At a time when Ellie Goulding, Beyoncé and Rihanna are reigning over the charts, dominating festival bills and selling out venues the world-over, it feels good to be a woman in music right now. So, we've gone behind the scenes to meet the ladies who've bagged the best jobs backstage, from inside music magazines and record labels, to studio techs and bloggers.
Put simply, these girls rock.
From growing up in the centre of the music industry, to finding her feet around legends like Dave Grohl, Aislinn Fairbanks has climbed the ranks of one of music’s most successful family businesses. Now the CEO of a global A&R company, Fairbanks Endorsements, Aislinn works closely with a mind-blowing roster of acts including Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Arctic Monkeys and The 1975.
‘I always loved seeing how thankful bands and artists were for what [my father] did,’ she recalls. ‘I knew from a young age I would go on to work for the company.’ Telling us more about the ins and outs of her role, Aislinn explains: ‘I set up and manage band endorsements with music equipment manufacturers. This means negotiating the best possible deal for the band and getting them the gear they want to use. We are here to make the band’s life easier.’
The Studio Tech
Björk, The XX, Frightened Rabbit and Sigur Ros are just a few of the amazing artists to have put their records in the safe hands of Mandy Parnell. A mastering engineer and owner of the Black Saloon Studios, Mandy has 21 years of experience and numerous Grammy nominations to her name. ‘Mastering for music is the last artistic process before production and ultimately public consumption,’ she explains. ‘If it’s not right when it leaves us, it will never be right.’ As well as giving lectures and workshops across universities, Mandy notes her appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as a definite ‘pinch me’ moment. Not to mention her involvement with industry committees such as the Music Producers Guild (MPG), Audio Engineering Society (AES) and, oh yeah, the Grammys.
The Media Manager
After interning her way around the industry, a two-week stint at Europe’s leading music and PR hub, The Zeitgeist Agency, turned into a life-changing opportunity for Aimi Lewis-Mattock. Now the Account Manager, Aimi works with a bunch of amazing brands like Dr Martens and Fred Perry, alongside huge festivals including Reading & Leeds and Barcelona’s Sonar. ‘I’m able to get out in the field for our events, which is extremely exciting,’ she tells us. ‘It’s difficult to have just one highlight, but being head media coordinator on-site at Reading Festival was definitely up there.’ Don’t feel bad festival buffs, we’re all feeling that rush of jealousy right now.
With an impressive writing portfolio and radio show to her name, 22-year-old Tamsyn Wilce is a perfect example of today’s career-hungry graduates. After launching Seasideinthecity.blogspot.co.uk during university, Tamsyn’s little space on the internet has helped to kick-start her dream career. Interning at festivals, interviewing her favourite bands and guest editing the music sections of glossy women’s magazines is all part of the fun. ‘Music bloggers are quite a small community but we’re all so passionate about it, and it’s such a great way to discover new bands,’ she explains. ‘Many of the features I’ve written on my blog have been shared around record labels, bands and PR companies, which helps me gain great exposure.’ Proof that the blogging world is still thriving? We’d say so.
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The Press Queen
After 13 years honing her skills in the press department at Warner Brothers Records, Emma Van Duyts set up Public City PR. Having worked with everyone from Green Day and A-Ha, to William Orbit and Hilary Duff, self-confessed rock fan Emma knows her way around the industry better than most. Now at the helm of her own company, Emma ensures her bands get the best coverage in magazines, newspapers and websites across the UK. ‘There’s nothing like seeing a band you started working with as newcomers, growing to be on covers and selling out huge shows,’ she tells us. And while Emma’s the first to admit that late nights and behind-the-scenes dramas are all part of the job, she declares: ‘It’s the greatest job ever!’
The Radio Plugger
By building contacts through her school fanzine, Hayley Codd‘s proactive approach to landing that dream job led her to intern among music’s finest fresh from university. Now the radio and television extension of Public City PR, Hayley says: ‘You can’t beat the buzz of finding bands, often before management and labels, and working with them, to a point where the likes of Radio 1 want to put them on their A playlist!’ Hayley’s journey began at LD Publicity, where an internship turned into her dream job. ‘As a plugger, its my responsibility to make sure I secure as much exposure on the radio and TV as possible for my artists. You’d be surprised at how much competition there is out there.’
Eve Barlow epitomises everything today’s successful music journalist needs to be. After her passion for music, pop culture and writing caught the attention of the NME team, she jumped into the Deputy Editor role and, as she tells us, ‘the rest is history’. So what does a dream job like her’s entail? When she’s not keeping the good ship NME afloat, Eve’s role involves everything from overseeing cover interviews to ‘orchestrating the way our multi-talented team functions at a massive music event such as Reading & Leeds festivals’. Noting Glastonbury 2013 as her highlight so far, she adds: ‘I think I got less than three hours sleep that whole weekend but when the magazine landed in the office on Tuesday, I did shed a tear.’
The Festival Booker
‘I spend all year booking artists and shows for eleven stages at Latitude, and the Alternative Stage at Reading & Leeds,’ Tania Harrison tells us. After pitching the idea that is now Latitude Festival to her CEO in 2004, Tania has become one of the most influential people in her field. Using her drama dchool background to book the best acts for renowned music festivals, she counts moments with Noel Fielding and Paloma Faith as her most memorable so far.