Last year, Midem officially joined Keychange, a Europe-wide initiative started by the UK-based not-for-profit music investor PRS Foundation (PRSF), to ensure companies and organisations acknowledge women’s invaluable contribution to the business and embolden them to feel entitled to that recognition.

“When PRSF ran a targeted fund in the UK called Women Make Music, we learned from our evaluation that the male-dominated workforce and lack of female role models for the next generation was a huge barrier for the artists, composers and songwriters we supported,” PRSF CEO Vanessa Reed said, explaining what inspired Keychange.

But there is more to do to overturn decades-long prejudicial practices. “There has been an increase in the representation of women but not women of colour,” said Judith Massia, CEO of Nigeria’s, a global music-licensing agency specialising in African music.

“In the world of Latin music, sexism is still incredibly prevalent. We need more men who aren’t afraid to step up,” head of content development at US-based Hispanic media group Spanish Broadcasting System, Bianca Alarcon, said.

WP Artists and label services

Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer chief marketing officer at banking conglomerate Citi, works with high-profile acts including Beyonce, Jay-Z and U2 in its marketing campaigns. “Last year, only about 5% of CEOs at the US’ S&P 500 [stock-exchange] companies were women. This isn’t close to good enough,” she said.

Midem asked influential female captains of the industry for their views on how far women have come and how far they will go in the nex few years.

Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation (UK)

“I’m optimistic that since the explosion of #MeToo and other social-media campaigns, it’s now impossible to ignore inequality across the creative industries, including music. Keychange deliberately involves men and women working together to come up with solutions because ensuring equal rights will benefit everyone. Events like Midem demonstrate that it’s possible to achieve balanced programmes. The other priority is to encourage more women and under-represented groups to apply for senior and board positions.”

Jessica A. Sobhraj, President of Women in Music (WIM)

“Thirty years ago, the mission was to improve the number of women in the industry, whereas today the goal is not only to continue to improve the ratio, but also to find ways to emphasise inclusivity and visibility. Movements like #MeToo and #SeeHer have been groundbreaking in making these conversations a part of everyday life. Visibility is the largest contributing factor to change here. The idea that ‘if you can see it, you can achieve it’ is so powerful, companies and conferences alike are taking heed.”

Jennifer Breithaupt, Global consumer CMO at Citi (US)

“As Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope’, so I’m immensely hopeful about the future. Beyond that, research confirms that when companies embrace diversity and inclusion, not only is the quality of their employee base stronger, but the talent retention is extended. Also, women can benefit by proactively taking control of their professional identity and nurturing their individual brand.”

Sammy Andrews, CEO/founder of Deviate (UK)

“I know hundreds of amazing women smashing it across all sectors and, increasingly, they are being promoted and I genuinely believe when the last wave of old boys retire, we’ll see the next generation of leaders and many of those will be female. But there are wider issues at play, like equal maternity/paternity benefits that need implementing to remove the stigma from childbirth, and the need for more support and flexibility for women returning to work after having children and, of course, equal pay needs addressing widely.”

Molly Neumann, Global head of business development of Songtrust (US)

“I think it’s a responsibility of our industry to understand where we are today and set up goals for improvements that are realistic, attainable and measured. I hope the industry-wide organisations with access to executive leadership at companies across our business will do some of the hard work to have clarity on the gaps that exist today and help develop the future leaders of tomorrow.”

Sandra Jimenez, Head of music, LatAm, for YouTube and Google Play Music (Brazil)

Latin America is still a region with more men as decision makers in all areas of the business. For instance, the urban genre is really popular in the region, but we have only a few female names in the top music charts. I am happy when I see talented young women such as Karol G, Natti Natasha, Cardi B, Becky G, Anitta and Ludmilla positioning themselves as leaders in this movement.” 

Lara Baker, Founder of The BKRY Consultancy (UK)

“Things have improved. But women make up just over 50% of the population, so until that is reflected in business and at senior levels in business, then we all still have work to do. It takes the whole industry, men and women, to address this. Conference panels consisting entirely of men will get called out on social media.”

Bianca Alarcon, Head of content development at Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc and LaMusica App (US)

“I don’t believe there’s any other option than to be hopeful about the future. Women need to be given more opportunities in the industry. For this to happen, there needs to be a cultural shift in the attitude of many men, including Latinos, and their perception of women. All efforts to keep the conversation going will change the perception.”


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