Tiana Lewis, Chayce Cheatham, Jackie Ross Tucker

2019 All Rights Reserved.

The way we consume music has changed completely over the last few decades. Gone are the days of physical albums and mixed CDs; and we’re no longer maxing out our computer and phone storage with mp3 files. Now, when we want to hear our favourite artists or a playlist of songs we love, most of us reach for our phones and pop open an app. From Apple Music and Pandora to Spotify and Amazon Prime Music, streaming has become the standard for music lovers who want to get access to thousands of songs with just a swipe of a finger. 

The impact of streaming has been undeniable. It’s the music industry’s largest source of revenue and has given artists the freedom to produce chart-topping hits without record labels. But while streaming is revolutionary, like many other sectors of the tech world, the space is still dominated primarily by white men. 

I had a chance to speak with three women of color who are decision makers in this lane about how they navigate their industry and their advice for other millennial women who are considering this career path or carving one of their own.

Jackie Ross Tucker - R&B Content Specialist at YouTube Music

Jackie Ross Tucker, R&B Content Specialist at YouTube Music

Photo Credit: Ashle Stanley

Jackie Ross Tucker, R&B Content Specialist at YouTube Music 

In the past, I have had to spend a lot of time proving myself due to the simple fact that women are often not taken seriously until we give you no choice but to take us seriously. [But] women bring fearlessness to the nature of music streaming and the ability to reach a broader audience. It’s less about ego for us, and we aren’t afraid to bend the rules and go against the grain. We have a  different perspective and ear than our male counterparts that allows us to highlight areas that otherwise are often underserved and unacknowledged. 

The most important skill is to be able to be a for mouthpiece yourself and your ideas. You not only have to be self-assured but you have to be able to present yourself in a way that commands attention because what you are bringing to the table is coming from an invaluable perspective. There aren’t a lot of women, particularly of color, at the table [in streaming], so those of us who are privileged enough to have a seat must take the opportunity to speak up. 

If you feel that something essential is missing then do the necessary research and planning to create the sector yourself. It can be hard to conceive things that aren’t there already, but if you truly have a vision,  plan it out and execute. But you have to run your own race and not anyone else’s.  I’ve learned to never get caught up in comparisons, especially in the social media age. I use the success of other young, Black women in the industry as motivation. I’m proud of the moves we all are making and I take notes from everyone that I can. 


Chayce Cheatham, Sr. Manager, Commercial Accounts & Revenue at Hitco Entertainment

Chayce Cheatham, Sr. Manager, Commercial Accounts & Revenue at Hitco Entertainment

Photo Credit: Allen Altchech

Chayce Cheatham, Sr. Manager, Commercial Accounts & Revenue at Hitco Entertainment 

Each week, over 20,000 new songs come out across the globe. It’s my job to make sure my label’s releases are not only top of mind, but that they receive premium placement on DSPs (Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Pandora, etc). That’s key; one prime placement on a DSP can account for the majority of a tracks total streams. That’s definitely the most rewarding part of my job. I love knowing that I have a hand in developing and furthering an inspiring artist’s dream. As a woman, I see the importance of having other women on both the programming and label side to give more female artists voices and a chance to compete for opportunities and pay.

 If you’re a millennial woman wanting to make an impact on streaming, my advice would be to start building your network now. There are only a handful of people in the music curation space, and relationships are everything. Finding someone whom you admire, who have already taken the path to what your idea of success is, can be one of the most significant steps in your career. The advice, knowledge, and opportunities that I’ve received from mentors throughout my career have been invaluable. I owe much of my success to my mentors Rhonda Cowan and Phylicia Fant who helped me land my first gigs in the music industry.

I’ve always remained open-minded and took advantage of the doors that were opened for me. I’ve met so many people who have turned down opportunities simply because they didn’t think it was exactly the opportunity they envisioned. Yes, of course it’s great to have a goal in mind, but maybe there are certain skills one situation can teach you to take you to your dream job opportunity. Throughout my career, I’ve asked myself three questions; Can I learn from this opportunity? Can this opportunity elevate my career? Will I make more money? 

Tiana Lewis, Head of Pop and R&B Programming at Pandora

Tiana Lewis, Head of Pop and R&B Programming at Pandora

Photo Credit: Ryan Postas

Tiana Lewis, Head of Pop and R&B Programming at Pandora

I’m a disrupter who loves creativity and lives for music. I always show up prepared, I dive knee-deep into a project to make sure I understand every angle of it and can anticipate the 15 ways something will go wrong while focusing my energy on how to ensure it’ll go right. Much like the late, incredible Nipsey Hussle, I just want to Hustle & Motivate.

It’s no secret that the entertainment/tech industry lacks women and people of colour. [But] I do my best to shed light on that and affect change while demonstrating how we all win by having more of us in the room. I think not being afraid to highlight my difference and expertise in many areas of industry is an important trait as well. [Women of color in streaming] offer fresh ideas and perspective to help reach a broader audience, and [we’re] delivering hit song after hit song. Being that we’re often pigeonholed or not given opportunities at all, we have the pleasure of representing voices that may have otherwise been silenced, ignored or simply not considered.

For women who want to impact this industry too, trust me, there’s always someone willing to disrupt corporate culture. Your allies aren’t hard to find. Just know that when you’re truly ready to shake things up, you only get one first shot so make sure your approach is airtight. In this day in age, corporations are clamouring to what’s new and fresh, it’s on us to show and prove. If you can clearly see it then that’s all you need. It’s yours for the taking. Work your ass off, do the research, have the conversations, and manifest it.