At the Music Week Women In Music Awards this month, 12 names were added to the Roll Of Honour, sponsored by Jack Radio, which celebrates female execs across the industry. We meet the class of 2019...
Nicola Spokes, UK label head, Caroline International
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“Delighted! It’s an illustrious group of industry women, that I feel very proud to part of.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“Fondly. I actually started my career up North, working for an artist management company in Liverpool that later relocated to London. It was a fun time, learning the ropes, fortunate to be working with artists who were enjoying a lot of success at the time.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped you at that stage?
“Well, Jon Barlow was the only person kind enough to respond to my request for an interview as part of my uni dissertation and afterwards, to look at my CV and recommend me to his friends, Rob Swerdlow and Dave Nicoll, who were looking for a management assistant. Thank you, Jon!”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“Rather than any sales figures or campaign statistics, I think I’m most proud to be a female label head, with a young family.”
Is the business taking enough positive and proactive steps to deal with the issues surrounding diversity and equality?
“Yes, but there is definitely more work to be done in both areas – it’s one thing encouraging more diversity and equality at entry level but another ensuring it carries all the way through the industry to the highest levels.”
Is the industry doing enough to protect the mental health of execs and artists?
“At Universal Music, we have a really great package of healthcare support that includes mental health support and training.”
What one thing would you change about the music industry?
“It’s not always easy to juggle the pressures of family and work life and consequently, there aren’t that many women my age at my level. I’d love the industry to think more about not just how we bring women into the business but how we retain them beyond their 20s and 30s too.”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Stay true to who you are and treat everyone you meet with courtesy and respect, as you would want to be treated. The 21st century music industry is constantly shifting and changing at an incredible pace – every person you interact with could play an important role in your career at some point and in my experience, great things happen when good music and good people come together!”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.”
What is your vision for the industry’s future?
“Balance – I would love to see a balance of gender and diversity in every area of the industry. Artists, their campaigns and the industry as a whole will benefit enormously when there are more balanced and diverse opinions being given, ideas being shared, strategies being formulated, at every level and in every area of the music business. It’s definitely happening but we’re not fully there yet.”