Bay Area Women in Music Connect As ‘Girl Power’ Comes to San Francisco
LeRena Major reports on ‘Girl Power: Women Working in the Music Industry’ at the Downtown Campus of San Francisco State last Saturday 13th. The seminar is to educate, inspire and connect women working in the music industry.
The event brought together an accomplished panel of women in the music industry discussing not just the current state of the music business and its history but also specific issues to women working in the music industry, from career advancement to sexism.
Here are some highlights from this event and thoughts that were shared during the panel and subsequent Q & A:
Heather Beverly, entertainment attorney, whose clients include Mathew Knowles and the estate of the late gospel singer Thomas A. Dorsey: Learn something new about the business every day. Think about what your strengths are and search for a role in the business that suits you. Don’t be afraid to “be broke” for a few more years if it means taking a position with someone who will teach you how to best fill your role in the business – that experience is invaluable. Also watch out for the “traps” – when a business person is too cozy and it feels inappropriate- just stay professional and decline.
Natasha Miller, CEO of Entire Productions, accomplished vocalist and owner of jazz label Poignant Records: Do an internship if you can (especially if you are young and inexperienced and can afford to financially.) Study entrepreneurship whether you plan to be an entrepreneur or not – otherwise, you are missing a piece of the pie. Be confident in what you do. “Wipe out” your competition by being more committed and dedicated. When negotiating, stand up for yourself. There is nothing wrong with saying “this is my rate for this gig” if what you are sticking to is appropriate and worth it. Read the latest edition of the book “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” by Donald Passman to become more knowledgeable.
Suzanne Koga, musician, manager of Roberta Flack and co-founder of FanAxcess.com: In today’s industry, be far more creative now and look outside the box for revenue streams. If there is someone with whom you want to work, don’t give up – (it literally took her many years to be introduced to Roberta Flack and through very creative means- a story the audience loved- which led to ultimately becoming her manager). Work harder and have a thick skin to differentiate yourself as a woman in this business – outsiders may under-estimate you. Don’t take it personally. Don’t ever sacrifice your integrity. All in all, knowing what you don’t know is key. Find someone who knows more than you do, and learn from them.
Stephanie Sales, entertainment attorney , previously at IODA and Electronic Frontier Foundation and currently a copyright associate at YouTube: Be a fan of music first, and do what you love, but realize that it’s a LOT of work. Art makes the world a better place. You don’t learn how to be a lawyer in law school – it’s the expertise of the people around you that is incredibly beneficial. Network, network, network – don’t be afraid of being a student since people are willing to help you. Women are starting to really be seen as equals in this business. Find opportunities in the challenges that are before you – carve out your goal, decide that you want it, and go for it!
Shoshanna Zisk, record label veteran, former manager of George Clinton, and co-producer of San Francisco Music Tech Summit: The business is more competitive than you may realize, but there is room for everyone who wants to be there. It is hard to divide my time between my family and my career, but I help people connect and make the dreams of others come true. What you think you will do will be different from what you actually do. You never know who will need the skills you have in building your career. Work harder to chip away at the layers of the glass ceiling for females. Without a challenge, there is nothing to overcome. Eliminate clutter in your life – simplify. If you get a grip and lose it, you will get it back! There is room for all women who want to work in this business. There is an infinite amount of art and music to be created. There’s something for everybody.
“Inspiring! I am so excited right now! Ready to make things happen in my career. The Girl Power-vibe of the seminar was so uplifting!” said one attendee.
The event was co-produced and moderated by Kerry Fiero, Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University’s Music/Recording Industry Program. With her husband, Gian Fiero –their company Fiero Flair presented and produced the seminar with BAPC (Bay Area Producers Conference). The event will now be held annually, with its second iteration occurring in Fall 2014 as an all-day event.