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 ninth entry, we had the opportunity to speak with Yves C. Pierre, who is an ICM agent with clients including the likes of Rapsody, Migos, and Lil Yachty. With a keen ear and sharp instincts, Pierre is continuously crafting a robust roster at ICM that spans other notable acts like Wyclef Jean, Justine Skye, and Leikeli47 to emerging artists including Baby Rose, RINI, and Keedron Bryant. Read on to get a firsthand look into Pierre’s 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 as a college rep for Def Jam Recordings during my undergraduate years at the University of Maryland in College Park.
What was the first big career risk you took?
The first big career risk I took was abandoning my degree in computer science to work as an intern-turned-employee at Roc-A-Fella Records.
What’s one music industry anecdote that you love to share?
I was working with The-Dream, and he was working in his home studio. One night, I got tired so I went to sleep in one the guest rooms. He got worried that I left, and started calling people to see if they’d heard from me. When he came up and found me sleeping, he was truly worried about me—that’s the familial relationship we built, which I still cherish to this day.
Tell us about one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career. How did you overcome it?
Sometimes, being seen as that forever young, one-trick-pony executive can be challenging. I overcome it by making sure I learn as much as I can to have conversations from a full knowledge base.
Is there a mentor who supported you in your career? If not, how did you navigate the industry?
I’m proud to say that I’ve had several mentors and advocates in this business—people who poured into me and for me in rooms that I was not in, from Chaka Pilgrim at Roc-A-Fella Records to Mignon Espy at Def Jam to Jaha Johnson at Hitco to Ethiopia Habtemariam at Motown. My relationships are what I hold dear; these people are among a host of others who I consider family.
Have you had to manage being the only female professional in a business meeting? How do you command the room?
I have been the only woman at times. I think you have to be assertive, calm, cool, and level-headed. How do you command the room? I think having confidence in what you’re saying will keep their attention.
What would be your advice to female professionals looking to make it in a male-dominated industry?
Know your audience—I think that by doing that, you’ll more often than not know how to figure out what’s appropriate and how to engage. I think this applies to all situations, but we have to be honest with ourselves; unfortunately, we exist in a sexualized society that, from time to time, has people (male or female) cross lines to make others uncomfortable. Being clear with boundaries can help mitigate those situations.
What do you think the future of music looks like?
I think we, as people of color, are holding the line on how visitors engage with our culture. I think if we don’t fold, we can truly control our futures, from how money is circulated to education and the type of power we hold in decision making as it relates to how our culture is consumed.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be that I made my ancestors, family, and friends proud of how I poured into others, and that I was respectful of our culture as it relates to my business.
April 8, 2021