Nicole Barcelona - Women in Music International
Where were you at in your music career when you had your first child? Was there much discussion about how that life choice would affect your career within the music/entertainment industry?
I was pregnant with our first child in 2014 when I was just starting out on my own as an artist manager. Unfortunately, our daughter was stillborn and I ended up needing to take a good deal of time off to grieve that loss and heal. When our second daughter was born in 2017, I was in the midst of my first album release cycle with a management client and for me, becoming a mother fueled my motivation and efficiency like nothing had before! Motherhood is so often painted as something that potentially stalls a career, but what I don't think we discuss enough is what a source of inspiration, creativity and motivation it can be to succeed and go for things beyond your wildest dreams. There's an element of invincibility when you become a mom, and I felt that fuel my work. In 2022, I had another baby girl and she too has been a new source of motivation and inspiration - this time around, I'm more established in my career and I'm more self-assured as a mom, so I've been able to really build in the support I need to accomplish goals on both fronts, and lean into that support rather than trying to do it all myself. Before we had kids, I knew I'd take on a greater role at home because my career was more flexible than my husband's more traditional corporate career, but what I didn't realize was that the "flexibility" that comes with an entrepreneurial career can actually be more of a challenge than a benefit if you don't set up systems for support. Getting into a groove with having a "flexible" schedule (that's actually just 24/7 with no imposed structure) took a minute to figure out.
As a working parent in the music industry, what are some of the biggest challenges you are facing?
As an artist manager, my fees are based on commission, which means my income varies from quarter to quarter / year to year. There's not much visibility into what I'll be making beyond basic projections, so while I'm lucky to have a dual income household and not to have to worry as I would if I were a sole earner, financial planning is top of mind because childcare is so, so expensive in the U.S. and there's no built-in support to offset those costs.
What is one small change within the industry that could make a positive impact for working parents?
I think just making parenthood more accessible would be a huge help - are there pumping/nursing pods at conferences and festivals and in our company spaces? Are there changing tables in restrooms everywhere we operate - and not just in the women's rooms, but the men's rooms and all-gender rooms, for f*cks sake! Is there childcare coverage offered at conferences so that parents can travel without having to find and pay for full-time and sometimes overnight childcare coverage or risk missing a conference?
How do you find support and community with other working parents in or out of the music industry?
At Women in Music, we host Moms in Music programming and we are launching affinity groups for micro-networking so I'm really excited to connect more parents in our amazing, diverse, global community. We have some incredible industry-leading parents who are so open about what parenthood in music is like, and I think highlighting them more to show greater and more representation for the many different types of parenthood will help inspire more folks to know it's doable. I left my first job in this business in my mid-twenties because I didn't think it was sustainable to be on the road constantly and working 24/7 without boundaries when I knew I wanted to have a family one day. The industry culture back then was so different, and having a family wasn't something anyone I worked with ever talked about - especially as a woman, it was seen as a limiting factor in your bandwidth and motivation. Then I saw a Moms in Music panel at SXSW in 2014 and it featured artist managers, and I was like, wow, this is a thing! These women are doing it, so I can craft a path that makes it work for me too. That representation is key, and then supporting one another through the trials and tribulations is key as we grow.
What’s one specific example of an organization/venue/company doing something great to help support working parents?
Noelle Scaggs and her organization Diversify the Stage is doing amazing work to diversify and hold accountable the live side of the industry, and that helps us all. When we have pledges to hire diverse staff and not to tolerate discrimination on tour and in our venues and in our workplaces, everyone benefits.The call-to-action isn't specific to working parents, but I think the work to normalize diversity in all forms helps parents. I've also just recently learned about some great organizations like Family Alliance in Music (https://www.familyallianceinmusic.org) and more - I think we'll see a lot of great changes to support families in the years to come.
What could a music event (festival, conference, etc.), do or provide to make it easier for you to participate?
I mean at a baseline, all music conferences and festivals should have a room with dedicated childcare staffed - it could be a simple RSVP / sign-up that requires a deposit so they can plan accordingly, and parents could bring their kids and know that they'd have a place with qualified childcare to lean on. If I could have brought my newborn to a conference or even now with a one year old, it would mean I could stay for more than 24 hrs and get more business done, because I wouldn't have to worry about all of the logistics of pumping, or overnight childcare coverage at home, etc.
Can you shout out another music mama doing great things?
There are just so many! Molly Neuman, CMO of Downtown Music Holdings and WIM Advisory Board member shows what parenting and leading in action looks like - and she shares the pros and the cons candidly. Nicki Loranger is an artist manager mom who does it all, and I think in the artist management space people assume there are few moms because management is all-consuming, but that's not true, there are so many moms who are leading artist management. Bridget Perdomo who is a WIM Board Director and at VP at UMG is a major inspiration to me, she is such a great example of a strong working mother in music. Andreea Gleeson, CEO of TuneCore has young kids, which is exciting to see because those early years are so often the hardest to juggle and we rarely hear from parents of kids under four who are also leading major companies. The list goes on, and I am so lucky to have so many fellow moms in music in the WIM community to celebrate and commiserate with - I don't know what I'd do without them!