By Jayne Ellen White
The music industry has traditionally lacked female creative minds. In fact, women represent percentages in the single digits in most sectors of the music industry, and seeing more examples of women thriving in the space in Memphis is a testament to our growing music culture and identity. Meet Memphian McKenzii Webster, the founder of The Web Mgmt, a creative agency that managers artists like Daz Rinko and Spree Wilson. She currently serves as the Musician and Artist Services Manager at Crosstown Arts, and the Marketing Director for Yonas Media. How do we put it? This girl is on fire.
Webster studied Government with a concentration in International Politics in Connecticut before she moved to Toronto to study Music Business. Her story in the music industry begins in her sophomore year of her undergraduate studies, when she began booking and promoting campus concerts. After leaving college, she began thinking about how to continue working in the music business space without the cushion of the college program funding. Once back home in Memphis, her passion for finding ways to support her friends who do music led her, run and gun style, into her career as an artist manager.
What is the best part of your job as an artist manager?
The creative aspect. Hearing an artist talk about an initial idea and watching it slowly come to fruition and then seeing people experiencing the art. Obviously some things don’t go exactly as planned, but to see the dots connecting –that’s the fun part for me. Especially when we aim to create a certain type of experience, and then the experience that an individual consumer has is their own unique experience. THAT is really cool.
What is your personal special sauce as an artist manager:
I come from the perspective of being a creative partner, and I enjoy being a creative partner. I love quarterbacking in the sense of asking questions, like “how do we creatively get your art out to its specific audience?” I love attention to detail. I love thinking about my artists’ projects strategically.
What do you think about the state and potential of Memphis’ music infrastructure?
Memphis is experiencing its own cool renaissance in the arts. We have a rich history, and sometimes that can be our downfall in the sense of resting on that history. There is a lot of history being made currently. We are getting to a point where we are uplifting the creators who are paving their own legacies and doing it well.
I’m excited to see more sync [licensing] being done in Memphis, and more collaboration, which I think is key. I always think there is room for improvement in some areas. For example, just because someone is doing something in the city, whether it be sync, publishing, PR, marketing, etc. there is room for many more to play in that space– there needs to be more than one. Memphis often gets compared to Nashville, and one great thing that Nashville does is they have an abundance of agencies in the music space. That is what creates an infrastructure.
Is there any part of the music industry that you would like to experience working in, that you haven’t yet?
I want to learn how to play the bass. Second, I would love to get into music supervision in film and TV. I still remember songs that were used in some of my favorite movie and TV scenes during my formative years. I think ‘oh wow, they used THAT song, or “what song did they use to end that episode?’ Those moments would be really cool to be a part of.
Is there a moment during your career that you have learned a lesson about being a woman in the music industry, or is there any advice that you would like to give to women just getting started in the music industry?
A culmination of moments have made me realize how few women there really are in the music business space, and even in the music creation space. Specifically, I’ve learned sometimes your voice can go unheard and you have to be vocal, especially about things that you are vocal about and you have a clear decision and opinion on. There have been a number of scenarios where I was the only woman in space, and it wouldn’t dawn on me. In retrospect, I wonder if this or that would have happened to me if I wasn’t a woman?
In every space, take up space. If you are passionate, and you know what you are doing, people will take you seriously. You have to make sure you aren’t playing small just because you’re in a space that doesn’t feel welcoming or a space where there are other people who look like you. I’m hoping as more women come into the business side, and the creative side, we continue to uplift each other, and open the door and provide resources so that we no longer have these scenarios.
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