The Bigger Bubbl is a series of pieces where we focus on a company or individual that we think deserves a high five. We could talk about ourselves all the time, but where’s the fun in that?
“This is a people business and it’s small. Be nice and helpful and supportive to everyone you meet. “
From managing bands as a teenager to running her own consultancy The BKRY, Lara Baker has certainly had an interesting journey to get to where she is today. I was lucky enough to talk to her earlier this week.
Hi Lara, thank you for talking to me. Firstly, how did you get started in the music industry?
I did a music business degree and managed bands during my teens, which gave me a good basis to start from. I then got an internship at EMI Records (RIP) in the Catalogue Press department at the same time as working a part-time job at AIM. After a few months of juggling the two, I quit EMI and went full time at AIM as I was getting a much more involved and interesting experience there working with independent labels at the very beginning of the digital market. I started as an Administrator, and over the course of the following 12 years, my role grew and evolved until I was appointed Marketing & Events Director, becoming a member of the Board.
What are you currently doing?
A year ago I started my own consultancy business The BKRY, which offers marketing/comms, event planning/programming and diversity consultancy. In my first year as a business founder, I have worked as Head of Sessions Programming for BBC Music Introducing Live, and worked with clients including the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), the Musicians Union, Liverpool Sound City, the Music Managers Forum, AmericanaFest UK and The Great Escape Festival. I mostly programme speakers and talent for events, but I’m hoping to expand more into supplying comms/PR services for music businesses and organisations.
What would you say have been the high points in your career so far?
Starting the AIM Awards around 9 years ago and running them for 8 years was a huge learning curve. Seeing phenomenal independent talent recognised on that stage was a wonderful feeling – those awards really mean something to the artists and labels celebrated. I’m also very proud of last year’s BBC Music Introducing Live event, for which I managed to programme a 50/50 gender split on speakers at an event that had over 500 speakers! It was really rewarding to see the young aspiring musicians there getting to meet their heroes, and be inspired at the event. It meant a lot to be recognised at the Music Women, Women in Music Awards in 2017 amongst so many incredible women across the industry – I’m really passionate about achieving better diversity in this business; especially at senior levels. Oh, and I would say that giving a TEDx talk late last year on addressing the music industry power imbalance was a high point, but it was actually pretty terrifying and I’m glad that’s over!
Being made redundant last year was a really challenging time, I wrote about it recently in a blog here.
What excites you about the current state/future of the industry?
I’m excited about the potential for a more diverse music business as things like gender pay gap reporting regulations and diversity task forces begin to have an impact on the old norms. I am certain that once the power in the industry is in more diverse hands, we’ll be a more effective and exciting business and things like sexual harassment and negative cultures that have persisted for years will decrease. I’m optimistic about the next generation of the business, but we have a long way to go to really address the power imbalance.
What concerns you about the current state/future of the industry? Issues that need to be addressed?
See above! I also worry about the amount of mental health problems and suicides (particularly in males) that we’re seeing lately – this business can be very unhealthy and ‘always on’, with no real boundaries between work and personal life, and even young people in music are experiencing burn out and depression. We need to change our culture and do more to look after ourselves and each other.
And finally, what advice would you give to anyone starting out?
This is a people business and it’s small. Be nice and helpful and supportive to everyone you meet. Don’t be a dick. Build your personal network of people who support you.
Thanks Lara, you’re a legend.