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16 Feb

Music Exec, Louise Pillay Is A Game-Changer

Louise Pillay is one of the most beautiful, smart, kind-hearted, funny and equally badass women you will ever meet and her passion for music and people is why we have this piece today. She describes herself as an African, a wife, mom to two divas and a dog mom, is a creative who believes in God, loves music and hubbly.

Inspired by the youth, Pillay loves what she does. As head of operations at UFORYA (UFORYA is the live division within Universal Music that used to be ULive & UMG Live Universal) Pillay loves to learn and teach. She has been in the music industry for over 20 years and says that the opportunity fell into her lap.

“In the year two thousand, I got called by an agency to say they found the perfect job for me. My love for music was inspired by Tupac back in high school, but I have an appreciation for all genres of music, said Pillay.

The music exec says that despite not leading a music business, she has always had a big part and role to play in the music business.

“The business of music is always interesting because it’s ever-changing. The journey, as a female, was not always an easy one, but my willingness to learn and actively participate allowed me to grow both professionally and personally,” she said.

Describing the music business as sometimes difficult, but always exciting, Pillay admits to have faced some challenges in her journey.

“As a woman of colour, you often have to work harder to prove yourself. In my opinion, women are perceived as aggressive by our peers and often the point you are trying to make takes longer or the message is lost. Women are always seen as more emotional and that either makes them weak or incapable,” she said.

However, her work ethic and hard work has always spoken for and preceded her.

“I am a team player and I love uplifting young people. I am determined, I work hard and I have a deep willingness to learn new things.

From a young age, alongside her Catholic private education throughout her schooling career, Pillay believes the values she was taught contributed towards her tenacity.

“I gained my now twenty plus years of industry experience while learning on the job. I studied public relations, however, I was unable to complete the course. While studying, I got the opportunity to label manage one of the biggest labels at Sony Music, RCA, for Africa. The role needed more of my attention and simultaneously, as a young mother, so did my children,” said Pillay.

As the head of Universal Music Africa’s live division, Pillay is constantly in engagement with their label partners, artists, managers, promoters and brands on a global scale.

“In an industry that is continuously fluid, my day starts early, often ends late and is client or artist facing. The role is very administrative and demands a lot of my attention and I absolutely love it,” Pillay exclaimed.

Apart from the music, Pillay has a keen adoration for pets and loves spending time with her two dogs, including creating healthy and delicious treats for them. One of her favourite roles is also being a mom, spending mother and daughter time with her girls – which sometimes looks like taking long drives or sitting and discussing life at ten in the evening. She also enjoys swimming and being near water is a mood enhancer for her, anytime, anywhere. Citing that she is also very passionate about people, and different cultures, she treasures spending time with those close to her.

One of the things she has picked up in the industry is that the labels aren’t very different, as they operate on the business of music so how they are run is similar.

“One thing we all have in common is a passion for music and our artists. The culture of the workspace varies but at both labels I have always loved the people I’ve met and formed lifelong friendships with,” Pillay said.

We asked Louise Pillay three questions to get a better understanding of who she is and the journey she has walked:

  1. What’s one thing you would do differently in your journey thus far?

Get a degree in communications.

  1.  What are three things you wish you knew earlier in your career?
  • How to use my experience to educate others about our industry  
  • How to use my voice as a woman in the industry
  • Learn to play an instrument
  1.  What message of hope would you give to your younger self and those to come after you?

I’m going to quote Riky Rick when he said, ‘Please believe in young people. Give them as many opportunities as they need to prove themselves. At any cost.’ Many people along my career path believed in me and I am forever grateful to them. I hope that young people, around me, know that I value them and I want them to flourish…at any cost!


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