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.
Silvia Gargiulo is the founder of BIY People & Talent, the people consultancy for the music business, which provides recruitment, HR and people development support to companies and individuals across the business side of the music industry. She’s also a podcaster and the creator of BIYPod, the people podcast for the music business, bringing listeners meaningful, motivating career conversations and inspiring insight from folks she’s met over the course of her career. Gargiulo has worked across music and media for over 20 years, with equity, access and empowering people at the heart of her work.
Here, Silvia Gargiulo 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?
“Honestly, I am delighted, grateful, and privileged to be included. It feels like a bit of a milestone for me. The work I do, day in, day out, sits behind the ‘behind the scenes’ teams that work on the projects, campaigns, and creative, so I feel really honoured to be recognised and included in this list.”
How do you look back on your early years getting into the industry?
“For me it was a mix of excitement about actually being able to work in music, combined with anxiety and an internal monologue of imposter syndrome… and it still is on some days! Music was always my passion, it utterly consumed me from childhood all the way through my 20s. I grew up in a working-class family where the idea of working in music was pretty much non-existent; I didn’t really believe it was an option for me. What I did know is that I needed to get a job to pay my rent, bills, and feed myself, so I started working full-time when I was about 18 and didn’t get a role working in music until I was 27, so it took almost 10 years to find my way in!”
Did you have a mentor at that stage?
“There were a few people who saw a spark of potential and pointed me in the right direction early on. The person who pushed me towards music was Tracy Donnelly, an HR consultant I met through work, she was so supportive and encouraging and had previously worked in music herself so saw it as an option for me. I was forever going on about gigs I was going to and the music I loved, and she said to me one day, ‘Silvia, you know record companies have HR departments, right?’ All of a sudden it felt like I might actually be able to build a career with the skills I’d developed in HR and combine it with my lifelong passion for music. It wasn’t long after that when I got a job at Universal Music and a music business career became a reality. I’ll always be grateful to Morna Cook at Universal for giving me that chance and hiring me, and the team at Handle for not only putting me forward for that role, but also for employing me later on when I moved from HR to recruitment.”
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
“When I look back, it’s a pretty big achievement that I’m running my own business given I left education aged 18 with two A-levels, no financial support, and no plan! I’m very proud of what BIY does and what we’re about. BIY stands for Believe it Yourself, Build it Yourself, Be it Yourself, and that’s what we do with people every single day across recruitment, HR and people development. That is whether it’s with candidates who are just starting out by providing access to employability skills and insight regarding routes into the industry, with people who are already on their music business career path and are looking for development or change, with business leaders who want to improve and develop their organisations and culture, and with collaborators who share our vision and values. I’m passionate about empowering people to build and grow their own careers and businesses within music, about thinking differently, doing better, and actively empowering people to achieve their potential by removing barriers and connecting people, and I get to do that with BIY.
"I also feel like the podcast, the BIYPod, is a pretty big personal achievement. I was terrified when I got behind the mic and Kearny hit record (‘Do I sound like a dick?’; ‘Will anyone listen to this?’; ‘Is that what my voice sounds like… really?!’) But with the support and encouragement of Anne Frankenstein (not only an absolute pro but also a total joy), Kearny and Danny, our wonderful production team, and our immensely generous and inspiring guests, we did it! The original idea behind the pod was to remove barriers to access and provide meaningful information about building a career in music. I’m always having candid chats with people at all levels right across the industry about the challenges they’re facing professionally and personally, as well as their wins and progress, so I wanted to create a music business podcast to let other people in on those career conversations, to provide access and insight into not only building but also maintaining a music business career, and to remind people they’re not alone when they’re facing challenges. I absolutely love doing the podcast, it’s a privilege to share our guests’ career stories, and I feel really proud of what we’ve created and where it could go.”
I wanted to create a music business podcast to let other people in on those career conversations
What advice would you offer young women about enjoying a successful career in music?
“There’s way too much to fit it all in here! But I’d say teamwork is key, collaboration is crucial, and celebrating others’ success is powerful! We all need to look out for each other and cheer each other on. I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive and successful women, like Arit Eminue, founder of Diva Apprenticeships and career coach, Helen Ward and Jenny Aston-Flemming of The Music Market, Olivia Hobbs, founder of Blackstar London, and Liz Goodwin, general manager of Atlantic Records, to name just a few. All brilliant women who have championed and supported me in recent years, not just in the good times but the tricky times too. I’d say keep looking around you to see who else you can bring along, whose voices you can amplify, and who you can empower along the way on your own journey.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?
“Arit always says, ‘When you know better, you can do better’, which I think is brilliant advice and has really stuck with me. Be aware and accountable, educate yourself. Jessica Lee, business psychologist and co-founder of The X-Percent, says, ‘Treat people how they want to be treated’, which I think is great advice. Empathy and understanding are crucial in building meaningful, lasting, and effective relationships.”
What’s your biggest lesson from 2021 so far?
“Balance, boundaries and burnout! I’m not great at the first two, but I know I need to proactively work on them to avoid the third. Burnout is real and it’s a big issue for lots of people in music right now. Someone said to me earlier this year, ‘I’m not working from home, I’m living at work’, I think lots of us can relate to that!”