One thing that I am deeply honored to be doing these days is representing one of the most brilliant voices in our music industry. I first met Emily many years ago in Boston and I deeply admired her from the moment that happened. She is a get shit done kinda human and she has a commitment to not only serve artists as a manager, advocate and cheerleader, she has traversed the globe (multiple times) sharing her best advice with the music industry at conferences and universities because she cares equally about future generations who want to get into the business AND the artist.
So imagine the perfect storm for me – I have been consulting with streaming platform Volume.com who are committed to helping artists earn more money for live streaming than any other platform out there and we are building a podcast network to showcase musicians and to educate and empower artists.
When we decided to start onboarding podcasts my first phone call was to Emily and I am thrilled that she chose to partner with Volume.com to present her second season of the #1 music business podcast in the world How to Build a Sustainable Music Career & Collect All Revenue Streams based on her book as an interactive live broadcast.
I have had an incredible time helping to publicize her podcast and it’s been so fun connecting her to media and podcasters as well as music industry professors who are bringing the streams into their classrooms.
Here are some highlights
This interview has inspired me to make a commitment to showcase more brilliant women in our industry who are helping musicians navigate this ever changing landscape.
9 Questions For Emily White
Here is my inaugural post – an interview with the unstoppable Emily White.
Em, for those who don’t already know you can you give us your quick background about how you got started in the music industry?
I’m a kid from a village in Wisconsin that on one hand I used to feel didn’t have a music industry. But on the other, my parents’ good friends owned the local music shop in town and I completely took for granted that one of said friends has served on the board of NAMM. At the same time, this was in the early days of the internet, so now you can of course build a global career from anywhere. But I worked super hard to go to Northeastern University and join their Music Industry program completing a slew of internships at Powderfinger Promotions, WBCN (RIP), Q Division, Live Nation New England, VH1 Classic, MTV UK and really grew up professionally by working with The Dresden Dolls. When I graduated I worked at Madison House before Bob Ezrin read a “name your own price” business plan I’d written and was at what’s now Roc Nation (Live Nation Artists at the time) before launching my entertainment firm in 2008.
What motivates you to want to help and educate?
There was a constant stream of musicians asking to get coffee and “pick my brain.” I was having the same conversations repeatedly. At the same time, I was finding money left and right for the last few artists I took on for management. And realized if that’s the case for national/international acts, then what about everyone else? Which is when I decided to write How to Build a Sustainable Music Career & Collect All Revenue Streams. I figured folks shouldn’t have to know me personally to have access to this information. But otherwise, season two of this podcast is really the first time I’ve ever put myself out there, as opposed to being asked to speak and share my experience. I’m working on the second edition of the book, which also feels like putting myself out there, as opposed to the first edition which was more of a response to demand and need for the information for musicians and the industry at large.
Why were you drawn to create your first book, Interning 101?
I didn’t set out to be an author. I realized we were teaching a lot of basics to our interns over and over, so I wrote what I called “The Intern Manifesto” for our company. I had a few great interns and said, “If I turned this into a 100-page how-to book for you and your classmates, would that be helpful?” The answer was an enthusiastically resounding “YES!” and my first book was born.
OK Congratulations on building the #1 Global Music Industry Podcast in the world – What can you tell us about your podcast, How to Build a Sustainable Music Career & Collect All Revenue Streams?
Thank you! A podcast network asked me to create a show based on Interning 101, and I thought, “what a great idea!” That podcast is good and I’m glad universities are finding it useful, but ultimately it taught me how to do it. So for this book, I had a clear vision on how to bring each chapter to life with handpicked guests like Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Imogen Heap, Run the Jewels’ Co-Manager Amaechi Uzoigwe, Don Passman and more.
What has it been like to record season 2 in front of a live audience at John Ridley’s Nō Studios? AND a streamed audience on Volume.com?
AMAZING!!! I feel the information in my book is out there, I’ve just never seen it put in order – from recording to release or creation to execution. I’ve brought this up to music conferences and their answers are understandable, e.g. “Ariel couldn’t come in until Sunday, you could only be here on a Thursday, etc.” So I figured I’d solve this problem by presenting the modern music industry in order as a live event to solve musicians’ problems in real-time. I then thought about where I should do season two and I realized I wanted to do it in my home city of Milwaukee. Partnering with Oscar winner John Ridley and his sister Lisa Caesar has been a no-brainer. As they are also from Wisconsin, have had enormous success and are cultivating the creative class in our home city and state.
The podcast has charted on 6 continents including countries like Tanzania this week alone, with listeners in 140+ countries. Obviously, not everyone can be there in person so by utilizing Volume’s live streaming platform we’ve been able to engage with artists and audience members astound the globe in real time. I’ve been deeply inspired by the power and emotion of the artists’ questions and how they’ve been coming together as a community to collaborate and grow together.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in the music business today and do you feel an additional responsibility to other women to empower them within the industry?
I’m also the founder of #iVoted Festival, which built the largest digital concert in history, and is led by a 100% C-Suite of women that’s majority BIPOC. Our overall team is 92% women, non-binary, BIPOC or LGBTQ+. This has been the biggest lesson on the power of representation in my life. Our team sees themselves reflected in our leadership, which is why they apply in the first place. I’m currently teaching a Live Concert Planning & Production Class at the University of New Haven. The class is 100% women and non-binary. If you want more women to apply to anything you need to elevate and promote women to positions of leadership. It’s pretty simple. This is no doubt the most important and moving part of my career. Women and non-binary folks need a truly safe space where they can grow without fear and thrive.
Which female artists and businesswomen have inspired and influenced you?
YOU!!!!! Working with you on this has been INCREDIBLE!!! I’ve obviously always known what a force you are but to see you in action is truly mind-blowing. You don’t leave a single pebble unturned and, to no one’s surprise, that is one of many reasons you’re super successful. Additionally, our wonderful attorney Joyce Dolliger is everyone’s emotional support human. As well as my business partner, Melissa Garica, and our C-Suite leadership at #iVoted – Lesly Montes and Lilia Iza. Loretta Muñoz at ASCAP and Sharon Tapper who is the ED of the Music Managers Forum – US are also incredibly inspiring.
What was the most challenging thing you have had to face as a female in the business?
Despite my clear and direct voice – being heard. As well as getting paid. It’s amazing how much I still have to follow up on the latter let alone from what is known publicly as prestigious and established institutions. And finally, my physical and emotional safety after putting myself out there publicly for the first time. I am privileged and have an incredible support system. But if you want to understand the importance of organizations like Women in Music, Amplify Her, She Said So, Girls Behind the Rock Show and so much more, I have two words for you: harassment and stalking. We have a long way to go with promotions, equity, and fair pay. But ultimately we fundamentally need to be safe and secure professionally and personally first and foremost to even get there.
Here’s something that I find fascinating…You are the daughter of TWO swim coaches. What did growing up in the swimming pool teach and prepare you for a life in the music business?
And granddaughter of a legendary swim coach! Even with everything I just said above, I’ve always been relatively fearless and told I have confidence with ease in otherwise intimidating professional situations. I realized as an adult that a major reason is swimming is a sport where all genders train together. The mutual respect and kinship with my male teammates is the world I grew up in. While simultaneously learning the skills of work ethic, teamwork, time management, and more.
At the same time, when you’re the coaches’ kid, you’re also the first one at meets and practices and the last to leave. The logistics of, say, running a state championship swim meet with thousands of attendees is no different than putting on an event in the entertainment industry really. And I was also the one doing homework in the coaches’ room while the “big kids” finished their distance races, where you pick up on industry lingo, terms, and get to know who’s who and how it all works. It’s kind of like how Kevin Lyman always says that if you want to learn the music business, go be a wedding planner first. In many ways, it’s all the same!
Where can we find you online?