When Olivia Shalhoup tuned in to an online music-business conference in early April, she noticed that only two of the 20 panelists were women. Worse, their male peers interrupted them almost every time they spoke. Shalhoup, a former intern at Maverick Management subsidiary Jarjour and ICM Partners assistant, had joined the panel hoping for career advice. But it wasn’t very useful without the perspectives of women, who experience different challenges in an industry where they’re outnumbered in senior roles.
Afterward, “I scoured the internet looking for female-centered panels and couldn’t find any,” says Shalhoup. “I thought to myself, ‘There must be other women looking for it, too.’”
Later in April, Shalhoup launched Amethyst Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind series of online panels for women about different facets of the music business. Named for the purple stone’s association with “the divine feminine,” says Shalhoup, Amethyst was an immediate success: Nearly 400 people tried to join the first panel on April 29, which featured speakers from Red Light Management and Maverick, among others, and overwhelmed the event’s 100-person capacity on Zoom. By the end of 2020, Amethyst had hosted 14 panels with a combined 92 panelists — including Interscope Records’ vp urban marketing Aura Harewood and Columbia Records vp A&R Chelsea Blythe — reaching over 10,000 total attendees in 24 countries. That includes Turkey, where Shalhoup says one regular attendee sets a 2:30 a.m. alarm for each panel: “I was so touched by that.”
Panels remain capped at 100 to keep conversations intimate, but Shalhoup says that up to 500 people try to join each event. She looks for panelists who are passionate about uplifting other women of all races and ethnicities, from major and independent companies alike. In this supportive atmosphere, panelists speak openly, while attendees ask questions and network in the chat box.
“‘Diversity’ means a lot of things to me. You’ll see a coordinator on the same panel as an A&R director,” Shalhoup says. “It’s so important to get perspectives from all walks of the industry.”
Now attendees and panelists are forming their own mentorship relationships, and Shalhoup has even launched her own social media agency under the Amethyst umbrella (one of her first panelists, Riveter Management founder/CEO Charlene Bryant’s client Trippie Redd is now a client). The collaborative’s next panel, “Women in Entrepreneurship,” is set for Feb. 10, and in March, Amethyst will host the “History and Future of Women in Music” panel at the virtual South by Southwest. Upcoming plans include a mentorship program and meetups once in-person events resume.
“I really want to create that space for women,” she says. “I would love to turn it into brunches or happy hours where big music industry deals are being made between women whom Amethyst brought together.”