The Women Running The Show: A Women’s Day Special

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The independent music industry is riddled with examples of women who have left a strong and lasting impact. From organizers to artist managers, women are also working behind the scenes, putting up great live shows, so you can catch your favorite musicians perform live. But, what is it like being a woman working in the independent music industry? What are some of the things that only women get to hear? Let’s find out all that and more from women who are making a mark for themselves in independent music.

Mehak Anand

Co-owner of Delhi based entertainment agency, Ownage Entertainment, Co-Founder SoundTank India, Music educator at Performers Collective school, Musician and Performer

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

To be very honest, I’ve been very lucky to have mostly always been surrounded by people who appreciate and respect me for my work instead of making presumptions based on my gender. But the one thing I’ve really struggled with and still do is fighting the restrictions we face as women who have to work late hours. Ever since I broke into the scene I’ve had to hear how unsafe it is for women to be out so late, performing and working at bars and clubs. It was a huge problem at first to get my family to come to terms with the career I had chosen to pursue and the late hours that came with it. Even now, always having to rely on my colleagues to give me a ride home, or making sure I was accompanied by someone at our events is frustrating. And however much I’d like to say that “hey, it’s safe and I can take care of myself”, the truth is that there have been countless times when I’ve faced uncomfortable situations and have felt unsafe. I wish there was a real solution to this problem as this is one thing most women in the scene face. Aside from that, however rare, but there have been times when people have looked at my male colleagues for the final word, and that feels insulting, to say the least. But then that’s just society. Every woman, in every industry I’m sure has at some point faced a similar situation. The only thing you need to remember is to keep doing your very best and let your work speak for itself. Times are changing, however slow, but they are.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

My only advise would be, don’t get intimidated by anyone who says you can’t do this. Yes, it’s hard to be a woman in this society, but this industry is quite accepting. Most people I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been great to me and encouraged me tremendously over the years. There will always be people or circumstances that make it difficult for you to thrive, but if you push through, you will fall in love with this industry, even with all its flaws.

Yama

Artist Manager at Big Bad Wolf, Artist Curator of Royal Enfield Ridermania, Currently managing Indian Ocean and Vir Das’ Alien Chutney, Former manager of Parvaaz

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

Goodness! there is so much! I don’t want to hear promotors tell me “is someone else available to talk about the tech specs of the show? A male member of the band or an engineer perhaps” when I specify audio requirements to them. I want vendors and their teams to stop telling me to wait for the artist to arrive to finish the stage set up. I wish bands and engineers had an open mind to taking feedback on the sound/PA mix from women.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with engineers and artists who trust me with things but it takes a long time to come to that.
Most of my male counterpart artist managers started out as drum techs, stage managers, etc, however, when I was starting out, I remember offering to be the drum tech for people who play in prominent bands and no one took me seriously. It’s only when they see you work that they realize damn, she does know what she is talking about.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

Young women becoming artist managers have an uphill battle. Be prepared to be the first at a gig and last to go home without hearing so much as a thank you. Somedays looking for validation is the worst thing you can do to yourself but when a gig goes well and you know you have played a part in making hundreds of people believe in good music, pat yourself on the back and know that you did a good job. Trust your gut. Stay hydrated. You got this.

Cynthia John

Intellectual Property Lawyer, Artist Advocate, ex Artist Manager at Third Culture, Currently working at the convergence of Law & Business Affairs in Music, Entertainment, Technology & Culture

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

Well, over-playing current trends without being critical about the execution. I think it’s a commendable step that we are trying to equalize gender presence and encourage more women to be a part of this industry bubble. I have definitely observed multiple companies make proactive attempts to have diversity. But beyond this ballyhoo, we must really spirit some quality regardless of gender. I would love to hear more about professional women in our space on a regular interaction rather than just on Women’s Day. That’s real equality! The hype of women’s presence & hire is downright patronizing now; I mean, it’s 2020 guys! Let’s really start getting with the program! Beyond this, gaslighting and egomania is still very prevalent, less of that drama and more constructive work would do well for us all.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

I still believe I have a long way to go in order to give a mind-blowing advice to folks out there. But this is for anyone & everyone starting out in any industry; Do not confine yourself to a box. You need to believe that the world is truly your oyster and with every opportunity comes far greater obstacles. You need to push yourself to be a survivor. Introspect and be aware of your surroundings. Learn to relearn and strengthen your strengths. Most importantly, breathe. We’re all a part of the everyday hustle trying to transmute our restlessness into creativity and self-expression. So take a minute and enjoy the minutiae of your life.

Onusha Dey

City Leader at Sofar Sounds, Delhi Chapter, Digital Marketer

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

I don’t want to listen it’s all about the glam for women in the indie music industry. I truly believe that if you are good at your work and have the passion to bring something new and true for your audience…they will listen to you.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

Don’t stop yourself from taking up an opportunity because it’s a man’s job or needs late night outs. If you have the passion for it…go for it and chase that dream. Be that first female drummer who kicks everyone’s ass in the scene…be that super sounding audio engineer. Don’t let your gender define your profession and passion.

Pratika Prabhune

Digital Marketing Manager at Azadi Records, Content Manager at Control ALT Delete festival, Journalism professor, Former Bass and Vocal duties at Mumbai’s metal act Chronic Phobia

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

With the time I’ve had traveling and working, I’ve come across this common problem of people thinking women shouldn’t lift/push heavy objects – from moving stage risers to carrying flight cases with instruments. I certainly think if a job is taken up willingly by any person – man or woman – that they have put themselves thereafter understanding their capabilities. I don’t think anyone should be underestimated in that sense. I’ve seen women climbing trusses to fix lights, and I’ve surely pushed around multiple-stage risers. I’ve been carrying flight cases since I was 15! So yeah, no more ‘step aside because you’re a lady’.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

Be strong and be absolutely fearless. There are many situations where people take you for a fool because of this misconception that women and tech don’t go well together, which I completely detest. If you know what you’re doing and maintain a strong work front, you are unstoppable.

Aneesha Kotwani

Founder at WAVLNGTH, Co-Founder at Humans of Music, Community Director at She Said So, Artist Manager for Tarun Balani

1. What are some of the things you don’t want to hear any more from the independent music industry in 2020?

From my past experience and learning various life lessons – I choose to focus on things that are in my control. Unfortunately, the things I hear around me aren’t in my control and 2020 is all about gaining wisdom to take action in the right direction towards the causes you want to create. The only thing I would like to deepen my self-awareness on is complaining because one always slips into that rabbit hole. Instead of wasting time by talking how unhappy you are about it, do something about it, change most positively starts with one person.

2. What advice would you give to young women who want to start working in this industry?

I don’t think this advice is barred by gender but I would say, don’t think you’re not enough. Don’t get intimidated by the fact that the music industry has more men. The power that we have as women is that we are more in tune with our emotions and in my opinion music thrives on emotions. Connect with women or men who you look up to in the music industry and reach out to them, get guidance from them, request them to mentor you – show your burning desire to create an impact. I have been working in this industry for almost 7 years now and the most important thing that I’ve learned is be that alpha but don’t lose your femininity, the beauty is the balance that you strike which reflects in your conduct. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone – we just need to strengthen our own self-belief and then watch the amazing things that unfurl.

Bitnami