Entertainment industry veteran Shanti Das’ resume makes one thing clear: Women in the music business can be more than video girls or groupies. Das, who has experience in the executive suites of LaFace Records, Columbia Records and, more recently, Universal Motown Records, has worked with marketing and building the success of top talents including Prince, Erykah Badu, Outkast, and Usher.
Now the founder and CEO of entertainment and music consulting company PressReset.me, Das gives an inside glimpse into the industry via her latest book The Hip-Hop Professional: A Woman’s Guide to Climbing the Ladder of Success (PressReset.me Publishing; $19.95). The quick read highlights lessons she’s learned about building relationships, creating lucrative campaigns, and pursuing her dreams despite challenges–useful tips for any industry.
BlackEnterprise.com talked with the savvy exec about what she calls ‘the power of the P’ and how a woman can excel in a male-dominated industry.
Perserverence: To strive in an industry in a current environment where so few record labels remain, you must be persistent and keep striving toward your goal, Das says. “Don’t take no for an answer. It might be someone that you meet and it’s two months later that you get back in contact with them—it’s all about staying focused and keeping in contact with people.”
Professionalism: “I can’t stress that enough,” Das says. What may seem like a small gesture–i.e., returning phone calls–can be big in the industry. “In this business, everything is based on your word,” Das adds. “If your word is nothing, you’re not going to have a great reputation and people aren’t going to want to do business with you.”
Positioning: Das says interning is very important for college students just starting out because a lot of companies hire from within. And when it comes to networking–for newbies and veterans–when attending events, don’t just “hang in the corner,” she advises. “Position yourself to the right people in the room. It’s important to be strategic about who you’re talking to and who you’re networking with, as opposed to just showing up and drinking cocktails.”
Poker Face: “In the workplace, this can be a pretty volatile industry sometimes. And especially as a woman, you have to keep that poker face.” Women often wear their emotions on their sleeves, she says, which can be a disadvantage during heated discussions, disagreements, or negotiations. “Your male counterparts will see that as a sign of weakness and use that against you,” Das adds. Always be prepared. If you need a moment, Das says, ask to be excused to gather your emotions and then come back and give your response based on facts, not how you feel at the moment.
Tell us what you think: Is it more difficult for women to be successful in the entertainment industry than it is for me? If so, why?