This Live Nation VP Was Mistaken For A Groupie At A Show She Booked


Now she's Femme'ing It Forward

This is Off Beat, where we explore the careers of women who work in the music industry—just not on the beats and melodies.

If you think the worst part of going to a concert is finding your seat and hoping no one spills a drink on your shoes, imagine being the person who has to negotiate the contracts for artists, make sure the stage production is up to everyone's standards, coordinate talent arrival and deliverables, and strategize the marketing of the event. Now imagine doing all of that as a Black woman surrounded by men who aren't used to having to answer to women. You've just imagined Heather Lowery's job as the vice president of talent and touring at Live Nation.

Lowery uses her position to raise the profile of touring female urban artists. Lowery is building a platform called Femme It Forward, which is a series of events that celebrates the depth, power, and talent of women in music and entertainment. Live Nation has already announced two of the shows, with Cardi B, Teyana Taylor, and City Girls.

Read on to find out what it was like for Lowery to be groomed in the golden era of neo-soul, her thoughts on internships, and why she refused to use any of her industry connections when applying for jobs.

What does a normal day look like for you?
I try to get up at five every morning. It's a little challenging sometimes. I try to read, pray, meditate. I recently implemented that into my schedule. That's important in the beginning of my day to start it out like that. I try to work out most mornings, some days I just don't get to it. I get ready, get dressed. I get my son up and ready, drop him off at school, and I try to go to work straight from there. The earlier I get here, the more I can get done in my day. I'm more focused when I'm working from the office. I come in, take meetings. I try not to do meetings outside of the office because I feel like I get nothing done. If it's outside the office, I try to do a dinner meeting after work so that I can use my time wisely. After work, it's usually dinner meetings, shows, or events. A lot of times, I don't get to see my son before he goes to sleep at night. It's a sacrifice, but I try to make up for it on the weekends. I try to be home for as long as I can before he goes to bed, but sometimes it doesn't happen.

On average, how many events or tours do you oversee in a year?
Live Nation Urban is mostly big festivals and platforms. We do Roots Picnic, Broccoli City Festival, BET X, Summer Block Party, etc. Those are festivals. Then, I do a lot of colleges still. I don't know, I'd rather you not put a number in this [laughs].

How did you get your start in your career?
I started pretty early; I started when I was in college. I always knew that I wanted to be in entertainment. I thought that I wanted to be in entertainment law, though. When I was in college, I had an internship in different areas of the entertainment business. I had an internship at LaFace Records, I had an internship at Fox Television stations in the legal department. I always had a law focus, but I wanted to know the business in general because I knew that this was the business that I wanted to be in.

I decided that I no longer wanted to go to law school when I was a senior in college, I was like, I don't know if this is for me. I didn't know if I was doing it because it was what I wanted to do, or because my parents wanted me to do it. I ended up moving back home to Delaware. I got a job as a receptionist at a recording studio in Philadelphia. It was like, here I am: college-educated from Spelman College, and I'm a receptionist. I didn't care, I wanted to get my foot in the door. They didn't have a position available, so I was like, "I'll answer the phones! I'll do whatever." I just wanted to be there, and I knew that once I got in the door, I would work hard and work my way up to the top. By the time I left there, I was the general manager, running the whole place. That was during the height of the neo-soul movement. It was the home of The Roots, Jill Scott, and Musiq Soulchild. All of [them] recorded there.

Wow. What a time to be alive.
I know. When I look back at it, I was a part of so many great moments in music: with the LaFace Records era with Outkast and Toni Braxton; then in Philly, I was a part of the neo-soul movement with Floetry, Kindred [The Family Soul], and all of those artists.

You mentioned internships. I think sometimes that part of career-building gets glazed over, but it's important to be more transparent about it. Were your internships paid or unpaid? Did your parents help you, or did you have to have a second job?
I paid for my own college. I don't come from a family with a lot of money. My mom couldn't afford to send me to college, so I had to figure it out. I got student loans. My internships were all unpaid, actually. I had to get a job, get an internship, and go to school. I was a babysitter, that's how I made my money in college. I also had side jobs. I was a telemarketer. I helped the alumni association at Spelman—I think I got paid for that. I always had an internship and a job. All of my internships in college were unpaid. That knowledge, you can't pay for that. I think now, they have to pay interns, but back then there weren't many paid internships. I got all of that without getting paid for it.

So you were general manager of this studio, how did you end up in events?
I realized there was no future for me there. I knew that I loved music. At that point, I was going to a lot of live performances, like Erykah Badu. I never knew that I could connect to music on a deeper level through live performance, so I was really attracted to that side of the business at that time. Then I was like, I want to work at a major talent agency. I reached out. I sent out resumes. At that point, I had a lot of relationships and connections. Call it pride, but I didn't want any help. I applied without having any referrals. I applied to William Morris as an assistant. It was crazy being a general manager going to an assistant. Sometimes you have to be willing to start over, and that's okay. I had to start all over a couple of times in my career to get to where I am now. Here I am, thinking I'm big and bad. Even graduating from Spelman, I had to take a step down and do a job that I shouldn't have been doing as a college graduate. I had to take a step down and become someone's assistant to start on a new career path to get where I wanted to be.

It didn't work out [at William Morris]. There was no opportunity for growth there, so I just left. I didn't have a plan, I didn't know how I was going to pay my rent or pay my bills. I was like, What am I doing? I just couldn't do it anymore. That's when I went into artist management and handling the bookings for an artist that they manage. I would get calls from boutique agencies, and I was like, Wait a minute. They're doing this, and I could do it so much better. That's when I got the idea to start my company. I started my agency, Agency for Artists, back in 2005. I've had it for 14 years now. I went in to Live Nation Urban two years ago. [They] absorbed a part of my business—not the whole thing. I brought my college business over to Live Nation Urban.

A lot of what I did was that I had to find a niche for myself when I had my agencies. It was hard to compete against the major agencies because they had TV departments and film departments and commercial and digital, and I didn't have that. I was a one-woman army. I had to figure out how I could compete and stay alive and make a living with all of these major agencies that can offer the artists so much more. I created a niche for myself in the college lane, where a lot of the major agents relied on me for my college clients. I did colleges, casinos, and independent promoters.

I want to go back to something you said earlier. In most other fields, it's always encouraged to use the connections that you have to get jobs. I think that can sometimes work against women, though. There's a sexist assumption that women in entertainment aren't working for things and that their connections mean they've slept with someone. Do you agree with that?
I don't know if it's that I felt like I didn't need anyone, or that it's just hard for me to ask. It's hard for me as a woman, and a Black woman, to ask anyone for help. We want to do everything for ourselves. I think it was more that I was thinking someone else would judge me because I didn't do it the right way or the hard way.

Are there any challenges that you faced as a woman? Then on the flip side of that, how has it worked to your advantage? What are women uniquely bringing to the industry?
The challenge is just getting the proper respect and acknowledgment for the work that I do. That comes up in different forms. Whether it's a tour manager thinking that I'm a groupie, the agent not knowing how to speak with me, the colleague that won't look me in the eye because he's so used to dealing with men, it comes up in so many forms. On the flip side, I can only speak for myself and not all women, but I'm an introvert and an empath. I'm super-intuitive, and I use that to my advantage. I see things that most people don't see, I feel things that most people don't feel.

Do you have mentors or women that you look up to in the field?
I was talking to my peers about this, and a lot of us don't. We don't have a lot of women who took us under their wings and guided us, we had to figure it out ourselves. I don't have any one mentor or someone that I can look up to. My mom is that because she instills so many great values in me that I use now. Different people that I've worked for, I have learned different things, good and bad, that have guided me. There is no one person that I can say I look up to. If anyone, I can say I look up to my peers right now. The women that are killing it across the entertainment industry, my friends, those are the people who I look up to.

Illustration by Vivie Behrens

Liberation can come from completion, but then, we are always becoming something new

They say the full moon is about completion. About looking back at the intentions you crowned the new moon with and seeing where those intentions led you. The new moon in Gemini was the pebble that began this cycle, and the full moon in Sagittarius is her echo, the ring getting larger in the water. The new moon in Gemini asked us what we wanted to change about our habits, what we wanted to do with our hands, and our hunger for newness. The new moon in Gemini was interested in the way shifting ideas can give us the freedom to think differently and, in thinking differently, become new people. The full moon in Sagittarius reminds us that we are never not becoming new.

Both Gemini and Sagittarius are mutable signs, they exist in relation to the other and they know how to speak each other's language. But, while Gemini relishes the endless capacity of air (of thought), Sagittarius uses the energy of fire to transform thought into action. Everything Sagittarius touches can't help but change. How can this be completion? The wheel is always spinning, reader. Sagittarius marks the completion of the fire trine. Here, fire is generous and social. It means to gather and teach, to illuminate. Sagittarius lives in the sector of the zodiac chart related to education, philosophy, and the awareness of others—their beliefs and their right to freedom. Because of this, our June Sagittarius full moon is both a completion moon and a moon that reminds us that all endings create space for beginning. The more you leave behind, the more you find. There is no dead end in the universe.

If you are a seeker like me (perhaps you have lots of planets in Sagittarius in your natal chart), you have already come across Jessica Dore's Twitter account. Every day, Dore posts a tarot card and her interpretation of it. It is a gift to many of her readers. Yesterday, she shared The World with us, reminding her readers: "the moments of beauty, belonging & elation that you've experienced up to this point in your life… would still only amount to the tiniest sliver of what this world has to offer in terms of sweetness & pleasure."

I thought about this card and her words all day. The World is, numerically, the last card in the Major Arcana journey—the last card if you don't think about the Fool, who is numbered at 0 and so is the beginning and the end. The World is, therefore, a completion card too, a big echo of a full moon.

This morning, holding the sweet and expansive nature of The World, thinking on Sagittarius people and their love of travel, of reckoning with the edge of an atlas and questioning the map-makers, I pulled the nine of swords from my own Tarot deck. The other side of knowledge is to overwhelm and shut down. Gemini, ruled by Mercury, holds information in her hands. She understands duality in all things. Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, yearns for the expansion of mind and the illumination of power. The philosopher and the moralist, a Sagittarius at her best can teach anyone to break open a prison. A Sagittarius at her worst can justify any cage. Don't forget that Jupiter was the king of the gods. His lightning bolt was a weapon. Sometimes, we are too exposed to each other. We imagine we know others through the stories we create about one another. We imagine we know the future because we refuse to be humble about how vulnerable we are to the universe's ever-shifting outcomes. We refuse abundance by convincing ourselves that the cage of identity we build for ourselves is our only possibility.

For the next two days, as the Sun lingers in Gemini and we feel the effects of the moon's fullness in Sagittarius, reflect on the ways you have used knowledge. When has your knowledge been a tool of empowerment for yourself and others? When have you shared the beauty of the world and the joy of radical ideas/ways of living? When have you used knowledge to understand and relieve your own suffering and the suffering of others? And, too, when have you used knowledge as permission for self-delusion? When you have expanded so far into your idea of the world and your own work in it that you forgot how to be accountable to your daily life, your body, your friends, and the people you love? You know when Janis Joplin sings "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"? That's only one kind of freedom, and it's the kind that Sagittarius thinks it knows very well. Freedom can be about nothing, if nothing is what you want. Then welcome to the monastery, friend. Freedom can also be another word for everything you revel in not knowing. Freedom can be about having everything because you are part of everything, even if you can't see the relation, even if you can't imagine yet how what you want also wants you.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

Kat is making me relive my fat-teen trauma

When people say that HBO's new Zendaya-led teen drama, Euphoria, is triggering, believe them. In the pilot alone we're introduced to Rue (Zendaya) and her drug addiction issues via a graphic depiction of the overdose that sent her to rehab. Then, there's the disturbing rough sex scene featuring Jules (Hunter Schafer), a teenage trans girl who has just moved into town, and a middle-aged man she met on Grindr. Oh, and don't forget the unchecked, toxic masculinity of uber-jock Nate (Jacob Elordi); or the body obsession of his sometimes-girlfriend, Maddy (Alexa Demie). For me though, the ultimate trigger came via Barbie Ferreira's character Kat's experience, as she dealt with and internalized a vicious form of fatphobia.

Kat—almost alone amongst her friends—seems self-assured and dismissive of the idea that any high school drama should be taken too seriously. "You just need to catch a dick and forget about your troubles," Kat tells Maddy, following the latter's recent breakup with Nate. But internally, Kate craves male attention, and resents the fact that she's the only virgin she knows; she hints at this when she tells Maddy that she'd "settle for, like, four Corona Lights and some non-rapey affection," from a guy—any guy.

Kat's bravado leads her into a compromising situation at a high school party; she winds up in a room alone with three boys, where she talks a big game about how she's a "savage" who watches porn and has slept with more people than any of them can count. None of this is true, but Kat is determined to become "a woman of questionable morals."

The scene shows the fine line between being an empowered young woman deciding what to do with her body, on her terms, and being a teenager who thinks she's in control but doesn't fully understand the power dynamics at play. Because, yes, Kat is trying to make an intentional decision about her sexuality and how to use it, but she's doing so with a group of boys who don't value or respect her. This reality is made clear when one of them says to her, "You know what they say, right? Fat girls give the best head."

At those familiar words, I melted into my couch and said a silent prayer of gratitude that I wasn't watching Euphoria in the company of anyone else. Onscreen, Kat, too, shrinks ever so slightly into herself, all while trying to keep a poker face about the whole thing. We don't see exactly what happens in the room, but, later, she seems happy when she shares the news with her friends that she's lost her virginity; even though she then lays down, awake, scrolling through the guy's Instagram, seeming altogether less than happy.

Kat's isn't the most violent or necessarily the saddest story line in the episode. But it showed the ways that issues like consent, toxic masculinity, substance abuse, and body image—all of which are difficult to deal with no matter what your size—are further magnified when experienced through the additional trauma of fatphobia. This is something with which I've personally dealt, and so I felt my past experiences rise up inside me when I watched how Kat couldn't build her own sexual identity without being constantly aware of the ways her body exists outside the parameters of acceptable desirability.

My childhood and adolescence are defined by my experiences as a fat girl; it was a time that often felt like a hazy battlefield, when I could hardly navigate which feelings and thoughts were my own, and which ones were the result of outside forces. My body hardly ever felt like mine, and it took years to develop the autonomy that Kat is grasping at as a teenager. Kat, like so many other fat women, has a total lack of support from her peers when it comes to body image and acceptance, and there's a devastating absence of affirmation about her own worth and the importance of her pleasure. Because of fatphobia, Kat is going to be swimming against a strong, but invisible current as she navigates the already fraught social politics of high school. It's one thing to grasp this truth on an intellectual level, but letting those principles guide your decision-making is truly difficult—even for an adult, let alone for a teenager.

Euphoria airs Sunday nights at 10pm, on HBO.

Courtesy of RLJE Films

White-knuckle your way through wedding season with Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid

Maya Erskine might have first come to our attention in PEN15, the hilarious show she co-created and stars in with Anna Konkle, in which they play 13-year-olds in the year 2000, but in the just-released Plus One, Erskine is all grown up and engaging in a very familiar adult activity: white-knuckling her way through wedding season.

Written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer—who just so happen to be Erskine's former NYU classmates—Plus One stars Erskine and Jack Quaid as Alice and Ben, two longtime friends who decide to attend a summer of weddings together, and avoid any of the awkwardness that can come with finding the right plus-one. This is especially important for Alice, who is coming off a bad breakup. Of course, as the laws of rom-coms dictate, nothing stays totally platonic. Beyond that, though, Plus One doesn't fall into predictable rom-com tropes, and instead hilariously explores what it's like to spiral into a quarter-life crisis, all while dressed in optional black-tie. Which, we've all been there, right?

"We kind of use the script as its own therapy," Chan told me recently, when I spoke with him, Rhymer, Erskine, and Quaid, about the film. "We were watching friends who have been broken up for a long time get back together at weddings; we were watching people get really sad and get drunk and start crying... they were breeding grounds for lots of emotions coming to the surface."

Courtesy of RLJE Films

And those emotions have the perfect outlet at weddings in the form of toasts and other assorted speeches. Plus One makes good use of that platform by making the wedding speech the hilarious eye of the storm at each of its weddings. These toasts were delivered in the form of scene-stealing cameos—also friends from NYU, of course.

"Almost all of those speeches are based on a real speech Andrew and I have seen," Chan said. "We'd go to a wedding and [we'd think], Yep, that's going in there."

Rhymer adds that they used these speeches as metonyms for the weddings, which made sense time- and budget-wise: "Being an indie film, we obviously produced 12 weddings, but did so kind of cleverly, showing you the rooms or the side rooms where they're rehearsing. We weren't seeing 12 full-blown receptions in all their glory... that would have been, like, millions of dollars."

But perhaps what's most refreshing about Plus One is that it destroys the image of weddings—and, by extension, relationships, and women, in general—as having to be fantasies, as having to be perfect. Because nothing is perfect, and that's what makes life interesting. Erskine, for one, likes being able to show the weirder sides of life, whether as a 13-year-old girl washing a thong with hand soap or a millennial woman who doesn't know what comes next. "There's something really liberating and freeing to show and bear the ugliest parts of yourself—or what society may deem as the ugliest, weirdest parts of yourself—that no one wants to see," she said. "I'm also an over-sharer. So I am drawn to roles that expose more than is typical, and everyone is weird in one way or another."

"I think," Erskine laughed, "it's because I myself am a wacky trash goblin." As it turns out, that's exactly what rom-coms have been missing, until now.

Plus One is in select theaters and available to stream via Amazon now.

PLUS ONE Official Trailer

Asset 7
Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

That's one way to solve a wardrobe malfunction

Cardi B twerked so hard during a performance that she ripped her outfit and had to rock a bathrobe for the majority of her set.

At Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennesee, as Cardi got a little too down and into it, a seam split on her bedazzled body-con jumpsuit only moments into her set. Not one to be set back by a wardrobe malfunction, Cardi B rocked a nude strapless bra with a bathrobe on top, making for a Serious Fashion Moment.

"This wasn't just part of the show," Twitter user Lena Blietz pointed out. "No one performs in a nude, strapless bra by choice." I have to agree there. A strapless bra is the bane of my existence on a slow day, I can't imagine what it's like to have to dance in one on stage.

Honestly, watching Cardi perform in this getup made me a stan for life. Despite it not being as flashy as her jumpsuit, Cardi made the bathrobe work, throwing the shoulders down for drama as she paced the stage during each song.

Bonnaroo attendees couldn't help but agree that a bathrobe and nothing else is a mood we all felt in the very, very hot and sweaty crowd. If she had one in my size to share, I would have gladly changed in a heartbeat.

But, despite loving this comfy solution to a big problem, I'd like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty that was the original jumpsuit. RIP.

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

And launched an inclusive summer campaign showcasing 30 different models

Just in time for swim season, sustainable swimwear brand Summersalt launched an inclusive summer campaign, called Every Body is a Beach Body, and significantly expanded its size range.

The brand's sizes now go up to 24 and 2X—quite a jump from its previous availability, which went up to a size 14. Co-founders Reshma Chamberlin and Lori Coulter told NYLON that the size expansion was a must because "we know that there are countless women out there who are missing out on the joy of summer because they don't have the right suit." They noted that they have plans to expand the brand's sizing even more: "We're excited to continue to add more sizes and be even more inclusive."

For the summer campaign, each suit was fitted on 30 professional and non-professional models ranging in body type to ensure it would look great on as many bodies as possible. "We wanted the models for this campaign to be just as diverse and unique as our customers, and we're proud to show models of different sizes, races, gender identities, and physical abilities," said Chamberlin and Coulter. "We want our customers to see themselves in our models, and know that their body is a beach body, exactly as it is right now."

The new collection includes bright new colorways and styles to rock at the beach or the pool. There are bikinis, one-pieces, and even a swim tunic and leggings for modest fashion wearers.

Check out the campaign and some of the new styles, below, and shop the new collection now at Summersalt.

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt