On one hand, the music business virtually deifies Black women, worshipping the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna at the altar of worldwide fame. On the other, unlike men, women are too often admired for physical attributes first and their talent second. This double-edge sword doesn’t do females any favors and, when we look behind the scenes at who wields the power to shape the industry, again, women executives don’t readily come to mind, not since, say, Suzanne de Passe.
In this day and age of purported equality among the sexes, appreciation for women based more on talent and less as sex objects won’t occur until more women emerge as power brokers.
On the order of, first instance, one Aundria “Andye” Arlandson, head of Artist Management and Development at Syrka Entertainment.
Arlandson is an overcomer in both her professional and personal life. She had a close call when, as she recalls, holding up her end at Syrka Ent “was put on hold for a couple of years as I battled [health concerns], which became life threatening in late 2013. I muscled through surgery after surgery and…was physically off the MSP music grid for a couple years. But, I certainly paid attention.” Ultimately, she prevailed and has gone on to represent an exciting roster of Twin Cities artists.
A concern of hers is that not all artist representation in the Twin Cities is done with professional integrity or, for matter, any ethics at all. She readily states “the plethora of producers and managers…are often proven to be vultures who squander their prey…that suffer from [an] eager artist syndrome.”
Arlandson (AA) spoke with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR) by email to discuss this and provide some insight into her profession.
MSR: What’s it like being a Black female shot-caller in Twin Cities entertainment? Challenges? Advantages?
AA: Shot caller. I like that. As it stands…Minneapolis/St. Paul is a tough market. I liken it to a fraternity that you have to continually rush to get in [to]. Is it frustrating when I know I’m being blown off because I’m a woman? Absolutely! I take my business very seriously so I tend to take those instances personally. My biz partner told me recently it’s likely these guys are intimidated because they know I can do things “better” than they can, which I find hysterical and motivational.
The business of music hasn’t changed much in 25 years. Although tactics may have shifted, folks still appreciate the old school approach that begins and ends with a hand shake. I’m sure there has been plenty of times the person on the other end of the arm has been surprised that I’m a woman (and that I’m Black) but ultimately, I bank on being able to handle myself and my business professionally and thoroughly.
MSR: Any career highlights on which you’d care to reflect?
AA: I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do in my own business on my own terms, but…I don’t need accolades, only the satisfaction of a job well done. Cliché? One of the most disturbing realizations from my past incarnation in this business of music was hearing first hand that executives were more concerned about maintenance of the pool at their home in the Hamptons than the well-being of their artists.
Having an honest relationship with talent is key in the Syrka business model. We never ever promise the unattainable. When I discuss long term visions for success, I do everything I can to see that come to fruition. Doing what we say we’re going to do is paramount, but it has to be a reciprocal relationship. Everyone has to be willing to put in work — otherwise it can’t and won’t work.
MSR: Truthmaze is far from your run-of-the-mill hip hopper. He does a fine job of respecting sistahs in his work and encouraging community empowerment. How’d he come to Syrka Ent and why did you take him on?
AA: I have known [him] since we were classmates at Minneapolis North high school. I was a fan of the IRM Crew, his past collaborations and currently as a solo artist. For me, it’s important to be a fan of the music you support.
MSR: What’s next?
AA: We are moving into a new office/studio space, and have partnered with local promoter Vanessa DeLaire and a Puerto Rico-based talent booker to bring incredible national acts to the Twin Cities. We are also cultivating relationships with local artists to produce (art) shows and gallery openings. It’s going to be a fun winter!
Find more info on the Syrka Ent website.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.