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Moving The Needle aims to support women to rise up to senior roles in the music industry

By | Published on Wednesday 24 February 2021

Moving The Needle

To coincide with International Women’s Day next month, a group of women in the music industry are launching a new educational support group called Move The Needle. The aim of the project is to help more women who come into the industry in entry-level roles to rise up to executive level.

UK Music’s Diversity Report, published last October, found that women hold 65% of entry-level roles in the music industry, but only a third of senior management roles. Moving The Needle will offer education and mentoring in an attempt to address this.

As part of that mission, MTN will also offer education on the range of roles on offer in the music industry, in an effort to improve gender diversity in those sectors where the balance skews even more male.

“In the late 1980s, someone told me that to join this industry, I’d have to start as a secretary”, says Karen Emanuel, an MTN co-founder and CEO of the Key Production Group that specialises in the manufacture of physical music releases.

“Well, I never learned to type, and I’ve done pretty well without that skill by knowing my numbers. But I’m still not seeing enough women come in and rise to the top in the ‘nuts and bolts’ side of this business. It drives me crazy”.

There will also be efforts to improve age and racial diversity among women in senior roles. Research shows that only 35% of women in the industry are aged over 45 – a figure that has fallen since 2018. Meanwhile, just 2% of senior management roles are held by black women.

“Women may leave because they don’t get good enough support after returning from maternity leave”, says Emanuel. “Or because having children means they are unable to network as much as their male counterparts, or because – certainly pre-COVID – they aren’t given the flexibility they need”.

“Or maybe they just assume they’ll never get to the top, because they hardly see any women there. When I started Key Production, people would arrive in my office and ask me if they could see the boss. I was the boss!”

One of the other founders of MTN, Jen Otter Bickerdike, who was the youngest ever director of marketing at Interscope, and who now lectures at BIMM, says: “I’ve never, ever had a mentor in the industry. There’s a real lack of support for women. When I left the label, no women were above me, which indicated there was no pathway. We hope to make a difference now as part of Moving The Needle”.

Meanwhile, Vick Bain, who sits on the project’s advisory board, adds: “There is not one black, female CEO or Chair of a UK music trade body. Everyone in the industry should be helping in our mission. We want to feel proud that our dynamic industry is fair and diverse, and we’re prepared to make some noise to make this happen. We need people and organisations to join in our mission. The time is now!”

Moving The Needle will formally launch on International Women’s Day on 8 Mar. Find out more and sign up for more information here.