributors and management. It feels good to be amongst fellow inductees: Paulette Long, Suzanne Bull and Vick Bain… Sisters are really doing it for themselves!”
How did you get into the music business?
“I was originally a singer/actress and then I became the house manager at the Albany Empire, running various shows and live music events… Those days were awesome! I was embedded in some of the most amazing music nights ever, with Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, Jamiroquai, Sade, Inspiral Carpets, Bobby McFerrin, Maxi Priest, Jah Shaka, Flying Pickets and more! I got to work with the late great Jean Davenport, the most amazing music programmer, and Phil Jones… They both had an eye for talent, both fresh and international.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped or inspired you in the early part of your career?
“I had several key individuals who mentored me, more like an apprenticeship under some incredible creative minds; the late Jenny Harris and John Turner who set up the Albany Empire, Dave O’Donnell, Lis Moon, Lois Acton, the late great jazz drummer John Stevens and MMC’s very own chair, Gordon Williams. I have been really fortunate to have worked with such wonderful people, who were willing to guide me, as well as encourage me to fly and shine my light. Maggie Crowe (my twin… ask her!) has also played a significant role in supporting and advising me. Here’s looking at you, sis!”
What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of your career?
“That’s a hard question because I am not sure that I have achieved all that I dream of, but I certainly am proud of being the founder of The Midi Music Company (set up while I was pregnant with my son, Reece), having seen the talent rise to the top, from The Noisettes to Kate Tempest, Clayton Morrison to DJ Ng, Yussef Dayes to Steam Down, Shingai to Cevanne, and most recently rising hip-hop artist and producer, SignKid.
Some of the gender pay gap figures for the music biz made for sobering reading. How far away is parity of opportunity and remuneration for women in UK music?
“It still has some way to go, but at least the music industry is raising awareness of the key issues with pay, BAME and gender representation. As a member of the UK Music Diversity Taskforce the results of the survey are encouraging and moving in the right direction – this does not mean that the business should become complacent when they hear the outcome of this year’s survey, but at least we are finally on the right track towards positive outcomes. Time, time, time!”
Have things improved during your career? What more needs to be done?
“It’s been a slow and long journey. So many of the issues being focused on now in the 21st century are the same issues raised in the ’80s, only nobody really bothered to take positive action. UK Music’s Diversity Charter was certainly the catalyst for the change we see now, and Remi Harris led that charge. It’s not all doom and gloom, we just need more female board members and CEOs that reflect the ethnic diversities of the communities we all work in. Balance!”
The issue of sexual harassment in the entertainment industries continues to dominate the news agenda. Is the biz doing enough to tackle the problem?
“I guess if a certain culture has been allowed to fester it will take a little while to root it out, but I am sure that any self-respecting business would not want to tolerate such issues amongst its workforce. The music industry is certainly aware of the sea of change and just has to continue to put in place positive affirmation that such actions will not be tolerated.”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in the music business?
“The question I love most! Always happy to share a little inspiration. My advice: it’s good to stay focused and work in aspects of the business that fulfil your passion. Never stop learning, studying, researching and always keep abreast of the latest technology. In order to have longevity, be open to change and go with the flow. You may have to juggle a few projects at once in the beginning, but then you will find your niche.”