The Mic magazine were beyond delighted to be offered the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Kelly Bennaton, one the organisers of the highly prestigious event – Women in Music. The event itself aims to address the gender imbalance within the music industry and we were extremely excited to hear about Kelly’s past experiences and what her advice to women making their mark in the music industry would be.
Kelly Bennaton- An organiser of the Women In Music event
The Women in Music event will be held at Rescue Rooms on Wednesday 10th October at 6pm, so make sure you check it out as it’s their last event for this year! What would be your message for young women aspiring to work within the music industry?
I would try and find the area you want to work in and get as much experience as you can within that area. The industry is built on people with a passion for what they do, so showing self-motivation and drive is really important. I’d also recommend reaching out to women currently working in music, as many of them would be willing to help out with advice, tips or even mentoring.
What has been your greatest challenge that you have faced when working within the music industry? I’d been promoting gigs for 4 years before I met my partner and we started promoting gigs together. Before then I’d never noticed any sexism, but as soon as we started organising gigs together it became obvious. Bands would introduce themselves to him and not me, tour managers would shake his hand and not mine, bookers would take me off cc on emails and direct emails to him instead – it felt as if all the work I’d done in previous years was irrelevant. It’s definitely got a lot better, but it was a difficult realisation.
What is your best piece of advice for women who may face stigma within the industry and how should they challenge this?
It’s not an easy thing to challenge. If a woman is strong willed she’s labelled as bossy, if she speaks out she’s difficult, if she demands change she’s a trouble-maker. The attributes that are commended in men are stigmatised in women and that can be off-putting for any woman going into a male-dominated field. My advice would be to remember why you want to work in music, to maintain that motivation and to surround yourself with supportive people.
We think that the aims of the Women in Music event (to address the gender imbalance) are extremely commendable! What are your plans for moving forward with this aim in the upcoming year?
These events are about raising awareness but also about providing practical advice for women wanting to get into the industry or progress their careers. With Women in Music we’re looking into developing a website with advice and useful information, running skills workshops and continuing to organise these events regularly. DHP is also working with Music Venues Trust on the Fightback promoter scheme, where several of our staff are mentoring young women who are putting on their first gig.
What events can we look forward to this year to support this goal?
This will be the last Women In Music event of the year, but we’re also supporting Equation with an event on 25th November to raise money for their charity where we’re programming the music. More info on that can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2170289402981689/
We also have our final Fightback gig of the year, with young promoter Kayla Bell putting on Don’t Forget Rupert at Bodega on 7th December – https://www.facebook.com/events/307504879829496/
The Nottingham music scene seems to be constantly thriving. What is your opinion on the gender balance in Nottingham itself?
At the moment I think there is a good balance. New bands seem to be cropping up all the time with a good mix of genders and I have seen more women promoting gigs throughout the city. People like Fan Club, Steph at The Maze, Lauren at The Chameleon and Kristi at Metronome are just a few incredible women doing great things in the city. Our second panel is built of women working in music within Nottingham, and I think that’s testament to some of the incredible talent in the city. That being said, there is still room for improvement and I’d like to see more gig line-ups that aren’t full of men.
“Come say hello to one of our panellists”
What advice would you give to women in Nottingham attempting to get involved in the Nottingham music scene itself?
Attend our Women In Music event on Wednesday and then come say hello to one of our panellists! Networking is a key aspect of working in music and making connections will definitely help you to get the right opportunities.
How does the Women in Music event aim to address gender inequality? What are your main goals?
I think it helps in a few ways – 1) by raising awareness of the issue 2) by showcasing women who are doing really well and will hopefully inspire other women looking to make a start in the industry 3) by providing networking opportunities and 4) by providing practical advice and tips for women. Our end goal is for this not to be an event that’s needed in the future! Short-term, we’re hoping to encourage, support and motivate women who currently work or want to work in music.
How can other people get involved in this event?
Send us a message on Facebook with any ideas you have. We’re always open to working collaboratively!
What are you most looking forward to from Wednesday? Might be tough to pick from such wonderful speakers!
We have a fantastic line-up of speakers with a breadth of knowledge and skills, so I’m just really looking forward to hearing their stories. It’s always great to speak to people who have attended the event too and hear about what direction they’d like Women In Music to go in for the future.