International Women's Day 2024: A Spotlight on The Merlin Engage program + labels La Boîte à Pépites and 365XX

⇥ PUBLISHED ON 8 March, 2024

Today we honour the dual meaning of this year’s International Women’s Day themes: United Nations have designated the year 2024’s theme as Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress with a focus on addressing economic disempowerment, full details can be found HERE, while the official IWD campaign this year is Inspire Inclusion which highlights the significance of diversity and empowerment across all sectors of society, full details can be found HERE.


We will not celebrate this day with showing you a selection of amazing female artists from across our labels or a Reel of our incredible female colleagues’ faces, just because of the date on the calendar. Don’t be mistaken: we have plenty of both. We take pride in our gender balanced artist & label roster so all we can do is invite you to listen to the music of our labels and artists, read our newsletter and website features and social posts where we highlight and focus every day on these female artists and give our female staff around the world a face and a platform. Please: watch us.


We feel it’s more important to use our global platforms and audience reach on this awareness day to support advocacy initiatives or organizations that are truly impactful. We have chosen Merlin’s mentorship program Engage and 2 labels that we feel deserve your attention.


Merlin is the independent’s digital music licensing partner, representing independent record labels, distributors, label services companies and other rightsholders from 68 countries. Find more specifics of their mission HERE.


Most mentorship programs that have been running for a while specifically address young female professionals starting out in the music industry whereas Merlin’s Engage program, launched in the spring of 2023, was crafted specifically to pair executive-level mentors with talented mentees to help shape the next generation of female leaders in the independent music space. This first mentorship class had 18 people, with six of the mentors from the Merlin Board.


The structure of Merlin Engage was calibrated to embrace the unique needs and perspectives of female leaders from independent music. It helped participants to develop into better leaders within their own companies as well as future leaders within the industry. The six-month mentorship program offered guidance and development across an array of skills, such as leadership, prioritization, personality management, public speaking and presenting, prioritization, and relationship building.


Looking ahead, Merlin is happy to announce that plans are already underway for the next Merlin Engage class this year in 2024. The organization is deeply committed to continuing this vital initiative to foster a more supportive and inclusive music industry.


“I’m so grateful to have participated in Merlin’s inaugural Merlin Engage mentorship program. As a female leader, I am aware of the challenges and obstacles that many women face in our jobs and daily lives. I am also acutely aware of the need for greater diversity, especially in positions of leadership”, said Megan Jasper, CEO of Sub Pop. “Merlin Engage brings all of us one step closer to that goal by creating a space where today’s decision makers are able to assist tomorrow’s female decision makers in finding that path and thriving in that space.”


Make sure to follow Merlin’s channels to know more about its 2024 plans for the Engage mentorship program.


La Boîte à Pépites

La Boîte à Pépites translates more or less like ‘a box full of nuggets’. This French classical label is run by its artistic director, artist, cellist Héloîse Luzzati who started La Boîte à Pépite with a very clear mission.


Although the term ‘triobairitz’, the female troubadour, has existed since a long time and even goes way back to the Middle Age, we find very little of that now. In fact, barely 4% of the classical music works performed live in concert were written by women. And that is still the case today: female composers are still highly invisible and absent from the standard musical repertory learned by conservatory students, absent from those same conservatories which are nearly always carrying the name of a male composer, and worst of all, absent from concert programmes and performances.

This invisibility has always been ‘explained’ by the same old argument: but were they any good? But how can we find that out, if we can’t listen to their work today simply because they have not been credited, documented, registered, archived nor performed? This is where La Boîte à Pépites comes in, who want to make a long overdue correction through research, digging up forgotten manuscripts, studying scores, publishing and releasing these specific works. Giving recognition where it is due.


Héloïse Luzzati and her team have discovered incredible music and compositions by female composers from around the world, from the Middle Age period to contemporary, from solo instrumental to chamber music and orchestral works and they literally cover all genres and formats in the history of music. The label launched officially on March 8th 2022 so two years ago on International Women’s Day.


Apart from their label work, they also produce a festival and a YouTube video channel where they host a series of animated mini documentaries on these forgotten female composers worth your attention.

We feel the label’s mission is incredibly important, and not just for musical history in itself. We warmly recommend watching these mini documentaries on their YouTube channels and make sure to follow their exciting plans via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


When it comes to gender and music, hip-hop doesn’t have a great reputation. Or at least: the hip hop industry. Many many press features, books, films, expos, etc, touch on this specific issue: homophobic, sexist, male dominated, misogynistic – and the list goes on. And while the rap industry’s artists, both male and female, have always reflected a large variety of experiences and personal stories, the imagery and storytelling that is being used by the industry to portray, promote and market these releases, have shown throughout the years often a very one-sided or narrow-minded scenario or storyline. One that often showed females as one-dimensional humans, often all being called by the same (bad) name…


Luckily in recent years, the hip hop industry has been changing and evolving – slowly. Not quite a healthy balanced industry just yet but enough to remain hopeful that this may happen one day.


While we don’t particularly love or encourage gender segregation in music and will always prefer the richness of a varied mix, we also understand what has lead to the creation of the German label 365XX which is Europe‘s first all-female rap label. The label‘s A&R and promoter is Lina Burghausen Burghausen, a well-known German Hip Hop expert, music journalist, DJ, as well as founder of the Hip Hop PR agency Mona Lina, part of the Keychange programme and founder of the blog 365femalemcs which has been publishing portraits of female MCs and rappers from around the world every day for more than 4 years now.

The music industry can be a haunting and scary place for emerging young talent in general so we understand what drove hip hop loving Lina to create a label home and safe space for female hip hop talent. 365XX was founded by Lina and [PIAS] Germany in 2020 and immediately got national media attention in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

We warmly recommend our Label Focus HERE and it’s definitely worth mentioning that 365XX won Best Label at the VUT Indie Awards 2023 at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg last September.


The label is about top embark on a first German Label live tour featuring many of their roster. Watch this space: follow 364XX here and here.

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