EPIC GIVES UP THE GHOST: Gal President is Fired For Smoking Pot and Being a Bitch

Is the firing of Epic President, Amanda Ghost a sign that women are the new scapegoat for  the “failing” music biz?

Moses Avalon

Ah, what happened to the days when being a music executive meant you could party with the acts in your office, sleep late, yell at underlings and get rewarded even if your numbers were bad?  Well, we still have them; they’re still here, unless you happen to have one important character flaw– a vagina.

You gotta read this Hollywood Reporter article on the firing of Epic President, Amanda Ghost first, if you haven’t already.

Y’know I’ve always said that as far as sexism is concerned the music space defied the odds.  We have far more female executives in positions of true power than probably just about any other industry, except maybe TV.

In my first book, Confessions of a Record Producer, in the Miscellaneous Myths section I actually have a chapter called “Are Women Discriminated Against in the Music business.” Using statistics and raw data it proves the answer is “no.” We have a great deal more gals in the driver’s seat than any other biz. But after what Epic and independently, the law firm of Boies Schiller have done, I think I need to take another look.

In the past week it seems like the ladies are taking the axe for the shortcomings of decisions made by their presumably male higher ups.  In addition to Epic’s high profile firing of Ghost, Boies Schiller, who represented EMI in their parent company’s losing case against CitiGroup, laid off three associates, all women, according to the New York Times DealBook blog.

If you’ve already read the Hollywood Reporter piece above, then never mind, you’ll understand the points I’m about to make.  If not, take a click (or a tap).  When you’re done, or while you’re reading it, ask yourself this question, would Ghost be fired if she were a man?  I think you already know the answer.

Shit, LA Reid used to waste big cash to cater staff meetings that no one attended, Mottolla, Iovine, Yetnikoff, and countless others are famous for their eccentric behavior. (Let’s not even get into Phil Spector and what we tolerated from him as an industry.)

This business requires erratic and over the top personalities to function.  Anyone who’s produced an album will tell ya, it ain’t easy and it takes a bit of ball busting to get things done the right way.  The very reason we’ve always hired “loose cannons” in upper and middle management is because the higher ups (the board and CEOs) don’t want the job– they don’t have the stomach for it.

By most corporate standards Ghost was not a good executive. She didn’t set a good example, she broke the rules.  And that’s exactly what it takes to be a success in a transitional business where the future is uncertain.

Her boss went on record with, “She smoked pot.” Are you f-ing kidding me?!?!  Is Rob Stringer really going to let that be the epitaph of this story?  Does he expect Epic’s acts to trust him if they think he’s being judgmental about their 4:20 habits? Man, we are really through the looking glass if labels are concerned about pot interfering with productivity.

Obviously the pot thing is a PR spin and I hope it is exposed as such.  Because if labels are really that out of touch– to think the public will swallow firing a female because she was a stoner, it’s no wonder that most of their releases are also out of touch.  Most people probably assumed that she got the job because she WAS a stoner.

The fascinating thing revealed about this story for the rest of us, is that Ghost is pulling down seven figures in her go-nowhere job.  Did they really have to offer a songwriter a million bucks a year to run a label? Wouldn’t most of them jump at the chance for half that amount?  It’s like I’ve been saying for a long time.  The music space should be doing better than ever, margins are higher than they were ten years ago, because of lower manufacturing costs and digital distribution, and we’re moving about the same amount of product (despite the spin of “we’re broke because CD sales are down” BS).  So if the labels are not making enough money it can only be for one reason– they pay their executives too much.

Clearly this story has revealed exactly that.

I hope this is really about her quitting a lose-lose scenario rather than Epic firing her for being a bit loony.  Because, if sanity is the prerequisite for running a label then it becomes like running for Congress, the smartest and most qualified don’t want the job.

Hey, Amanda, you can work over here if ya need a gig.  We have a Hookah lounge, no sweat.

Mo out.

14 responses to “EPIC GIVES UP THE GHOST: Gal President is Fired For Smoking Pot and Being a Bitch”

  1. Bruce says:

    Sorry Mo, you’re way off on this one, and I say that as someone who almost always agrees with you on what you have to say.
    Bottom line, this woman didn’t PRODUCE THE NUMBERS, and that’s why she was axed. She could be a dingbat if the sales were there, but they weren’t, so adding in her profanity, swearing and shutting down that show etc., she was going to be axed.
    You’re right about the “old days”, but the industry was more flush then (or at least felt that way), and the slack was there to be “eccentric”.
    That cushion is no longer there, and Stringer’s move in hiring Ghost really feels like a “Hail Mary” throw in an attempt to get some traction under this new market paradigm.

  2. Don says:

    Hi Moses,
    I think you are using the female angle to cover up the gross mismanagement of the industry. The business has been forced to be more disciplined in the face of 1000% margins being reduced to 800% margins over the past 30 years. No other industry in the world could party, spend, and lose as much money as the music industry and live to see another day. Women are being fired because women landed the leadership positions in the first place. Kinda chicken/egg here.

  3. Chuck Griffiths says:

    Gotta part company with you on this one Mo. I think her gender is as relevant as her eye color.

    Ghost was simply over-matched. No business education, no real track record, no life-long relationships on which to draw, and apparently, no understanding of any of this.

    It takes one sort of person to start a company, another to grow it, another to run it when it’s big, and lastly, an entirely different when it’s struggling and in decline.

    Maybe she can write a song about it?

  4. My response is not directly about whether or not Amanda Ghost’s firing was justified, but rather about the music business being sexist in general…

    There is definitely sexism in the music biz! For artists, sexuality is far more exploited with females (oh, pimp my artist PULEEEZ!) And if you attend NAMM, just look at the ratio of men over women. It’s gotten better over the last few years, but it still is a hefty difference.

    Having also worked with industries like Education, Government, or Travel, I’ve found there’s much more equality, RESPECT and appreciation of what women bring to the table, looks excluded.

    Fictional character Tess McGill in the film “Working Girl” epitomizes the “brain for business and a bod for sin” mentality that women unfortunately need to get ahead (pun intended!) in the entertainment business and world at large…

  5. Hans Ebert says:

    Hey, Moses, don’t forget Nancy Berry. Her days at EMI were like one big gang bang with Caligula.

    If any one female made shareholders and other execs and an entire industry think twice about having a woman run a music company- it was her. She ran EMI to the ground and which was what Levy and Munns inherited. Ken Berry just did her bidding.

    The hiring by Epic of Amanda Ghost never made any business sense. Her track record was awful and she got the boot.

    The more important question is who and what made the label hire her in the first place.

    So did Matt Serletic, Andy Slater, Jermaine Dupri, Levy and Munns- and that’s just EMI. And I was there to see that revolving door.

    The only real survivor through that mess was another Amanda- Amanda Conroy, head of corporate comms who kept the wheels spinning until Jolly Roger Faxon recently gave her the heave-ho.

  6. Barbara Shelley says:

    Hi Mo. Well first of all, we had the time of our lives in the early days of Clive Davis’s Arista and Neal Bogart’s Casablanca. Neil depended on women for everything and we were paid. At Arista we were respected but found out that we were paid pennies on the male dollar.
    I don’t know Amanda Ghost but I wonder if she was ever asked to come to work with no panties or to unbutton her blouse to show (now very high ranking) record blood sucker
    “her tits”.,
    I don’t know her numbers but I saw so much waste in the later years before my retirement in 2002, it was numbing. But, beating a very relevant horse right now, un-equal pay for equal jobs is ginormously disrespectful and would be illegal but the Republican Congress thinks we shouldn’t be able to sue for back pay. On another note, I wonder what excuse Mama Grizzly is going to make for that one., But I rant. And I rant,

  7. Kat Parsons says:

    Hi Moses,
    I really appreciate your asking this question. I think it is worth exploring.

  8. NTM says:

    First and foremost, thank you for printing the story Moses! Not sure who hired Amanda Ghost or why…other than the fact that she is a very talented songwriter… it makes no sense. This leaves me wondering what she may have had to do to get the job…. Besides all that, as a female producer myself, I completely appreciate you bringing up the sexism subject which is alive and kicking in the music biz in general.
    A couple of years ago, my partner and I began using a unisex sounding moniker to name our production team. See, we would play our beats and clients loved them, but as soon as they became aware that the producers were females they would begin to find fault with the tracks…

    The saddest part of it all is that we have actually been able to make $ by pretending a male does our tracks… our business has grown exponentially because we have had male interns pose as producers. We began to noticed that people felt more comfortable talking to a 17 year old male about the tracks than the 18 – 20 year old female who has more than 8 years of music composition and production under her belt along with 2 degrees of music production and engineering from accredited music schools. It’s funny… Ha ha ha! to watch the interaction: Recording studio: The female asks a question addressing the client needs and the client responds to the male in the room who has no clue what they are talking about…the female responds then another question is asked to the male… female responds and again… responses are directed to the male in the room… we have just learned to deal with it…laughing all the way to the bank…

    Yes, having a vagina, sucks when it comes to calling yourself a music composer producer. Most would much rather see us shaking our asses in a music video. We could probably gain some leverage by acting butched and pretending to be lesbians… but we are not going that route.
    All in all Moses, male chauvinism exudes in the world of music entertainment where if you are beautiful, you are supposed to just do that “be beautiful” and “sing or dance”, but that’s it. Oh, sorry, female songwriters are acceptable…but we must find a male counterpart to hide behind.

    If you happen to be a female performing artist who is also a composer producer, they call it a mistake! This is what they’ve said to us: “You need to decide if you are going to be an artist or a producer, but you can’t do both. It’s impossible!” Well how come Kanye West, Prince, Jay Z, Akon, Timbaland, Trent Reznor, T-Pain, P Diddy, Babyface, The Dream, and Missy Elliot oops… sorry that’s a female (is she?)…. can be artists producers and no one has a problem with it? Check out this list:


    Isn’t it surprising that as many talented multi- instrumentalist female producers that exist in this world, not one single one made it on this list?

    If the music is good, let it speak for itself…plus, who says the music is good or not? Have you listened to what’s played on the radio lately? (that’s a whole other subject)
    Did you hear the “Bedroom Intruder Song”? There is no authority anymore. Although folks like Clive Davis or L.A. Reid can claim they know a hit… they have both made plenty of mistakes with songs and artists. I don’t believe Amanda was treated fairly…and I must note that when her predecessor was caught in certain other activities including but not limited to kicking and screaming profanities on or off the stage (which he did) he instead, got promoted. Just saying…

    Sorry for the gripping Moses, and thank you for bringing up the subject matter.

  9. This is somehow (weirdly) related to Marth Stewart…

    The moral of the story is “Don’t behave like one of the boys..if ya’ ain’t!”

    George Willett

  10. Neel Daniel says:

    To say that just because she didn’t produce the numbers and because she acted the way she did was why she was fired and because she was a woman had nothing to do with it…

    Well I agree with Mo’s take. If every guy in that position was fired for acting like a jerk and smoking pot (I always saw much worse) the turnover would be so high Mo wouldn’t have time to blog it.

    Producing numbers gets harder every day in that business but I am sure Google will find a profit once they jump in on EMI’s prime assets.

  11. Rad Stewert says:

    You’ve got a point there. Amanda Ghost is a known singer and good songwriter but climbing up to the corporate world especially becoming a president is another thing.. I was able to read another source saying she left her position as the president to resume to her career as a songwriter and producer. That’s confusing if whether she really left Epic or she was kicked out. I like her talent in music but talent alone cannot make her function in her former job. The issue about sexism is really bothering and I can say its a an issue and a reality in music world up until now.

  12. Sammie says:

    I don’t believe for one moment Amanda Ghost was fired because she smoked pot. Is there anyone in the music industry that doesn’t?

    And George has a point. Women in high positions have to try harder and do a better job. And pretty much have to accept that they will be called bitch.

  13. Scott says:

    Epic was a sinking ship anyway and the only ghost keeping that label alive is the one of a dead Michael Jackson…If they had just given her more time and understanding I’m sure she could have risen the numbers.
    Amanda was and has always spoken out passionately if she feels something is wrong. And there is a lot wrong with the industry…those overly judgemental pricks at Sony should realize that it is the artists that put them on their fat corporate arses. If they put the music before the business instead of business before music they could have given birth to a new wealth of artists through Amanda..the song sells the artist the artist shouldnt be out there trying to flog an average song….Amanda is anincredible artists who understands and actually gives a fuck about the art more than the business…just because she was a little outlandish in her ways did not mean she didn’t care. As for the pot smoking….Queen Victoria smoked it and so did Margaret Thatcher….I’m sure given more time Amanda could have raise the bar higher than the state of mind of music industry today. I’m not a fan I’m her cousin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.