This past weekend, on a cold and rainy day, students gathered in 22 Fenway for an all day event on diversity in the music industry. Greeted upon entry with a table full of information about the coming panelists, speakers, and performers, it was already more than I’d expected it to be. I took a seat, and waited for the event to begin, and while looking through the program, became surprised that there weren’t more students in attendance for what looked like would be a day jam packed with very useful information and some powerful, experienced people in the industry. While the event started to fill out towards the end, I found every element of this event to be very impactful.
The first panel featured women in music, and all happened to be entrepreneurs: Elizabeth Chan, CEO of her own record label that specializes in Christmas music, Militia Fox, one of the founders of the AfroPunk movement and frontwoman for Judas Priestess, Becky Yee, a Principal at Around Digital Media and photographer to the stars, and Anastasia Wright, Founder and Principal Owner of IMG Agency. These ladies gave such incredible advice, Becky telling us to maintain a great attitude during any opportunity whether we feel we’re overqualified or not, as small opportunities lead to bigger ones. Elizabeth talked about being your authentic self, and how staying true to that will allow for longevity. Anastasia talked a lot about how the music industry is about building relationships, and that people talk to each other, so it’s important to make sure we stay on good terms as much as possible. Finally, Militia Fox, one of the most outspoken panelists, talked about persevering and not allowing your image to be distorted by who the industry thinks you should be. Ultimately, every story was so inspiring and encouraging, and the ladies even stayed afterward to answer any questions.
The highlight of the event, and when the room ended up filled to capacity, was when the legendary Michael Bivins (of New Edition and Bel Biv Devoe), entered the room for a panel with industry executive Tatia Adams Fox and surprise guest Bryshere Gray (Hakeem Lyon on hit TV show Empire). Cierra Johnson did a phenomenal job facilitating the panel, on which Mike and Tatia shared their wealth of experience. Tatia focused on the business aspects and drove home the importance of perfecting our craft and being an expert in our field. Mike, business savvy in his own right, talked about the importance of mentorship and being a lifelong learner. Bryshere, better known as “Yaz,” was fairly quiet during the panel, just reiterating that one should, “keep good people around you.” I certainly hope that Mike makes more appearances at Berklee, being a Boston native, and someone who has maintained relevance in the music industry for 30+ years.
Overall, I would say that the Diversity in the Music Industry event was a success, and I hope to see more events from this group in the future. You can keep up with them on Facebook.