Earlier this month, the Music Business Department presented the fifth-annual Business of Hip-Hop/Urban Music Symposium: Ladies First Edition. The clinic, produced by John Kellogg, Darcie Nicole, and Sharon Heyward, featured five of the top female industry executives including:
- Sharon Heyward, executive of EMI Music, former General Manager for Virgin Records, and Former President of Perspective Records.
- Nina Packer of Nina Packer associates and Bryant Management (Young Money, L’il Wayne, Drake)
- Shanti Das, CEO and founder of PressReset.me, author of The Hip-Hop Professional, former EVP for Universal/Motown and former Vice President of Sony music.
- Rose Daniels, Director of Business Development/Head of Operations at MusicIndustryOnline.com
- LaTrice Burnette, Atlantic Records alumna
During a Q&A segment led by Ms. Heyward, the veteran of the group, the ladies sat panel-style to answer questions submitted prior to the show via Twitter. Though there was some difference of opinion and occasional bickering (as tends to happen when a group of strong-minded women get together to talk business), the advice offered was certainly invaluable. In case you missed it, we have compiled a list of the top quotes of the night. No need to thank us.
1. Look professional. Whether you are an intern or a full-time employee, there is a dress code. Don’t be fooled by the glamour of the music industry either: what you see in music videos is not appropriate dress for the office. People will take you as seriously as you take yourself. This is especially important for women: it would not do much for your reputation to walk into the office wearing a skimpy mini skirt or a plunging neckline. This might be suitable for the club, but not if you want to be respected in a male-dominated industry. Which leads to the next great point …
2. Earn the respect of the men. It is no secret that being a woman in the music industry can be difficult when trying to prove that you have what it takes to make it. Challenge this reality by working hard and establishing yourself as an equal. Build a relationship with the men in your office like Shanti Das, who said she likes to talk about football with her male counterparts as a way to find common ground.
3. Take initiative and have something to offer. As an intern, you want to show the label that you have ideas and that you are able to take initiative. This can be a determining factor in whether you will remain an intern or actually receive a job offer. Always be looking for the opportunity to show what you can do.
4. Find a focus. It is important to know where you fit into the “machine.” Have an idea of what you want to accomplish, articulate and execute it.
5. Do your research. It is imperative that you know your product, especially as a manager. Artist development is crucial, so get to know your artist and come up with a vision that coincides with his or her goals and demographic. You have to know what consumers want, so stay current.
6. Have a good work ethic. “The industry is 24/7,” said Heyward. That means you should be on your grind 24/7. While working in the music business can be a fun job, it is also a very serious and competitive atmosphere. If you want to make a good impression, be the first one in the office and the last one to leave.
7. Build relationships. This can be as simple as handwriting a note: labels get hundreds of emails each day so stand out and show that you are personable. Always be respectful and check your attitude because you never know who you might be working for. In other words, Don’t burn your bridges.