How to break into the music industry, according to the women who’ve done it 

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  • We spoke to women working with artists like Glass Animals, Little Simz and Dua Lipa to find out their top tips

    A career in the music industry has instant appeal, whether you’re just starting out or thinking of a career change. Offering you the chance to work with your favourite artists, travel around the world and express your creativity, working in music could lead you to your dream job

    But, if you’re a woman and thinking about building a career in music, you’re likely aware of the industry’s massive gender inequality issue. As it stands, women make up just 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and just 2.1% of producers in the music industry, according to 2019 research from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. In 2019, Rolling Stone magazine also highlighted that out of 13 major record label groups in the US, only one was being run by a woman (Sylvia Rhone at Sony’s Epic Records). 

    But don’t let that dishearten you, because women are rising up across the industry and working to clear a path that more can follow. We spoke to three of these amazing women — including Amy Morgan, Artist Manager of Glass Animals, Sheniece Charway, Artist Relations Manager at YouTube Music and Lottie Llewellyn, Head of Marketing at Warner Records — to find out their advice on how to make it in music. 

    Amy Morgan, Artist Manager

    Amy Morgan manages British indie rock band Glass Animals, whose recent hit Heat Waves led them to become the first British band to have a number one in the Global Spotify charts. 

    When it comes to breaking into the industry, Amy believes there are no hard and fast rules. “We’re living in a fast paced, ever-changing time,” Amy tells us. “I don’t think there are any rules about how to break into music and there are as many routes in as there are people.” Keep scrolling to find out Amy’s top tips for launching your own career in music. 

    1)Develop a broad set of skills 

    Artist management is pretty amazing because it’s so broad. You get to use your creative brain but also need to be very on it with detail and not afraid of the business side of things. Problem solving, people management and organisational skills are important. Being able to negotiate and handle a crisis calmly is also invaluable. I don’t think there is any formal training that you need to do the job — anything that gives you those life skills and confidence would be useful. 

    2)Love music — and people

    First and foremost you have to love music. Ultimately the music industry is a young industry so the experience and the knowledge you have as a young person is gold dust. You’re likely to have a more instinctive understanding of new platforms and artists. That knowledge is powerful. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions and insights, or to turn them into your own projects, whether that’s running your own label, finding a young artist you want to manage yourself or putting on your own club nights or shows. 

    I think you have to love people too. 99% of my job is dealing with people. Especially if you want to work directly with artists, I think you have to be empathetic and always be ready to listen and learn.   

    3)Nurture self belief  

    It’s a cliche but passion and heart is everything. Believe in your artists, believe in yourself and follow your gut. 

    4)Find your crew

    The music industry can be brutal. When I started there were very few female A&Rs. There is still a noticeable lack of women in senior roles across the industry, and in management and A&R in particular. I am lucky to have strong friends and colleagues to support and inspire me. It’s also important to work at companies where you feel seen/heard and respected.  

    5)Be determined, be kind, keep learning 

    This truly is an industry where you get out what you put in. Work and determination is everything but life is not fair — sometimes you can work all the hours and projects still don’t connect, or ideas still fall apart. That’s ok. It’s living and learning, but it’s hard to stomach. 

    Try and be kind to yourself in those moments. Personally, I think it’s important to be kind to other people too. Everyone is out there hustling, making themselves vulnerable and trying to make their dreams happen. I think it’s important to treat everyone as you would want to be treated. 

    Sheniece Charway, Artist Relations Manager at YouTube Music

    As Artist Relations Manager at YouTube Music, Sheniece, 29, has helped artists like Enny, Dave, Little Simz, Central Cee, Ghetts, AJ Tracey and more grow their fan bases on YouTube. Here she shares why it’s important not to try to be one of the boys, and the power of asking questions. 

    1)Look out for workshops 

    Attending workshops and talks from executives is really key in helping you build your knowledge of the industry. It will also help you understand what part of the industry you would like to work in. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions: no question is silly! In my internship, I constantly asked questions and if ever in doubt I would ask for help. This doesn’t make you weak or make anyone think you don’t know what you’re doing. It shows your passion to learn and upskill. 

    2)Be bold, be brave and be you

    Sometimes, especially as women, we don’t want to be heard too much incase it comes off incorrectly. However, in this industry you have to stand out and show people what you are capable of. 

    Don’t try to be one of the boys, the music industry is very tough, so make sure you are heard and don’t back down. Don’t change for anyone. If you do that you will never be happy and then your passion for music or the job may disappear. I say this all the time, but champion yourself. No one else can champion you the way you can. No one knows your skills and talent like you do! 

    3)Be patient 

    Also, be PATIENT. I started my first role in the industry at 24 and I don’t believe it has held me back at all. The fact that you are a woman should not be the defining factor of who you are as an executive. Your skills, knowledge and experience should be the factors that keep you going. 

    Lottie Llewellyn, Head of Marketing at Warner Records

    Lottie Llewellyn, 29, heads up the marketing department for Warner Records, which involves leading the marketing strategy and implementation for all artists signed to the label. She also personally manages campaigns for Dua Lipa and Griff. 

    Keep reading to find out Lottie’s advice on breaking into music, from setting up a side project to meeting the right people. 

    1)Demonstrate your passion 

    It is not enough to just like music anymore, you need to prove your passion to stand out. The advice I always give people is to start something themselves, don’t wait around for opportunities to land in your lap. Whether it’s through starting a club night (like I did) or a blog, do anything that can demonstrate your drive.

    2)Keep your finger on the pulse 

    Make sure you are following relevant people on social media, signing up to the right mailing lists and are aware of what’s happening in the music scene. Make TikTok your best friend. 

    3)Get out there IRL 

    I also think it is important to get in the mix of things by going to gigs and reaching out to people you think are interesting. 9/10 people will be up for talking to you. Don’t give up. 

    4)Stay positive 

    Have a positive attitude so that you are someone people want to be around. Be open to learning, and say yes to opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone. 

     

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