Lola Plaku is a star in the hip hop world, but you won’t find her name on the Billboard charts or printed on concert tickets. Plaku is the quiet force behind the success of some of the industry’s biggest artists. From playing a key role on French Montana’s management team to helping boost the visibility of fellow Canadians, The Weeknd, Belly and Drake, Plaku has established herself and her company Lola Media Group as the go-to source for marketing, branding, and artist development.
It’s not the career path she might have imagined for herself as a little girl growing up in Albania, but after moving to Canada with her family at 13 and discovering hip hop greats like Missy Elliot, Plaku set her sights on a career in the music business.
Getting to where she is wasn’t an easy feat. Plaku originally started in a four-year Sociology degree program and later changed career paths; successfully transferring the skills and knowledge she acquired. Plaku didn’t go to school for music management and she didn’t have internships to help her get her foot in the door either. But she has never been the kind of woman that is easily deterred.
“Everything I did in my spare time was a part of my informal education into music and the entertainment industry. I wanted to make sure that I had a thorough knowledge of what I was talking about,” she says. “My dad always told me, ‘There is no “I don’t know,” only “I don’t want to know.”’ So, my formula is if I want something bad enough, I’m going to learn how to get it,” Plaku explains.
Pairing her father’s advice with her own fierce determination, Plaku immersed herself in the music industry. Even as she juggled school and part-time work, she studied all the relevant materials she could find, researching and taking careful notes.
It paid off. Plaku took everything she learned and used it to write about hip hop, first starting her own blog and later becoming a senior writer for HipHopCanada and one of Canada’s best-known music journalists. Her unshakeable work ethic and growing knowledge led her to roles in PR, artist development, party promotion, concert production and promotion, tour management, and online marketing.
Plaku fought hard to stand out amongst the competition, but also pushed to gain recognition and respect as a woman in an industry that is predominantly male. While sexism is an issue across all parts of the music industry, female underrepresentation is most strongly felt in executive and management roles, with only 30% of upper level executive positions being held by women.
Because of this, Plaku always made sure her success could never be attributed to anything other than her own knowledge, skills, and hard work. In every position she held, every partnership she stepped into, and every project she took on, Plaku not only brought value but a genuine interest in the success of the people around her.