Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Female's Survival Guide to the Music Industry

If I've said it before, I'll say it again: The music industry is still a boys club. While women have made more leeway into this business, it can still be a struggle. I consider myself lucky to have had few but strong female influences in my life. There was my who aunt managed big name rock bands in the Philippines and her then girlfriend, a well known rock radio personality. I'm a former intern of Ariel Publicity, an independent music cyber PR firm, and worked closely with publicist and social media queen Ariel Hyatt. Which now brings me to Girls Rock Girls Rule, a team of fierce females who are dedicated to making the music world more rocker chick friendly. From my early teens to my early 20s, I share with you the advice I received and the wisdom I learned to help me make it as a female in the music industry.

1. The best parts of your body? Your head, your mouth, and your backbone.
These are the three most powerful things that a female should use to be respected in this industry. Sometimes women aren't taken seriously cause they're "too feminine", "too delicate" or "too sexy". For any woman who wants to lead in the business, you got to think smart, speak your mind and stand tall. You don't want to be walked over and the last thing you want to do be chosen off the casting couch. Remember, a pretty face is nothing without a smart mind inside it.

2. Open your horizons. You never know when opportunity will come knocking.
I never knew exactly what I wanted to do in the music industry, I just knew I wanted a place in it. I went to college to mainly focus on Journalism. Little did I know that I'd end up doing plenty of things that opened up opportunities in the music industry. Along with writing about music and entertainment, I produced rock shows, helped manage bands, did publicity, booked shows, hosted shows and did radio promo. Phew! I did a lot and currently I know that my many talents can take me down many paths of the business. Also, don't let misconceptions hold you back. I was told once that men make better managers and booking agents because they were more dominant and aggressive. I worked at a booking agency where the staff was predominantly male and I was just as tough as them.

3. Be careful mixing your business and personal life.
This is one of the toughest things I learned and believe me I learned the hard way. I've had musicians try to buddy up to me because I had connections and I've had "friends" try to have fun on my expense because I hung out with rockstars. You will come across people like this someday. And whatever you do, don't fall for musicians or anyone who tries to romance you purposely to get ahead in their career. Surround yourself with people who have your best interest and that are completely genuine, whether it's your business partners or your clique. Don't ever let anyone take advantage of the fruit of YOUR labors.

4. Be prepared for the worst.
I remember I worked for a band that I loved dearly. One day, that band broke up. When I received the news, I felt like I broke up with five guys all in one day. Things like this happen. Bands break up. Bands may break up with you and hire someone else. Another person might be offered a job you really had your heart set on. Don't be so down about it. If there's one thing I have mastered by working in this business, it's resiliency. Get back up and put your heart into something else. Your career is over when YOU say it's over.

5.Be true to yourself.
The music business is quite glamorous. Parties. Beautiful and fascinating people. Sex,drugs and rock'n'roll. Having a social life in this atmosphere is fun and exciting. The best advice I can give is don't get caught up in it. If you really have a passion for this business and really want to succeed, you know that that stuff isn't important. It takes hard work and effort. If all you wanna do is party and have fun, go call up Paris Hilton and have her show you how to be come a celebutante.

I hope that this has been helpful for those aspiring rocktistas out there and that this paves the road for more females to be successful in the music business. What are some of the best advice and lessons you've learned and would like to share? COMMENT!

-Ang xoxo


Natalie said...

hey! im 16 this year and im quite keen on working in the music industry in the future especially in terms of organising the events and marketing. but idk where to start! ive heard that a good way to begin is through internships. im from singapore and there arent many internships in the music industry here. ive always planned to go to college for a degree in management and business but is it a waste of time to go to college first? i really dont know what steps to take! any advice?

GRGR Road Manager said...

Hey Natalie,
Don't fret. I always worried the same thing, "How am I going to get there?" and was afraid I'd never get my shot.

No one ever really has a set plan of how to succeed in this business, it just really comes together naturally. My advice, keep your eyes open for opportunities. If there's a concert or music venue near you, see if they need any extra hands at shows or if any bands need help when they have gigs.

My start came when a music venue opened up in my town. I started interviewing local bands who came to play just for the hell of it. With that I started a blog on myspace with a friend and we met a lot of bands. Some of them we really developed good relationships with and whenever they needed help, whether it was selling merch or doing a CD review, I always was willing to to lend a hand. Later down the line, these bands played at shows I put together and I even managed and did publicity for them as well.

And by spending a lot of time in that venue, I learned a lot about how to put on a show. I learned about sound check, ticket sales, set up, basically what to do and what not to do. This came handy when I put on my college's first rock show.

College provides many opportunities, in and outside the class room. With the classes I took in Journalism and Publicity, I was able to apply this in my professional life. My professors provided me with tons of advice and they had connections with what I wanted to pursue. I was also involved in campus life. I worked on the school's event planning committee booking musical acts and was even sent to conventions to learn better skills about concert planning. That's another way to really set foot in what you wanna do.

This all started when I was only 19, just after my freshman year. I landed my first internship after my second year and all because of the experience I gained on my own. I'm now only 21, I've had four internships, organized three shows, worked with major bands and I've interviews celebrities like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. If you told me I'd do all this before graduating college when I was 16, I would've said you were crazy. Lol. But I made it happen!

The best advice I can give you is that you really need to be a self-starter. If opportunity isn't knocking at your door just yet, go find it. It might be small at first but that just only opens up bigger things to come. And don't cross of college just yet, like you I wasn't sure about it either. But not only did it provide me with an education, I really became the person I am in college. I really grew up during those four years and discovered my ambition and confidence. The things you really need to get by in the music industry.

Trust me, if you really love this industry and you are passionate about it, you will find your way in this business. Sorry if this was really long, but I would've loved it if a young female in this biz gave me advice at 16 too. lol. So I hope this had helped you some how and I wish you the best of luck! Keep on rocking!

-Ang xoxo