The Beginnings of a Fempire: Beth Laird & Creative Nation
In a time where national turmoil continues to spiral and diversity and inclusion have been thrust to center stage, Beth Laird has emerged as a voice and role model for women. Having spent years building a foundation of support and mentorship for women throughout the music and entertainment industry, Laird is stepping forward to ensure gender equity continues to grow. As CEO and co-founder of Nashville based music publishing company, Creative Nation, Beth has utilized her wealth of experience and resources to establish a mentorship program in her community. However, this is just the beginning: Beth continues to grow her reach and influence when it comes to advocacy and is poised for continued industry leadership.
NETWORKING HER WAY INTO A CAREER
Before Beth was a CEO, she was a college student at the University of Alabama grappling with her career direction. Raised in a small town, Laird took advantage of grocery store run-in, with a former babysitter, to secure her first introduction to the music scene. A summer internship at Capitol Records quickly solidified Beth’s love of music and set her path.
*“I learned so much from just volunteering and observing [at Capitol Records] and realized that there were passionate and smart business people that worked alongside the artists and helped them fulfill their creative dreams. I was hooked, and my goal became ‘how do I do this another summer and move here after I graduate college so I can work in music!*’”
Fast forward a few decades, Beth is the co-owner and CEO of her own music publishing and writer management company, Creative Nation. Founded in 2011, with her husband Luke Laird, located on Nashville’s notorious Music Row, Creative Nation has released over 50 radio singles, and 19 #1 songs, with recent country and pop hits including “Hard to Forget” by Sam Hunt and “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. Beth has been recognized as one of MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row, Billboard’s Country Power Players 2019, and honored by Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City Awards.
Beth recognizes that being encouraged to take risks and follow her passions helped her cultivate a fearless attitude in a male-dominated industry. After joining the workforce, she had to work “*harder to be more assertive and pretend [she] could be like the male executives and do anything they could do.*” It was with the support of a boss and mentor at Broadcast Music, Inc. that Beth embraced being female as a competitive advantage. “I learned not to try to be all things to all people and embrace who I am and what my strengths are—and one of those IS being a female.”
BRINGING WOMEN TOGETHER
Beth has continued to pass on the gift of mentorship to other females with her program, Nurturing Outstanding Women (NOW). Founded in 2015, in partnership with publishing executive Abbey Adams, both Beth and Abbey are committed to creating an environment for their female friends throughout Nashville’s creative entertainment industries What began as a monthly lunch of 10 women, discussing work and life topics, has evolved to a class of 50 women. Participants are paired into mentor-mentee groups which meet monthly and NOW hosts a lunch-and-learn program featuring speakers from across the entertainment industry.
“On a granular level I think it starts in people’s hearts and homes and men who support female equality will be our greatest assets in the evolution of it all. As the overall culture pushes for more equality, and we all do our part as mothers, sisters, daughters, leaders, and business owners in our communities, we will see the change.”
Within her own company, Creative Nation, Beth is dedicated to working with and mentoring females at every level. From interns, executives, songwriters, and artists, the Creative Nation team is “*committed to creating a work culture that values every person for their own unique strengths and gifts.*”
A VOICE FOR NASHVILLE
In 2019, Beth was selected as one of 18 members of the Recording Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion task force. What was initially established as a short term project, has lasted well over a year with monthly strategy meetings and conversations. As one of the sole representative from Nashville on the task force, Laird finds herself in a unique position to represent both the country music industry and the talented, Grammy-winning artists who work with Creative Nation.
“*I wanted to see the Recording Academy change for the better, embrace more creators, and see them re-connect with the young executives and creators who didn’t feel represented or embraced by the Recording Academy. I said yes because I felt like I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and criticize anything if I wouldn’t dig in and try to really help make a difference. So, I jumped in and I am so glad I did.*”
Laird continues to be an example for other women making their way into the music industry as a CEO, task force representative, mentor, and working mother. Her dedication and passion to the future of female equity and diverse representation throughout the audio industry extends outside of her professional realm. Committed to fostering the next generation of advocates at every level, Beth teaches her own young sons “*to respect and value females and I have found that by surrounding myself with smart and compassionate women in my own life and by investing time in young women I believe in, I can be a part of the change.*”
Written by Ella Tatum