In the latest edition of Music Week we proudly present this year’s expanded Music Week Women In Music Awards Roll Of Honour. Here we speak to Afryea Henry-Fontaine, marketing director, Motown UK/EMI Records and co-founder, The Black Music Coalition & The Debrief...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I’m so excited about joining this incredible list of women. The Women In Music Awards have been a highlight each year to attend and connect with women making waves within our industry so I feel incredibly proud to accept this honour!”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“Tenacity is the word that springs to mind. I always say the music industry requires hustle. The biggest challenge for me was actually getting an opportunity and breaking in – there were many positions where I worked for free, crazy unsociable hours and paid my own way just because I wanted the opportunity. The key for me was networking and not being afraid to ask to shadow people and show my keenness to learn. Also, I quickly learnt it’s not about just stepping into an opportunity to take – what are you bringing and what can you contribute. Ultimately, it’s about humility, never compromising yourself but also understanding that sacrifices and hard work are essential components for having a long-standing career in this industry.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped you at that stage?
“I didn’t have a specific mentor but I constantly researched women who looked like me, who were achieving success. To be honest, there weren’t many especially here in the UK, but women like Fay Hoyte [EMI], Lorna Clarke [BBC], Debra Lee [BET Networks] and Sylvia Rhone [Epic] became incredible inspirations that the hard work would definitely pay off.”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“It has to be my first ever album campaign for Krept & Konan’s The Long Way Home. It was a labour of love. Two incredibly talented artists who had built solid independent campaigns for their previous releases so I was so invested in delivering for them and pushing the boundaries. I was still quite junior at the time so was learning so much within the process: from managing the label/artist relationship, videos going over budget, booking my first national outdoor campaign to navigating the new streaming chart. There were many challenges along the way but I remember how proud I felt when we hit the No.2 spot. I cried!”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Seek out mentors who you admire and allies who can offer you different perspectives. It’s important to learn from women and men that you respect and revere. It’s been life changing for me to have incredible role models and allies within my industry who were committed to helping me to grow and challenging me to expand into my potential.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s so important to understand that failure is not the polar opposite of success, it’s an integral part of the process in order to attain success. Lean in and learn from your failures rather than run from them.”
On so many levels, 2020 has been a year of unprecedented change in the music business and, indeed, the world itself – what’s been the biggest lesson you’ll take away from it?
“The biggest lesson for me has been to never doubt using your voice to ignite change. Speaking up and standing firm on your beliefs is essential. So many have raised their voices this year, and collectively we have engineered one of the greatest culture shifts within our industry. The biggest revelation has been how imperative allyship has played and will continue to play a pivotal role in lasting change in our industry and society as a whole.”