Def Jam Execs Discuss the Importance of BIPOC Mentorship in the Music Industry

Watch Panel Discussion Hosted by the Color of Music Collective

When pandemonium broke out, we thought it would last at least a couple of weeks. How wrong we all were! Despite hardships and minimal government assistance, or lack thereof, we continue to persevere by keeping busy. Whether it be learning a new skill or signing up for networking events, many have been able to participate in such activities thanks to organizations like the Color of Music Collective (COMC). 

Founded by Mia Van Allen in June 2020, COMC was started to amplify the voices of people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals working in the music industry. The main goal is to reform the way these marginalized groups are represented in the music business by uniting these communities. Through recurring panels, COMC introduces young professionals to a wide range of industry executives that look like and share similar experiences as them. 

On February 8th, COMC hosted their most recent panel discussion on the importance of Black, Indigenous, & People Of Color (BIPOC) mentorship in the music industry. The subject was a much-needed conversation, especially for new talent in the field who find it difficult seeking a mentor. The virtual event, sponsored by DistroKid, included panelists from Def Jam Recordings: Theda Sandiford, Niya Fleming, Christopher Davis, Charlene Thomas, Antoinette Trotman, Michael K. Jackson, and Egomeli Hormeku. 

Out of all the pertinent information shared on how to find a mentor, the common thread was, “network and get loud about what you want to do.” Sound advice coming from music executives of all levels too! It’s extremely important for young and ambitious talent to connect with industry professionals regardless of titles. It’s the experience that matters and will ultimately prepare them for what’s to come when working in the business, especially if they’re BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Marketing vice president Charlene Thomas has worked in the industry for years and admitted she never had someone to be her champion when she first started her career. “[The music industry is] very male-dominated, and as a female, we didn’t have too many [mentors] and we didn’t have the opportunity to be mentored…I learned just by trial and error.” Thomas emphasized, “mentors don’t necessarily have to be at your job or in your industry. They could be the people that are on the outside that support you.”

I highly recommend watching the hour-long panel on YouTube, as the discussion was extremely valuable and relevant for anyone seeking a mentor. If you’re interested in more content like this, COMC has several other videos you can watch on their channel. Follow the Color of Music Collective on Instagram and stay up-to-date on all updates and upcoming events by visiting their website.

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