Susan Heymann, General Manager of Chugg Entertainment: There are lots of women in music, but there aren't enough women at the top

Susan Heymann Music Love image via Facebook/WIMSydney

Susan Heymann Music Love image via Facebook/WIMSydney

When Susan Heymann, the General Manager of Australian promoter giant Chugg Entertainment, was younger, she had a friend named Carly who worked at Channel V. In between classes as a 17 year old, Susan would find herself at the Channel V studios watching Carly work away and come home to her mother and talk about a career in music. Her mother asked, "Do you wanna be like Carly and hang out with bands?" Susan's answer was nothing but prophetic. "Mum, I wanna be Carly's boss."

And, now, while Susan may not be Carly's boss, she is many people's boss. As the head of Chugg Entertainment - which is the brain child of the larger than life long time Australian music promoter Michael Chugg - Susan is in charge overseeing tours for the likes of Flume, Clare Bowen, Sia, Elton John, The Preatures and the Dixie Chicks, as well as managing key strategic partnerships and a staff of mainly women (fun fact - there are impressively many, many women employed at Chugg).

Susan Heymann with other women in music. Image via Facebook/WIMSydney

Susan Heymann with other women in music. Image via Facebook/WIMSydney

Susan told the anecdote about Carly, and listed many more stories and memories to a packed house of women in the music industry at a Women In Music networking event at the digital music business upstart Jaxta's offices in Sydney a couple of weeks back. 

Susan explained to the crowd that she started out with a sports science degree, but couldn't get the music bug off her so decided to immerse herself in the industry. Since then, Susan has worked in a wide variety of roles in music - in artist management, for a major record label (EMI), in music retail and music media (The Music Network). But ten years ago, she landed a job as the assistant to the General Manger at Chugg and has since worked in various roles including Marketing Manager and Tour Coordinator. Then, last year when the CEO of Chugg Matthew Lazarus-Hall left, Susan deliberated about whether or not she should consider the top job. But as she contemplated what kind of person would come in and take over, Susan recalled to the gripping Sydney audience, "There's no way [anyone] would know this business better than me, or care about the staff and Michael more than me."

And the rest is Australian music history. Susan is one of a handful of women who work in an Australian executive role in music, and says, "There are lots of women in music, but there aren't enough women at the top." Susan was listed number 18 in The Australian Music Industry Directory's 2016 50 Most Influential Music Industry Players list. 

When I recently completed a five week round the world business trip [with Susan], I was continually in awe and very proud of how Susan is regarded by industry heavy weights - young, old, New York, London, LA and Nashville.... Susan is one of the most hard-working people I know, and she is the future of the music industry.
— Michael Chugg, Australian music promoter

The whole room was ignited by her presence, her authority and her divine down-to-earth nature. Susan was interviewed by the wonderful Esti Zilber of Australian music export producers Sounds Australia, who read an email from Michael Chugg himself about Susan Heymann. 

"When I recently completed a five week round the world business trip [with Susan], I was continually in awe and very proud of how Susan is regarded by industry heavy weights - young, old, New York, London, LA and Nashville.... Susan is one of the most hard-working people I know, and she is the future of the music industry."

Absolutely could not agree more.

Women In Music Sydney is a networking group for women (founded by Jacqui Louez-Schoorl) who work and perform in all areas of the music industry. Join their Facebook group to get notifications of their wonderful networking events. Check out all their photos from this In Conversation with Susan Heymann event here