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 Safiya Lambie-Knight, Spotify's lead, artist & label partnerships (genre and culture specialist)...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I am incredibly proud to be joining the Roll Of Honour alongside some of the incredible women who I admire and respect and who have led the way for women in the music industry.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“I often think about how much has evolved and changed. When I started, streaming was in its infancy and black music in the UK at the time wasn’t given much consideration as a mainstream proposition. There was a lot to overcome in terms of the music I was passionate about and also being a black woman in a male-dominated world meant fewer role models and mentors in the spaces that I wanted to learn about. Representation was, and still is, a big challenge in music and something that needs work – seeing people who look like you in leadership roles and making decisions makes all the difference. There has definitely been a shift this year but really, it shouldn’t have taken this long.”
Did you have a mentor or role model at that stage?
“I was very lucky to work with some incredible women at that stage of my career, most of whom were also figuring out their place in this industry too. Having that network really helped and they are all still people I count on as friends to this day. I also worked with some amazing men during this stage who supported me significantly in my early career and still do. Special thanks to everyone from the Lucid team who hustled hard in the early days. We were one of the first digital teams in the UK music industry so had to work hard to make people understand the value of that. I also had a mentor during my time at Vevo and she really helped me to figure out what was important to me and helped build my confidence and encouraged me endlessly. I am also lucky enough to work with some amazing women at Spotify across the team and in leadership roles who are a continuous and much needed support.”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“I have constantly worked to encourage representation of underserved genres and voices. I continually work to champion this and throughout my time in this industry have been able to support many incredible artists and work with some amazing managers and execs who share the same purpose. Working across Vevo Dscvr to ensure representation, and that we were able to support a diverse range of genres, and helping to build the Who We Be brand have been big achievements. We have grown Who We Be from a playlist to multiple live events, a podcast, a writing camp, supporting social impact, charity campaigns and brand partnerships. Supporting black music and culture and helping to build this will always be my biggest achievement and the reason why I do this.”
What advice would you offer young female execs about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Don’t give up, learn resilience. There will be times when all you want to do is walk away, but don’t. That doesn’t mean if you are unhappy or being treated badly you should stay in the same job, but there are a lot of options in this industry, don’t feel like you can’t say no to things but don’t leave, we need you! If you can keep on through the challenging times then you are part of changing the bigger picture, you will be the representation that the next generation needs to see and will learn from. Also, you don’t have to be the same as everyone else or lead by the examples set by those that came before you. The most amazing people I have met through this journey have been unequivocally themselves, your individuality is what differentiates you.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“Choose your battles. I know this is a common piece of advice but whenever things get too much, I remind myself of this. You cannot fix everything and you definitely cannot change the thoughts and opinions of those who don’t want to listen. So, walk away from certain situations, learn to say no and focus on what’s important to you.”
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ll take away from 2020?
“This year, while it has been incredibly challenging on so many levels, it has affected everyone differently. I have learnt that change is not always a bad thing and the music industry desperately needs it. There has also been some incredible music created during this time and across a lot of black music genres especially, seeing the continued creativity during such a challenging year has been inspiring and amazing to see the good that can come from adversity. This year has also given me some much needed hope and I do believe that the future will be positive on many levels.”