All I have to say about my conversation with media and music executive, Denise Donlon, is “ I wanna be her when I grow up!”  Denise struck me as someone who has managed to have an immense amount of success and has been able to remain grounded and open to sharing her experiences, candidly with an open heart.

Denise and I talked in depth about the current state of the music industry and the challenges artists face in today’s current technologically driven landscape. Denise recalls when she left Much Music and became president of Sony Music Canada.  That was precisely when Napster was born and the idea of pirated music became widespread and music was at everyone's music fingertips for the first time in history. This free download mentality was wreaking havoc in the music industry and is still shifting and changing to this current day.

Denise notes that there was this idea that the democratization of music was supposed to give the artist more creative control, allow them to self-produce, and enable them to have a direct line to their fans. However, as the dust has settled, it has only put more stress on artists to learn how to promote, market and become their own complaints department, taking them away from creating. This lack of support and management surrounding many artists and the way that society is currently undervaluing art is creating hustlers out of artists leaving little time for filling the creative well and self-care.

“You need someone in your corner who will try and build a protection for you to be able to create your work so that the gears of the star-making machinery doesn’t grind you down.”

– Denise Donlon

In this episode:

  • Why it is important to the longevity of your career as an artist to not compromise your artistic integrity or vision.
  • Why you need to learn to pick your battles to win the war
  • What feminists can do in order to help make strides when it comes to women’s equality
  • How she has dealt with imposter syndrome and turned it into a motivator

Denise Donlon: Fearless As Possible

by Chelsea Johnson | Cue to Cue

Denise Donlon has been a leader in the Canadian Cultural landscape for over 30 years as GM of CBC English Radio, President of Sony Music Canada, and various executive and on-air positions at ChumTelevision, The NewMusic and MuchMusic.   A Member of the Order of Canada, Denise devotes her volunteer efforts to positively affect environmental and social justice issues through organizations such as Waterkeeper, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, Soulpepper Theatre, MusiCounts and WarChild Canada. Her book: Fearless As Possible (under the circumstances) debuted in November 2016 to extraordinary reviews, and was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writers’ Prize.

Follow Denise!

Twitter: @donlon

Instagram: @denisedonlon

Fear As Possible (Under The Circumstances): Get Your Copy Here! 


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