[Photo credit Beth Sheldrick]
The topic of gender balance in industry quite rightly has become a common one in recent times, and as long it remains, the issue needs to continue to be brought to the table. Bristol Women In Music intend to be one of the leading parties, not only calling it out, but addressing the issue, through their work connecting women from all different parts of the industry, starting in their vibrant west country hometown. Tomorrow, 30th March will see the consummation of one of BWiM’s answers to the solution, Sound Industry a new music industry conference, set to be will be the first of its kind in Bristol.
Ahead of the big day we managed to grab moment with two of the team’s members, publicist Jenna Knight and Ellie Jones of management and pr agency, Stay Loose Digital. They kindly give us a quick lowdown on the BWiM team, it’s work and the Sound Industry conference.
Could you tell us a little more about yourselves and your individual pathways into BWIM?
There are 11 of us altogether, and between us we work in music management, publicity, bookings, education, label owners, operations, broadcasting and youth work. Some of us are also artists. The core group was formed between 3 of the founding members approximately 2 years ago, and as from then other Directors have come on board.
Was there a particular event that sparked off BWIM’s beginnings? Or did it stem from growing unified sentiments?
It was the brainchild of the founders, Abbe, Lizzy and Annie set up in 2015 and really the main ethos is to encourage women to develop their careers in the music industry, and to develop a network in the South West. From this it has evolved into where we are now, with many different strands within BWIM itself.
Arriving at BWIM from a number of industry backgrounds, we imagine gives the team a distinctly broad knowledge base to draw ideas and open up dialog from. Could you explain in a little more in detail, from which areas each of the team herald and what this brings to the table?
We are really fortunate that we have such a broad base of skillset and knowledge between all of our Directors, and each and every one of us adds a different dimension to the group. Our varying industry fields mean that we can each take on our own areas of work which all help to contribute to what is essentially – Bristol Women in Music. There are always plenty of ideas flowing!
With busy individual schedules, how do you manage to coordinate and run BWIM projects whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance? Is health and balance in the music industry something you also address with BWIM?
Ellie Jones // Stay Loose Digital: Our group of Directors is really well balanced. We’ve got representatives from a range of areas across the industry and that means we’re able to divide up projects between us really effectively. With a bit of work from everyone we’ve actually been able to achieve quite a lot so far, and that’s how we’ve managed to get to the point of hosting our inaugural Sound Industry conference this week. Being able to delegate and knowing that there are others in the group fully capable of delivering a top job has been key to the organising of our events so far.
One of your strengths as an association certainly seems to be the huge network of people your collected group gives you access to. How important has this been to your work so far?
EJ: A key reason for us forming Bristol Women In Music in the first place was to address the lack of diversity that we see on a daily basis in our industry so we’re really trying ensure that in all our events and everything that we do as an organisation constantly addresses that. We’re only going to be able to achieve that if we’re drawing on our board range of contacts so that big network is hugely important to us.
How do you help newcomers to the industry feel supported by this network and encourage them to build networks of their own?
EJ: I’d like to think that our events so far have been inclusive and interesting to both those in the industry and those looking to get into music. We’ve really tried with our programming of Sound Industry to offer something for everyone. However, something that’s been on the “to do” list is regular networking events in Bristol. These would be open to everyone and particularly useful to those starting out in Bristol, those looking to find their way into the industry so hopefully we’ll have news to share on this very soon…
What are the biggest challenges you have found to date, in both doing your work and raising awareness of it?
EJ: All of us are juggling Bristol Women in Music alongside very busy jobs in the industry and obviously those jobs need to remain our number one priority so I’d say that time has been our biggest challenge to date. There’s so much that we want to do but we want to make sure that all our events are as good as they can be so for now, we’re just taking on as much as we can do well. The plan is always for more as and when we can do that!
Jenna Knight // Publicist: Time is the biggest issue! With everything else we all have going on it’s almost like another full time job. Obviously everyone’s work has to be a priority so it’s trying to navigate our way around how we give our best to both worlds.
Have you reached the level of engagement so far that you set out to achieve? What are your plans to progress this even further?
JK: We are really pleased with the reaction and support we have had so far, and the interest we have had in the work we are doing at BWIM. The local media within the city has been a staunch supporter of what we are doing, and have given us some great platforms and opportunities to discuss our work. The feedback we have had from individuals that have been directly involved with BWIM so far has been really strong, and we take onboard everyone’s comments and feedback to make sure we are aware of opinions. The level of engagement so far is something we are proud of, and as with everything, we want to do more and broaden the work that we are doing. However this will take time, and we have a strong vision for the next few years as to where we want to take things.
How do you tackle inclusivity in an industry that is a typically exclusive one?
JK: We try to keep everything we do as fair and open to everyone as we can. We want to encourage all individuals to be able to have as positive an experience within the industry as possible. Though growing your networks, and meeting others naturally relationships start to form which open up new avenues of conversations and new opportunities. With BWiM, we hope that we can provide some sort of platform and springboard that can help individuals to be able to further themselves. It can be a very intimidating industry if you are new to it all, and we hope that we are laying a foundation to make it feel less so.
Are there any organisations you are particularly appreciating the work of at the moment?
JK: She.Said.So is a really strong platform and collective
[Photo credit Beth Sheldrick]
Tell us a little more about Sound Industry and how this particular venture came about.
JK: The idea of a conference has been something the Director’s have been discussing for the last year or so, and it was one of those things that we all really wanted to explore. We were all very aware that there wasn’t anything of it’s kind happening in Bristol, and also that there was a real appetite to come together, share knowledge and expand networks. There is a huge creative and music community in the city, and through our other work and activities that we were doing we began to realise that there could be a demand for this.
We were keen to bring everyone together to curate a day of interesting discussion, debate and workshops which all the audience could take something away, and benefit from.
Sound Industry is taking place at Colston Hall, and consists of 4 panels that we have carefully curated alongside a selection of brilliant individuals who we feel will bring something worthwhile to these chosen subjects. Throughout the day there will be performances from local talent, and a selection of education workshops which the audience can sign up for during registration.
In the evening there is a separate show in The Lantern where we will welcome Kate Simko and the London Electronic Orchestra, and later in the evening we will be down at the Christmas Steps pub where some of our mentors from the BWiM: Mix Night programme will be playing.
Are there any particular outcomes you are hoping to achieve from the day?
JK: For everyone to go away feeling inspired, excited, feeling passionate about what they wish to pursue and that they have taken something useful and engaging away from the whole event.
What’s next for the Sound Industry platform? Are there plans for more conferences and other events? pathways into BWiM?
Absolutely! This is our first conference, and the aim is to digest everything we have learnt from this and come back next year with an even better offering.
Finally what role do men play in the work of Bristol Women In Music? and what can more men do support women in the industry?
JK: In one sense of the word we are all very lucky to have supportive male figures in the shape of bosses, partners, friends of BWIM and Sound Industry who have contributed in various ways to make this event happen, and to support our ambitions. Sound Industry itself is a day for all – women and men – to come together and collaborate, and we have some incredibly talented and experienced industry male professionals both hosting and on our panels, as the day is about everyone. Inclusion for all.
As we move forward we are looking to involve more men within the work and activity that we do so we can ensure that we are presenting a dynamic view of the industry. Both men and women need to continue to be the other’s cheerleaders, and to support and encourage the other to progress and develop. Together we can be even more powerful!
Sound Industry takes place tomorrow at Colston Hall, with only a final few tickets left, grab them before they go here. If you don’t make it down tomorrow you can find out more on the BWiM team on their website.