On the Girls In Music Awards 2022, we celebrated the achievements of 12 game-changing executives and artists because the trade got here collectively to honour their work. Music Week has spoken to all 12 winners to inform their tales.
Selina Webb, former Music Week editor, now govt vp at Common Music UK, was the recipient of the Girls In Music Excellent Contribution award, which was offered by CEO & chairman David Joseph…
Rising up in a pub with a jukebox all to herself, this 12 months’s Excellent Contribution winner Selina Webb began early on her lifelong ardour for music. Straight from faculty, she joined her native newspaper as a reporter and resurrected the music column, turning into a vocal champion of native expertise and the succession of latest bands who handed by means of Aylesbury within the mid-eighties.
In 1987, her obsession discovered a full-time outlet at Music Week, the place she arrived as a reporter simply in time for the second summer time of affection, Britpop and the emergence of the Spice Women. Over the following decade, Webb moved up the ranks to change into Music Week’s first and solely feminine editor, turning into a distinguished advocate for the music trade at a time when it was usually within the nationwide headlines.
Webb joined Common Music in 1998 as director of press at Polydor Information, assembling an award-winning press crew and overseeing a number of the largest music information tales of the 2000s. She then grew to become senior director of communications for Common Music UK in 2010, earlier than stepping as much as her broader position as the corporate’s govt vp in early 2016.
Webb has labored carefully with Common Music UK chairman David Joseph on spearheading initiatives round girls in A&R, artist wellbeing and neurodiversity. Alongside EMI’s Rebecca Allen, she additionally co-chaired the critically acclaimed, and BAFTA nominated, BRIT Awards in 2021, and sits as a governor of ELAM, in addition to sharing her 35 years of expertise within the trade as a member of the BPI Council.
Right here, Selina Webb appears again at her storied profession thus far…
Congratulations on successful this 12 months’s Excellent Achievement award, has it given you a uncommon likelihood to pause and mirror in your profession?
“After an preliminary freak-out, it’s undoubtedly was one thing I really feel proud and honoured to obtain. And naturally it’s made me mirror, not least on the way it’s doable I’m now a kind of old-timers with 30-plus years within the trade… One of many nicest issues about this award is it’s taken me down reminiscence lane pondering of the individuals who have both impressed me or given me these essential life possibilities – from my mum to the chemistry instructor on the boys’ grammar faculty who knew all of the cool bands and introduced them to Aylesbury, to the editor on the native paper who gave a younger lady with no expertise her first break in journalism. And whereas it’s true that I’ve hardly ever given any thought to my ‘profession’, barely a day goes by once I don’t thank my fortunate stars for having the ability to work round music and music folks.”
Your profession has been extremely numerous, beginning out in journalism and, in fact, serving as a Music Week editor on the peak of Britpop and Spice Mania. Are you able to regale us with a few of your favorite moments?
“It was exhausting to maintain up! We had been dwelling in Cool Britannia and music tales routinely grew to become large headlines and cultural moments. I suppose all of it got here collectively across the 1996 Brit Awards. We had been nonetheless within the throes of Blur vs Oasis, reeling from the information of Take That’s break-up and the thrill was beginning to develop across the Spice Women. Because of Gary Farrow, I used to be sat at a desk subsequent to the stage with all of the tabloid editors on the time (the likes of Kelvin MacKenzie, Stuart Higgins and Rebekah Brooks), full of life firm and a ringside seat for Jarvis Cocker invading the stage to moon at Michael Jackson. As moments go, that one was jaw-dropping.
“Rewinding a number of years to once I first began on the journal, being despatched to cowl the New Music Seminar in New York in 1989 was one thing else. Going straight from the airport to see George Clinton and Funkadelic on the Palladium, then ending up at some membership with Lil Louis’ French Kiss spinning and rows of gorgeous New Yorkers voguing was mind-blowing for a 22-year-old from the sticks.
“Again house the forerunner for The Nice Escape was In The Metropolis in Manchester, the brainchild of Manufacturing facility Information founder Tony Wilson, which collided with Madchester and the tail finish of Haçienda. Steve Redmond, my very astute boss on the time, is from up there and was a superb buddy of Tony’s, so Music Week went complete ITC immersion with a each day journal to provide alongside the around-the-clock schedule of debate, bands and clubbing. It was severely full-on however a robust annual re-set of the trade considered from exterior London – one thing which we might do extra of now.
“Then there have been the excesses of the annual label conferences down on the south coast – bear in mind this was Kill Your Buddies period (with out the murders). One ‘spotlight’ was being hypnotised reside on stage by Paul McKenna in entrance of 1 total firm which shall stay anonymous…”
You left to hitch Polydor in 1998 as director of press. What was that leap like, to instantly end up throughout the label system?
“Lucian [Grainge] satisfied me to make that leap – one thing I’ll all the time be so grateful for – and his enthusiasm and perception helped make it a simple transition. Speaking to journalists about music and tales was acquainted territory, and ours is a small trade so I knew most individuals across the boardroom desk on my first day at Polydor. However what was instantly placing was how in your toes you wanted to be to cope with the fast-paced and unpredictable life inside a label.
“When you concentrate on it, modifying a commerce journal is pretty controllable – in the event you test each proof you’ve obtained a reasonably good thought of what the result shall be, even when it wasn’t all the time doable to maintain everybody blissful. Overseeing the press for the Polydor roster – which went from the Bee Gees and Boyzone to Van Morrison by way of Eminem, Women Aloud and The Lighthouse Household – introduced with it a smorgasbord of personalities and variables which required a mindset shift. And a superb crew. I do look again with pleasure on that first golden period for Polydor press at Black Lion Lane: Sundraj Sreenivasan, Richard Dawes, Pam Ribbeck, Stu Bell, Jade Burelli, Paul Smernicki, Phoebe Sinclair, Amanda Williams – brilliance all spherical. After which watching Steph [Duncan-Bosu] and Susie [Ember] fly at Polydor since I moved to my new position has been particular.”
One of many nicest issues about this award is it’s taken me down reminiscence lane pondering of the individuals who have both impressed me or given me these essential life possibilities
In your journey from that Polydor position to Common Music EVP, are there any classes you’ve realized alongside the way in which, or mantras which have stood you in good stead?
“At Polydor we had been all the time instructed it was OK to ‘make a multitude’ which I don’t assume was meant to be taken actually, however was extra about being daring and by no means taking part in secure. Empowering folks to tear up the rulebook is the place creativity and innovation comes from. One other mantra I’ve caught to is that you would be able to all the time discover a method. Claire Haffenden and I’ve labored collectively to ship some large moments through the years, and we’ve all the time pushed for perfection – with the realisation that whereas perfection is just not all the time doable, that mindset will get you to a greater place than you’ll have been had you simply waved one thing by means of.
“There was one other lesson which sounds small however was one thing fairly profound. Having a journalistic background, I used to have fairly a tough line about spelling and grammar, however I’ve realized to recover from myself on that one.
“The one who is aware of use an apostrophe isn’t essentially the identical one who can concurrently make an artist, supervisor, journalist, stylist and photographer really feel snug at a shoot, or the identical individual who’s going to provide you with or execute a superb artistic thought. And that realisation fed right into a wider lesson about what makes the perfect crew – a bunch of individuals with completely different strengths and methods of pondering. Our Artistic Variations handbook – commissioned by David [Joseph, chairman & CEO of Universal Music UK] to embrace neurodiversity within the artistic industries – could be very a lot a celebration of this.
“David has been such a implausible boss these previous 14 years and simply earlier than he requested me to take my wider position at Common he left a paperback on my desk: Quiet by Susan Cain. It was his refined method of telling me I already had the precise instruments for the brand new job. Such a deft contact. Whether or not you’re an introvert or not I like to recommend you learn that guide because it genuinely modified the way in which I see the world. Very brief model: it’s OK to be your self.”
Is there anybody who performed an enormous position in your profession you’d wish to shout out?
“Aside from David in fact it’s obtained to be Lucian, who knew I’d thrive in a label once I didn’t realize it myself. They’ve each been empowering and genuinely inspirational to work for. From the skin some folks like to color an image of Common as the large company beast, however from the within to me it’s all the time felt like a household, and it’s a spot the place household all the time comes first. I had such help from Lucian when my daughter got here alongside quickly after I joined Polydor, and was promoted instantly after I got here again. That strategy to new mother and father ought to in fact be a given however I do know from buddies working in different firms and industries it actually isn’t.
“And it’s exhausting to specific how grateful I’m for the sensible folks I’m fortunate sufficient to work alongside – a particular shout out to my teammate and work spouse Claire Haffenden who has been a pleasure to work with these 20 plus years, and though we’re solely 5 years in, ditto the sensible owl who’s Jonathan Badyal. I even have to say the incomparable Sue Murphy, whose help and positivity is one thing everybody ought to have of their lives.”
One other programme was overseeing the creation of Common Music UK’s artist counselling service, the trade’s first ‘in-house’ service, which helps artists with recommendation on all features of their careers. What tangible influence have you ever seen that make thus far?
“One of the vital essential features of the service is that it’s confidential, so though Claire and Sundraj are operating issues in-house we don’t get to listen to the main points of the help being given. That mentioned, some themes are rising which do underline how difficult it’s to be an artist in our ‘all the time on’ world, and the way completely very important it’s to have help in place. Social media might be such a brutal, unforgiving and confidence-sapping place.
“Ideally, each new artist could be paired with a counsellor they’re snug with from day one – preparedness and prevention are so key. We now have had optimistic suggestions from the various artists who’ve used the service but additionally from members of the crew who’ve been getting specialist recommendation on how finest to help those that haven’t but engaged.
“The dialog round psychological well being could also be extra open however the stigma hasn’t gone away, and we’re working exhausting to interrupt that down.”
Some may not find out about different belongings you’re concerned in, akin to East London Arts & Music and Audio system For Colleges. What position does training play in shaping the trade of tomorrow? Why is that essential to you?
“It’s important, notably in a younger trade like ours. There’s that line, ‘Expertise is in every single place, however alternative is just not’ which is true in fact, however the different lacking piece is training. There’s a lot misinformation about our trade and loads to be executed to clarify the completely different roles in our enterprise. Everybody has seen what the BRIT College has achieved and we now have a dozen ELAM alumni working in 4 Pancras Sq., a few of them nonetheless of their teenagers, and they’re all complete stars, leaders of the long run. I hope the BRIT College of the North will get off the bottom and additional proves the worth of nurturing creativity throughout the UK.
“The opposite level is round position fashions and being seen as a lady in a senior place within the trade. Though my mentors have all been males – which I’m not complaining about contemplating the lads they’ve been! – if you’re beginning out it’s important to have position fashions you may see yourselves in. I believed I might have a profession in music as a result of I occurred to fulfill the late Terri Anderson, who will need to have been working for Billboard on the time, on the CBS manufacturing unit in Aylesbury once I was doing work expertise at my native paper. One likelihood assembly which made all of the distinction.”
Within the grand scheme of your achievements, the place does placing on probably probably the most tough to orchestrate BRITs rank?
“Oh, it’s up on the prime for certain! You say it was tough [during the pandemic], which it was, however there was a lot pure pleasure in there as nicely. You would really feel each artist, each member of the crew, was passionately invested in making this particular second of positivity after a lot darkness. The creativity of Yinka Ilori and Es Devlin totally introduced that ambition of optimism to life, from the set to the statuettes and each little element in between. One of the best half was working with Becky [Allen] and Sally [Wood] and discovering that we had been so crazily aligned we obtained issues executed virtually by telepathy, which was useful as every little thing was on Zoom.
“And then you definately may need thought the day of the present could be a stress-fest however thanks in no small half to Sally, Maggie [Crowe] and the exceptional BRITs crew, Becky and I simply felt excited and completely zen. We took ourselves off to look at the present with a bunch of pretty key employees and did really feel immensely happy with what everybody had pulled off. Then the BAFTA nomination got here out of the blue as a beautiful postscript.”
Click on right here for this 12 months’s winner’s and a full report together with movies of acceptance speeches.