Nicole George Middleton’s role with music’s prestigious organization, ASCAP, positions her as one of the industry’s most powerful women. Working in a male dominated industry, Nicole has learned not only to use her voice, but appreciate its worth. CEOMOM had a chance to chat with Nicole to learn more about her position as the Senior Vice President of Membership at ASCAP and how she balances motherhood with a demanding career.
Describe ASCAP. What does the organization do?
ASCAP is a performance rights organization. We are home to over 600,000 music creators across all genres of music. We license over 10 million songs and scores so people can play them publically. We advocate for our songwriters so they can be paid fairly.
Tell us about your role with ASCAP? What does your day-to-day look like?
I am the Senior Vice President of Membership. We are the relationship people. At ASCAP, we represent a range of talent and it’s our job to support this talent at each stage of their songwriting career. We do this through things like educational panels and workshops, songwriting camps and awards shows, just to name a few.
My day to day varies. When I’m not traveling, my mornings are dedicated to my children. This is when we spend our quality time since I work late hours. Once my kids are off to school, my day picks up and is packed with phone calls and a combination of meetings with my team, senior management, songwriters and/or their representatives and it continues well into the the evening with after-work meetings, dinners and industry events.
How did you get started in the music industry?
I started interning at Arista Records during my first year of law school. These types of internships aren’t easy to secure, so I made it a point to work as hard as I could in order to keep the internship throughout my tenure at law school (which also isn’t customary). I spent all my free time during law school at Arista learning as much as I could about the industry and building my network base. Immediately following law school I worked for a boutique entertainment firm where I represented talent. From there I went on to Jive Records as Director of Business and Legal Affairs and then to ASCAP.
What has been the biggest challenge(s) working in a male dominated industry? What does it mean to be a powerful woman?
The biggest challenge for me was just finding the courage to use my voice. It can be intimidating to be in a room full of men. I have to remind myself that there’s a reason that I am in the room. I have earned my right to be in the room. I am just as qualified. My input and ideas are just as important and should be heard. Being a powerful woman starts within. You have to have confidence. That confidence comes from working hard, being confident in your abilities and being aware of the value you bring.
How has your role as a mom impacted your role as a senior level executive for one of the most important organizations in music?
Being a mom has given me sort of an interesting and valuable skill set that I bring to work everyday. I have to be extremely organized. My kids’ schedules are crazier than mine. Commanding their schedules has taught me how to organize and multitask. It has also helped me to maintain my composure when things don’t go according to plan because with children it’s not easy to stick to a plan. You have to learn to roll with the punches and make spontaneous decisions.
You talk about learning to be spontaneous when being a mom. How do you deal with others not understanding that spontaneity?
My kids are my top priority. I have learned to be very honest about spur of the moment things occurring. You have to excuse me, something just came up with my kids that I have to tend to, but when I return I will give you my undivided attention. I’ve learned not to beat myself up about it. My kids are 5 and 6 so they rely on me for everything.
Your level of success doesn’t happen overnight and without sacrifice. What advice would you give to a mom who is hesitant about pursuing the next level in her career?
I would say don’t be hard on yourself. You only have one life to live. Obviously your kids are your top priority and it is your job to make sure they are okay and thriving. But it is also your job to take care of yourself, too. It is challenging, but not impossible to have the career you want and be a great parent. You have to put the time into both and not feel guilty about it. There are times you will have to work late but you make up for it by spending extra quality time on another day. It’s all about balance.
As a mom, do you want your children to follow in your footsteps and go into law or corporate America? Why or why not?
I want my kids to be happy. It is my job to give them the tools and set the groundwork for them to be confident in their abilities and know that they can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. I am here to help guide them, but it is not my job to make their career decisions for them. If they want to go into entertainment business, then great. If not, that’s okay too. As long as they are happy and feel fulfilled, then I will be happy.