“Know your shit,” music-industry entrepreneur Lola Plaku told a room full of Toronto creatives last week: “The only way to command respect in a room is if you know your shit.” It’s career advice that Plaku, who is the marketing force behind some of today’s biggest artists, like French Montana and The Weeknd, shared with young women aspiring to break into the music industry.
Plaku was in Toronto for the launch of the Toronto chapter of Girl Connected, her mentorship program for young women in the music business. Plaku led a conversation at Daniels Spectrum with the organization’s 2020 mentors: Krystyn Price, director of Talent Relations at Complex; Riggs Morales senior vice-president, A&R/artist development at Atlantic Records; Nicole Wyskoarko executive VP of Urban Operations at Interscope and Geffen A&M; and Adam Zia, CEO of The Zia Firm, a boutique legal firm. Together, they discussed their involvement in the Girl Connected program, their experiences in the music industry and their roles as leaders and mentors to the younger generation. As part of Plaku’s program, the four mentors will be guiding 20 young Toronto-area women as they explore the music business based on their field of interest, professional ambitions and goals.
Here’s what we learned from the industry giants about leadership, mentorship and navigating the male-dominated industry as a woman.
The Power of Passion
“You need to have passion and grit. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do as long as you’re ready to work hard. There were times in my career I felt I was taking steps back, but my work ethic is how I made a name for myself which led to opportunities.” – Krystyn Price, director of talent relations at Complex
Find Mentors Who Care
“We work in a super competitive industry and sometimes it can be hard to find people we can trust and ask for advice. Now I don’t feel like it always has to be that way. You can have mentors who are looking out for you.” – Adam Zia, CEO of The Zia Firm, a boutique legal firm
Command The Room
“When I walk into a room I demand to be respected and I let it be known that I am here to work. Sometimes people get it twisted and think we (women in the industry) are just here to be around the artists. I make sure I am as explicit as possible so people know I am here to work and only work.” – Nicole Wyskoarko executive VP of Urban Operations at Interscope and Geffen A&M
Male Allyship is Important
“I’ve always thought what a man is thinking a woman has already thought; women have this incredible intuitiveness. When I look around my industry, all of the major teams are being led by women and I think that says something. As a male, my role is pushing female clients and managers. There aren’t enough women A&R in this business.” – Riggs Morales senior vice-president, A&R/artist development at Atlantic Records
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.