During this year’s Women In Music Awards, we inducted a further 14 game-changing industry executives (including two posthumous awards) into the Roll Of Honour, in association with TikTok.
They join the pantheon of previous honourees, including some of the biggest names in the business, from Emma Banks and Sarah Stennett to Kanya King, Rebecca Allen and Stacey Tang, that have been selected since the awards began in 2014.
The Roll Of Honour aims to highlight the breadth, depth and variety of individuals who are game-changers in the music industry, with their activities consistently benefiting women, or focusing on empowerment/gender disparity.
Following the Women In Music Awards ceremony, Music Week is running Q&A interviews with all of this year’s Roll Of Honour inductees.
MJ Olaore is BPI's chief operating officer, where she is responsible for the BPI’s day to day operational and commercial management, HR matters, and financial affairs. Her responsibilities also extend to managing multiple aspects of BPI events and charities including The BRIT Awards, Mercury Prize, and The BRIT Trust. MJ leads on the BPI’s work to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which involves representing BPI on UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce and overseeing a BPI & BRIT Awards study that looks into the impact of gender on a career as a recording artist in the UK. MJ is also spearheading the BPI’s drive towards embracing sustainability and carbon footprint reduction.
Here, MJ Olaore opens up about industry achievements, mentors and offers advice for the next generation of executive talent...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women in Music Roll of Honour?
“It is such an honour - I really wasn’t expecting it but it’s rather wonderful to have your efforts recognised. It has certainly put an extra spring in my step so thanks for the boost!”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“My entry into the music business has been rather circuitous, by way of broadcasting, market research and music radio in particular. I believe that this unconventional entry has given me a different perspective and allowed me to suggest viable alternatives to conventional wisdom.”
Did you have a mentor at that stage?
“Quite early on I found myself working for a company jointly owned by a number of industry ‘big beasts’ whose MDs, FDs and Chairs all sat on the same management board as me. It was great to see these seasoned industry players close up and I learnt a lot from their approach to the business. They were very generous with their time, and encouraged me to voice my opinions.”
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
“The impact of the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements has sent shockwaves through our industry, the reverberations of which will continue for many years to come. This has spurred us on at the BPI to do a lot of work (still ongoing) on equality, equity, inclusion, and diversity within our sector. I’m proud that our team has been at the forefront of this effort.”
What advice would you offer young women about enjoying a successful career in music?
“You have just as much right as anyone else to be here: don’t let anybody ever tell you anything different and don’t put up with any nonsense! Also, if you find yourself working for someone who is horrid and makes you feel small, pocket that and make sure you do not pay it forward when your time comes!”
The impact of the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements has sent shockwaves through our industry
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
“I’m not sure that anyone ever actually told me this or it’s just a mantra that I’ve arrived at through experience but it’s certainly the best advice I can share: Don’t be afraid to ask ‘the stupid questions’ even if they seem a bit too obvious to be asked – you can bet there will be others in the room who’d like to know the answer too and often the answers you get can be very enlightening and take you in unexpected directions.”
What’s your biggest lesson from 2021 so far?
“The pandemic has been tough for everyone and forced us to reevaluate a lot of things. But, from adversity can also come opportunity, at the BPI we’ve found new ways to work and help the industry, and forged a camaraderie which I believe will really help us as we build into the future. ‘People matter’ has never been brought more sharply into focus.”
Is there a young woman you'd like to shout out who you think is a rising star in the industry?
“Without a doubt my BPI colleague Casandra Strauss. She amazes me daily with her energy, her inventiveness and most importantly, what a decent human being she is. She is definitely one to watch.”
Similarly, is there a young woman artist whose music you're enjoying right now/excited about?
“There are many! But right now I’d particularly spotlight Arlo Parks, winner of the 2021 Mercury Prize. Her voice is just so pure, I can lose myself in her music.”