Pollstar Live! took a second year to continue a conversation between women, exploring topics including leadership skills, sexism in the entertainment industry, and how to remove barriers for women in a once male-dominated business. 


Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Women's Leadership Forum

Pollstar’s Shari Rice opened the forum with a toast to strong girls and women. Professional concert industry women told of their journeys, from a time when one walked into her first North American Concert Promoters Assn. meeting and she was the only woman in the room, to another who described her role as “power bitch.”

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Madison House co-founder Nadia Prescher noted that she and Mike Luba founded the company in Athens, Ga.

“I was lucky to work with someone like Mike Luba who is open minded. I can say there are many women who work at Madison House and over the years we now have more female full-time employees than male, and that says a lot about talent. We are not moving people because they are women but because they have talent.”

Jodi Goodman, president of Live Nation San Francisco, told about a NACPA meeting “in one of those ballrooms, with the chairs [arranged in a horseshoe]. I looked around and there was Sherry Wasserman, there was Debra Rathwell -- and me. “It was intimidating and strange and I wondered where the girls were. This is going back a couple of decades so I can pleasantly say things have changed and the girls’ club has definitely gotten a lot bigger. It’s culture, and it’s society.

“And it’s not just a case of bashing the music industry, because it’s odd to see women executives in any industry. There’s research showing something like 27 percent across the board,” Goodman said.

The only female regional president at Live Nation, Goodman also said she negotiated a salary that was at an equal level as her male counterparts. “If it isn’t, I’ll find out!” she said, laughing.

Marginalization of women in the production side of the equation remains an issue.

Brandie Louck is in tour management and a production coordinator.

“With Live Nation SF, I was working at a very high level, opening amphs in Austin. I thought I would go on the road. They only thing I was offered was production assistant with Paramore and I clawed my way through,” Louck said. “In touring there are so few positions where you can see women. I can count on one hand the number of tour and production managers. You see women but you know where you stand. Tours would say ‘You’re only doing a quarter of what you’re capable of, but here’s where we have a place for you.'”

Julia Hartz of Eventbrite had a different start in the business.

“I was on the team that discovered “Jackass,” she said. “So I worked on that right out of college for MTV. There’s a sense that there’s a cohort of women who are renegades. They are pioneers, really embodying that and being an example.

“I hate the term ‘role model’ or even mentor. Many of you are in that pioneer class by cutting your own path. You have a great responsibility to look out for other women.”

Paradigm’s Corrie Christopher Martin pointed to her own supportive family.

“I was not fortunate to have a woman in the business I could call who had forged the path where I could see myself,” she said. “I had a strong family foundation where I was told I could do whatever I wanted, and I believed that.

“I’ve been hesitant to do these women’s panels until recently – not this panel, because it’s fucking awesome. However, as I get older and further along and I’m grooming young women underneath that I realized I do have that responsibility and I take that seriously. We don’t have a shortage of women at my agency. Our agency has a good chunk of women agents but there is a shortage in the industry of top agents and execs.”

Moderator Lynne King Smith said that research shows that women-owned companies make more money than that of those owned by men, and perhaps that owes to a different style of leadership.

“We have traits that might be innate and it might be considered weakness, like emotions and empathy.” Hartz is clear she doesn’t find that latter to be a weakness. “Empathy is my superpower,” she said. “I used to get distracted by my empathy because I can feel a room. Maybe it was a Santa Cruz hippie thing. At Eventbrite we honor the whole person. My whole thing is we’re a company that cares about the whole person. A great company not just a business.”

The forum wound down with advice the women would give to their 21-year-old selves.

“You are your own worst enemy if you limit yourself. Worry about your own lane and don’t ever let anybody put restrictions on you,” Louck said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Whatever your end result is that you want to do or be, maybe that changes. Take that leap of faith,” was the advie from MSG's Laurie Jacoby.  

“You have to trust your instincts. It’s the thing you might have to fall back on. Be your own best advocate. Instinct is mentioned a lot. People are very instinctual, but women especially have our own self power,” Goodman added.

“I would say something about negotiations. Be disciplined and be prepared. At 21, we were probably all flying on the seat of our pants. By being disciplined and prepared, you may feel accomplished, which makes you more confident,” Hartz said.

“Always be your own best advocate,” Christopher Martin added.

Prescher closed with praise for the industry. “I was fortunate to have started in the business when we didn’t have mobile devices. We had Rolodexes; we spoke to people. We have awesome jobs; it helps people. Music heals; it makes people’s lives better. I don’t know a lot of jobs where that’s true. I’m so psyched to see all these ladies and amazing men that came today. This is one of the most gratifying business to work in.”