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Empowering women in France’s live music scene 

Words by DICE

Anaïs Condado, Head of Programming at La Machine du Moulin Rouge, talks inspiring female leadership with Alba Gautier, Director of Music Partnerships at DICE.

In France’s live music industry, women tend not to be widely represented in high-earning and high-prestige roles. But there are many who are paving the way and helping others climb up the ladder with them – Anaïs Condado and Alba Gautier are two of those women.

Anaïs is Head of Programming at La Machine du Moulin Rouge, home of the world-famous cabaret that’s been running for 125 years, as well as a club, and concerts and cultural events. Alba is DICE’s Director of Music Partnerships in France, a leadership role that sees her working with the best artists and venues in the country.

Alba and Anaïs sat down with DICE to discuss the state of the French music industry, what makes a great male ally, and the women who inspire them. 

Alba Gautier, Director of Music Partnerships at DICE

How did you get started in live music and what’s it like now?

Alba: “I went to university in Canada and studied the New York rap industry in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and decided that I wanted to work for a label. I did a promotional internship at Pias during an incredible time, when labels including Rough Trade, Beggars, Def Jux, Stones Throw and Warp were exploding. I promoted all of their artists. It was great – I was out every night. That was my real school, that was my real training.

“Then I joined iTunes in Luxembourg representing independent labels, writing digital promo strategies at the very beginning of the digital era. Afterwards, I came back to Paris and took a little detour into entertainment with Dailymotion before joining DICE. I had two little girls keeping me busy during all this, too.”

Anaïs: “I worked at Sinny Ooko and Dif Productions with Peggy Szkudlarek for a large part of my career. I learnt about events and show production, touring, booking, and artist development strategies. In March 2019, I came to La Machine du Moulin Rouge and took a production position at the same time as being a DJ, until I took the Head of Programming position, which was previously managed by Marc Resplandy.

“Marc expressed his desire to leave in early 2021, he called me in May and asked if I wanted to take over programming. My first reaction was ‘No!’, because I didn’t feel capable enough. I took a long break where I had time to think. Then I came back to Paris and thought, ‘What am I doing? I’ve been doing this for six years, I should take the next step.’ 

“I made an appointment with Julien Delcey, my director, to ask for the opportunity and he said, ‘Yes, of course!’ I’m very proud to have asked for the opportunity and not to have relied on someone else’s choice. It wasn’t up to someone else to push me. Of course, it scared me, but I put that to one side and focused on the passion that I have for putting lineups together and my relationships with promoters. Now, I’m happy in my role and feel like I belong here.” 

Do you feel that women are making strides in France’s music industry?

Alba: “There are signs that things are changing a little. We saw Marie-Anne Robert become CEO of Sony in France, which was huge. Pauline Duarte arrived at Epic Records, too. Believe communicated a lot about equality within its teams. However, it’s only been two years since I returned to the live industry and I don't feel things have changed all that much. Traditionally, women were usually in communications or ticketing. Now, there are more women in production and in booking, but I don’t think much has changed for high-responsibility positions. I think that’s structural, because of how this industry was built.

“Judging from discussions with independent industry players, I feel that each one wants to make things happen. Each one individually wants to take part in this change, so collectively we must be able to do something.”

Anaïs: “Things are moving but it’s still quite slow on the live side, especially programming. Peggy was one of the only female programmers in Paris a few years ago at La Machine. In Scènes de musiques actuelles (SMAC) today, you can count the female directors on one hand. But there are a lot of women coming up lately. There’s Anaëlle Saas at Macadam; Lisa from Tsunami Records, who is also a DJ, who joined 1O1 in Clermont-Ferrandand to look after the programming; Maxye at le Sacré; Juliette Lamotte (former member of the Sinny & Ooko team), who has just joined the Jardin 21 and KM25 programming team; and Rag from Barbi(e)turix at Virage.

“So female representation is increasing, but there aren’t many women in high-ranking positions. When I was appointed, so many people messaged me saying ‘It’s great that you were chosen and that you’re a woman.’ This is proof that high-ranking women are the exception.”

Today,
you
can
count
the
female
directors
on
one
hand.
But
there
are
a
lot
of
women
coming
up
lately.

What can we do to create a more equitable industry?

Alba: "Today, most independent companies are owned by men. So, one of the questions to raise is the access to entrepreneurship for women. “In line with the work of Shesaid.so, we need more training and mentoring for women. But if the most influential people in this industry are men, how impactful is it for women to solely rely on mentoring by other women? Don’t get me wrong, it’s good and positively impacts self-confidence, but as far as business practices are concerned, men should also be involved."

“For this, I’d imagine men who have experience setting up businesses, and reputations in the industry, would be great mentors to women. More programmes could be created to encourage today’s male producers to support women developing their businesses. It shouldn’t be done in a paternal fashion, but with a real desire to support projects and exchange ideas with people you consider your equals. If you have experienced men around you saying, ‘I work with her because in this craft, she’s the best’, you’re more likely to be taken seriously.” 

Anaïs: “I completely agree. I think the next step is to normalise training from men or women in support of women, but also to normalise business structures based on competence. When it comes to creativity, logistics, production elements of business, there is no real difference between women and men. But in terms of getting a business started and business planning, it’s another story. The lack of self confidence may stem from pressure from some men in this industry. Most women have experienced situations that brought them face to face with sexism and patriarchy. But we should stop having imposter syndrome; women need to understand they deserve to be where they are.”

We
should
stop
having
imposter
syndrome;
women
need
to
understand
they
deserve
to
be
where
they
are.

Anaïs Condado, Head of Programming at La Machine du Moulin Rouge

Who are the women who have inspired you?

Alba: “When I arrived at Dailymotion, I had been working in music for 10 years, in an environment where you mix personal and professional worlds. At Dailymotion, I had to work with TV partners that I didn’t know, that I couldn’t find at concerts. I didn’t have a network. So I created a club with girlfriends with similar interests, the same goals and difficulties as me. I was a little tired of seeing boys’ clubs being created everywhere. We met every month for a few years to talk about open positions and recommended each other for jobs.I really didn’t have any mentors, I created my mentors from my peers and it was more of an exchange between us.”

Anaïs: “Peggy Szkudlarek really took me under her wing and said ‘Let’s build up a new agency, you’re an intern but I don’t care, let’s go!’ And the same with Julien Delcey. Peggy has really been a mentor over the years, someone who saw potential in me. She was one of the only female programmers at the time, and she’s always rooted for me. She never said, ‘she’s my assistant’, she always presented me as an equal. I think it’s really important for self-confidence to have someone as benevolent as her. It has really helped me progress.”

I
created
my
mentors
from
my
peers
and
it
was
more
of
an
exchange
between
us.

La Machine du Moulin Rouge

How is La Machine du Moulin Rouge changing the narrative around women in music?

Anaïs: “La Machine du Moulin Rouge really lives by its equal values. You don’t feel any difference when men at the venue talk to you, you don’t feel they’re passing judgement because of your gender. And if it ever happens we take it very seriously and address it quickly. On the professional side, since I’ve been there, they’ve always said, ‘Follow your own path, do your own job, develop your own desires. If they’re in line with our values, we’ll give you the space to progress.”

If you’d like to speak to Alba about working with DICE, get in touch.

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