Billboard’s second annual Pride issue spotlights 40 industry-shaping LGBTQ executives working to push the world forward, and at Billboard & The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Pride Summit in Los Angeles on Thursday (Aug. 8), six of those industry influencers sat down with Billboard’s consumer editorial director Ian Drew.
The Pride In the Corner Office panel included Jess Caragliano, co-founder/CEO, Terrorbird Media/Terrorbird Publishing; Wade Leak, senior vp/deputy general counsel/chief compliance, ethics and privacy officer, Sony Music Entertainment; Rick Marcello, manager of creative sync, Kobalt Music; Cindy Nguyen, senior artist brand strategist, Create Music Group; Aaron Rosenberg, partner, Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light; and Eliah Seton, president of independent music and creator services, Warner Music Group.
Under Drew’s direction, the panel touched on everything from the importance of celebrating being out to the danger of commodifying queerness to the barriers that technology has broken down for LGBTQ artists in the streaming era.
“Barriers are down, absolutely,” says Seton. “New, unique voices an old school executive might never have thought to back will be backed by the fans. It’s an amazing innovation.” Even so, he was quick to point out that diversity on the back end of the industry still has a way to go: “Diversity without inclusion could have a counter effect,” he notes.
“The way to fix these issues is make sure the people working at our company represent all these perspectives and there’s space for everybody,” says Caragliano.
But naturally, there’s a number of LGBTQ people in the music business not entirely comfortable touting that part of their identity, and the panel addressed that as well.
“I think it’s different for each individual,” says Rosenberg. “I understand those who don’t want to be solely defined by LGBTQ-ness, but it’s incumbent on those of us who are able to speak out to speak out. We shouldn’t put them down but lead by example.”
“I still have privilege of being white and cis and it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m paving the way so people can I have access to the spaces I’m in,” adds Marcello. “Everybody has the right to control their own narrative, but when you have power and privilege it’s important to recognize that. Our trans brothers and sisters and queer people of color are still experiencing violence every day — much less being able to go to work and be celebrated and accepted. We need to push that forward for our family.”
“Especially in today’s political climate, with the rise of hate groups, it’s important to be out and proud,” says Nguyen.