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Spotlight - Margaret McGuffin

Spotlight – Margaret McGuffin – CEO, Music Publishers Canada Women in the Studio Accelerator. Margaret comes to us to chat about the program and the objective of the program to showcase the talented Women in the Studio. This is a great program and the second year we’ve got to check it out.

Spotlight - Margaret McGuffin
Can you provide an overview of the Women In The Studio National Accelerator. Including its mission to support women and non gender conforming people in the music production industry? What inspired the creation of this program?

The Women in the Studio National Accelerator offers women, gender fluid, non-binary, and gender non-conforming music producer-songwriters a series of curated workshops, educational sessions, and networking opportunities during a seven-month program.

The Accelerator started out of necessity. Research from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative suggests that women are massively underrepresented across the music industry – especially in the studio. Of the top songs released between 2012-2021, only 2.8% are produced by women. This imbalance is something that Music Publishers Canada is committed to helping change, and we are challenging all of our partners to help us.

Music Publishers Canada is committed to shifting the gender imbalance in the industry that exists for these producers and supporting a vibrant creative and technical community that grows each year.

As the CEO of Music Publishers Canada, what are some of the key goals and objectives you have set for the 2023 Women In The Studio National Accelerator?

The Accelerator is celebrating its fifth year. Every year, we strive to expand the programming to offer participants engaging training sessions and networking opportunities based on feedback from past cohorts. These producers are already working as songwriters and producers, and we want to help them move their careers to the next level. We also want to customize the programming to the needs of this specific cohort.  

This year, we brought the producers to Toronto during Canadian Music Week in early June for a packed week of workshops, co-writing opportunities, panels, networking events, and opportunities to mingle with music industry leaders. Thanks to funding from our partners at RBC Emerging Artists, FACTOR and Ontario Creates, we’re also able to offer some programming opportunities for our Accelerator alumni. We believe strongly in creating a strong and thriving community that includes all of our Accelerator graduates and their mentors that continue engagement past their graduation.

How does the program aim to address the gender disparity in the music production field? Are there specific initiatives or strategies in place to foster inclusivity and provide opportunities for women in the studio?

We harness our considerable network to provide the producers with the most meaningful learning and mentorship experiences possible. The programming will continue virtually until December and will focus on topics including technical skills, financial literacy, branding, and music business skills. Each producer, as a condition of acceptance, has also agreed to explore volunteer opportunities in their own community.

Can you highlight some success stories or notable achievements from previous editions of the Women In The Studio National Accelerator? How has the program impacted the careers of its participants?

2022 producer La-Nai Gabriel won the 2022 ‘Best Original Score for Interactive Media’ CASMA (Canadian Screen Music) Award for their work on No Reason to Apologize: The Resilient Legacy of Viola Desmond. Another winner at that Awards Show was 2021 grad Steph Copeland, who won the 2022 ‘Best Original Score for a Television Special’ CASMA Award for their work on Lethal Love. Another one of our 2022 grads, Erin Costelo, became the Producer for East Coast Music Hour on CBC last year. Isabelle Banos opened her own studio in Montreal. You can find a full list of the producer grads here.

In what ways does the program support the development of technical skills and creative abilities for women interested in music production? Are there specific workshops, mentorships, or resources provided to participants?

The program provides several workshops focusing on technical skills, including various aspects of audio production. One mentor we love working with is Dr. Amandine Pras. She leads workshops and 1:1 sessions on mixing and mastering techniques and the scientific principles behind recording and production. We also arrange for the producers to access co-writing opportunities and work with other songwriters and producers throughout the program. We were fortunate to have British songwriter Fiona Bevan (who has written frequently with Ed Sheeran) join us in Toronto this year and provided feedback to the producers during a series of listening sessions.

Collaboration and networking can be vital for career growth. How does the Women In The Studio National Accelerator facilitate connections between participants, industry professionals, and potential mentors?

Our participants meet a wide variety of our industry connections during the in-person residency week in Toronto, but this networking will continue until December. We get great support from all of our music publisher members. They have been there since the beginning and play a lead role in selecting and mentoring the producers.

Because the bulk of the learning sessions are completed virtually, we are able to facilitate conversations with mentors and industry contacts that may not be available to come to Toronto in person. We started the virtual learning out of necessity during the pandemic, but continue to offer these virtual sessions because it allows us to offer a broader schedule of opportunities during the full program.

Funding and financial support are often crucial for emerging artists and producers. Does the program provide any resources or guidance on navigating the financial aspects of music production? Are there opportunities for participants to secure financial backing for their projects?

This is an important area of focus for us. A number of the workshops that we offer the participants are geared specifically toward helping the producers navigate the financial, legal, and business aspects of being a working producer-songwriter. We arrange for industry experts to talk to them about the music publishing sector. Financial literacy, and the legal side of the business (including how producer agreements are structured). We also give the group information on how to access royalties from collectives like SOCAN and CMRRA, and what they need to know about making sure they receive the royalties and payments they are owed. We would like to share a special thanks to our partners at RBC who help us with this financial literacy training.

Technology and innovation play a significant role in the music industry today. How does the Women In The Studio National Accelerator Program address the ever-evolving landscape of music production and incorporate the latest technological advancements?

We are fortunate to have the opportunity for the producers to learn from successful music producers and songwriters who are actively working in the industry. For example, our cohort has already had the opportunity to meet with producer Eli Brown (Drake, Young Thug) and audio engineer Angie Randisi (OVO Sound) to learn about their careers and what they’re working on. Canadian JUNO winner Hill Kourkoutis is also a big supporter of the program and producer Karen Kosowski will be joining us in Hamilton in September for a panel at the Canadian Country Music Awards conference.

How do you envision the program’s future growth and impact on a broader scale?

We’re always looking for ways to enhance the program for our participants and also offer new opportunities to other producers and songwriters. Recently we partnered with the Songwriters Association of Canada and the Screen Composers Guild of Canada to host a session focusing on communicating effectively in the studio. Dr. Pras led a three-hour session for songwriters, composers,  performers, and beatmakers to help these creators deconstruct the power dynamics in the studio and use effective communications to collaborate with sound technicians, engineers, and producers. These are the types of new initiatives that would love to continue to develop and collaborate on.  

Lastly, what advice or encouragement would you give to aspiring women in music production who may be considering applying to the Women In The Studio National Accelerator or pursuing a career in the field?

Keep working on your craft, learning about the business side of music, and co-writing with others as often as possible. We also want you to apply to Women in the Studio next year!  We will be taking new applications in Spring 2024.

This Spotlight – Margaret McGuffin gave us a lot more insight on this amazing program.

Make sure to check out the link to the program for more info

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