Music industry executive carves path for Filipino voices

Sunday, October 22, 2023
Music industry executive carves path for Filipino voices
Marisa Pizarro is one of the music industry's top executives and one of just a handful who are Filipino-American.

Considering how much time Marisa Pizarro spends in a recording studio, in many ways, having a conversation between a digital mixer and computer monitors feels right at home.

What it is not, however, is a doctor's office or a courtroom, much to her dad's concern years ago.

"The deal was, have a Plan B," said Pizarro, describing her rationale in attending law school. "And then if the music thing doesn't work out, you'll always be a lawyer."

She was a lawyer, for a record label, and music as an industry beyond law worked out just fine.

Pizarro is one of Billboard's top female music executives. One of just a handful who are Filipino-American.

Previously a senior vice president at Def Jam Records, she's now a partner and manager at music label MWA.

The list of artists she has developed through the years includes Travis Scott and Future.

And through the years, Pizarro has seen the industry change.

"Back then we would actually see an artist. Now we look on TikTok," said Pizarro. "We find kids in their bedroom who are really talented and would never have an opportunity otherwise. So that part is exciting, giving the chance to more people. But with that comes a lot more music."

Standing out is still the challenge, and emerging Filipino-American artist Headband Andy is part of a new generation of talent. Amplifying work like his is by design.

"When it's a Filipino artist of course it hits different," said Pizarro. "You feel like you're doing it for yourself, for your family, for the country, for the ancestors."

And for the one voice who has mattered the whole time.

"I don't know if my dad knows who Future is," said Pizarro. "But he definitely knows a Filipino artist. So there's a part that's as basic as just trying to make my parents proud."