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Amber Grimes and Nicole Wyskoarko talk leadership, support and diversity

Nicole Wyskoarko is EVP of urban operations at Interscope Records, and Amber Grimes is SVP of global creative at Capitol Music Group. Their joint keynote for the Midem conference, a video interview conducted by Billboard’s Gail Mitchell, was published this morning.

It addresses topics including the current Black Lives Matters protests following the killing of George Floyd; the music industry’s response and its need for more diversity; their views on mentoring; and advice for young people looking to break into the industry.

Filmed this week, the interview began with both executives offering their thoughts on the current situation.

“It’s been hard, y’know. It’s been incredibly emotional,” said Wyskoarko. “Just balancing the emotion with just doing your job, and existing, dealing with the ramifications of Covid right now, and having this just heavy heart with what’s going on in society.”

“Being up and in and out of tears, you start working and then you look up at the news or you just flash back to some of the images we’ve seen and you can’t help but be overcome with extreme emotion,” she added.

“It’s a real challenge, and it’s draining in a sense to balance all of that. It’s horrific what’s going on in this country right now. It’s horrifying. So it’s just a lot to balance and process, and I think a lot of us are feeling that right now.”

Grimes agreed. “I feel drained. I see co-workers and other people in this strange time – I can actually get to see everybody’s face all at one time on a camera – and I notice a different energy about many of my Black co-workers, and people that i’ve spoken to,” she said.

“On a positive note… I do feel like there is more acknowledgement of this issue than there has been in the past from a lot of non-Black people in our industry and in the world. It’s been nice to see many people step up and speak out, but it’s still not enough people.”

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Capitol Royale roundup: empowerment, hacks and A&R’s evolution

On Saturday and Sunday (November 16-17), Capitol Music Group held its 2nd annual music and tech festival, Capitol Royale, at its Los Angeles headquarters. The theme for this year was ‘Music on the Move’, with workshops, hackathons, panels, and social events revolving around the ever-changing landscape of music and innovation.

Kicking off on Friday was the Femme It Forward showcase hosted by Live Nation Urban’s Heather Lowery, which gave a spotlight to women performers including Layton Greene, Maya B, DeathbyRomy, and phem. In addition, the non-profit Girls Make Beats hosted a DJ set and Amber Grimes, Capitol’s SVP of Global Creative, led a fireside chat with singer-songwriter Fletcher about female empowerment and advancement in the industry.