In the latest edition of Music Week we proudly present this year’s expanded Music Week Women In Music Awards Roll Of Honour. Here we speak to new inductee Diane Wagg, the founder of Deluxxe Management...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I’m delighted to be included with so many women I know and respect. There’s a way to go on gender balance but we’re going in the right direction and, when I look back on my journey in the music business, I realise how far we’ve come compared to my early experiences. I’m glad we can focus on celebrating the successes of the female side of the business and I really value collaborations with other creative individuals who share a love of this profession.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“My first management role was as assistant to Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy – cracking experience for a teenage gal! Then I had five amazing years working with Tony Visconti and artists like David Bowie, George Michael, The Boomtown Rats and The Stranglers. The real challenges to overcome became apparent when I went out on my own as an artist manager. The major impact on women developing long-term music business careers was the glass ceiling. There were women in supporting roles, who would have made fantastic music business leaders, but making it to a senior level was rare. It was, by and large a boys’ club, and they gave business to each other. It wasn’t done with any bad intention; it was just the way it worked. As a new female artist manager, there were plenty of ways your confidence was undermined. Being told that the record company guys didn’t rate female managers and therefore why an artist might need to have a male manager, being mistaken for the manager’s assistant, being talked over in meetings, the fear of showing ignorance or weakness by asking a question – which is exactly what you should do. I kept going and step-by-step, signed my acts to major and indie deals and was equal to the guys. And along with me came other female executives in artist management, labels, publishers and we had each other to talk to and the world began to change.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped you at that stage?
“No. I never had a mentor or role model, though I admired Gail Colson – one of the few female managers I’d watched during my teenage years. As more women rose through the business we met up and shared experiences and advice. I don’t recall many females having mentors then, though a few will have been lucky enough to have someone ‘championing’ them.”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“I’ve had fantastic highlights, but throughout my career building teams and families has been the foundation of success. For an artist to know they’re part of a family that has their back is key. And for everyone involved to have ownership and be valued. An example being that, as with former acts, we built a fabulous team around Scouting For Girls over six years with the right mix of personalities, skills and passion which took them from an unsigned act to arena level. We’re doing the same now with Cortney Dixon, Diives and Ellie Moon. Success comes when you pull together talented, passionate people with a variety of skills, personalities and a common goal.”
Seek allies and build supportive relationships
What advice would you offer young female executives?
“Do what you love – it makes everything so much easier! Especially in a business which can be challenging, but also so exciting and rewarding.
Find a mentor: I would have loved to have had someone I could go to for advice and feedback. Seek allies and build mutually supportive relationships. Be kind, be curious, be passionate, be respectful, listen to others and your inner voice. Keep your work-life in balance – especially if you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer with a tendency to overwork and worry about the next job – and Covid-19 has added to that stress.”
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
“‘This too will pass’ – it’s always worth remembering when times are tough.”
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ll take away from 2020?
“In this parallel universe we find ourselves in, I stopped trying to find solutions to what was happening and let things take their course. We’re celebrating getting through 2020 at Deluxxe because, despite the decimation of live opportunities which were so crucial, it gave our artists a break and allowed them to concentrate on songwriting and creativity with amazing results. I’m very excited for 2021, despite the continuing challenges Covid-19 presents. And I finally acknowledged that it’s OK to take time out in the day to do a Pilates class, prune the roses, train feral kittens, have a G&T over the garden fence, walk with llamas... Result!”