Aubrey Whitfield

Producer Aubrey Whitfield on the art of growing a business and the fight for gender diversity

Over the past three years, acclaimed producer and composer Aubrey Whitfield has seen her career accelerate at breakneck speed. Prior to 2018, a full-time position with the UK civil service meant that her studio work was confined to evenings and weekends, during which time she would take on all manner of jobs in order to boost her profile and expand her already formidable skillset.

When she made the leap from part-time to full-time studio pro, she utilised her time not only take foster an increasingly high-profile roster of clients (Simon Webbe, Kelly Clarkson, Soul II Soul, Little Mix and many others), but also to educate herself in the art of self-promotion and generating new business. From networking across a variety of online marketplaces to developing a social media strategy that has garnered tens of thousands of followers, her marketing nous has seen demand for her production skills soar.

Today, she continues to break new professional ground, having entered the world of TV and film production during lockdown. She has also become a vocal campaigner for industry diversity.

Here, Aubrey Whitfield discusses her illustrious career to date and learning new skills during lockdown…

How have you found working through lockdown?
It’s been really busy. Lots of people still want to have their songs produced – that doesn’t change just because they are sitting at home.

What have you been working on? Have you taken on any projects you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to?
I’m lucky that over half of my workload comes from online business – people are happy for me to produce their work on my own and don’t need to be in the room with me. Also, what has been interesting is that I’ve been working with people like BMG Production Music writing and producing music for things like Love Island and other TV shows. That was new for me but I really enjoyed it.

How did that move come about?
The head of production at BMG contacted me saying she’d seen my name somewhere on a directory for women in music- I’m not sure which one, but it just shows how important those things are.

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Tell us about your progression over the past three years. It seems things have developed rapidly.
It took off so quickly, bearing in mind I’ve been writing and producing music since I was a child. I had this job working for the UK civil service and was working on music at evenings and weekends. It was when that work was matching my full-time job salary that I decided to leave.

That is when you can really progress, because you suddenly have all this time. I was able to spend a lot of time promoting myself, mostly on Instagram, which is why I have e good following and I get a lot of work through that channel. I also worked on my website and got on marketplace sites like Sound Better and Air Gigs.

How did you build your online profile so successfully? And how important is it for producers to work on that side of their business?
It’s only the last year that I’ve started getting a lot of work through Instagram. When I first started on it, I was just uploading pics of my studio and it wasn’t doing anything. But when I started posting tips and advice, that really started generating things.

The majority of my followers follow me for those tips and guidance. It’s been critical for me and has really helped propel my career and I think aspiring producers should spend a lot of time on building their social media presence. I spend about one day a week on it.

Did you have any mentors offering guidance when you started out?
No, I was on my own. I didn’t go to uni to study audio. I did apply when I was 17 for LIPA in Liverpool to do a music production course. They offered me a place but said I was the only girl. That put me off and I didn’t end up going, so I’ve learned by doing things myself. But I always look at what other producers are doing and what paths they’ve taken.

Did that decision not to join the course affect you?
It’s one of my biggest regrets. I could have gone into production much earlier. It worked out in the end, but my message to anyone in that position is to not be afraid. When I started producing I was fully aware there were hardly any female producers around because people kept telling me. Someone would hire me and say ‘I’ve been looking for a female producer and they just don’t exist’.

Do you see things changing?
Things are changing. I’m seeing all of these ladies on social media who are producing, which is great. We’ve still got a long way to go – we’re only two per cent of the producing industry – but when I go to colleges to talk about production I’m seeing about a quarter of the students are female, which is much better. I’m feeling positive about the change. We’re getting a stronger voice.

Aubrey Whitfield

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