Female Musicians: How to Navigate Your Career, Ditch Pervy Men and Outfox the Industry
by Cari Cole
We all know the director’s couch syndrome. The term casting couch originated in the motion picture industry, with specific reference to couches in offices that could be used for sexual activity between casting directors or film producers and aspiring actors.
The recent Weinstein scandal brought it front and center. The response of woman (and men) speaking up is resounding. There ARE consequences. Don’t for a minute think the music business is far behind.
Skeletons are coming out of the closet. What was once hidden away in shame is out in the daylight. Stories abound. Brave angels stepping forward: Kesha, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos’s recent article that blew us away. Just imagine all the stories we haven’t heard.
When I was a young aspiring artist, being a female in the industry was a constant onslaught of problems. Young, wide-eyed and green, I was perfect prey. It was so frustrating!! I was serious about my career, but men in the industry would lure me in but only want to sleep with me. And back in the day, there was no indie revolution. You couldn’t make a record without the industry.
Fast forward to now, at least we have the opportunity to get our music out there on our own efforts. But the misogyny and abuse of power in the music business is very much alive, toxically paramount and ever present for artists trying to rise.
A well known top record exec came into my studio one day – a guy who had made many stars, but I couldn’t stand to be in his presence because his energy was so manipulative and dark (empath here ;). He was the kind of guy who dated 19 year olds, and he was in his 60’s. I made it a rule as I moved through the business to steer clear of people like him. They are not to be trusted. Not because they date younger women, but because they are all about themselves and not in it for the right reasons. Not for the music, but for the money and the power.
I’m working with a young girl group right now, and every session, I teach them another tool on how to be an empowered female in this business. How to navigate with precision, ditch pervy men and avoid the trappings laid out for them. How to not buy the “carrot” being dangled.
I remember one female student who told me the story of being pursued by a Sony record exec who put her up at a ritzy hotel in Miami for industry meetings — and when she wouldn’t sleep with him, slipped the hotel bill under her door. She was a waitress and in no way could pay for her stay. You can imagine the distress that poor girl was under.
The point of this post, is to empower YOU. To help you, my dearest readers and followers — women and men — to trust your gut and to empower you to be a leader, not a victim of circumstance.
To see through the con. To outfox them.
Here are my top tips for Female Musicians: How to Navigate Your Career, Ditch Pervy Men and Outfox the Industry
1. Trust Your Gut — Always.
The best source of truth is always your gut instincts. Never go against it – no matter what and you’ll most likely come out ahead. Most women have an innate instinct (most people actually) but we are not taught to trust it. We are taught to trust authority, and along with that — people in power. But now that the walls are coming down, we are seeing through this myth. Every individual has as much power as the other. The music business is nothing without musicians. The biggest thing you have in your favor are your instincts, learn to trust them. And for gosh sake, steer clear of manipulative liars. Take off your rose colored glasses and see people for who they are. An artist will only be as successful as the people they work with – and we’re talking values here, not money.
2. Sister Power.
A girl’s best friends in the industry are her music girlfriends. Whenever possible, bring one along with you. If you’re at an industry party, look out for each other. If you feel a guy closing in on one of you, slide on next to your friend so she can feel your shoulder or hand — to let her know you’ve got her back. You can always excuse yourself from an uncomfortable situation with a quick “omg I have to go (pretending to answer a ghost phone call or text), — so nice to meet you, I’ll catch up with you later.” When it gets tense, leave!
3. See Through The Con.
Con men are actually see-through if you’re looking for the signs. If what they are offering is “too good to be true” – it’s too good to be true. Plain and simple. No one gives something for nothing. When being conned, your con KNOWS exactly what you want to hear, so they’ll say it just to get their way with you. But you – are smarter than that – because you see through it. Back to #1 – trust your gut.
4. Put Yourself Above Them.
Power is an illusion. It’s never a good thing, because it serves the ego. And the ego is weak. It’s susceptible to serving itself, to selfishness and greed. Corruption. It is never to be trusted no matter what.
Never forget, that you are precious. Without you, there is no music industry. You have the ultimate power. Anyone who walks away because you won’t sleep with them is a liar. Call them out. See the truth.
5. Seek Your Tribe of Awesome Industry People Who You Can Depend Upon to Have Your Best Interests At Heart.
Seek out your tribe in the industry. Industry people you can trust. People who believe in you for no reason other than they believe in you and want to genuinely help. Be cautious of anyone whose offer is too-good-too-be-true. If you are a female, you might want to consider seeking out other women in the industry. Women in general tend not to abuse power. Generally speaking.