As we gear up to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to put the spotlight on some of the exciting initiatives actively working on changing the narrative and supporting women in music. In a post #MeToo era, initiatives led by women and men looking to shake things up and built a more inclusive and diverse music business are changing the narrative and the mind-sets, allowing for more and more female executives reaching higher levels of responsibility, artists and producers getting the traction they rightly deserve.
In this series of interviews, we’ve asked the ladies behind Women in Music, Keychange, Shesaid.so and Felin/MEWEM how the place and role of the women in the music industry – be it artists or executives – has changed in the past years and how they expect it to evolve. FELIN ‘s Celine Lepage and MEWEM ‘s Loren Synnaeve share their vision of women’s role in the music industry.
Céline LEPAGE is General Delegate of FELIN, a national federation that accompanies independent producers of recorded music and promotes their essential role for musical diversity. It represents 500 independent labels and recently joined the physical and digital distributors. Céline is also administrator of the label Born Bad Records and has worked with the labels Tricatel and Cracki Records as well.
Loren Synnaeve has navigated her way through Kitsuné, Le Noeud Pap, Art Is A Live, Glazart / LaPlage before embarking on entrepreneurship with Baguette Publishing in 2016. She also co-founded Comme Nous Brûlons, a feminist festival, alongside 15 other women. In January 2020, she succeeded after Charlotte Decroix and became MEWEM project manager, the first mentorship program for women in the music industry and of which she was a mentee in 2019.
FELIN encourages women in the music industry to undertake through a mentoring program: MEWEM (Mentoring Program for Women Entrepreneurs in Music Industry). The problem of professional inequality between women and men in the cultural and creative industries is an old one, and it persists: in fact, women represent barely 14% of business creators. That is why FELIN continues its mission among women in the music industry by offering them a program based on mentoring, group meetings, networking sessions and more!
How was MEWEM/FELIN born and what is its objective?
MEWEM – Mentoring program for women in music industry was born from an encounter between FELIN (French National Federation for Independent Label) and the German VUT. The program was already in place in Germany, showing great results, so FELIN decided to launch a similar one in France, with the help of the VUT which gave us all the best practices and valuable advices.
MEWEM encourages women entrepreneurship in music through a mentoring program. Mentoring is a powerful tool to develop and sustain your business. It connects you with an experienced entrepreneur or manager for a defined period of time. Your mentor helps you progress as a business leader by listening and sharing experience. It offers a confidential and stimulating space to be listened to and encouraged, as well as transmission of know-how and interpersonal skills and strong role models.
On top of that, MEWEM organises monthly group meetings focusing on themes chosen accordingly to the needs of our mentee: learning how to negotiate, developing their legal expertise, building a business plan, etc. Last but not least, and because accessing networks is one of the main obstacle for women in business, MEWEM launches in 2020 informal networking times with other programs focused on entrepreneurship, especially female! For the same reason, we are developing partnership with not-to-be-missed professional festivals.
How has the place and role of the women in the music industry – be it artists or executives –changed in the past years? How do you expect it to evolve?
In France, 14% of companies in the music industry are created by women (1), women produce with 40% less subsidies than men (2), with MEWEM we want to reverse the trend!
Since the huge #MeToo movement, there has been a wake up call in all the cultural industries, music included. People are starting to realize that there is a bias toward women, that they are under-represented and considered, change is coming. Whether it is parity or female-only collective organizing festivals, events and conferences, journalists shining a light on female artists, or women from the industry who are gathering threw new networks. In France, from 2 years, many panels and work groups have been set, mainly during professional events. It shows that women are, in fact, everywhere, doing an amazing job. MEWEM is part of this revolution, giving young entrepreneurs the tools they need so they can be successful and shape tomorrow’s world.
(1) source : IRMA / FELIN – 2018
(2) Observatory of the french ministry of culture – 2018
What are the main challenges faced by the women in our industry and how could they be resolved?
Access to networks, access to funding, self-censorship, and female models of success… challenges are plentiful but I believe that the key to resolve them is getting together. To talk about our experiences and see that we are not alone, but also to find solutions that benefit all women. Men are more and more taking part in the change by supporting us and speaking up, too!
Can you share a specific success story of an executive/artist/company that you have been particularity excited/inspired by?
Nothing can seem to stop Clothilde Chalot! Co-founder and CEO of NoMadMusic, a classical record label, and NomadPlay a software that enables you to erase in order to play-over an instrument from famous orchestras, she is also Treasurer of FELIN and Vice-President of ESML. Needless to say we were very proud when she accepted to be mentore for MEWEM in 2019 and now in 2020, on top of all of that!
Relentless and experienced in the music sector, she is often asked to speak at conferences and round-table discussions. Combining a music tech expertise and roots in classical music world, she has a 360° vision, which made her gain entry to the Keychange program.
What do you expect from your partnership with Midem?
To follow up on our objective to shine a light on the mentees and their project, MEWEM is doing its best to introduce them to the professional world, and what a better place than MIDEM? Meeting people, talking at panels, enjoying informal times are the best way to forge your network, and that is what we are trying to do!
For the past 5 years, Midem has been working closely with Women in Music, Keychange, Shesaid.so and Felin/MEWEM, and many more associations across the world, to have the voices of the women of the music business heard – from its leading executives, to the new generation of professionals, as well as the artists, creators and technicians – through its conference programme, competitions, networking session and creative opportunities.