Six female executives from across the music industry gathered on Wednesday evening to give advice to other women in music and close out Billboard’s Live Music Summit in Beverly Hills, California.
Moderated by Live Nation Urban vp Heather Lowery, the "Femme It Forward Presents: Surviving, Thriving and Flipping the Script in a Male Dominated Industry" panel tackled whether or not attitudes towards women have changed in the music industry over the years.
“Overall there’s an atmosphere of #MeToo," said Another Planet Entertainment’s Danielle Madeira. "There are certain reckonings that are happening right now, but as far as a change in the actual music industry, hell no. I have not seen a change.”
“What I have seen are companies’ PR reaction,” Madeira continued. “What I see and still see sadly after 18 years in the business is that men see men as adversaries and equals. I’ll be in the same conversation and be looked over.”
Madeira added that she is the mother of two young boys and she sees them as the future because she believes they are being raised to see women as their equal.
Commenting on the panel of women, Madeira added: “This is what I needed when I was younger. To see strong women supporting women to mentor and to know that that was possible, because we didn’t have a script. We just did it.”
Echoing the need for more female mentor/mentee relationships, Emagen Entertainment Group’s Ebonie Ward said she is the generation that needs to start fostering those relationships.
“We are the new generation. One thing we could do better at is real mentorship,” said Ward. “Right now is the year of the woman. With the #MeToo movement, everyone wants a woman in the room, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want everyone to speak. It doesn’t mean that the other women that are in that room are there to support her.”
Ward explained that because many women have had to fight for so long to achieve success, they can feel as though they are putting their achievements in jeopardy by advocating for more women to be at the table.
“It becomes a difficult situation,” but we have to remember that there are multiple seats at the table, Ward said. “We can also find other young women who are looking up to us as examples and set the standard and be the example and put them on the right path.”
Live Nation Productions' Bianca C. Quesada expressed that the change that is needed to help women succeed is a systemic problem impacting employees of all genders.
“I see both men and women have come from an ecosystem that is abusive and then they put that into practice when it's their time to ascend to power in both film and TV and in the music business,” said Quesada. “For men, it manifests in anger and it manifests in frustration. The ability to have a conversation with your team when appropriate and then internally examine why these are symptoms that you’re still expressing and exuding I think is part of it. Being able to really examine yourself so that we can get rid of that ecosystem and realize that it no longer serves a purpose.”
When asked how men could be allies to women in the workplace, panelists agreed that the best way was support.
“Give us a chance,” Epic Records’ Ericka Coulter said. “When we are speaking up, listen. Don’t think we’re saying it because we know everything or that we’re trying to upstage. We are all doing this because we want to win as a team. Let’s go at this as a team and support each other.”
“Everybody needs to let their ego go,” said Madeira, who added that in the home husbands need to give their wives time away from the children to handle shows and other business. “In order for us to rise, everyone needs to let [go] a lot of conditioning that we’ve had for a long time of the placement of the woman and where she is supposed to be. That all needs to go away.”
The panel also touched on how women’s efforts in the executive space are having an impact on female artists.
When building a lineup roster, Patriot Management’s Alex DePersia, who has worked on Pharrell’s Something in the Water festival, said, “What we do when we approach it, we’re like, ‘Let’s highlight all the women on the wish list.’ Then when you look at it you see the major disparity between the men that are there and the women.”
DePersia referenced Lowery and Live Nation Urban’s Femme It Forward concert series, which boasts entirely female lineups, as a triumphant step in creating more space in the live world for women.
“It's necessary to make sure that these women, especially as artists, are being heard and have a platform to do their craft and be seen,” said DePersia. “They are usually coming behind this long list that involves mostly men, unfortunately. I think what you’re [Lowery] doing is crazy. We should all use that as a metric for growth and progress and moving forward. It makes me look at what I do differently, approaching artists for management and just wanting to work more with younger artists who are women.”