Hip Hop Professional Shanti Das Talks New Book, Being A Boss And Changing The Game In A Male Dominated Industry

ASCAP Rhythm & Soul ATL Legends Dinner

In this particular industry, do you think a degree is even necessary?

Absolutely. The music and overall entertainment industry is still a business. You know, I’ve learned a lot about protocol; even in class. There were certain things you needed to do and relationships you had to have between the professor and the student. I think some of those things we apply in the workplace. My major was television/radio/film, so understanding the relationships in radio helped me when I started doing promotions. So I was actually able to apply some of what I learned in my major in the workforce. I look at college and universities as microcosm of the real world. So if you can go and make it, work with your peers and teachers, you can make it in the real world. The industry is still about the bottom line, and it’s still about dollars and cents.

So what were some of the obstacles you had to overcome as a female in the game? 

One thing I talked about in the book is it was tough getting what I deserved from a financial standpoint. Because a lot of my male counterparts were making way more money than I was. And I had to learn and figure out how to negotiate properly. Because even when you look at business overall, women in the workplace make about 20% less, the last time I checked, than the average man. That was a huge obstacle. A lot of the men that I was working with were low-balling me. Eventually I learned not to take “no” for an answer and make sure my salary was up to par with my male counterparts.

How did you do that? Were you not afraid to walk away if it wasn’t what you felt you deserved?

Absolutely. Because at the time when I was negotiating with several labels, I was at the top of my game. So one thing I did was do my market research. I checked to see what other men and women were making at other companies. And you have to stick to your guns and not be afraid to walk away if the offer isn’t right. There are other companies, that hopefully will want to hire you. One thing I would say to women, is always start high in your negotiation because they’re going to try to lowball you. So if you start high, hopefully you find a happy medium that will work for you and the life that you’re trying to have for yourself.

I read somewhere that women ask for salaries that they feel a company would be comfortable with instead of aiming too high.

Absolutely. And men do the exact opposite. Men will ask for the world, and we’ll ask for a city. Men aren’t afraid to ask for some abundant amount of money, just to see if they’ll get it. See women, we play safe. But we have to know what we’re worth, our value, and not be afraid to ask for it.