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Women of the Week: Patti-Anne Tarlton

Patti-Anne Tarlton is one of the women magnates of the music industry in Toronto. Her success can be attributed to her charismatic business attitude and exceptional managerial skills with her staff. She has a friendly, down-to-earth demeanour, and values collaboration and connecting people invested in music across the country.

As COO, Canada for Ticketmaster North America, Tarlton oversees the business-end operations of the Canadian ticketing market. She is in charge of the features and products that Ticketmaster sells, including the technology that is used to sell and market tickets. These products are sold on international markets across North America. Tarlton is also in charge of overseeing the business relationship with Ticketmaster’s clients, managing business deals with clients (teams, festivals, clubs) and holds relationships with B2B to sell product on their behalf.

Before joining Ticketmaster, Tarlton worked as the Vice President of Live Entertainment at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “I spent 13 years at Maple Leaf. There are a whole host of precious moments, including New Years Eve with the Tragically Hip and when Googoosh performed for the first time in 21 years outside of her home country Iran,” Tarlton says. “It is always fun to see Canadian attractions sell out the arena. It is also great to see how the Toronto marketplace is so multicultural.”

Tarlton’s interest in music began at a very young age when her Uncle, Donald Tarlton, who was one of the most famous record label owners in Canadian music history, came to visit her hometown in Vancouver and his nieces would accompany him to various music events. Donald Tarlton owned Aquarius Records, which represented April Wine, Sum 41, and Corey Hart. “It was likely a slow burn to my love for music,” Tarlton says. “Donald was always a part of our lives and very close to my father. He always had a great record label and grew that over the years. It was always about the next thing and a bunch of vinyl would come my way.” Tarlton got her start in operations as a concert promotor in the music industry. Over the next 14 years, she was a concert promotor for Perryscope Concerts, DKD Concerts, and House of Blues Concerts.

When Tarlton reached adulthood, she decided to move to Montreal and pursue her dream of working in music with her uncle. She recollects the first concert she attended in Montreal was to see Paul Simon and she was impressed by the crowd. “Having grown up in Vancouver, the audience settings were quite different,” Tarlton says. “Montreal audiences stand on their feet and it had this super international flavour to it.” Even as a young adult, Tarlton was interested in how live audiences were affected by the music and how to engage people to enjoy shows they attended.  Her passion with live shows eventually led her to being the VP of Live Entertainment for the Air Canada Centre, the fifth largest venue in the world.

Tarlton believes music creates better communities and a stronger cultural environment. She is an appointed member of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, which is a group of individuals in the industry that meet to exchange ideas and advice on how to create opportunities and respond to challenges in the city’s music industry. She is also a board member on Music Canada Live, which promotes live music. “I feel as I live here in Toronto I, I can advocate for the rest of the country. It was natural for me to try and rally the arenas in sports and entertainment,” Tarlton says. “The benefit of being in Toronto is you have the population and local economy and it is in part our responsibility to advocate for every neck of the woods in Canada. Canadians tend to network and collaborate, be it a local level or countrywide. It is our natural tendency as a nation. Even in a multinational setting, Canadians tend to lean in to find solutions rather than elbows out.”

Tarlton has received the Women of Influence Award from Venues Today, won Coach of the Year from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and was nominated for Facility Executive of the Year twice for Pollstar.

Tarlton wants to inspire women to reach for high-ranking roles in the music industry. “While I have enjoyed a career and not been set back by my gender, I have two girls and I envision a world where they don’t have to think about gender. I do know that we have a network of really talented women across the country though there are not enough women on civic or government advisory boards,” Tarlton says. “I do feel like I have a responsibility to push women along as well as well as motivate and inspire. If I take lessons from my own life, it is about putting yourself out there. I do not think twice about delivering myself in a conversation and pushing something forward without the one to one.”

When Tarlton isn’t working, she enjoys going to the cottage and waterskiing. She also finds cooking very relaxing after work. She was an avid sewer when she was younger and made over 150 costumes that her two daughters enjoyed playing with as they grew up. Tarlton’s sense of humour and positivity is infectious and listening to her stories is wildly entertaining and deeply inspirational. It is moving to see a strong and high-ranking role in the music industry.  Just don’t forget Tarlton’s advice for Canadian women; network, get yourself out there, and do it on your own terms.

Women’s Music Panel at CMW tackles wage gap

Canadian women have fought for generations so that musicians of all genders are able to pursue their dreams and goals in music, but pay gaps and limitations still persist.

“Power Playing: Advice for Top Women In Music for the Emerging Generation” was a panel hosted by Canadian Music Week that focused on female journalists, publicists, and musicians. It featured six women that are in executive positions in the music industry and addressed the successes and issues of working women. The women on the panel did not hold back and I learned the discrepancies continue to persist in the music industry today.

Moderator and founder of Women in Music Canada, Samantha Slattery emphasized that women continue to make less money than men in the music industry. She explained that for every dollar that a male employee makes, a woman in the music industry makes 73 cents. Women continue to be compensated unfairly for their contributions and have a difficult time climbing up to executive roles.

“Women need to do a better job advocating for themselves and each other,” said panelist and senior director of Live Nation, Melissa Bubb-Clarke. “It is important to chalk it up to business objectives. Anytime that you can bring it back to a financial contribution, ask yourself what is my return on my investment and how should I be compensated for that?”

Bubb-Clarke explained that she received a bonus check that was lower than she believed she deserved for her contribution and returned it.  She was uncertain she would be receiving any check at all after making such a bold move, but learned an important lesson when she was given a bonus check with double the amount the next day.  Interestingly, Bubb-Clarke and most of the other women on the panel, began their careers in administration and landed their jobs internally only to climb in the company from there.

A recent initiative was launched by MTV called the 79 percent clock. The clock is a daily reminder for women that because of the wage gap we still experience today, 21 per cent of our workload is free when compared to men’s average salaries in the same job. It is also possible to calculate your workload on the website by plugging into the app when you start and complete work.

“Working for Women in Music Inc., I have a lot of conversations with women about insecurity. They need to realize they are worth more,” said president of Women in Music Inc., Jessica Sobhrai. “If you truly believe you deserve more and they say no, it isn’t the company for you and there is no room for growth. It’s knowing your value.”

A report  published by Canadian Music Week went on to say that women who work in the music industry work five hours more than the average Canadian, with a starting pay of 24,000 per year and 75 per cent of female employees are under 40. A low salary and long working hours create difficult criteria if you have a family. “It is a 47/7 job. It gets tricky for women in their 30’s who want to have a family,” Panelist and Director of Operations from Toronto-based music public relations company known as the Feldman Agency, Olivia Ootes said. “If we want people to stay in the entertainment industry, we need to change standards.”

Though issues of gender equality persist in the music industry, the women on the panel were hopeful and positive about the changes that were underway for the upcoming generation. Bubb-Clarke noted that women in executive positions have worked hard to carve out the path for future women leaders in music.

Though there are still struggles for women in the workplace, if we keep pushing into the executive roles in the industry and demanding fair pay, the standards will change for future generations. As the Spice Girls once said, “Girl Power!”.