The Come Up is a collaborative editorial series between Femme It Forward and Splice, focused on highlighting non-male industry executives and innovators.
For our first entry, we had the opportunity to speak with Angela M. Rogers, who is an entertainment lawyer and dealmaker with over 14 years of experience under her belt. Primarily focusing on contract negotiations, Angela represents and advocates for artists, producers, songwriters, production companies, managers, and others in the music, television, literary, and digital industries. Read on to get a firsthand look into her journey, advice to other female professionals, and more.
Tell us about your ‘come up’ – how did you start your career in the music industry?
I started out interning at Sony Music. At that time, there was a paid minority internship program that allowed me to gain experience in the music business. I interned at Epic Records for Rodney Shealey in the radio promotion department. It was great – we were given real responsibilities thanks to the hands-on approach to the program.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the music industry?
I love music and I love law. The intersection of the two seemed to be a great way to pursue both of my passions.
What was the first big career risk you took?
Starting my own firm. I went from the comfort of being at a firm with a full staff and associates to venturing out on my own as a one-woman army.
What’s a music industry anecdote that you enjoy sharing?
I went to a show in Angola, and while I was going on-stage, sparks of pyro landed on my head and singed pieces of my hair. It was pretty painful. I felt like Michael Jackson when he was shooting that Pepsi commercial. To this day, pyro gives me flashbacks.
Is there a mentor who supported you in your career? If not, how did you navigate the industry?
Yes, I have two mentors who I still have on speed-dial. They’re super supportive and always offer great advice and insight. My only regret is that I never had a female mentor. I didn’t realize the importance of having a woman in this role until much later in my career, which is why now, I do my best to be a mentor to other female professionals.
Have you had to manage being the only female professional in a business meeting? How do you command the room?
I command the room by knowing the business. There is, of course, that initial bias, but it soon becomes clear that I know what I’m talking about, and everyone eventually moves past it. Still, sexism and gender bias in the workplace is definitely something that needs to get better.
What would be your advice to female professionals looking to make it in a male-dominated industry?
Most of my business is in Black music, and unfortunately, in hip hop, things can be a bit misogynistic, even on the business side. It’s unfair, but like Black people in white spaces, women are held to a higher standard and so we have to be smarter and quicker. I’m confident in my skills and knowledge, and I always tell people, “I’m one of the best lawyers out here.” That’s a strong statement, but it’s true.
What do you think the future of music looks like?
I get asked this a lot. Especially these last few years, during this current ‘Golden Age’ of music. The music industry has bounced back in a big way; artists are making money and companies are making money.
Entertainment in general will always have a place in society – it’s therapeutic, it’s personal, and it can be a welcome distraction. So, as long as technology continues to be innovative, which I believe it will, music will be in a great space. I’m interested to see how the ways in which we consume music will continue to evolve, but I must say, I really do miss physical CDs.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I hope that my clients, especially those I’ve worked with for years, will remember the impact that I had on their careers – that I was able to assist in making their dreams come true. Also, I hope to be a role model for children of color who need to see someone who looks like them in my position. Mirrors are important.
If there were one job in the industry you’d love to have, other than your current job, what would it be?
I represent a lot of executives in A&R, marketing, and radio promo, as well as managers, production companies, and other areas of music, so I see all sides of the business. I’m not sure if there’s one that makes me say, “Ahhh, I have to do that!” Well, maybe a playlist curator for a DSP? Because I make the best playlists – I actually would volunteer for that role!
Look forward to more exclusive The Come Up interviews in the coming weeks.
November 19, 2020