Four things we learnt from the #14th most influential person in the Australian Music Industry. 


Leanne de Souza is no stranger to the Australian music industry. Starting out in 1992 with just $20 in the bank, Leanne has gone from strength to strength and more than twenty-five years later is now the executive director of the Association of Artist Managers (AAM) among various other influential roles. In March 2019 she was announced by industry publication The Music to be the 14th most influential person in the Australian music industry.


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Leanne also sits on the Creative Industry Advisory Board at AIM and recently spoke at AIM’s 51st Graduation ceremony – here’s four pieces of wisdom we learnt from her speech:



Being Flexible in the Music and Performing Arts Industry


Musicians are no longer just musicians. They are now the promoters, the publicists and strategists of their own brand in an industry that is constantly reacting to new changes in everything from technology to social responsibility.


These days via social media artists are expected to actively participate in their own PR machine – a much more hands-on process than in the past and especially so for smaller artists who don’t have the resources to match giants of the industry.


What does that mean if you’re a student though?


Leanne says that instead of resisting change, embrace it and the ability to learn and adapt. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and expand your knowledge. An example of that could be sitting down with someone who does studies something different than you do and taking the time to observe what they do and how they go about doing it.



Learn to Manage Yourself


“Own the agency of your arts practice, creativity and ideas” says Leanne.


In life you won’t be able to control everything that happens but make sure you manage the stuff that you do control to the best of your ability. Taking care of yourself is also the priority dealing with any business concerns – Leanne says this all came to a head for her when she needed to take time out from the music industry to focus on her own mental health.


After sitting down and re-evaluating her direction she decided to invest in managing herself for the first time ever and ‘steer a course to 50’ that was aligned with her values. In other words, she was putting herself first, and then the business side of things.



Never Stop Learning


Following on from the above, Leanne has given herself the goal of completing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies with minors in Gender and Digital Media Culture before her 50th birthday.


Leanne says it’s important to never stop learning as the world we live in is constantly changing and evolving. To push positive change in the industry you need to both lead from the front but also listen and evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Putting your ego or pride aside is also important as often times advice or instruction can come from the most unlikely of places.



Trust Is Earned, Not Given


According to Leanne, Trust consists of Advocacy, Consistency, Success and Transparency.


Advocacy is standing up for something other than yourself – finding a cause to champion that isn’t about you.


Consistency is all about how you portray yourself and your work; your story, what you do and what your work looks like needs to always be consistent so that people know what you stand for.


As Leanne says, people trust success. That’s why it is important to let others know of not just your successes but of your collaborators and people you’ve worked with too. Humility goes a long way in this respect as well.


Transparency is your story. Your ups, your downs and everything in-between. You’ll find people will connect with you on a much more emotional level if they know where you’ve been and where you’re going.



To read Leanne’s full speech given at AIM’s 51st Graduation click here.


To read Leanne’s entry in The Music's 'The Power 50' click here.