Rachel Menzies is a perfect example of making the most of an opportunity, working hard, and staying inspired. Rachel tells us about her journey thus far in the industry.
Tell us about your background, your upbringing, and your introduction into the world of music.
I grew up in N.S.W. Australia and started learning violin at the age of 4. My family were very musical (with 4 under 4 years old learning piano, cello, violin and double bass in our household – mayhem). Growing up I played in numerous orchestras, sung in many a musical theatre production, and was lead vocalist and violinist in a gypsy jazz band who regularly toured the country and sold a decent amount records.
How did you get into the music industry, from Native Music Supervision to your role at BMG?
I moved to London in 2002 at the age of 18, with no idea what I wanted to do – other than ‘music’. I worked in various jobs to pay the rent (waiter/bar/shoe shop), until I was serendipitously given the opportunity to work for a composer who owned a music publishing company, and I of course jumped at the chance. I made teas, ordered stationary and took post to the post office as I learnt the ins and outs of the business.
10 years later (after much in-company progression) I decided I needed a change, and after a brief interlude as Sales Director at Musicmetric (part of the Semetric group, which eventually sold to Apple), I set up two music publishing businesses: Hookline LTD, a boutique music publisher/sync agency and Dynamic, a production music company.
I joined the Native Music Supervision team as Music Supervisor early in 2015, placing/licensing music and commissioning composers to create original repertoire for some of the biggest brands in the world.
BMG acquired my publishing company; Dynamic in 2020, and I accepted an offer to join the team as Senior Director in 2021.
What were some of the barriers you experienced, or still do experience, as a woman in the music industry, if any?
Looking back, I clearly recall having to always go above and beyond to establish myself in meetings. Always making sure I reeled off my CV before the person sat opposite me (often a lot older and male) would take me seriously.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over recent years in regards to the attitude towards being a woman in music?
The abundance of amazing women in music communities and organisations that are now in existence. I’ve benefitted greatly from communities such as SheSaidSo. I wish they existed when I started out.
Rightly, there are more and more women working in the music industry. We see with Tileyard Education, for example, that there are now more females than males in many of the courses. What advice would you give to girls and women looking to start a career in the music business?
Ask questions and don’t be afraid to not know everything. No-one is a world expert. Be willing to have open and often uncomfortable conversations with people you might consider ‘out of your league’ – because that’s the only way you’ll learn. Lean on the sisterhood (SheSaidSo, Women In Music etc). Ask for help. Network – not the awkward, speed dating ‘mixer’ type events, but be willing to reach out to colleagues/associates for a quick coffee and a chat. If you don’t immediately, you will eventually get a response and it’ll make all the difference. Be proactive with your personal development, read/train/grow – constantly.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self about being a woman in music… what to expect, the difficulties, the excitements?
Seriously, just dump him 😉
What can we look forward to from BMG Bespoke in the upcoming year?
So far this year I have been lucky enough to work on some seriously career-defining projects, with so many amazing artists and songwriters from the BMG Roster. Watch this space…