Take a moment before you keep reading to think; how many women are in your top ten artists of all time? How much of your record collection is made up by women artists and musicians? How many of those women are getting reissues of their record or getting highlighted with Record Store Day releases? These are the types of questions that Lisa Power was asking herself and what led her to create the blog Reissues By Women. Lisa is a freelance A&R Consultant / Project Manager, predominantly working with catalog music. Her blog highlights catalog releases, archive projects, live albums and reissues by women, a much needed space as you’ll see upon continuing to read.
From her site: “Hand on heart, I’m doing my absolute dream job, and there are many days when the teenage me just would have been in total awe at the projects I work on. But I realized recently that a lot of my listening had become very narrow. And I have had a bit of a soap-box thing for the past few years about women being under-represented in catalogue release schedules (no offense to the wonderful male artists and bands whose projects I really love working on!). So this blog gives me a reason to constantly seek out and talk about great music by women. I tend to focus on catalogue releases, because that is what I know and love, but turns out I’m not averse to a bit of brand-new music either.”
In her free time she’s out running with friends, home-schooling (over the past year) took away a lot of her opportunities for it, but she’s getting back into it like the rest of us with our exercise past times… slowly.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
I was interested in music from a pretty young age, and I studied piano too, but I don’t think growing up that I ever really had an awareness of what sort of jobs might exist in the music industry that I could do. I certainly didn’t think that years of sitting in my bedroom as a teenager reading credits on album artwork would prove to be a useful grounding for my future career! At university, I did a Communications/Media degree and moved to London from Dublin in 1999 with a view to a career in film or TV. I signed up with a recruitment agency and the first temporary job they sent me on was to Abbey Road Studios. I just remember that I hadn’t a clue how to work the massive switchboard, I couldn’t even find the telephone receiver! Anyway, I can’t have been that bad because a few weeks later, the same recruitment agency asked me if I’d like to work for Paul McCartney. Who turns that down? I had a temporary job at his company, MPL, for a few months, assisting with publishing and production, and they offered me a permanent role. And that was where it all started, really.
What is a day in the life like?
A day in the life these days is a lot more localized than it would have been 18 months ago. I’ve got two kids, so after the school run, I grab a coffee and spend about an hour working on my blog post for that week, and then start the “day job”. I am a consultant for a number of different record labels, project-managing catalogue releases, including reissues and box sets. A typical day could involve things like researching new projects and unreleased material, scheduling releases, booking mastering, checking test pressings and production samples, working with designers and proofing artwork and calls with management and label teams. Pre-covid there might have been gigs and events too, hopefully those days will return!
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I count myself as pretty lucky, in that I get to work on a lot of cool stuff – including U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind 20th anniversary box set and the recent half-speed mastered vinyl release of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms. I am also very honored to be a small cog in the wheel for the Metallica album reissue series. Over the past year, the PJ Harvey vinyl reissue and demo series has been a thing of utter delight to be involved in, and I was so proud to be part of the team for the Diamond Edition reissue of Shania Twain’s The Woman In Me. And, I am currently working with the UK independent label Needle Mythology, founded by Pete Paphides, on some forthcoming releases that I am very excited about.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
That there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I would like to. I guess that’s a good complaint!
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
The passion for music bit is obvious, but incredibly useful. In the type of work I do – which has historical connections – attention to detail, an interest in the history of music, and good research skills are pretty important.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
My first love was cassettes, and from there I moved to CDs. When I met my husband in 1996, he had a large vinyl collection but in all honesty I never really got into vinyl until the revival in about 2008-ish when I started making records more regularly in my day job. The collecting part has only started in the last year – being at home more has meant being able to have more time during the day to listen to music in physical form, where previously I was on the move a lot and it tended to be all consumed via Spotify on my phone. So if there is one good thing to come out of the pandemic, it is re-kindling that connection with buying music and seeking things out.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Not specific to this time, but I’d love to see people thinking more about the gender balance of their listening habits, their record collections and the music they choose to play. There are so many hugely talented female artists and yet so many fewer women than men are signed to record labels. With catalogue music, I genuinely thought that this imbalance could be improved upon, given that there are decades of female artists to choose from. But the problem is just compounded, so many more men each decade were signed to labels and prioritized for releases and marketing campaigns, and continue to be dominant.
I realized last year that my own listening habits had started to skew very male, predominantly because of the fact that I only had time to listen to things I was working on, and those things at that particular time were by men, but also because being in lockdown at home, I was encountering very little incidental music. So I set up a blog – Reissues By Women – to document my own explorations into listening to more catalogue releases by women, and because I thought other people may also be interested in reconnecting with music by women if it was put in front of them.
I did some research this year into the Record Store Day list, this is one of the biggest release moments of the year for the catalogue music industry collectively and so it provides a really good snapshot of the status quo. And the data was incredibly disappointing, although sadly not surprising – only 20% of the list is releases that feature a woman in any capacity (female-only releases are just 11% of the list). So for people who buy records, my message is to have a think about what you are buying and what is being promoted to you, and what artists and labels and narratives you follow on social media, and whether you think you get what you feel is a good gender balance.