Holding Up The Ladder
I’ve been thinking a lot about how Black culture shapes mainstream culture so sometimes it can feel like we’re everywhere - but actually when it comes to positions of leadership and ownership - female bandleaders, women producers, label or studio owners, songwriters, women of colour who are composers or arrangers, who aren’t the pretty face in a band, or some kind of object of desire but behind the mixing desk - we really are few in number.
It is changing - in its 2020 music diversity report, industry-funded body UK Music shared some key findings:
The proportion of women in the industry is up from 45.3% in 2016 to 49.6% in 2020. Black Asian and other ethnic minorities in senior executive levels is up from 17.8% in 2018 to 19.9% in 2020. But that means only 1 in 5 people of colour are in senior exec positions. The number of older women in the industry between the ages of 45-64 drops from 38.7% in 2018 to 35% in 2020 we will still have a long way to go (although this is only UK data, I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the world, especially the States) but things are slowly improving.
Personally or fortunately for me I have, for the most part, been around men who love and respect women, who don’t condescend, who don’t have a problem being lead by a woman, who take instruction, who are safe people to be around and who also advocate for you - my guest today writer, composer, producer, publisher, A&R manager Felix Howard is one of those people.
We talk about being in the music industry and for Felix, it’s vey much a family business, his siblings, his father and grandfather all having careers in the industry, as he calls it ‘a severe lack of imagination’. We talk about the role of an A&R manager, about changes in the music business, about different creative approaches when working with artists, artists like Amy Winehouse. We talk about the importance of diversity and representation across the board, about allyship and tokenism.
We talk about music so much that instead of having one or 2 songs on his playlist as I normally do with my guests, I created a special playlist, I’ve called it Felix Holds up the Ladder.
Guest: Felix Howard
Title: It’s all music and I love it all
Playlist: Felix Holds up the Ladder
Some unsigned/new acts Felix recommends:
Genevieve Dawson - Carry it slowly
UK Music Diversity Report 2020
Madonna - Open Your Heart
Mantronix - Got to have your love
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