FIRST THOUGHT: Women in Music
If your only music experience is belting out Sublime’s “Santeria” at karaoke night, you’re not alone. Not all melodies come with a pitcher of domestic beer and lyrics scrolling on a screen. Real musicians know it takes effort to create just one song. Everyone has their method: I once heard John Legend talk about how he’ll start with a melody, followed by the hook and ending with the lyrics. Dolly Parton has talked about the songwriting process as being therapeutic for her, and as a way to put something into the world that wasn’t there before. Isn’t that what all of us want? To make this world better—or at least a lot more fun—than it was before?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 15 Percent
While songwriting and music making see no gender, record labels do. Bummer. In fact, only 15 percent of labels are majority-owned by women. There are pros and cons that come with being part of a label, whether you’re on the executive side or the musician side. Female musicians are often pigeonholed, told how to dress or what their message ought to be. If there were more women in charge, maybe, just maybe, we’d have more inspiring, raw music.
It can be so much more difficult to advocate for yourself than for others. That’s why I’m all about today’s Woman to Watch, Laura B. Whitmore, and her organization the Women’s International Music Network. It’s been a cool six years since Laura launched WIMN, where she started with the simple idea to bring women musicians together in an online community.
But a girl doesn’t get into the music industry without being enamored with melodies herself. Laura wrote her first song when she was seven years old and picked up a guitar at 13, following the likes of rock goddesses Carole King and Carly Simon. She has now created a new album of original songs called Girl. When she and a friend were at a songwriting retreat at Martha’s Vineyard, they had an idea to create a collection that would spark girls to find their voice and sisterhood.
Since its first days, WIMN has expanded to include an award show called the She Rocks Awards. Women in the industry are represented not only for their artistry, but also for their leadership and support behind the scenes. It’s a way for women to be seen and heard, and to come together in a meaningful way (and get a pretty rad-looking award, too.)
There are two reasons Laura has been able to create WIMN and the She Rocks Awards. Firstly, the girl loves music. Duh. Her experience in this industry started at CBS Records, which she joined after graduating college, and then continued when she went on to spend 20 years at Korg USA, a musical instruments company. Second, Laura has a knack for creating stellar content and marketing material, and she later combined these skills to start her own marketing company focused on this industry called Mad Sun.
Laura says that marketing has evolved from big budget campaigns to penny pinching. She urges musicians, especially women, to be proactive: Instead of waiting around for a journalist to approach you, seek out interview opportunities. It also helps to have a growing network of good-hearted people; Laura claims being someone people actually want to interact with can be the key to making big moves in this business. After all, it isn’t only about who you know, but who you are.
QUITE THE QUOTE
We have to close with a quote by the songwriter and empowering woman herself, Laura B. Whitmore:
"Finding others who lift you up and foster an atmosphere that enables you to realize your biggest dream is the key to leading an inspired life."