I was a college DJ. I was also one of five female DJs in a radio station of about 40 active DJs. Having been the minority for the first time in my life I learned to play, think and act like one of the guys. Besides my deep love for music, the other perk to working at the radio station was how male-dominated it was. And honestly, I love being one of the guys.
The majority of the bands were completely male. When I contacted records labels, press people and magazines that catered to independent music, 9 out of 10 times, they were all male, too.When I attended events like CMJ or SXSW, I usually found myself in a sea of mostly men. Even to this day, when I still manage to score passes to these music festivals, I’m again in the minority.
Katy Maravala has worked in the both the booking and label end of the music industry. And while she does say she loves it, she has sometimes wondered “Where, exactly, do we girls fit in?”
With a lot of books about women in the music industry focusing on the groupie end of things, it sometimes seems that when it comes to the music world that women are merely entertainment or adornments. Well, here’s some news: women are far more than that. And Kathleen Hanna will be the first one to tell you that should you be thinking otherwise.
Here are Maravala’s ‘dos and dont’s’ for those of you who are already in the music business or those of you who are trying to break in the door to get there.
1. Work your ass off. Maravala says “women have to work harder than most men who attempt to establish themselves in the business. Deal with it. Go to work early, and stay at work late.” Don’t be afraid to be opinionated and vocal. Make your presence known and establish yourself as a force in the industry.
2. Know your shit. Keep up to date on music and movies. Constantly educate yourself on what’s going to be the hot next. This is an area that is key in the music world.
3. Mom taught you manners, use them. Despite the fact that the music industry is notoriously aggressive, assert yourself courteously. It’s all about establishing relationships and who you know. Good manners will help you from burning bridges.
4. Put yourself out there. If you can’t express what you want or need, no one will ever know. Always remember that asking questions is a means to getting that end you want.
5. Grow a backbone of steel. It’s not only the musicians who get rejected, but everyone down the line, too. Accept that the answer ‘no’ is sometimes the name of the game. Don’t let the judgments or opinions of others affect you. Learn to laugh at yourself and let things roll off your back.
1. Loose lips sink ships. Don’t let yourself fall into the hole of office gossip. It does more bad than good and can mess up necessary working relationships.
2. Don’t fuck the boys in the bad. Seriously. You may want to because, let’s be honest, fellas in bands are super hot simply because they are in bands. But once you do, you lose your credibility. First you’re a hotshot music executive, but after one night of passion, you’re not much more than a groupie.
3. Don’t giggle like a silly fan. You’re in the music industry, not some giggling, blushing fan trying to get into a dressing room, so act like it. No matter how big a fan you are, stay cool. If you need to have a fan-based cry session over Conor Oberst, do it behind the locked door of your bedroom.
4. Don’t get drunk. Although this is a rule for most professions, it’s probably a lot easier to end up half in the bag while watching a live show. It can lead to embarrassment, judgement by others and sloppy behavior that could put you face-to-face with your client the next morning when you wake up. Keep the drinking in your personal life.