Women In Music Roll Of Honour 2020: Vanessa Bakewell

Women In Music Roll Of Honour 2020: Vanessa Bakewell

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 Vanessa Bakewell, global client partner at Facebook...

How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?

“I am truly delighted. I have read Music Week since I was 17 growing up in Liverpool, picking up my copy each week in WHSmith on Church Street. What would my teenage self think? I feel very honoured to be alongside so many brilliant and talented women and really grateful to be part of a group of amazing female leaders driving positive change.” 

How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?

“I am hugely fortunate that my early years growing up in Liverpool were in such a thriving music scene. So many talented musicians and music industry execs who were based there then and still are today. I also got to go to Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and do a degree in the management of music, entertainment, theatre and events. What I learned in those years and on the degree gave me valuable experience and many amazing friends and a strong network – many I still know and work with today. My education was self-funded, so I found it challenging financially at times. I had to take on a lot of part-time jobs.”

Did you have a mentor at at that stage? 

“I got to work with Jayne Casey who I worked with at Cream nightclub in Liverpool – one of my part-time jobs. Jayne was an important role model to me. She is a powerhouse and has done so much for the city. She gave me confidence and inspiration at a young age when I really needed it and lots of inspiration to keep striving and keep on keeping on. My lecturers at LIPA were so well tenured within their industries and were a big influence. Dave Pichilingi of Modern Sky was one of those lecturers. I still speak to Dave 20 years on, and he has always been accessible and on hand to chat to throughout my education and career with any challenges or opportunities I have had.”


I realised that, if you can’t join the conversation, you create it

Vanessa Bakewell


What’s your biggest achievement so far? 

“I founded the Women In Entertainment And Digital (WED) network around five years ago. I felt compelled to start this as a response to feeling excluded from conversations in my early career in London. I realised that if you can’t join the conversation, you create it. Your networks are everything, nurturing them is key. I set up a Facebook Group to create an empowered, connected, and informed female network for my industry, which is positive, authentic, and engaged. I love it when people tell me to join it and they do not realise I founded it. Its makes me super-proud as it’s not about me, it’s about the community. The WED network has grown organically over the last five years to see a 1,500-strong network of incredible women at all levels in the industry. Alongside incredible organisations like She Said So and Women In Ctrl, I am proud that the WED network brings people together. With social distancing, the group and this way of communicating have become even more important. It’s never been more needed as women navigate their way through different challenges in the industry. My biggest achievements have come via the networks of the group I created on Facebook. Supporting the women around me. Celebrating their successes, lifting them up. Being there when it’s fun. Being there when it’s tough. Being accessible.”

What advice would you offer young women about enjoying a successful career in music?

“Be your own best friend. Look after and prioritise yourself. Self-care is key. You can’t be tenacious when you are running on empty.” 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?

“‘You can’t be interesting unless you are interested’. Listening and staying curious are important. There is so much knowledge, experience, talent, opinion, innovation, and genius out there. Listening and having a curious mindset is a must. A good example of this is the brilliant journey I went on with the artist Gracey. I learned so much from her. At 22, Gracey is a huge talent and a leader when it comes to technology. Seeing how she led the production and direction for her music video Empty Love was a real learning curve. She embraced augmented reality and released Instagram Filters to tease her music and bring fans closer.”

What’s your biggest lesson from 2020? 

“Making time for people counts more than ever. Cassandra Gracey of Sony said at an Instagram Women In Music event earlier this year: ‘You always remember the people that made time for you when you were up and when you were down’. Be there for each other. Checking in on your colleagues and friends is important.”

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