Jade Leaf is the Head of Southern and East Africa at TuneCore – a DIY distributor used by independent music creators and artists to add their recorded music on streaming platforms and, critically, to receive 100% of their streaming revenue.
Passionate about African music, Jade tells GH writer Ondela Mlandu about the amazing amount of talent on our continent and how she wants to contribute to this space in a way that helps all creators to monetise and promote their content.
First up, what’s the best way to get into the industry?
“Actively looking for an internship or junior position in the music and entertainment industry can help,” says Jade. “[Think] anything from radio to television, tech and major labels… Reach out and see if you can spend some time working for them – it’s a great foot in the door.”
Major labels and media houses do offer internships via job websites like LinkedIn, but emailing as many people as possible (even when there may not seem to be an opportunity to intern) may lead to a temporary role where you can learn the ropes on the job.
And keep on top of what’s happening in the industry. “I always keep up to date with Music Business Worldwide, but outside of that I think having conversations with other industry professionals regularly is a good way to exchange ideas. Listening to more informal podcasts or reading blog articles with global figures in the music industry is also really helpful,” says Jade.
There’s no replacement for a great work ethic
“The industry is very clearly male-dominated; there are not as many women in leadership positions in general,” she says. “Having said that, I think it’s important not to get bogged down by this fact and make sure your focus is on being the best that you can be in any role. There is space for women in the industry – we just shouldn’t be afraid to lead where we can and to be vocal in terms of career aspirations within an organisation.”
On making the shift from advertising to music…
Jade started off in advertising in Cape Town. “I didn’t know you could have a formal career in the music business in South Africa, so I wasn’t sure if there would be an opportunity to cross over from advertising into music marketing,” she says.
Nervous as she was, moving to Johannesburg and the heart of the industry cemented her position in the music biz. Being able to work with media and brands she’d only ever connected with over email meant she was able to execute great partnerships. And the rest is history!
Three great leadership lesson she’s learnt…
1/ “There will always be challenges, there will always be things you don’t like to do, but you will have to do them to be a better leader. These things build character and help you navigate managing a team and working with people.”
2/ “What determines how well you do something will always be based on your attitude and your mindset.”
3/ “There is no limit to what you can achieve. If there’s something that hasn’t been done before, don’t let that deter you – you may become the first person to do it and inspire others to do the same.”
The books every woman should read…
“Every woman should read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – this book touches on many themes around identity, sense of self and being a woman (specifically one of colour) in a man’s world. Becoming Michelle by Michelle Obama is a very personal account of finding her voice as the First Lady of the White House,” says Jade.
How Jade practises self-care
“Self-care for me is making time to do one thing at a time – reading a book, listening to music, journalling, taking a run. It’s really important to make time to focus on one thing at a time. Sometimes I fall into the trap of multitasking all day, but this can lead to burnout in the long run,” she says.