CMT Senior VP Of Music Strategy Leslie Fram On Finding Comfort In Music & TV In Unprecedented Times
To call Leslie Fram accomplished would be a massive understatement. A 30-year music industry veteran, the Recording Academy Nashville Chapter Board member holds the position of Senior VP of Music Strategy over at CMT, where she oversees music on all platforms. Additionally, in 2013, Fram started CMT's Next Women of Country franchise and is the co-founder of 2014's Change The Conversation, which fights for gender equality in country music.
With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, GRAMMY.com checked in with Fram to get her perspective on the current situation, its ongoing effect on the music industry and how CMT is innovating in these unprecedented times.
In one word, how would you describe the current state of the world?
Thinking of the one word you chose, would you use that same word to describe the current state of the music industry? Why or why not?
Yes. Due to the pandemic, we are seeing a shift in the music industry with consolidation and a shift in priorities with major labels and agencies. The impact on "live" music and touring being disrupted has shifted the paradigm.
As a woman in music and TV, how would you describe your professional journey?
It’s important to find your champions! I've been lucky to work for companies that supported hiring based on experience, male or female. I believe in a strong work ethic and as a manager, empowering a team. I have also learned along the way not to be defined by your job. I made the decision later in my career to take a leap of faith and change a career path in radio to television and rock to country. It was the greatest move I ever made, believing in myself and not being afraid to make a change.
How can the music and television communities contribute to creating change?
Listening more to your audience. They are the first to adapt to change. I’m proud to say at CMT we adopted an "Equal Play" policy in our video hours to support 50/50 male/females in a genre that has not supported female voices.
What are you personally doing to activate and advocate change in your current position and in your personal life?
I am actively involved in a new organization in Nashville called Nashville Music Equality. Our mission is to increase minority representation on all levels of the music industry through educating non-minority colleagues of the struggles that African Americans face and challenging them to raise their voice to enact change. At CMT, we are working on the next level of "Equal Play" for female artists and equality for all artists.
Personally, I just started drinking a gallon of water a day!!!!!
The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly rocked and continues to rock the music industry as a whole. Have you had any revelations about the entertainment industry, specifically music and TV?
It has devastated touring musicians and crew. Through television, we have been able to produce and support programs that raise money for organizations that support these groups like MusiCares and their Coronavirus Relief Fund. Music has always been a unifying factor, especially in times of uncertainty. As consumers have more time since working from home, they are consuming more music and watching more television. Music and television can be a companion during this time and provide relief and comfort.
What has this COVID-19 moment taught you personally?
This time has taught be to be more present and to be grateful for each day. Time is a gift and choosing to use that gift with more of the people that matter the most in your life.
Times like this can inspire creativity and/or innovation. As a music executive at a cable TV network, have you witnessed this within your company via your team and the artists you all engage with?
Absolutely. We are all learning to be more creative and nimble. CMT has produced two music specials at home, "CMT Giants: Kenny Rogers" and "CMT Celebrates Our Heroes." Our producers, led by Margaret Comeaux, were able to put together two beautiful shows that honored so many heroes and engaged our audience. Our Digital Team, led by Melissa Goldberg, has produced some of the most innovative franchises that showcase our country talent and how they are managing their time during the pandemic! Check out "Off The Road With Jon Pardi"—it is epic!