During this year’s Women In Music Awards, we inducted a further 14 game-changing industry executives (including two posthumous awards) into the Roll Of Honour, in association with TikTok.
They join the pantheon of previous honourees, including some of the biggest names in the business, from Emma Banks and Sarah Stennett to Kanya King, Rebecca Allen and Stacey Tang, that have been selected since the awards began in 2014.
The Roll Of Honour aims to highlight the breadth, depth and variety of individuals who are game-changers in the music industry, with their activities consistently benefiting women, or focusing on empowerment/gender disparity.
Following the Women In Music Awards ceremony, Music Week is running Q&A interviews with all of this year’s Roll Of Honour inductees.
Here, Hannah Shogbola opens up about industry achievements, mentors and offers advice for the next generation of executive talent...
How do you feel about joining the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour?
“I attended my first ever Women In Music Awards a good few years ago when my dear friend and promoter colleague Jack Dowling (SJM) invited myself and Bianca Mayhew (Take Note) along. At the time I was totally unaware such a ceremony would welcome someone like me. Having progressed throughout my career within the underground electronic side of the music industry, it just didn’t really feel like the place for me! But I was honestly truly inspired and humbled. I remember seeing people like Radha Medar and Grace Ladoja there and thinking we do belong! Fast forward to now and here I am. To be honoured is truly incredible and a credit to finally being recognised after years of hard graft, so the feeling is excitement, progression, and of course – truly honoured!”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“With utter fondness! I am truly blessed to do the work I do, just yesterday I was reflecting on the work my mum does for the NHS in Mental Health and her daily struggles and thought, I am so lucky to work in an industry I love. That’s not to say my mum doesn’t love her job, it’s simply a good reminder that no matter how tough our days might be sometimes, it’s important to understand balance and reflection.
"For me not working within the music industry was never not an option, from a very young age I knew this was where I wanted to progress. Particularly within live events and broadcasting. I think this came from my love of radio and a work experience placement at 15 years old that gave me the ambition I needed with Charlie Lycett (Outside PR). I grew up in a hugely detached area with little environments that reflected my culture or background so my aspiration to leave and progress was essential to me.
"We never had clear access to clubs and a lot of what inner city environments offered so we’d be putting on free parties from a very young age or organising mini-buses to Jungle raves and Fabric – it was crazy! A lot of fun was had, and a fair few lessons learnt! On one occasion we’d arranged a mini-bus bundle ticket deal to Helter Skelter or Global Gathering (don’t judge me), and a pheasant hit the window on the 7am return home, it was not good at all! Fast forward years later and I was representing one of the DJs I did everything for to watch play on that trip – Goldie – its mad how the world works in mysterious ways.
"When looking back to our pasts its often that we are met with both positives and negatives.As one of the few female Black agents in the UK it was at times extremely lonely and sadly very sexist. There are truly triggering moments upon reflection that to this day make ours jobs conflicting.
"From my early years at Fabric, to BBC London, to WME! I met some of the most inspiring and incredible people on my journey who to this day I hold dearly as family and friends.
"Sitting in Keith Riley’s office at Fabric completely at awe on his life story, record collection and investment in the team and club built by him! An institution to the scene. Or working the graveyard shift filtering callers at BBC London and constantly putting through the wrong ones was a memory I won’t forget! Or getting onto 1xtra as a ‘Music Journalist’ at nineteen was like a dream come true to me. To working with Nick Cave at WME on artists like MIA to Maya Janes Coles, this is where I met Obi Asika and progressed to Echo Location Talent where our team grew and defined some immensely important people in my life and the industry today, from Belinda Law to Josh Koram. We have stories for days.
"Finding your feet in this industry is tough, and you always have to work through some serious storms, but for me personally, it has defined me today and my duty now is to help those get their foot through the door, and more importantly continue my work in D&I to change the shocking statistics withing the Agency and live music business world.”
Did you have a mentor at that stage?
“Not a direct one so to speak but over my early stages I had some of the most incredible and inspiring women who took me under their wing. For them I am truly thankful, and to this day I am close to each and every one on a personal level and professionally. Trust the good ones and keep them by your side because there are so many bad seeds in this industry!
Danna Hawley – head of press Fabric
Judy Griffith – head booker Fabric
Nell Jordan Gent – BBC/creative coach
Celine Khor – fabric
Obi Asika – echo location talent
Sam Kirby – UTA
Sara El Dabi – head of purpose (EU)
Tim Bethel – S-Mode”
What’s your biggest achievement so far? Please go into detail.
“Being an agent selling out Brixton Academy, The Roundhouse, The Forum when I was under 30 with my client Kurupt FM and being the founder of Daju.
"Being chosen as one of the top 20 Industry Professionals for Power Up and creating the first ever Afrobeats showcase for SXSW.
"Creating an incredible programme called AfroFuture Sounds producing for Afro Punk and more, with full teams representing POC across every job role.
"Becoming the programme curator IndabaX for Southbank centre and representing a wide array of incredible artists, particularly POC.
"Working on D&I within the industry for years, I developed programmes with the Roundhouse, University of Westminster, The British Council and speaking at events from Southbank to The Royal Albert Hall.
"Working alongside charities such as Freedom From Torture, The Right To Dance, War Child (Board Member) and The Prince’s Trust.”
What advice would you offer young women about enjoying a successful career in music?
“There are two sides to this question from my viewpoint as an agent towards emerging artists and then to those wanting to move into the professional side of the business.
"Build the right team that believes in you as a musician, is aligned with your aesthetics and has your best interests at heart – not for financial gain!
"For industry professionals…
"Learn your craft, inside out. Work hard, don’t be taken for a fool but be polite. Invest in yourself – I have found the help of creative coaches and mentors even in my later years such an incredible attribution to my development. We are constantly learning, adapting, and changing even as people so we must welcome all elements of progression.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
“He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward.”
What’s your biggest lesson from 2021 so far?
“That although we have made such positive progress in terms of the spotlight finally being shone brightly upon the terrible injustices of diversity within the music industry for POC, there is still much to do.
"We still do not have equally balanced work forces that reflect our population.
"Women are still predominantly paid less than their male co-workers not to mention the pay discrepancies faced by Black people. We must not be afraid to discuss these matters head on.
"Finally, believe in yourself and do you.”