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 Sarah ‘Pixie’ Pickering, vice president, creative and co-head of synchronisation, Sony/ATV Music Publishing…
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I’m honoured, surprised and extremely happy to join Music Week’s Women In Music Roll Of Honour! Having been to the ceremony and listened to so many amazing stories about the journeys of women in our industry, it really is quite something to now sit alongside them. It gives me a very warm feeling of achievement and feels extra special in what has been quite a year. I also would like to hope that I can be proof of somebody in the industry who has worked hard and stayed positive to get here.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“Very fondly. Starting my career at ITV Yorkshire in the music department was a very special time. The pay was terrible, and I had to shout loud to get heard, but it was a wonderful time of creativity. My biggest challenge was probably my age, as I was doing clearances for evergreens such as Emmerdale and Heartbeat, but I didn’t want to do clearance – I wanted to pick the music, so I had to convince colleagues many years more experienced than myself that I was actually good enough to do that. Perseverance and listening to every record that came through the door went a long way – along with time invested at the YTV bar!”
Did you have a mentor who helped you at that stage?
“The head of music at ITV at the time was Sue Clark, and without her I wouldn’t be here today. I managed to get my foot through the door in her department to merely see what the job entailed and I decided on the same day it was the place I needed to work – I was going to do everything in my power to make it happen. She saw my enthusiasm and love for music and took a chance on me. Either that or she knew I’d never leave! It wasn’t just Sue though, Sarah Guerin and Adrian Burch who also worked in the department took me under their wings and taught me everything they knew about music and music for TV, for which I will be forever grateful. Their knowledge and friendliness was such a huge part of how I fell in love with the industry.”
What is your biggest achievement so far?
“I’m lucky enough to have been involved with putting music to many programmes, sporting events, advertisements and more, along with meeting and recording with world class artists and musicians, but the achievement I’m most proud of is producing the Juice music label. I’ve put a lot of time and love into growing it into one of the most used production music labels, and I feel lucky to have worked with such wonderful artists and music teams. I’m very proud of how quickly it has turned into a globally recognised source for great music.”
If you need to shout loudest to get heard, do it
Sarah ‘Pixie’ Pickering
What advice would you give offer to young female execs?
“Grab all your opportunities, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and don’t ever think yourself as small. If you need to shout the loudest to get heard, do it. If you truly believe in what you’ve got to say, then it’s better to be known as the person who dared to speak up with an idea or opinion than to not be known at all.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Be nice to everyone on your way up, because you never know who you’re going to meet on your way down. It sounds obvious, but we work in a close-knit industry where people move around a lot, and you never know where you’re going into bump into someone you’ve met before. I’ve heard tales of people falling out with peers at co-publishers or labels over pricing wars, only to then find out that next year said peer has become a hotshot music supervisor – bang goes their chance of getting the big Christmas campaigns! We work in an industry where relationships are everything, and it’s important to nurture them.”
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ll take away from 2020?
“That work-life balance is absolutely key, and being part of an amazing team and company is something to never take for granted. As someone who would often stay late in the office and go straight to gigs or a dinner, suddenly being faced with working from home made me realise that I wasn’t necessarily making effective use of that time. On the one hand, it’s good to be able to blitz through calls/emails with no distractions, but this is still a job where relationships are key and those internal and external meetings and building of relationships are invaluable. I will also never begrudge going to three gigs in one night, the sooner they’re back the better. Not only do I miss them, but people’s livelihoods depend on it.”