To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 I spoke to Solent Alumni Jo Howarth.
Please introduce yourself and what you do.
I’m Jo, I’m a Management Assistant at YMU. I work across an artist roster that includes Gary Barlow & James Arthur, and on the producer/writer side of the business looking after a producer and two songwriters.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in the music industry and what made you want to get involved in it?
Definitely not. I wanted to work with animals! I wound up here after a change of heart when I realised I really enjoy working with creatives. I guess in hindsight I’ve always been interested in music beyond the norm. I loved bands, was vey much a Kerrang teenager, and I used to make my poor mum sit in the car every Sunday night with the radio on and write down the top 10 for me whilst I was in my piano lessons!
Has being a young woman ever affected your experience? Have you ever been treated differently?
100%. It definitely depends on the people around you, and at YMU I feel very heard and supported. I’m surrounded by the most incredible team of women and I can see a career trajectory now that didn’t seem an option to me before I had these role models to look up to.
What has been the best bits of your career so far?
Actually I’d say I’m currently living it – working towards James Arthur’s next album is really really exciting. He’s really in his stride, he’s brilliant to work with, there’s an amazing team behind it, and I believe in the music so wholeheartedly. It’s the perfect mix of the rock I grew up on, the rap-rock I love now (think Post Malone, MGK), and the chart pop we all know and love. The first single Medicine has been such a fun campaign to work on and I can’t wait for the world to hear more.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice what would it be?
If I had my time again, I’d hope I would be better at knowing my worth, and understanding what I can bring to the table. It’s easy to overlook the young girl on an artist team, but realistically that person is likely the closest thing to your target market sitting at your board room table. Their opinion should hold weight. They are more than deserving of a voice. Their voice could (and actually should) shape your campaign. I guess my piece of advice would be not to stay in situations where my voice isn’t heard. Shout louder, prove yourself, and if you’re still not being valued, move the hell on!