International Women’s Day Manager Spotlight: Lulu Davis

08 March 2021

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For the 8th of March, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day with a very special ‘8 on the 8th’ Music Manager Spotlight Series. Throughout the week we will highlight some incredible managers, here’s our chat with Lulu Davis of Incendia Music.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi, I’m Lulu Davis and I have been running Incendia Music for what will be 10 years this year. I first dipped my toes into artist management when I started University at the age of 18 and have developed a career out of it since. I also work as a publicist and consultant and my focus genres are rock and metal. You can check out our roster at www.incendiamusic.co.uk but my current management roster is Acolyte (AU), Voyager (AU) and Earthside (US).

What is your greatest career success to date?

My greatest achievement is the fact that Incendia Music is still here today, still growing, and still moving forward in a very competitive industry. I’ve progressed as both a businesswoman and an artist manager significantly over the years and a big part of the recent developments and achievements within the company were a result of being a part of the inaugural MMF Accelerator Programme. This was hugely beneficial to me and further developed my music industry education, my network and also access to resources as a manager. There are too many experiences to identify a specific career success but having one of my management clients Voyager shortlisted for the Eurovision Australia nationals was definitely a time when one of my crazy ideas ‘almost’ came to life. Sometimes its the small victories. That in itself was a big achievement for even being acknowledged and being in those conversations. Other things include international touring and record deals, participation in international conferences representing my business, award nominations and wins, significant press coverage, being highlighted as one of Music Week’s Rising Stars; the list goes on. 2021 is set to be a successful year for the business and my roster with new partnerships that I’m yet to announce, which will certainly further cement my capabilities as an artist manager. Ostensibly I’m thrilled to be working with teams that share the same vision as me, and that in itself I consider a success.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve encountered in the industry?

I’m frequently confronted with challenging situations in this career choice and I’m sure there are still many to come. What was a challenge to me at the beginning of my career is likely no longer a challenge now, or maybe I’m confronting the same challenges but on a higher level. These challenges have been at times personal, and they have also been business related, both of which are relevant when it comes to trying to integrate yourself in a male dominated industry. But weirdly enough this didn’t phase me, it just made me want to succeed even more. Ultimately I try to let professionalism and common sense prevail because at the end of the day I stand here with conviction and confidence in my decisions, and that I am a hard working individual who wants only the best for her artists. I think initially I struggled with people taking me seriously because I was “running a business” at the age of 19, and I consistently put myself in front of industry moguls and forward for opportunities that people way more experience than me were going for, which raised a lot of eyebrows. Some called it naive, some called it ambitious – but how was I ever going to learn unless I taught myself these lessons? I had nobody mentoring me so I just did what I felt I had to do and if that meant flying to LA to speak on a panel about the challenges of working with smaller bands then that’s what I emptied my bank account to do.  But apparently if you keep doing this over the course of 10 years people eventually build respect for you as you consistently show up and prove you’re not going anywhere, and that you’re invested in this career for the right reasons and not just for guest list (haha). There have equally been times I’ve had to walk away from a great opportunity because I felt like both my clients and I were being taken advantage of and although that is hard, it is also very empowering to be able to say no.

Who gets your Women’s Day shoutout?

There is a woman that has supported me since before I started Incendia Music and that person is Nelly Liger from The Noise Cartel. I interned at The Noise Cartel when I just started Uni and this was my first insight into PR and radio plugging. Nelly was always very encouraging and approachable and has always been very complimentary of my tenacity and my achievements over the years.  We don’t speak all of the time, but she is a constant inspiration to me and I love following her career. Not only is she incredibly bad-ass, she is a full time working mother who is constantly smashing goals and currently has a roster to die for. I could not be happier seeing her success and how she is breaking that glass ceiling as a radio plugger, and I can’t wait until there’s an opportunity for us to work directly together again hopefully in the not too distant future. 

I also want to shout out to the amazing female musicians and industry I work with on a day to day basis, you constantly motivate and inspire me and I’m very grateful to be surrounded by such strong empowering women.

If you could change one thing about how the music industry operates to improve the experience of women, what would it be?

I think over the years I’ve seen a positive (albeit very slow) progression in the way women are treated as professionals or how many women are actively involved in being a part of the industry. We’ve still got a long way to go as sexism is still very much a hot topic and rightly so, but my own professional day to day experience between now vs 2011 is that I work with many more women on a daily basis and that I am treated with more respect now than I ever was (overall anyway, there are exceptions, believe me!). I think from a management perspective it would be great if powerful or more experienced male figures were more encouraging and open to doing business with not just a woman, but also women that are potentially a lot younger than them. Giving a bit of guidance and support when women are in those earlier stages of their career, not just when they’ve slogged their guts out trying to get through the door. I’ve been reading a lot recently about why there is a disparity between women who leave a career at a certain age or stay in mid-level positions vs those who progress to senior level positions. I think one of those reasons is not being presented with enough opportunities to prove themselves or enough financial compensation for their work in comparison to their male counterparts. Maybe flexibility is also an issue, particularly if a woman wants to have a family for example. I just think an open discussion about the tribulations women currently face and what the industry can do to encourage career growth beyond a certain point would be a great place to start. 

Hopes for the future?

I hope for more inclusivity, more diversity, more equal treatment and more opportunities for women in the industry overall. I’d love to see a shift in how many women strive to be artist managers within the rock and metal world and to see more women in senior positions at labels. It’s great to see the media industry thriving with more women working in marketing, PR, journalism etc but there is still slower progress on the management front, at least from my perspective. I feel like I’ve had quite an interesting seat to observe from over the years but since I come from a mindset of optimism and hope, I can only say that I’m excited for the next 10 years and I’m cautiously confident that women will overcome many different looking adversities in the future, knowing that they have more of a support network now moreso than there ever has been. If I can even play a small role in opening a door for the future generation of aspiring female managers in rock and metal, I’d consider it an honour to do so.

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