Music Business grad from Oshawa’s Durham College making noise in the business

Published March 23, 2023 at 3:55 pm

Durham College (DC) alumna Anne Stirk’s successful career in the music business has been recognized with a place on the inaugural Women in Music Canada Honour Roll.

Working in artist and label partnerships at Spotify, Stirk amplifies the voices of Canada’s homegrown artists and introduces them to the world, while also helping international artists increase their presence in the Canadian market.

She joined her peers at a gala event in Toronto on International Women’s Day on March 8 for an evening of recognition, gratitude and, naturally, music.

“I feel so deeply honoured to have been nominated, and even more so to have shared the space with such amazing individuals,” she said. “So much laughter, love and good vibes were had, and the evening was a testament to the incredible power of women coming together. It was an incredible and long overdue celebration.”

The career she enjoys today is one she dreamed of as a young girl growing up in a musical family. She found that she was more interested in working behind the scenes than in performing, and she spent her time exploring the nascent internet for news on her favourite bands, meeting fellow fans and interviewing musicians for her own website.

Her passion led her to Durham College’s Music Business Management program, the program that “started it all for me,” she said. “That program is really good at making sure you have the fundamentals of everything in the music business, from publishing to copyrighting to event management.”

Stirk enjoys enduring friendships from her time at the college, with many of her classmates now working in the industry. She has also hired a number of interns from the program over the years, confident that they have received a great education.

“The real-world scenarios that get thrown at you in that program are what prepared me to deal with different personalities and different people in the business, especially artists. You can teach people anything from a book, but nothing prepares you for life and dealing with people until you’re actually in those real-life scenarios. It gave me the ability to evolve quickly.”

That’s an ability she’s had to call on many times in her career. After graduating in 2007, she spent more a decade at Universal Music Canada, where she experienced a seismic change in her own career and the industry itself. Stirk worked with the biggest music retailers in Canada at in-store events with popular artists like Justin Bieber, Drake and Halsey before the rise of streaming services changed the way people buy music. Transitioning into digital marketing, she made sure that Universal artists were properly promoted on the new platforms.

In the constantly shifting music business, she has thrived by embracing change, and jumping to Spotify in 2018 was another big one. There, she works with artists and their managers to ensure that as broad an audience as possible hears them. Her most rewarding experiences are when an artist she has helped to cultivate experiences a surge in popularity on the platform.

Working at Spotify has given her a whole new perspective on the business, and not just the good parts. Her new position showed her the true scope of the inequalities faced by women, people of colour and Indigenous artists in the industry, and she devoted herself to addressing that imbalance. With so many voices struggling to be heard, she takes every opportunity to promote those that have been marginalized.

“If someone who needs and deserves support might not get it otherwise, we can amplify them a little further. That’s what keeps me going; making sure the artists that deserve to be heard, are heard, and have equal opportunity.”

Now that she has a voice of influence in the industry, she is determined to use it to create positive change, not just for artists around the world, but for those closest to her.

“I just want a world where my nieces don’t have to worry about being women, or being part Indigenous. I know the music business is a small percentage of that overall equity conversation, but if I can make a little difference for them, I will.”

With files from Durham College

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