#Real Talk with Women in the Music Industry (Pt.3)

In the third installment of our Real Talk with Women in the Music Industry series, you’ll hear from Michelle Arkuski, Executive Director of She Is The Music—a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women working in music, which was launched by Alicia Keys among other music industry powerhouses.

In this eye-opening and inspiring conversation, Michelle shares how and why she pivoted from her early musical theater days in New York City to high-profile philanthropic work in Los Angeles. As the first executive director of She Is The Music, Michelle now spearheads programs including an all-women songwriting series, an industry database of women creators, and awesome mentorship opportunities.

The organization took shape after the devastating results of USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative study revealed that women were conspicuously absent from music industry roles. And though important strides are being made, the results of the latest study (published in January 2023) still left much to be desired: 

  • Percentage of women across three creative roles: 22.3% of artists; 12.8% of songwriters; 2.8% of producers 
  • 13.9% of GRAMMY® nominees from 2013-2023 were women; 86% were men
  • 13 out of 1,756 producing credits went to women of color
  • The top male writer (Drake) has 49 songwriting credits; the top woman writer (Nicki Minaj) has 20 credits across 1,100 popular songs from 2012-2022

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Episode highlights:

  • [00:00] How She Is The Music serves its mission through action
  • [04:53] Michelle’s journey from musical theater to celebrity-driven philanthropy 
  • [08:28] Overcoming imposter syndrome to take on the role of Executive Director at She Is The Music
  • [12:42] The state of the industry now and looking ahead in the wake of #MeToo
  • [20:32] What gave Michelle the courage to follow her intuition?
  • [25:02] How Michelle keeps her cool working with big-name celebrities like Alicia Keys, Cyndi Lauper, and Linda Perry
  • [29:23] How Michelle prioritizes self-care inside a demanding schedule
  • [33:37] Michelle Arkuski’s ONE TIP TO ROCK IT 

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