Give a brief 5-10 sentence introduction about yourself. (Who you are, what you do, age, fun facts about you, etc.)
My name is Maggie Dickman, and I’m an Editorial Assistant at Alternative Press. I’m a newbie to Cleveland, Ohio, relocating to this wonderful city from Des Moines, Iowa after graduating from Drake University with degrees in Magazine Journalism and English. I really like iced coffee and The Maine. (Actually, I really, really like The Maine.) One thing most people don’t know about me is that I was in dance for years, and I actually miss it a lot!
Which female artist inspired you the most growing up?
Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne were who I aspired to be. I still remember carrying around the ...Baby One More Time and Let Go CDs everywhere I went to play on my portable CD player. (Although listening to music on an iPhone is so much easier, I still miss my sticker-covered boombox that I blasted these CDs on.)
If you could tour with absolutely anyone, who would you pick? Why?
I would have to go with HAIM, for sure. In my dreams, I’m an honorary fourth Haim sister—they’re totally down to earth, Something To Tell You is one of my fave albums of the year and maybe they’d even let me hop on stage and play triangle or something. A girl can dream, right?
Is there something you learned early in your career that made you a better person?
The biggest thing I learned earlier on is not being afraid to hear the word “no.” I remember being turned down for one of my first interviews, and I was devastated. And then it happened again. And then again. And it wasn’t until my fourth try that I finally heard a “yes.” It’s so hard hearing “no” over and over again, and at the time, I figured it meant I wasn’t cut out for a job in music journalism. But hearing “no” made those “yes” responses feel so much better, and it pushed me to become an even better writer.
How old were you when you first realized you wanted to pursue a career working in the music industry?
I always knew I wanted to work in the music industry in some facet, but when I first went to college, I wasn’t sure what avenue I wanted to take—PR, journalistic writing, etc. I stumbled into a Magazine Journalism major and ended up falling for it. I think taking those first courses helped me realize that I love the creativity involved in interviewing and putting a story together. (Although my journalistic heart still has a special place for the PR side of things—especially since it doesn’t involve transcribing!)
How did you discover what job you were cut out for?
Interning for Alternative Press not only helped me figure out that this is what I was cut out for—but it also happened to be my dream gig, too. I landed a summer internship in 2016, and after working with the magazine’s stellar editorial team, I realized that I might be cut out for this music journalism thing—and that I loved it so much.
How old were you when you landed your first gig? What was the position for? How did you get to that point?
I started out writing music journalism pieces for my college website, which was a great start. But I’d say my first “real gig” was my internship at Alternative Press that I mentioned above. I was hired on as an editorial intern, meaning I did lots of work online—creating lists, quizzes and the likes. I had to submit clips, and my experience on-campus was a huge help in navigating that next big step. That internship then helped open doors to further jobs—both inside and outside of AP—that I wouldn’t have been able to land without that writing experience.
How long have you been working in this industry for? How long do you plan to stay in it?
I really didn’t get my start until college—so about five years now. I am so in love with what I’m doing, so I’d like to stay in the industry for as long as it’ll have me!
How do you push yourself to do better?
I think that’s just something that I’ve done naturally over the years—I always want to make sure I’m putting 100 percent into everything I do. Especially being involved in the ever-changing world of digital media, I know that I will never truly be done learning—even though I’m not in school anymore! Seeing so many phenomenal sites and writers help keep me on my toes. There are writers who can piece words together in ways that absolutely blow me away, so there are endless opportunities to grow and learn from my (seriously talented) peers. (I also really like reading books on coding—I’d love to be a digital guru one day!)
Tell us about a time when being a woman in your field has been difficult for you? What effects of sexism have you dealt with and how did you learn to handle it?
At this point, I haven’t had any standout moments where being a woman in music has been particularly difficult for me, and for that I’m truly grateful. But my academic advisor, who spent years as a music journalist, told me that no matter how well written my pitch is or how strong my clips are, there will always be that editor who will refuse to hire me because I’m a girl. And then that makes me think—why would I want to work for and support a publication who holds those beliefs in the first place? I’m blessed to work with an incredible—and nearly all female—team at Alternative Press, and it’s helped me realize that those are the kind of workspaces and teams I want to support.
If you could change or eliminate any aspect of the music industry what would it be?
After spending a year as a freelance writer, I would want to make sure that people are paid what they deserve. Whether that be writing, photography, etc., freelance creatives work hard and deserve to be paid for the work they put in. We all have bills to pay, too!
Why do you think double standards in our scene exist?
To me, it all goes back to the idea of the fangirl. It’s been so ingrained that being a girl and being a music fan makes you less professional or should be taken less seriously. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that if I wasn’t ever a “fangirl,” there’s no way I would even want the job I have today. It’s hard knowing that, as women, we have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously as our male counterparts, but maybe that’s why women are seriously killin’ it right now. It’s awesome having a strong and supportive group of girls like those involved in GBTRS who are proving to the world that yes, we can be fans—and still be stellar leaders in the music industry, too.
Would you ever be open to mentoring young women who wish to make it in this scene? What's your advice to them?
Oh, of course! I would say my advice goes back to one of the first lessons I learned: Don’t be afraid to hear the word “no.” Instead, let that push you to work harder the next time around. Know that it’s easy to get knocked down, but finding supportive groups like GBTRS is such an important thing. Put 100 percent into everything you do. Be open to every opportunity that come your way—you never know what doors they’ll open for you. Embrace the life-long friendships you build along the way—I’m lucky to have met some of my best, most supportive friends through my work thus far! And always remember: Be kind.
What women have mentored you? (If any).
The list could go on, but I would love to thank the lovely ladies I’ve met through Alternative Press: Mackenzie Hall, Rabab Al-Sharif and Cassie Whitt. I could write “thank you” a hundred times, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Their talent and drive never ceases to amaze me, and I thank them a million times over for welcoming me into the AP fam with such open arms.
In the end, do you think it's all worth it?
Yes, yes, yes. It’s a lot of work, of course, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus, the people I’ve met along the way continue to inspire me daily. We’ve built a beautiful community, and the lifelong friendships I’ve made in this music family is the best part of it all.
Be sure to follow Maggie @maggie_dickman on Instagram and Twitter!
Maggie Dickman wrote this piece when she was writing for MORE—it’s a list of 10 women in music you should be listening to right now, and she's still super stoked on this piece! Be sure to check it out: http://www.more.com/entertainment/music/10-under-radar-female-bands-and-artists-you-need-hear-now