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Features March 15, 2022

7 music industry superstars share their advice for women who are just getting started

Senior Journalist, B2B
7 music industry superstars share their advice for women who are just getting started

Image: Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

In the wake of International Women’s Day earlier this month, seven women from across the spectrum of Australia’s music industry share their thoughts on what young women coming into the sector need to know, as well as what they’d tell themselves when they were just starting out.

DJs, label managers and agency directors have seen it all – and they have a fair bit of wisdom to share.

To see more, head to ALPHA Women In Music.

Cara Williams, director, Slow Clap


“Know the value of your worth early in your career, and don’t settle for less.

“As women, we are conditioned to say yes; yes to jobs that pay less than what we’re worth, yes to exploitation under the guise of ‘exposure’ or ‘experience’, yes to putting ourselves in situations that test our professional boundaries.

“Knowing your worth early will help you navigate through these situations and build your resilience when these events inevitably occur. And they will. It’s systemic.

“To echo the words a woman said to me when I was first starting out: Do no harm, take no shit. Be kind to everyone you encounter, be generous with your knowledge, be professional in your conduct, but don’t be a pushover. That’s when they’ll get you.

“Oh, and don’t agree to a shitty wage with the promise of free gig tickets or industry ‘perks’.”

Mell Hall, artist

“My number one piece of advice would be, the power of ‘NO’. A woman’s intuition is unlike any other and when it comes to the music industry and its male dominance, having a true sense of who you are is your greatest asset.

“The advice I would give to myself? Where do I begin, haha. Your resilience and your strength will be what will keep you going. The challenges, the discrimination and the set-backs will take their toll – but your vision for the next generation and them not having the same obstacles will be your biggest reward.”

Lucille Croft, artist, producer, creative director

“This industry is not for the faint hearted. You need to have thick skin, you need to be resilient, and you need to have fire inside you ready to fight every step of the way.

“As a woman in music, everything you do will be questioned – your DJing, your production, how you dress, all of it. You’ll have managers / A&Rs / agents / labels telling you what you need to be to succeed, and how they think you should do it.

“Advice to myself when I started? I’d tell myself to tell those people to fuck off and to believe in my brand, and back myself. If you believe in what you’re doing, just do it.”

Claudia Cook, label manager, Cooking Vinyl Australia

“Work hard and believe in yourself.

“It’s really easy to let people cut you down in this industry so know you’re worthy.

“Also, it’s important to use your voice, don’t be afraid to speak up. Surround yourself with positive people and make sure you have a healthy support system inside and outside the industry.

“Most importantly don’t be intimidated by the huge egos that surround you, they can easily consume you but their bark is often worse than their bite, rise above it.”

Katrina Holcombe, director of music, Sony Music Australia

“1. Value yourself and your well-being.

“2. You should always be growing and learning.

“3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, challenge others and speak up.”

DJ Minx/ Rachel May, DJ & music curator

“When I was first starting out, women in this industry were few and far between. To this day, I am forever grateful to have had incredible people around me.

“Through the bullying and intimidation, my support network was everything and it was a constant reminder that my passion for music and this business really meant something.

“I try to carry this passion and support forward.

“I ask the next gen why it is they really want to get into this business and help to nurture that. Do things for the right reasons and trust yourself.”

Poppy Reid, editor-in-chief, The Brag Media & Rolling Stone

“My advice would be to find likeminded people and invest in that community. It’s something I wish I did more of when I was coming up in the industry, because the truth is, I didn’t think I was worthy of those music industry friendships. Looking back now, I wish I let my weird, wonderful self shine!”

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