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 Linda Walker, VP, commercial - UK & Europe, Warner Music UK...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I’m hugely honoured and rather surprised! Looking at the past recipients, I am in very good company. It’s important that women in the music industry are recognised for their contribution publicly in this way. It’s a shame that we can’t all celebrate together this year, but we will have to make sure we do it bigger and better next year.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry? What challenges did you have to overcome?
“I joined Warner Music 30 years ago and, in terms of gender mix, it was a very different company to the one we see today. I was the first female sales rep, and in nearly all of my subsequent roles, I’ve been the first female in that position. Strangely, rather than being overwhelming, constantly being the ‘first’ made me more determined to not mess it up! I always had a sense of how my performance would affect the recruitment of women going forward. It could have been viewed as a pressure, but for me it was all about proving people wrong.”
Did you have a mentor or role model who helped you at that stage?
“When I came off the road and into the office, the then-commercial director Jeff Beard was always on hand with great advice and support. When you’re the only women in a meeting room full of loud and often opinionated salesmen, knowing that there is someone in the meeting who has your back really does help to give you the confidence to speak up.”
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
“Honestly, getting my foot in the door of a major record company in the first place! I worked in a small independent record shop and the dream of working for a record company seemed a tad unrealistic to say the least. Everything seemed to be stacked against me. I felt like I had won the lottery just getting an interview. When I stepped out of the interview room having been asked questions such as ‘Can you lift a box of 12 singles?’ and ‘How’s your driving?’, I felt utterly deflated. Fortunately for me, my slightly sarcastic replies to both of those questions are probably what got me the job!”
What advice would you offer young female executives about enjoying a successful career in music?
“Believe in yourself. You will undoubtedly encounter negative voices and people who will try and suck that confidence away – it happens in every walk of life. The trick is to always go back to that core belief that you are focused, capable and determined. Screw what anyone else thinks because you know it to be true!”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Speak up. The best idea in the world is a bad idea if you never share it.” On so many levels, 2020 has been a year of unprecedented change in the music business and, indeed, the world itself – what’s been the biggest revelation you’ll take away from it? “Surround yourself with great people, both in your personal and work life. I work in an incredible team and although I already knew that, these past six months have really shown me just how connected we really are. Everyone has adapted at lightning speed; we’ve pulled together with energy and enthusiasm to ensure that we continually deliver for our labels and artists. Oh, and I am really bad at Zoom quizzes!”