Not All Opportunities Are Opportunities

A Boy put his hand into a jar of Filberts, and grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold. But when he tried to pull it out again, he found he couldn’t do so, for the neck of the jar was too small to allow of the passage of so large a handful.

Navigating the Glass Cliff in the Music Industry

In the music industry, the tease of an opportunity can sometimes cloud our judgment. We’re often told to seize every chance that comes our way, but what if not all opportunities are meant for us? What if some paths lead to precarious situations, where success feels out of reach and failure seems inevitable? What if some opportunities are simply set-ups!

Are you familiar with the concept of the glass ceiling, that invisible barrier that prevents marginalised groups from reaching the boardroom. Within the most industry’s and music mis no different, when you break through the glass ceiling your pushed towards the glass cliff.

The glass cliff phenomenon occurs when individuals from underrepresented communities are appointed to leadership roles in music labels or companies during tumultuous times. They’re handed the reins when the path ahead is rocky and the risk of failure looms large. It’s like being set up to fail, with the added burden of being blamed if things don’t improve. Sound familiar Rishi?

Making it Through

So, how do we navigate this treacherous terrain? How do we discern between genuine opportunities and those that lead to the edge of the cliff?

We must recognise the potential for being placed in high-risk situations and prepare accordingly. This means honing our skills, expanding our knowledge, and cultivating resilience to thrive in challenging environments.

We also need to build a strong support network. Surrounding ourselves with people who see the best of us and for us. People who have successfully navigated similar challenges and learnt from their experiences.


So why is it crucial to resist the appeal of these seemingly golden opportunities that could potentially lead us astray from our projected trajectory?

Equality or equity that is the question

The term “equity” refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. Equality is getting the invite while equity is elevation.

Firstly, it’s essential to recognise that not all opportunities are created equal. While the prospect of climbing the corporate ladder or taking on a high-profile role may seem enticing, it’s vital to assess whether it aligns with your long-term goals and values. Will this opportunity propel you forward on your intended career trajectory, or will it veer you off course, leading you by the hand to the edge of the glass cliff?

Moreover, succumbing to the temptation of these opportunities can distract you from your true calling. Just because we have the skills and capabilities to excel in a particular role doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit. It’s crucial to listen to your intuition, your people and stay true to yourselves, even in the face of seemingly lucrative offers.

Furthermore, by succumbing to the pressure of the glass cliff, we perpetuate a cycle of inequality within the music industry. When underrepresented individuals are consistently placed in high-risk positions and set up to fail, it not only hinders their own progress but also reinforces the systemic barriers that prevent diversity and inclusion from flourishing.

So how can we resist the allure of the glass cliff and stay true to our trajectory in the music industry?

Firstly, it’s essential to cultivate self-awareness and clarity about our long-term goals and aspirations. By having a clear sense of direction, we can more easily discern which opportunities are worth pursuing and which are merely distractions.

Secondly, building a strong support network of mentors, peers, and advocates can provide invaluable guidance and perspective. Surrounding ourselves with individuals who have our best interests at heart can help us navigate the murky waters of the music industry with confidence and resilience.

Lastly, advocating for systemic change within the industry is crucial. By challenging the status quo and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion, we can work towards creating a more equitable playing field where everyone has the opportunity to thrive based on merit, rather than being pushed to fail so the stars quo can be maintained. 

Before you go it’s essential to pause and reflect. Here are some questions to ponder:

Q1. What specific challenges are you facing in your current position or opportunity?

Q2. Have you identified support systems or mentors who can guide you?

Q3. Are there alternative paths or opportunities to mitigate the risk?

Q4. How will I maintain resilience in the face of potential setbacks?

Q5. What are the long-term implications of accepting or declining this opportunity?

Q6. How do I prioritise my well-being and self-care throughout this journey?

Basil Reynolds

Coaching Consultant

Finding the Music Inside