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 new inductee Jackie Alway, EVP of international legal & industry affairs at Universal Music Publishing Group...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I am delighted and privileged to be joining the Roll Of Honour. As the great Alison Wenham has always said, it’s a shame that these awards are still serving a purpose and need to continue. However, for so long as that is the case, I’m honoured to be joining the Roll, which includes some women who have been an inspiration to me over the years.”
What challenges did you have to overcome?
“My first challenge was identifying music law as an option. Fortunately, a spectacularly unhappy work placement with a city law firm focused my attention on finding a way to combine a career in law with my love of music. The alternative was to try to inflict my violin playing on the world, which I sensed it wasn’t ready for! Simkins took me on as a trainee – for which I remain truly grateful – and I was off and running. Fortunately for me, the legal profession is one where women are able to progress relatively unhindered. The challenges I’ve encountered based on gender have been outside of the organisations I’ve been lucky enough to work for. I had one situation where the chairman of a society committee I sat on metaphorically “couldn’t see me”. I had to rely on my male colleagues to draw his attention to my requests to speak. In the end, I resorted to wearing bright red shirts for every meeting. By showing how ridiculous it was to have to take such measures, the problem was flagged and resolved. Fortunately, this kind of behaviour would not be tolerated in those same rooms today.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped you at that stage?
“It’s crucially important in building a career to find yourself a mentor, for men and women equally. I’ve benefitted for many years from reporting into a hugely respected music publisher, Andrew Jenkins, who combines being a champion of women in music with knowing more about our industry than should be good for any one person. Andrew has consistently promoted female executives into senior positions around the world, including in markets where women aren’t traditionally accepted. UMPG currently has women running companies at national and regional levels under our global CEO, Jody Gerson. It goes to show what’s possible within a supportive culture. No excuses!”
If any industry can survive change, it's the music industry
Jackie Alway, UMPG
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“I feel so privileged to have a job which is all about protecting and championing the interests of songwriters. I’m very proud of the role I’ve played in the development of simplified structures for multi-territorial digital licensing of songs around the world. We’ve come so far in 15 years, both legislatively and from an operational and licensing perspective, empowering publishers in the fight for a fair deal for songwriters in the digital space. I’m proud to have chaired the Music Publishers Association for four years, with the force of nature that is Jane Dyball as CEO. Music publishing is a brilliant family and the MPA is at the heart of it. Also, I have to include receiving an OBE in 2019. It’s truly humbling to receive an honour based on support from our community.”
What advice would you offer young female executives about a successful career in music?
“Stay calm and avoid self-deprecation. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Have integrity – it’s a small industry with a long collective memory. Find a mentor and stay close to them. Don’t feel the need to speak first in a discussion, or to drink a pint of Sauvignon blanc before 11am at the Ivors. Both can lead to regrets. Above all, enjoy the music!”
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
“Try to remain calm, it gives you the best chance of succeeding. Also, remember how lucky we are to work in music. And most importantly, don’t think you’re going to drive home from the MPA Christmas party.”
2020 has been a year of unprecedented change. What’s the biggest lesson you’ll take away from it?
“I take comfort from the certainty that, if any industry can survive change, it’s the music business. We are constantly innovating and finding better ways of doing everything we do. My biggest lesson from this year has been the importance of having a shared sense of purpose to hold communities together and support individual well-being while the world is tilted off its axis. This period of re-assessment may also be the turning point in how we treat each other, educating some of us in understanding our own unconscious bias and acknowledging our unearned privilege.”