How to Break into the Music Industry, According to the Women Who’ve Made It

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

    A career in the music industry has immediate appeal, whether you’re just starting out or considering a career change. By giving you the chance to work with your favorite artists, travel the world and express your creativity, working in music could lead you to the job of your dreams.

    But, if you’re a woman considering a career in music, you’re probably aware of the industry’s massive gender inequality problem. 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 a 2019 study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. In 2019, Rolling Stone magazine also pointed out that out of 13 major record label groups in the United States, only one was led by a woman (Sylvia Rhone at Sony’s Epic Records).

    But don’t let that put you off, because women are rising up in the industry and striving to blaze a trail for others to follow. We spoke to three of these incredible 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 hear their advice on how to succeed in music.

    Amy Morgan, Artist Manager

    Amy Morgan fronts UK indie rock band Glass Animals, whose recent success Heat Waves led them to become the first UK band to hit number one on the global Spotify charts.

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

    1) Develop a wide range of skills

    The management of artists is quite amazing because it is so broad. You can use your creative brain, but you also need to be very detail-oriented and not afraid of the business side of things. Problem solving, people management and organizational skills are important. Knowing how to negotiate and calmly manage a crisis is also invaluable. I don’t think there’s any formal training you need to do the job – anything that gives you those life skills and confidence would be helpful.

    2) I love music — and people

    Above all, you have to love the music. Ultimately, the music industry is a young industry, so the experience and knowledge you have as a youngster is gold dust. You will probably have a more instinctive understanding of new platforms and new artists. This knowledge is powerful. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions and ideas, or turn them into your own projects, whether it’s running your own label, finding a young artist you want to manage yourself, or organize your own parties or shows.

    I think you also have to love people. 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 ready to listen and learn.

    3) Nurture self-confidence

    It’s a cliché but passion and heart are everything. Believe in your artists, believe in yourself and follow your instincts.

    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 leadership positions across the industry, and particularly in management and A&R. I am lucky to have strong friends and colleagues to support and inspire me. It is also important to work in companies where you feel seen/heard and respected.

    5) Be determined, be kind, keep learning

    It really is an industry where you get what you put in. Hard work and determination are everything, but life isn’t fair – sometimes you can work all hours and projects still don’t connect, or ideas still fall apart. Its good. It’s living and learning, but it’s hard to digest.

    Try to be kind to yourself during these times. Personally, I think it’s important to be nice to others too. Everyone is pushing each other, making themselves vulnerable and trying to achieve their dreams. I think it’s important to treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

    Sheniece Charway, Artist Relations Manager at YouTube Music

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

    1) Look for workshops

    Attending workshops and discussions with leaders is really essential to help you deepen your knowledge of the industry. It will also help you understand what part of the industry you would like to work in. Never be afraid to ask questions: no question is silly! In my internship, I constantly asked questions and when in doubt, I asked for help. It doesn’t weaken you or make anyone think you don’t know what you’re doing. It shows your passion to learn and improve your skills.

    2) Be bold, be brave and be yourself

    Sometimes, especially as women, we don’t want to be heard too much in case something goes wrong. 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’re heard and don’t back down. Don’t change for anyone. If you do this, you will never be happy and your passion for music or work may disappear. I say it all the time, but defend yourself. Nobody else can defend you like 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 think that held me back at all. The fact that you are a woman should not be the determining factor in 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, leads the marketing department at Warner Records, which involves leading the marketing strategy and implementation for all artists signed to the label. She also personally manages the campaigns for Dua Lipa and Griff.

    Read on for Lottie’s advice on breaking into music, from setting up a side project to meeting the right people.

    1) Demonstrate your passion

    It is no longer enough to love music, you have to prove your passion to stand out. The advice I always give people is to start something yourself, don’t wait for opportunities to come your way. Whether it’s starting a club night (like I did) or a blog, do anything that demonstrates your drive.

    2) Keep your finger on the pulse

    Be sure to follow the relevant people on social media, sign up for the right mailing lists, and stay up to date with what’s happening in the music scene. Make TikTok your best friend.

    3) Get out IRL

    I also think it’s important to get involved in things by going to concerts and contacting people you think are interesting. 9/10 people will be ready to talk to you. Do not abandon.

    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 take you out of your comfort zone.

    Alice P. Darby