The Music Industry Club held a panel back in March entitled “Women in the Music Industry.” The discussion panel featured TT Torrez, Violet Foulk, and Stefanie May; all women who pursued careers in the music industry in various respects. Moderated by the Music Industry Club President, Brianna Cupples, the panel focused on the experience of women in the music industry and the social and ethical issues that they face. The informative event also provided a platform for students to interact directly with those working in the industry, gaining insightful advice.
The discussion began with an examination of both the best and worst aspects of working in the music industry as a woman. TT Torrez, Assistant Program Director and Music Director at Hot 97 radio station, said she feels she contributes a sense of calmness and organization to the work environment. However, she revealed it was difficult gaining respect from her peers and networking in the beginning of her career.
Stephanie May, who has been the Marketing Director at Capital Theater for three years, agreed it can be difficult to be taken seriously as a woman but this aspect does improve with age and experience. May explained that she values the relationships built with other women in the industry.
Violet Foulk, Public Relations Director at Go Lightly Media and Manhattanville Alum ‘16, enjoys working in her office made up of female staff. Although, in her opinion, Foulk explained how difficult it can be to take on leadership roles dominated by men in the workplace.
When asked about inequality in the workplace, all panelists agreed that the music industry is sexist, but that it is important to learn when to stick up for yourself as well as when is a good time to roll with the punches. May mentioned that women tend to put forth the most effort, from her perspective. As far as improving gender equality in the music industry, the panelists highlighted the importance of supporting other women in any industry.
The discussion also provoked the idea that there is no lack of women in the music industry, but that women are less likely to be acknowledged for their time and work and are typically working behind the scenes. Foulk also mentioned that most publicists in the field are women and most people in positions of higher leadership are men; however, there are not fewer women working in the industry overall. This is a dynamic that applies to many industries beyond music.
The objectification of women in music itself was brought up. Perhaps this might have an effect on women working within the music industry. Torrez explained she does not take this personally and feels it is important to respect the artistic choices of musicians. As far as specific advice goes, Torrez expressed that you have to learn to work with difficult people. This will help you to reach your goals and the progress you make will create a path for other women as well.
May suggested finding a female mentor and encouraging other women coworkers because as she explained, “If someone does something good in the office, it’s good for all of us.”
Torrez cautioned not to mistake the focus of female colleagues for competitiveness and that good relationships take time to build. Foulk also added that women are not really that competitive; they are just perceived that way.
The event was finalized with several questions from Manhattanville students. One student asked if the experience of women in the music industry is similar to that of other minorities trying to become successful. Panelists agreed that because the music industry is part of the arts, it tends to be open minded and diverse. Students left the panel discussion event with a better understanding of the music industry and its view of women.