Behind the scenes: Lady bosses working in the professional sphere
This week, it’s all about females in Hard Dance music, but don’t be fooled, we’re not just spotlighting the lovely ladies behind the decks. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes; I’m talking about managing artists, booking artists, organising events, working for record labels and ensuring that our scene is growing and remaining healthy as ever.
Today we’re going to profile four women who work for four different organisations, as they share some of their experiences of working within the Hard Dance scene and what their jobs consist of.
Hi, I’m Aletta; I’m 29 years old and I was born and raised in Rotterdam. I’ve been working for Make You Dance since 2010 – which is one of the leading Hard Dance agencies. I’m a bit nerdy, quirky and bitchy at times. I shed a tear during every Disney movie, I collect Funko Pop’s and ever since I was little I watch ‘Labyrinth’ the movie at least twice a year! I’m also a hard worker and one of my most favourite things to do is explore different countries and capture the culture with my camera J.
Just like most people in our scene, I started off with a passion for Hard Dance music. During my teenage years I visited (mostly) Hardcore parties every weekend. When it was time for me to start an internship for my Media Management training, I knew I wanted to do something with the music and I ended up being an intern in Event Management at Mid-Town Records, helping out with the Nightmare parties. After my internship I stuck around and continued on until I got the opportunity to work for Make You Dance, this time not as an event manager, but as a booking agent.
I was lucky enough to be able to help launch and shape the agency, as well as become the general manager and watch many artists grow out to be huge names in our industry. I feel proud that I was able to put my own spin on things, and of course to have seen names like Digital Punk and E-Force grow from talents into successful A-names. Not to mention, it’s quite awesome being able to work with artists I used to listen to back in the days who I consider to be true legends, such as Neophyte, The Prophet, Technoboy and The Viper, haha.
A day at work is always super busy and never boring! My main task is of course selling artists and working out the best deals. I mediate between both the client and the artist, making sure that both parties’ wishes are met. Of course another big part of it is also coordinating all details of a booking; this includes important information, travel plans and arranging visas. The visas for the USA particularly are a lot of work and use such an old fashioned system; they require a lot of proof to display that the artist is respected internationally. It’s a very long and boring process, but the moment an artist calls and tells you that it’s been approved is a very satisfying moment.
What is most satisfying about my job though (besides what I mentioned before – seeing talents grow out to be successful names) is having happy artists, happy clients and of course, to reach new milestones and set foot into new markets. Also working out great year deals or seeing your artists play on huge mainstages brings a great feeling.
Although the scene is mostly dominated by males, I do not feel as though it’s a bad thing. I’ve had no negative experiences and I also don’t feel as though I’m treated differently. But yeah, maybe that’s because I’m ‘one of the boys’ as well, haha. Actually, now that I think about it, at Make You Dance, females are greatly represented within the agency! Not only has our group of agents been mostly girls throughout the years, but we also represent quite a few of the leading ladies in the scene (Dana, Stephanie, Malua, Icha). I also think that when it comes to being a booking agent, a woman might actually be the best choice. We’re punctual, have an eye for detail, we have the ability to empathise with others and therefore we’re always able to find a balance that keeps everyone happy.
Despite my positive experiences, I do feel as though female artists are not treated with enough respect. I know this comes from a long history of failed projects, but that doesn’t mean that they all are. All ladies I know have an extraordinary passion for the music, work extremely hard and are very creative too. I would appreciate it if at some point in the near future people can finally accept that they are experienced artists too and are no less than their male colleagues.
My name is Renee Preijde, I’m 26 years old and currently living in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Two years ago I got the opportunity to combine my two biggest passions within a job – this was the moment I started working for Art of Dance as their marketing manager.
Fun facts about myself? Well, not so fun for me, but I’m extremely clumsy. I have a talent for breaking iPhones, testing smoke detectors in kitchens and losing anything that’s not permanently attached to my body. However, apart from those things I also have hobbies that are fun. I like to go horseback riding, to go out (obviously), hang out with friends… And to sleep or do absolutely nothing.
When I visited my first dance music festival I was studying graphic design at ArtEZ University Of Arts. During that study I never aimed to work in the events industry, it was something that never even crossed my mind. This was probably because I wasn’t very passionate about graphic design and knew I would never work as a designer anyway. So I quit my study and started with Business IT & Management, which is similar to Digital Communications. I really liked that study from the start and from that moment I began to connect the dots. I was really passionate about both digital communications and festivals and set myself the goal to combine both in my professional career.
After working for an online Dutch blog during my study, I took on a large assignment as a freelancer and during the following two years it became more and more clear to me that I wanted to work in the dance industry. At that moment, it didn’t have to be in the Hard Dance industry particularly; I always liked the harder styles, but back then I just really wanted to work for a large event organisation. Everything came together in 2014 when a friend (who was already working within the industry) sent me a vacancy and that’s how it all started at Art of Dance!
It’s hard to tell you what an average day at work looks like… If you would ask me that question each day for one month you’d get a completely different answer every day. Basically I’m responsible for all online and offline marketing for Art of Dance, so there’s always enough stuff to do and every day looks different.
Some days are solely about a big release moment, some are filled with (smaller) tasks from all different projects, other days we’re brainstorming for cool content or new campaigns, the next day I’m analysing and optimising our online channels and other days we’re working on the magazines we hand out at the end of each event. And that’s only a small part of my tasks. Most days it’s a combination of some of the things above, meetings, my mailbox and my phone.
One of the things I love most about my job is the large audience we get to work with. As we all know, Hard Dance fans are extremely dedicated. They like almost anything you do as long as it’s related to the music or event(s) they love. It’s (relatively) easy to engage them and they always go completely insane during our events. I bet events from other music genres can’t beat the atmosphere we get to experience at hard dance events.
Next to that, it gives such a rush to create a (huge) successful event together with a team. Everyone in our company is really passionate about their work, so we all give 100% and are always looking for ways to improve our events. When I join my colleagues to watch the end-show of an event, see their proud and relieved faces and hear the audience going crazy during the final few minutes, it gives me such a great feeling. We did that together!
In terms of working within a ‘male dominated industry,’ I’m hardly aware of it, but I think it also really depends on the department you’re working in. For example, most marketing people or agents I have to work with are women. In other departments (management, production, show, artists) I mainly have to work with men. For me it doesn’t really matter, I always liked working with men so it doesn’t feel difficult when I have to. Most men are upfront, easy going and don’t take things too personally, which I like. But almost everybody I met from the scene (male or female) is like that; I think you have to be when you want to work in this industry.
In my opinion, females are well represented within the music industry; maybe not on stage, but behind the scenes we are and I think we’re doing a great job. I don’t particularly have any special hopes or wishes for females specifically – as long as the male to female ratio behind the scenes stays balanced that should be enough.
To all girls and boys looking to pursue a career in the music industry, this will sound obvious, but try to get an internship. Make sure you stand out from other candidates; ask yourself how you want to profile yourself online, what you can do to show people your passion, qualities and your affinity with (hard) dance music. And very important from a marketing point of view: always be on top of all (online) marketing developments and invest time in wide orientation. Specialising in a couple aspects within marketing is really smart, but basic knowledge of everything related to marketing is always a pro. Find ways to try everything out and learn from it.
Hi! My name is Gigi van der Laan; I’m 23 years old and I live in Maarssen-Dorp, which is near Utrecht. I’m the general manager of Hardstyle.com and 5 Star Dj Wear. Music is my biggest passion and I feel so lucky that I’ve found a career where I can express it. I love to go out every weekend and party a lot, I also play guitar, love to sing and recently started a course where I’ve learned how to DJ!
In 2012 I visited Q-BASE and instantly fell in love with Hardstyle music. In 2013 I started working at Hardstyle.com next to my bachelor study in Marketing and Sales. Three months later I had to do my internship and luckily I was also able to do that at Hardstyle.com. When the formal manager left in 2014, I took over his job at the age of 21 as well as continuing my studies. I then finished my degree next to my job and wrote my thesis about Hardstyle.com.
A day at my job never is the same. Social media is very important for us to reach our (potential) customers, so strategising online marketing plans takes up a lot of my time. I’m always looking for new merchandise to sell on our web-shop or provide artists or merchandise via 5 Star Dj Wear. 5 Star Dj Wear is the company we produce merchandise with that we sell to our and other web-shops as well as offline stores. I really like to be creative and come up with new ideas for merchandise, social media, collaborations with other brands and our website. It’s also a lot of fun to work with an intern every 6 months, because they have a lot of fresh ideas, are enthusiastic and passionate about Hardstyle and its industry.
In my opinion there are too few women in the music industry, especially in higher positions. I actually had some negative experiences at the beginning of my career and I really had to prove myself, but now after three years I don’t feel any difference. I think you need to be confident to work in a male-dominated industry and have to work a bit harder.
My hope for the future is that the industry will be more balanced. I think it’s healthy to have a good male to female ratio, as both genders bring unique things to the table. I have an older brother and we’re very close; his friends also visit him a lot, so I’m quite used to being around guys. There’s a healthy balance when men and women work together, and I think that we complement each other.
Some advice I can offer to those wanting to work in the music industry is that hard work pays off! You should find out what your strengths are, what you’re good at and start with an internship in that area.
I would like to thank Rudy Peters; he really wanted to add a female to his team, as he missed the view of a woman on certain matters. He believed in me and I’m grateful for that. I also would like to thank Dov Elkabas (a.k.a. The Prophet) for giving me a chance to run his company and for being a great boss!
Before I finish up, I’d also like to mention that I’m actually looking for an intern to work at Hardstyle.com with me! It’s a full-time internship and it runs from February 2017 until August 2017. If you’re interested, feel free to get in contact with me.
Hi, my name is Celine Langeraert; I am a 20 year old girl living in the Netherlands, I work for Hard Dance Event and I’m also doing my internship at Platinum Agency. I’m still studying In Tilburg, where I’m following a Communication – International Event, Music and Entertainment course. I’m a young happy puppy, who loves to party, have fun with friends and most of all, enjoy life!
As I’m still at university, I haven’t been working in the Hard Dance industry for a long time, but I’ve been interested in the scene for a couple of years now. It all started with the song “Bassboom” by Psyko Punkz. As soon as I heard that song at one of my friend’s parties, I immediately fell in love with these harder, faster and stronger sounds. I started listening to artists as Headhunterz, Coone and Brennan Heart and became a devoted listener to the Hard With Style podcast. From that moment my love for Hard Dance scene grew exponentially. I visited my first party at the age of 16, which was Reverze in Belgium and as soon as I stepped foot into the arena I knew I wanted to work within this scene!
I chose to apply for my first internship at Platinum Agency, because it’s the number one source for hard EDM. After working there for 8 months, I left the Netherlands to go on exchange in Australia for six months. During my stay there I got asked to participate in the planning of HDE 2016, which is a sub-conference of Amsterdam Dance Event. As soon as I arrived back from Australia I began working hard on this exciting project, which was completely sold out!
Due to my studies, I don’t work full-time in the hard dance industry at the moment, but I will be doing so at the beginning of 2017. What I’ve learned from working full-time in this industry is that every day is different and exciting! There is always something happening. It’s a really hectic, dynamic, but also small world to work in. Styles are changing fast. Not only the style of the different music genres (Euphoric, raw), but also the style of events, artist profiles, way of communication, after-movies, etc. I’ve noticed that things are way more ‘personal’ than before. Besides that, the Hard Dance scene boasts one of the most devoted and passionate crowds in the world of Dance music. This is something that makes the Hard Dance scene so special.
One of my tasks at Platinum Agency is the marketing of artists within their roster. This means that I take care of biographies, photo albums, social media pages, marketing strategies and so on. As technology and marketing is always changing, my work is always changing too!
I don’t think that I have enough experience to properly comment on the stance of women within the music industry. I guess I will notice this more as I continue working… However if I have to answer, the only thing I can think of is that men can be a little intimidating at times, but if you have enough self-confidence, you have nothing to worry about!
Furthermore, I believe that women can provide different perspectives on some topics. Women think, do and act differently to men. With a good balance of both men and women in the Hard Dance environment, you create a more diverse and creative scene.
My advice for other starting out is to dream, believe, work and achieve. Don’t think you can’t be part of the Hard Dance industry, because with enough dedication you can! And don’t forget; you’ve got great taste in music ;)!