5 Black Women in Music Share Secrets to Success

Beyoncé said it best: “Who run the world…Girls.” Her seismic shift of the music game not only inspired the title of Revolt Music Conference’s all female panel, it brought to light the power of women in a male-dominated industry. (Val Boreland, EVP programming & production at Revolt TV, opened the discussion with a staggering statistic: 15 percent of labels have significant or majority ownership by women and only one-third of senior leadership roles in music companies are held by women.) Over the two-day conference, we asked female artists and panelists what’s the future of music, and where do women fit in and succeed. Here’s what they had to say and more:

Cori Murray Oct, 19, 2014

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On lessons learned: “From A-to-Z, learn your business. It can feel scary, but just stand up and take charge of your life and your career. Take your own calls. Even when you have a manager, be CC’d on the emails. People need to know you’re present and that you’re not only some creative. Also don’t demand, require. I don’t demand for anybody to do anything for me. When people say, hey can you do this song for free? I say no but I’d love to do the song but I will require a fee when I get there.”

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On being a part music’s next wave: “I feel like it’s a good time for writers and for people who really feel they are truly creatives because I feel now it’s like anything goes. It’s all about being true to yourself. There are a lot of people pretending to be a part of the wave. But you can see the differences between the people because it’s become a fad in itself [to say] 'Oh I’m a real artist' but just do you. I’m excited to be part of this day and age and excited to see where it goes from here.”

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On how women can stand out in business: “Don’t allow themselves them be regulated to what the business dictates or what the man dictates. I sometimes think our ceilings are self-inflicted. We subscribe to that sh**, we start to internalize and believe it and it becomes so. I never sat in the room and felt intimidated by the men there because I’ve always had a clear sense what I had to offer. Any situation I’ve been involved with, anything I have to offer, is uniquely mine. It’s not because I’m a woman but it’s because of my mind and how my mind works and what my thought process is. That’s not gender based. There are a lot of things about being a woman that work for us but we have to learn how to use that as our advantage as opposed to allowing that to be our disadvantaged.

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On where women are in the music business: “Women have a healthy representation in the business, more than what people report. All the companies I’ve chaired over the years, I’ve had a healthy disproportionate of female executives in jobs that are not normally for women, or not normally for Black women in particular. There are a lot of opportunities. With the consolidation of all of the record companies, it limits some of the options of available jobs, but there are so many companies that are integrated and connected to our business. That’s where there is great opportunity. Whether it’s a tech company or an ad agency or a brand, there’s still a huge appetite for music from their business to sell their product.”

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On the future of music: “Revolt is really true to it’s name revolutionary…. We’re helping to start a new revolution, a new phase in music, where millennials enjoy music in a way that I did when I was growing up. It’s gong to be visual, it’s boing to be curated. It’s not going to be what’s the most popular on YouTube. We’re going to expose them to artists they wouldn’t have known before, to music videos they wouldn’t have seen before. It’s going to open the door to a lot of other people to really be embraced and celebrated."