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How Not to Treat a Female Artist Manager (Guest Column)

Edith Bo
Stan "Steak" Greene

Edith Bo

I have been working on the music management side for 13 years and am now the CEO of my own management company, Arketek. But not too long ago, a venue doorman assumed I was a makeup artist and asked me to wait outside (even though I was carrying gear), while allowing the man next to me, whom I hired for my crew, to walk inside without a problem.

When I asked the doorman why he automatically assumed I was a makeup artist, he didn’t have an answer. I have an answer: Since men significantly outnumber women in the music industry, women aren’t immediately assumed to be the ones in positions of power or authority.

As a female manager in a male-dominated music industry, with over a decade of experience working with multi-platinum artists, I still consistently see, hear and personally encounter similar challenges. I am frequently underestimated and battle men calling me “inexperienced” to colleagues behind my back, even though I’ve had the same level of experience in both years and clients as they do.

Radio jocks have assumed that my artists’ security guards are managers and I’m an assistant. Time and time again, I’ve been introduced as a “day-to-day” while operating as a CEO of my own company and being the artist’s only manager. Meanwhile, my male co-founder at Arketek, Stan Greene, is referred to as a “manager” immediately.

I’m not alone. Earlier this year, Melissa Keklak (president of Blac Youngsta’s Heavy Camp label, whose management roster includes Problem, KenTheMan, Liife, Rasta Papii and Tahj Money) wrote on Twitter that during the label’s two-day songwriting camp, she was consistently left out of introductions. “PSA to men - if you walk into a studio session. Don’t only introduce yourself to the men in the room,” she said. 

Reading through the hundreds of supportive comments, reposts and replies to Melissa’s tweet, it’s clear that many women are having similar problems. Melissa has also told me that sometimes, promoters who want to book her clients have expressed discomfort about working with a woman.

Women are organized, efficient, personable, consistent, patient, creative, and empathetic -- all key characteristics for a successful manager. Yet we’ve been pigeonholed into administrative positions. With the industry finally beginning to come to terms with its gender diversity problem, it’s time to shift the illusion and assumption that female managers can’t be in decision-making roles.

So how do we change this?

If I am predominantly handling an artist on my roster, then don’t refer to me as a “day-to-day” manager. I am an artist manager. If you are working at a record label and participating in a conversation about an artist, don’t assume that the man in the room is the manager; it could very well be the woman sitting next to him (yes, this has happened to me before).

It’s rare that I see a female partner at larger management companies; instead, women frequently get stuck in “day-to-day” or “coordinator” positions without the opportunity to move up the ladder. But empowering more women managers will help set an example in the industry. To break that glass ceiling, management companies should make the effort to partner with more women.

Finally, I urge women not to shy away from politely correcting people when they’re improperly introduced. Own your voice, own your leadership, and own the title that you worked very hard to earn. 

Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. Stand your ground!

Edith Bo is the CEO and co-founder of Arketek, the music management, publishing and A&R consulting company she launched in 2017 with mixing engineer and record producer Stan Greene. Arketek clients include Money Jezu$, Saint Bodhi, The Cold Seas and King Elle Noir. She previously served in artist management and A&R at Roc Nation, where her clients included Big Sean, Mustard, Hit Boy and Santigold; and Elitaste Music Management, where she worked with Wale, Capital Cities and others. She is based in Los Angeles.

2019 Billboard Women in Music


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