Working towards a fairer music industry

British born Ghanaian Alexandra Ampofo’s experience in music is vast and varied. A promoter at national behemoth Metropolis, she’s worked on tours for the likes of Lauryn Hill, Mura Masa and Janelle Monae and also has a hand in many other projects including heading up Live Nation’s Diversity Employee Resource Group Embrace Nation.

From establishing her own award winning events company Acoustic Live, to working with UNICEF Music Group to harness the power of music to help children and families affected by war or disaster, Alexandra has been utilising her talent and passion to influence decision making at some of the industries largest companies, amplifying minority voices and championing equality along the way.

This week, we spoke to Alexandra about another venture – her female forward collective, Women Connect.

“The desire to start Women Connect stemmed from initially just wanting to help some of my friends who are part of the LGBTQI+ community and hearing their horror stories.”

Its primary purpose is to provide tangible opportunities to those who need it most, with advice and guidance provided by a community of womxn who have experience navigating the endemic challenges within the industry including discrimination and prejudice.

“Ultimately we are trying to create safer spaces for women, non-binary and gender fluid people in the creative industry. We offer mentoring, training and free consultations with experts in the field. We also have an exclusive google group where we post job and networking opportunities we have a direct link to.”

The issues surrounding equal pay, choices of whether to have children or not are still at the forefront of the battle many women face during their career, progress for non traditional genders are also moving at a slow pace.

“There's still a long way to go when it comes to making the playing field fairer for those who don't fit into society's ‘norms’. Some of those obstacles are fuelled by gender imbalance, lack of visibility and awareness. While non-binary gender identities have become more visible in recent years, a lot of opportunities to participate are limited to female and male categories with no non-binary option.”

Women Connect looks to tackle these issues head on, creating an environment which offers support, upskilling and job opportunities. Their recent mentorship programme Connect + is a value exchange aimed at 18-25 year old mixed heritage and Black, non-binary and genderfluid people across the creative industries.

“A lot of our applicants mentioned imposter syndrome”

“Our scheme focuses on the specific needs of each mentee as an individual so all the advice and guidance will be different but will range across self-esteem, confidence, elevator pitches and more.”

One of the regular themes from applicants echoes one of the notions that is becoming more widely recognised across the wider industry, where training is limited and concrete validation of your own competence hard to come by. 

“I've noticed a lot of our applicants mentioned imposter syndrome so I hope it plays less of a role as our scheme progresses.” 

Round one of the application process is now closed but Women Connect are continually looking for mentors with personable qualities. Excellent listening skills, the ability to give constructive feedback and time to dedicate to the cause of creating the platform for others to succeed.

Away from the scheme there are still opportunities for people to boost their own knowledge and establish relationships with industry figures that can act as an informal mentorship.

While the chance to build the rapport that can only really be felt through meeting people face to face is limited, Alex’s advice is to keep reaching out in any way you can.

“Join different industry Zoom's and masterclasses, although you don't get to physically meet the participants, it's the next best thing to getting your face out there. Also, research the roles you're trying to get, get to know people who work in that area of the industry, and work on your ecosystem.”

The Women Connect team

On the Women Connect website you’ll also find regular blog posts covering both mental and physical health as well as education and profile pieces on inspiring women within tech.

Addressing the pandemic shaped elephant in the room, it’s uplifting to hear an optimistic outlook.

“I feel quite positive about the music industry recovering from this blow and one of the positives I've personally seen is the way we've all adapted and diversified the way we curate tours and shows. The exploration of VR has always been something quite interesting to me!”

However the industry reshapes itself in the coming months, organisations like Women Connect are further proof that systemic change will happen from the ground up.