Home Startup This Startup Wants to Amplify the Voices of Female Musicians

This Startup Wants to Amplify the Voices of Female Musicians

This former music executive left Sony, TikTok, and MELT Middle East to build a startup that matches female artists from MENA with brands.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Born and raised in Dubai, Anna George has always known that she wanted to work in the music and entertainment industry. The interest set her off on a career that spans over 15 years at Sony Music Entertainment, Dubai International Film Festival, TikTok, and MELT Middle East.

In January, the first-time entrepreneur launched the Female Talents Agency (FTA), a Dubai-based creative agency that matches female music artists with brands. In two months, she managed to build a roster of 20 female artists from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and created a board of advisors made up of women in senior positions in the industry.

“Other markets look at the Middle East as one country, but we know that’s not true,” she tells Inc. Arabia. “MENA music is traveling globally and attracting interest from international companies.”

In establishing FTA, she wants to help close the gender gap in music and amplify the voices of female musicians from MENA.

“For years, we had maybe 10-15 music icons that we all loved. Now, many artists are breaking through and everybody is talking about them. And these are the artists that Gen Z is listening to,” says George.

The new generation of Arab youth, she tells us, is changing the narrative and shifting perceptions. These musicians, which include diaspora artists, mix genres and languages, resulting in a unique and varied style of music that is authentic, fresh, and culturally relevant.

“All of these artists have incredible journeys and they all have stories to tell, and it shows in their music,” she tells us. “They are so proud of their culture and history and they’re modernizing it.”

This Startup Wants to Amplify the Voices of Female MusiciansAnna George, founder of the Dubai-based Female Talents Agency (FTA). 

Matching Brands with Talent

Aside from the boom in young talents, MENA’s music industry infrastructure is also growing, George tells us, pointing to Saudi Arabia’s heavy investment in entertainment infrastructure as part of its Vision 2030. The investment in entertainment infrastructure, coupled with the increase in education programs and workshops with events like XP Music Conference by MDL Beast, is helping to breed talents in music business management--something that has been lacking in the region.

George’s job lies at the junction of art and business. She goes beyond facilitating celebrity endorsements to a process of co-creation, engaging brand managers and artists to resonate deeply with audiences.

“I’ve worked in a niche of the music industry for 15 years. I find the synergies between a brand’s DNA and an artist’s DNA, then I help brands use music as a marketing tool,” she says. She explains that, through her work, she helps artists pay their bills so they can focus on their music while creating authentic and culturally relevant content for brands.

“Everybody wants to amplify these artists and see them break through. On the flip side, it’s very difficult to be an independent artist right now. They’ve got to diversify their income because even though they make money from streaming, we still don’t have a touring infrastructure in the region,” she says.

“The talk of the industry is: Is 2024 the year that one of our artists has a global hit? Is it going to be the year when touring infrastructure fully comes into play in MENA?” she adds.

Brands, she explains, want to raise their visibility, sell products, and emotionally trigger their audience. And if artists, who are natural storytellers, can trigger the same emotion, they can find synergy and build a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It’s not a transactional conversation, it’s more strategic because it’s about building music as part of a brand’s DNA,” she adds, noting that, unlike short-term influencer projects, most of the initiatives that she works on span 12 months.

“FTA is a business, but I also want it to become a movement that shines the spotlight on female artists from this region and women in the business,” she adds. 

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