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 Mulika Sannie, SVP, business affairs, Kobalt...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I am actually quite speechless to be honest with you! It is such a huge honour to not only be acknowledged and appreciated but to join a list of other inspirational women in the music industry who came before me and who have helped pave the way. I am hoping that my presence on this list will inspire other women to not only join the industry, but stay in the industry and excel.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“I was fearless, determined and motivated. Some would say I haven’t changed at all – well, maybe I’m a little more opinionated as I’ve got older. But I had the advantage of youth and to a certain extent naivety, so I jumped in the deep end and hoped I could swim. There were a lot of knock-backs: the unanswered job applications, the inability to get work experience as my parents didn’t play golf at the weekends with music execs and I didn’t have family already working in the music industry. But I knew that I couldn’t let others define my path or have control over what I wanted to achieve, so I had to create the work experience for myself that I could not get from others. I have a daily challenge of being black and a woman in a corporate world that is white male-dominated. That will never change, but I embrace that wholeheartedly and do not shy away from it as, first and foremost, that is who I am. Music-specific challenges are the stereotypes commonly afforded to black people in the music industry which, unfortunately, I was the recipient of, and sadly still happens today. It is a continuous challenge to change the narrative that if you’re black and in the music industry, you must be the talent or in the creative departments – A&R, marketing, management, etc. I still come across individuals who are shocked I am a music lawyer, so there is that challenge I and many other black executives are yet to overcome, but hopefully, after this year’s events, progress will be made.”
Did you have a mentor or role model at that stage?
“This is going to sound really clichéd but it is the truth, my Mum and my sisters are my mentors and role models. My Dad passed when I was five, so my Mum raised me and my three sisters by herself. So I have experienced first-hand what being a successful woman truly means, and the fearlessness and faith you need to have in yourself to persevere when things look unattainable. I have met many wonderful and genuine people in my career who have given me invaluable advice along the way. Mentors are important so I have several from all walks of life – music, legal, accountancy, social work, teaching. They don’t realise it but they keep me sane!”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement ?so far?
“That’s a hard one as I look at every deal I close as an achievement; or the young person I mentored who has secured a job as an achievement. But one that stands out is when I created the UK Black Music Lawyers Network in 2018. I created this network as I felt there was not enough black representation in back office and corporate functions of the music industry such as legal, finance and business development. I am extremely proud of this network, as I have met so many amazing young black people who are aspiring to become music lawyers, who just didn’t know where or how to start. I do take it as a personal responsibility as a black woman to ensure that I try to provide support and opportunities to those coming up after me.”
What advice would you offer young female execs about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Let your gender be your strength, never look at it as your burden. It is what makes you unique and wonderfully you.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“I think the best piece of advice I have ever received was, ‘Confidence is not about being confident about what you know, it is also about being confident in what you don’t know’. I received this piece of advice from the interviewer for my first job as a qualified lawyer in the industry. I’ve stuck by this and it works!”
On so many levels, 2020 has been a year of unprecedented change in the business and, indeed, the world itself – what’s been the biggest lesson you’ll take away from it?
“No matter how much you plan or you think you know everything, there are some things that are truly out of your control. All you can do is equip yourself with as many skills, personal and professional, as possible so you can be as flexible and as adaptable as possible.”