With applications for the Music Managers Forum (MMF) Accelerator Programme 2020 due to close on October 25 Shakka’s manager Nike Durosaro (both pictured)has spoken to Music Week about why it represents a guilt-edged opportunity within the biz. The first professional development programme designed solely for artist, songwriter and producer managers, the scheme aims to increase the number of managers able to work full time by expanding the creative talent they can worth with through training, advice, funding and mentorship. Here is Durosaro on how taking part in the Accelerator Programme has helped her.
How did the Accelerator programme impact you as a manager?
"It has helped in so many ways, firstly it has created a network of support in the form of fellow managers and industry professionals. I have often felt isolated as an independent manager, so it has been great to meet other emerging managers who can relate to my joys and frustrations. Also, the monthly training days have been amazing. They have helped me to plug gaps in my knowledge and brought me up to speed on new industry developments which has been invaluable. Finally, I am so grateful for the grant I was awarded. Working as a self-employed artist manager for a self-employed artist in the music industry which is known for its volatility is very challenging, especially when you are trying to build your business, so this grant came at the perfect time to help me continue to grow and develop."
What tips would you give other managers to get the most out of it?
"I would say make sure you network and exchange information with your fellow accelerator managers, everyone has valuable personal experience or industry knowledge to share. I’d also advise new accelerator programme attendees to go to every single training day. I’ve learnt so much and these sessions have given me so many new ideas and action points for my business."
Would you encourage women managers to apply for Accelerator?
"Absolutely, I’ve really enjoyed it! When starting out in the business I did not come across many female managers and mistakenly thought there weren’t many. In fact there are loads of us and this programme is a great opportunity to connect with them. I've met some really inspiring women who are juggling several clients independently and getting fantastic results."
There is concern about how much the music industry supports women with children – what has your experience been? Were your artists supportive?
"I was very anxious about how my artist would take the news and how my work colleagues would respond. I prepared myself mentally for comments questioning whether I'd be able to cope being a mother and working as a manager. There is this outdated and ridiculous notion that women who have children can no longer do anything else and their lives are over, which is not true. I’m not saying it's easy at all, but if you have support it’s do-able. Shout out to my dad and mother-in-law! I guess if you don't have kids motherhood can seem a bit otherworldly to people and it did to me, to a certain extent, before I had my son.
I think women approach motherhood in different ways and make different choices about working alongside raising a family and so the important thing is for women to be supported no matter what they choose and for people not to jump to conclusions about what their lives will look like when they become mothers. It took ages for me to announce my pregnancy to colleagues and to my client because I was worried about the response. I felt that if I left it until later on in the pregnancy then I would have already demonstrated my ability to cope and that would quell fears. We also had two important deals on the table and I didn't want to jeopardise those, having worked so hard in the years prior to get to that point, so I broke the news when I was 5 months pregnant. In fact, one of the companies we did a deal with only knew of my pregnancy on the day we signed the deal. In the end, that company was very understanding and supportive as was my artist.
I was even apprehensive about being on the accelerator programme whilst pregnant but Paul Bonham, co-ordinator of the scheme, was super supportive and my fellow managers have also been lovely, so it’s been a fantastic experience.
It's a shame women feel under scrutiny in this way and I feel like things are changing gradually. I really feel that we need to be more open-minded and supportive towards women working in the music industry and in wider society. I salute all the working mums out there, you are all superheroes!"
What changes do you think should happen in the music industry to help women develop their careers?
"I would like to see much more mentorship. I currently mentor three emerging managers and also had a chat with someone one the accelerator programme recently who wanted advice on managing their business alongside having a baby. I think mentorship is extremely powerful and would especially help women in the early stages of their careers to develop and be inspired. I think there needs to be more media exposure of successful women in music, this would encourage women considering a career in the industry to go for it. The Women In Music Awards are incredible, I attended last year and left feeling very inspired. I also feel that more opportunities to get advice about juggling work and raising a family would be incredible.
In particular for music management, are you hopeful that more women will enter the profession and be able to enjoy a long-term career?
"Yes, I am hopeful. I think more and more women are being recognised for their achievements and work within the music industry. I also think that social media, for its sins, is helping remove the smoke and mirrors in the entertainment industry and is allowing people to see that there are lots of women making things happen behind the scenes and many of them are mothers too."
For full details of the Accelerator Programme visit www.themmf.net.