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As overseer of all things music-related at VICE, Farkas is behind the wheel in building their label’s roster, curating events, and helping program their online music platform Noisey, finding herself negotiating budgets, booking bands, combing through contracts, and generally navigating mayhem—all while spreading the gospel of Action Bronson and the Black Lips to the masses.
What percentage of the people you work with on a daily basis are male, would you say?
I would say that 80 percent of my day-to-day contacts are male. Almost all of the teams (artists, their managers, publicists, agents, lawyers, etc.) for each band on our current label roster are 85 percent male.
Do you consider yourself an assertive person? If so, do you think that attribute has helped your career more than it would in some other fields of work?
I am absolutely an assertive person, bordering on relentless, and I rarely back down. It's not uncommon for me to be the loudest person in the room, regardless of whether that room is full of men or women. It is without question an essential quality to possess as a manager regardless of the industry, and I don't believe I would be nearly as successful if I was more passive.
Have you ever felt like you had to prove your knowledge of music to a guy, like he was skeptical that you knew what you were talking about?
I’ve really never encountered that, so either I’m smarter than I think, or people I talk to are really nice and pity me.
Has there ever been a situation where you think being a woman helped you in the workplace?
Women are just as capable of men when it comes to taking a situation at just business face value, and, frankly, if you can't do that, your success will be limited. However, there have been times where, as a woman, I may see a situation with a bit more heart or emotion and that can at times be a good thing.
How about where being a woman made your job more difficult?
I don’t often find myself commiserating with other women about the fact that we work in a largely male-dominated field and how that can make things more difficult, but I’d be lying if I said that at times being female hasn’t been a hurdle. I think one of the most important things is to know you got to where you are because you deserve to be there, not because of your sex.
Has being the only woman in a room full of music dudes ever made you feel self-conscious?
Absolutely. When you work in a field where the male-to-female ratio greatly favors men, you’re prepared to be the only girl at the table. Though I have gotten used to this, there are times it’s uncomfortable for any variety of reasons. When someone excuses themselves for saying something they feel is inappropriate [to say] around a lady, it’s often better to acknowledge that you in fact didn’t need to hear their comment then to try to brush it off and be one of the guys. As much as I want to be accepted as an equal by all my male colleagues, that doesn’t mean I want to have small talk about our waitresses’ ass when we go out to lunch.
Because the numbers are so few, do you think the camaraderie among women in the industry is stronger than it is among men?
I've always had really positive interactions with the other females I've worked with, both directly and indirectly. I think most women in this business recognize it's a male-dominated field and are supportive of other women because of that, as opposed to being competitive with each other. I've always found it important to not only have female role models in this industry but to also try to be one.
Growing up as a devoted music fan, did you have other female peers who shared your passion, or did you find yourself talking about music mostly with guys?
When I moved on to college, almost all the friends I shared musical camaraderie with were male. Because music is such a predominant force in my life, I gravitate towards those who share the same love for it I do, and the sex of that person is inconsequential.
The most puzzling aspect of this whole male-female imbalance in the music industry is why exactly it exists. Do you think it stems from women generally not being as big of music fans as men, or is something else at play here?
I’ve wondered about this for my whole career, and I think there are multiple factors at play. When rock music in particular became popularized and a viable business entity, women weren’t fully entrenched in the work force on an executive level yet. At that time, as a serious music fan, a woman was most likely categorized as a groupie before anything else. Working in the music business isn’t a 9-to-5 job; it’s a lifestyle, and that lifestyle was equated with male-dominated activities like heavy drinking and drug use, being on the road all the time—an environment that women were not seen as having much of a place in aside from a sexualized way. Now that there are more women in the field, and it’s acceptable for them to grow to executive status and have a legitimate place in the industry, what will the male-to-female balance look like in another 50 years?
(Photo by Aaron Richter)