Kailei Ginman, former Lead Corporate Booking Agent at Ministry of Sound Australia, launched Australia’s first all female and LGBTQI+ inclusive booking agency this week.
Launched with the mission to support, empower and navigate a positive and successful career for women in music, Alpha Booking Agency entered the market with a healthy DJ roster including Ayebatonye, Feline, Rosie Kate, Sara T, Stacie Fields and Stara.
The artists are in incredibly safe hands; throughout her more than 10-year career Kailei Ginman has worked with acts like Havana Brown, The Potbelleez, Stafford Brothers, The Vines, Gang of Youths, and Peking Duk, and worked on international tours with Salt N Pepa, Coolio, Sean Paul, Fatman Scoop and 112.
Ginman sat down pre-launch at BIGSOUND this month to chat about Alpha Booking Agency’s business model, her big plans to change the industry, the importance of diverse representation, and more.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity.
How did Alpha come about?
I was working for an agency in Sydney, but quit my job and didn’t know what I was going to do next.
I was in a pretty male-orientated environment, as an agent. There aren’t many female agents; about six of us I’m aware of in Australia. One of them was my intern once upon a time!
I was the only female in a team, and found it quite challenging personally – not just from colleagues, but clients I worked with in the nightclub scene. I also saw interactions that female talent had with male agents and venue managers and promoters – things that weren’t OK.
I actually had an old client call who was based in Melbourne – checking in on what I was doing next, That client had a lot of female talent that wasn’t represented that was looking for someone to represent them.
I’d been thinking about it for a while, of starting a female focussed agency – but that really pushed it. I’d lived in Melbourne before and love Melbourne, so it was like, “Oh, shit. I’m gonna move to Melbourne’. I did it pretty quickly, so I went down, and within a week of being in Melbourne, I was a business owner.
Were there a lot of logistics to sort through?
There’s been a lot of logistics. I’m a start-up. I have a private investor who’s really great, and believes in what I’m doing, which is good. What Alpha was at the start as the concept to what it’s blossomed into now has changed.
It’s been happening in the background for three months, and it’s just at a really good place now.
Were any inappropriate lines were crossed?
Inappropriate lines were crossed at times, even just to the point where there were communication breakdowns and female talent were seen as being too emotional so their requests or reports of issues at gigs were brushed off.
Neither person is right or wrong, we just communicate differently.
Quite a few of the female talents on my roster came to me from male agents. Our working relationship was great, and supportive and empowering. I really believed in the talent, and it was like a sisterhood. You become great friends with your female talent.
What happened when you told your roster you’d gone to start Alpha?
The response has actually been really good. My rule about who I want to work with is people on the same page where there’s going to be a really great working environment.
I want to work with people who I know are going to be straightforward, easy to work with and positive. I’m working with female talent, but also non-binary people, trans people, queer people – anyone who’s marginalised and have felt misrepresented previously.
What’s your answer to people who say this is “reverse sexism”?
I anticipate that’s gonna be happening a lot. The industry is so male-focussed, and always has been. I mean most industries are – the music industry especially.
The agency arrives around the time of #MeToo, and I feel like Australia is becoming more progressive now and women are really speaking up. I feel like there is change coming, even though it feels hopeless at the moment. We’re talking about it, and that will support it.
I completely understand there will be people who will say it’s reverse sexism, but it’s actually just empowering and standing up for those people who have been looked over the entire time, and who need the empowerment, and support and someone to believe in them.
Tell us who your team is.
I have a female assistant who I’m bringing on, Jules, who’s coming in one day a week. She’s finishing her Communications degree at Swinburne at the moment, and so I’m going to train her up. One part of what Alpha is and what I really enjoy is mentoring and training young people – particularly young women – on how to move into a successful career.
As a booking agent, what’s your take on the discussion around gender balance on festival lineups?
I can see both sides. I grew up in the punk scene, and 95% of the bands and musicians in that scene are male, and I’m fine with that.
All my favourite albums, bar maybe one, have been written by males, so if there’s more males in a certain scene for a particular festival, I get it, and think that the best person for the job should always get the job.
At the same time, I definitely think there needs to be more female artists in festival and venue line-ups. If the percentage of male to female talent in a particular scene is skewed, make it at least represent that ratio from who is available.
Will Alpha predominantly work in the EDM sector?
Yes to start with, but I anticipate that when the agency launches our roster will grow into different areas.
We’re open, and want to work with all different kinds of musicians. Working with different types of talent, is exciting.
What’s the main impact you hope Alpha has on the music industry?
Awareness around female acts being represented and respected to the same level that male acts are.Having equality in line ups. What I’m doing with Alpha is tackling a huge music industry issue where Australia is quite slow on uptake compared to America and Europe.
My mission is to create a safe and positive experience for female and identifying artists, so hopefully we’re the first of many female focused agencies!