‘The more inclusive we become, the more successful we will be.’

MBW’s Inspiring Women series profiles women executives who have risen to the occasionin the business category, highlighting his career journey – from his professional success to the senior responsibilities he now carries out. Inspiring women is Ingrooves. Supported by,

Last year, Doreen Schmack was named co-president of Warner Music Central Europe along with Fabian Drebs, both of whom claimed the first dual leadership of a major label in Germany.

Shimak stepped down from his previous role as MD of Media and Brands at the company, having previously spent eight years as Director of Promotions and Coordination.

Since taking on the co-presidency, she tells us she’s focused on building a culture of belonging for both artists and employees, as well as strengthening the label’s domestic business.

The fruits of that labor included the launch of Atlantic Records Germany, which focused on German hip-hop. Says Shimak: “We want this label to be a place for culturally relevant artists and have an indie, start-up mindset rather than the typical major label approach.”

Artists signed to Atlantic Records Germany Schimk is excited to include German/Russian rapper Vero and Austrian talent, Yung Hearn. “There’s a lot more to come – we’re going to be in talks with a lot of actors that I can’t talk about at the moment,” she adds.

Schimk is also working on the launch of the all-female rap songwriting camp, SHE, which took place in Berlin in mid-April. The week offered networking opportunities and mentorship to help improve the representation of women in hip-hop.

Prior to Warner, Schimak worked at Sony Music Germany for nearly five years after starting his career as an apprentice at Edel Records in the promotions department in the late ’90s.

She did not go to university and instead spent her post-school years DJing before landing in New York in search of a music industry career. “Music was the only thing I was 100% passionate about,” she recalls. “It was always about the music.”

Despite not speaking any English, Shimak got a job at a bar in New York’s Brooklyn district, where he took on Spike, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah.

She says: “It was a fancy hip bar at the time, I was the only German waitress there and I just kept saying, ‘My name is Doreen and I need a job.’ I realized that everyone wanted to get into the music industry and I didn’t know what kind of study or training I needed.”

Thankfully, a friend in Hamburg told her about an opening at Adele Records in Germany and within 48 hours of sending her CV, she went back home and started work.

Here, we talk to Shimak about her career so far, gender equality in music, bringing German hip-hop to the global stage, and more.

In the various different roles you have played in your career, are there any biggest lessons you have learned?

One lesson is that it’s good to have some advice or people who are there to support you. I have always focused on trying to surround myself with people who can support me or learn from. Also, it is very important to be courageous and ambitious as well as being passionate about what you do. Keep an open mind and step out of your comfort zone, be open to new things and keep at it.

“I’ve always focused on trying to surround myself with people who can support me or learn from.”

You’ve been involved in running the all-female rap songwriting camp, SHE – can you tell me about the inspiration behind launching this?

Globally and locally, there is a shortage of female talent in business; Artist, Lyricist and Producer. With Atlantic, Warner Music and Warner Chappell we believe it’s all about networking. We are living in a time where we have such a great opportunity to connect not only through social media platforms, especially after coming out of two years of pandemic.

That’s why we are creating an event where female artists and lyricists get to know each other and learn from and support each other. As a brand, SHE could be the new home for female artists and the creative scene across Europe and globally. I see this as a big opportunity.

Aside from mentorship and community, what do you think will equal the balance of gender on the talent side in the music industry?

Advancing gender equality and inclusion. Inclusion is a very important thing that everyone should realize and it is about being open, no matter what our cultural background. Besides, don’t just talk about it. I keep saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’. It’s the small steps that make the difference – doing things on a daily basis.

,[When it comes to gender equality in music]It’s the small steps that make the difference.”

In the UK and US, there has been considerable action on the business side to bring more women into leadership positions in the music industry. Does that work appear in Germany?

I think Warner does a lot of activities specifically for gender equality. At present in our organization, we have about 50% female and male [employees] at the leadership level. There are a number of initiatives that we will emphasize further to make it clear that much more action is needed.

This year, we created the SHE songwriting camp, but we’re also developing a number of different formats where women can speak out about their issues, so I think we’re in a good place. But of course, we need to take a lot of opportunities when it comes to the festival line-up and certain roles, for example, with regards to how we cast a woman.

German hip-hop generally hasn’t done a good job of translating outside its home country – how can it break through the language barrier and compete with strong markets like the US?

We see that every year the rap genre is the most successful throughout Europe, and especially in Germany. Of course, there is language barrier but I think there will be new ways [for it to break through], Especially because we are now handling DSP and social media platforms globally – on the one hand, they will be focused on local rap, but on the other, global music genres will have a huge impact around the world.

Do you have any strategies that have proven particularly effective for breaking into German music abroad?

Yes, absolutely, it’s about our signing strategy. But I can’t talk too much about what Warner Music is in for. There are some personal things but I really don’t want to publish it, I think they should be more discreet.

What are the biggest challenges with working in the music industry in Europe at the moment and how are you navigating them?

We are really focusing on our home market and seeing how TikTok is influencing new artists and songs and seeing how listeners are interested in different genres. We are in a very disruptive market situation so it is important to get a feel for what is in our market, what is a theme that has a cultural impact apart from global mega trends.

How is the most exciting development going on in the music industry for you today?

I think it goes beyond our traditional recording business — we want to explore new revenue streams through complete digitization like NFTs or avatar making. Living in such a digital world, there are many new ways to discover music and it is fascinating.

What would you change about the music industry and why?

Advancing gender equality and inclusion. The more inclusive we are, the more successful we will be.

What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps? Is there anything you wish you knew before starting your career?

Be patient in what you do and be ambitious too. I think it’s very important, whatever you do, but especially if you have the potential to change things – speak up. It was something I had to learn, it didn’t come naturally.

MBW’s Inspiring Women series profiles women executives who have risen to the occasionin the business category, highlighting his career journey – from his professional success to the senior responsibilities he now carries out. Inspiring women is Ingrooves. Supported by,worldwide music business

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