Music business

Top female songwriter and executives talk about ‘dangerous situations’ in the music business

There’s no doubt: as difficult as the music industry can be for men, it’s twice as difficult for women.

It was one of many takeaways from a panel discussion involving Grammy-winning songwriter Autumn Rowe (“We Are” by Jon Batiste, Dua Lipa, Ava Max) and top music publishers. Jody Gerson (President/CEO of Universal Music Publishing), Golnar Khosrowshahi (Founder/President of Reservoir) and Carianne Marshall (Co-President/COO of Warner Chappell Music) in a panel discussion at the National Music Publishers Annual Meeting Fellowship Wednesday.

Although the four have all had different paths to the roles they occupy today, they have all faced similar challenges and obstacles, namely sexism, lack of allies, achieving a work-life balance and, above all, dangerous situations.

Rowe (pictured above, second from left), who said she worked as a songwriter for 12 years before landing a large paycheck – an unfortunately common situation – also said she met several “dangerous” writing sessions. When moderator Danielle Aguirre, NMPA executive vice president and general counsel, asked if she would feel safer with even one more woman in the room, Rowe replied that she would. would do. (Rowe and others spoke with Variety on the many unfair challenges songwriters have faced in the past year.)

The challenges detailed by all four were sadly familiar: Khosrowshahi (above, second from right) spoke of the “challenge of balancing it all to the level at which you want to excel”. Gerson – who backed up that view, saying “It’s different for mothers than it is for fathers, there’s no doubt” – cited a lack of mentorship or even help from other women, and said talked about approaching a publishing executive early in his career and asking for help — and being turned down. “‘I’m coping, I can’t help you,'” she recalled.

Gerson (pictured above, third from left) said it led her to co-found She Is the Music – an organization whose stated goal is “equality, inclusion and opportunity for people women in music” – with the aim “to help women, even if there is only one. Earlier in the afternoon, NMPA President and CEO David Israelite also announced a program in partnership with She Is the Music called She Is the Songwriter, which the NMPA is funding with $100,000, that will help young women to write songs to find mentorship, networking and development opportunities. other women, as well as women-only writing camps.

“We need access,” said Marshall (pictured far right). “People expect me to fit a certain mold and be a businessman in a certain way.”

Rowe, speaking of female producers who co-wrote and co-produced songs and even put together the sessions and didn’t receive proper credit or compensation and were “too scared to fight for it in case they weren’t invited back,” summed up the situation: “We have to take a stand,” she said. “We can’t be afraid and we have to fix things. We cannot create music out of fear.