Front and Center: Saxophonist and Two-Time GRAMMY Nominee, Mindi Abair

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Saxophonist and Two-Time GRAMMY Nominee, Mindi Abair

In the video below, the WiMN’s Jenna Paone catches up with two-time GRAMMY nominee and saxophone siren, Mindi Abair. 

Abair—along with her band The Boneshakers—recently unveiled their latest record, The EastWest Sessions. Named for the iconic EastWest Studios where they recorded the album alongside legendary blues-rock producer Kevin “Caveman” Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith), this LP features blues and rock songs about adversity, triumph, and life lessons. 

Among the album’s eleven tracks is the female-empowerment anthem, “Pretty Good For a Girl.” Along with the this track—which turns the too-often-heard backhanded compliment on its head—Mindi has launched a new women’s empowerment initiative, Pretty Good For A Girl, and is inviting women everywhere to participate in the music video for her song.

Check out the interview below, which kicks off with a special live performance of “Vinyl,” the first single from The EastWest Sessions. Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers are touring extensively in support of the album—to view the dates and find out more, visit mindiabair.com.

Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Beats By Girlz Founder, Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Music Producer, Erin Barra

By Leslie Buttonow

What do you do when you spend time learning and perfecting a craft, and then realize many others are looking to you to learn what you do? You teach, of course! And that’s exactly what Erin Barra did, but in more ways than one.

After spending some time as a songwriter and producer, Barra brought technology into the fold from a desire to reach certain goals she had for her career. She also used that experience to land a teaching job at a young age at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Along with her use of tech came the realization that other women were interested in learning about how she made her music and the tools she was using, which inspired her to formally encourage other young women in their musical aspirations.

Here, Barra shares some of her story with us, as well as a few musical treats from some of her current projects.

To find out more, visit beatsbygirlz.com and mammabarra.com.

The WiMN: Tell us a little about how you started using technology in music—did you learn traditional instruments first and then incorporate it, or has technology been there throughout your musical journey?

EB: I was trained as a classical pianist from a very young age and didn’t really get involved in music tech until much later in life, when I was around 24 years old.

The truth is, I got into music tech out of sheer necessity because I had goals that needed accomplishing and not enough resources to pay someone else to help me achieve them. The people who control the tech are largely the ones who hold the power and so after years of frustration, I decided that I was going to get behind my laptop and play that role for myself.

The WiMN: What is the most gratifying part of teaching music students?

EB: For me, teaching is a lot like writing, producing and collaborating, which is what drew me to the music industry in the first place. All of those things, including teaching, are just ways of communicating with other people and exchanging ideas, thoughts, and emotions. That’s what I enjoy the most––communicating, and being able to do that with brilliant young creative minds is the best.

The WiMN: Where did the idea for Beats By Girlz (BBG) come from?

EB: Towards the end of my career as being purely an artist, when I really began to master the tools, it became clear to me that people were more interested in how I was making music and the tech tools I was using than actually listening to my music. People started calling me the “Ableton Lady” and wanted to book me on shows that featured women in technology.

At one point, I sort of looked around and realized that I’d been inadvertently cast in this role as a leader and role model for other women who wanted to write, produce and perform with their laptops. Once I figured it out, I felt a responsibility to actively try and fill the shoes people already felt I was wearing, so BBG was born out of that desire to help other women who were looking to me for help and offer role support.

The WiMN: In your role both as a professor and with your BBG workshops, how have you seen girls’ participation in music and music technology change over the years?

EB: I see so many more women in the music tech space than I did five years ago––on stages, in classrooms, in studios––and I also see far more people talking about the issue of gender equity in general. There’s still a massive amount of work to be done, but we’re moving in a forward direction.

The WiMN: Was there ever a time when you felt you had to prove yourself as a woman working in music technology, which has traditionally been more male-dominated?

EB: I feel like I’m constantly being challenged and doubted by the people around me, not only because of my gender, but also my age. I’m the youngest person in my department at Berklee and I lead several committees and groups full of men who I’ve had to work twice as hard as to gain their respect. I even get it from my own students sometimes, since they’re so used to being directed by older white men.

At a certain point, it’s just not worth investing any energy into it. My resume and reputation speak for themselves, so I let those things do the talking and tune out the rest.

The WiMN: You’re also a songwriter and solo artist—are there any projects you’re working on (or recently completed) that you’d like to share?

EB: I just produced a track for a Swedish artist named Matilda I’m really into (listen here); another young American rock artist named Chloe Jane (listen here); and a song I produced for the amazing Leon Waldo just released worldwide (listen here).

I’ve also been creating a lot of video content that features my performances and productions, paired with how to video tutorials that break the whole process down. You can see them here.

The WiMN: If any of our readers are interested in helping to bring a Beats By Girlz chapter to their community, where do they start?

EB: You can visit beatsbygirlz.com for more details and ways to get involved, give to the community and start your own chapter. 🙂 

Front and Center: Amberly Crouse-Knox & Nicole Pellegrino, BMG Production Music

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Amberly Crouse-Knox and Nicole Pellegrino, BMG Production Music

We’re excited to share this video interview with two dynamic women from BMG Production Music.

Host Jenna Paone sits down with Amberly Crouse-Knox, Senior Director of Sync and Licensing, and Nicole Pellegrino, Creative Director, as they talk about what they do at this music publishing powerhouse with the goal of matching the perfect music to each application and client.

Watch the clip below, and find out more about BMG Production Music at bmgproductionmusic.com.

Front And Center: Creator of Raghouse Records and Rag House Mag, April Duran

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Creator of Raghouse Records and Rag House Mag, April Duran

By Myki Angeline

April Duran is living proof that it is never too late to chase your dreams. She is the founder and creator of Raghouse Records, Raghouse Mag, and an on air personality Saturday nights on Hot 103.9. All of this accomplished over the past three years, and she is just getting warmed up.

But before her newfound success in the music industry, Duran worked as a single mom while going to night school. Upon graduation, she applied to music corporations for entry level positions, working her way through the ranks. All while in her 40s.

Duran took time out of her insanely busy schedule to share with us her never ending passion for music, and she has in store for 2018.

WiMN: Give us a little background on your career in music, and what inspired you to follow this path.

AD: I always thought I was the typical teenager into music, although after high school it was obvious that it was something I was completely interested in—more than my friends. I was hitting festivals, researching and looking for bands before they made it big, and heading to the small dive bars to look for new music.

My path to work in music didn’t move forward until I was middle aged. I realized I was working jobs I was not passionate about, so I finally went for it and enrolled in Musicians Institute’s music business program. Located in Hollywood, MI is about 40 miles away from me and a 1 1/2 hour commute in good traffic. I completed with a certificate after one year of night school, working during the day and as a single mom.

I then applied at the Irvine Amp/Live Nation for an ushering position knowing it was minimum wage, but that I had to start somewhere since I was entering a new career. The interview went so well that they created a position for me as a VIP Supervisor. From there I have worked as an assistant for the general manager of a large venue, production manager, booker, and product manager.

I created my own brand in 2014—Rag House Records/Radio/RagMag to empower women in music, sports and entertainment. I created my own online radio segment, created an online magazine and caught the attention of a program director at an FM station! I am now an on air radio host of FM HOT103.9 on Saturdays. I am also the creator, producer, programmer and host of Sunday night’s Local Artist Spotlight, promoting unsigned artists/bands from Southern California.

WiMN: Can you share your story that led up to the creation of Raghouse Records/Rag Mag? What is the mission of the company and magazine?

AD: Founded and created in 2014, Raghouse Records and Rag Mag’s mission is to empower and promote girls/women in music, sports and entertainment. After working in the music industry for a few years, I noticed a lack of female support from every direction and wanted to change that. I have also found it helpful in daily life even before launching Rag House. Smile at the women around you and encourage them, give them hugs when needed because it makes work and life a lot healthier, easier and fun!

WiMN: Since the inception of Raghouse Records/Rag Mag, how has this platform impacted the music community, especially for women?

AD: We have been able to create and gather a sisterhood where girls/women know where they can reach out for basic information on whatever they are looking for in the music industry. I have also created many great friendships and networking is amazing. It was so refreshing to find out that I wasn’t the only woman who felt lost in the music industry and looking for other soul sisters searching for a safe place.

WiMN: You currently work for Hot 103.9 FM in San Bernadino, CA. What does it mean to you working as a woman in radio? Do you see a need for more women in this field?

AD: At FM HOT 103.9 the ratio of men to women working as on air personalities is pretty much even. The program director John DeSantis has been in radio for about 30 years and is a strong advocate for giving opportunities equally to those men and women with talent,  and I am so grateful for that. Although, I was appalled when I looked up men to women ratio working in radio overall. From what I could gather, the percentage of women working in radio is under 20% and I hope my research is wrong! With this I am so grateful beyond belief that he believed in me after seeing what I was doing for two years, called me up and offered me a paid position at FM HOT 103.9. I also was the first on air personality to be hired without any education in radio or had previously interned for the station!

WiMN: Your focus is namely on unsigned, women artists. Do you find it difficult scouting for music and talent?

AD: In the beginning it was hard to find new talent, but now the word is out and I’m receiving email after email. I can’t keep up!

 

WiMN: How do you balance your music career with marriage and family life?

AD: I don’t know, LOL! I have a huge family support system (mom and dad) and my fiance has been helping me with my son for years. It takes a village to raise a child, start a new career and try to create your own company in your 40s. I take it day by day, make sure my fiance and son are healthy, make sure I run and drink wine—work hard play hard!

WiMN: Do you play an instrument? Have you performed musically? 

AD: I’ve tried drums, guitar and singing. I suck at all of them but I can dance. I have worked in drama and theater throughout my youth.

WiMN: What hurdles or struggles have you experienced as a woman working in the music industry?

AD: In the beginning of creating Rag House I was vulnerable and people were able to take advantage of me from all different levels. In the past, I trusted everyone right off the bat because that’s who I am. Now, I have thick skin. I am still learning to trust others, but I’m not afraid to try anything, reach out to anyone, or talk to who ever.

WiMN: What advice can you give women looking to pursue a career in music as a journalist and/or radio personality?

AD: Work hard. Promote what you’re doing. Don’t be scared to try new things! You have to have grit and leap over those days that were bad or you didn’t feel like moving forward. HUSTLE!

WiMN: What do you have in store for 2018?

AD: So excited for the revamping of Rag, going digital, starting a new clothing line, brand ambassadors, and much more… and this time I have a team!

Front And Center: SoundExchange Senior Director Of Industry And Artist Relations, Linda Bloss-Baum

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: SoundExchange Senior Director Of Industry and Artist Relations, Linda Bloss-Baum

By Myki Angeline

Music has come a long way since the age of vinyl records and cassette tapes. It wasn’t that long ago when the only way to listen to music was either attending a live performance, tune in to your favorite radio station, or purchase hard copies from your local music store. Now with the ability to stream music from the internet, listening to our favorite artist is readily at our finger tips. Anyone with a laptop or smart phone can access almost any artist and song.

It also became increasingly harder for music artists to get paid for their creations.

This is where companies like SoundExchange come into play, working at the center of digital music to develop business solutions that benefit the entire music industry. As the Senior Director of Industry and Artist Relations, Linda Bloss-Buam ensure that artists and rights owners are aware of all the services that SoundExchange has to offer.

Below, Linda shares with us how she applies her experience and training in music policies and practices, and what she is doing to increase awareness of women in the music industry.

To learn more about SoundExchange visit their website: www.soundexchange.com

WiMN: What was the initial inspiration for the creation of SoundExchange?

LBB: The digital revolution and Internet radio changed everything, including the music industry. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to ensure that recording artists and rights owners got paid for their digital music. We were charged with administering the statutory licenses that allows digital music services to play music, and we ensure that music creators are compensated accurately for the use of their music. We also advocate for recording artists and rights owners and work with regulators to ensure that music creators are paid fairly for the use of their work.

Many things have changed in the 14 years since we were founded, at SoundExchange and throughout the industry, but our guiding principle remains the same – all creators should receive fair pay, on all platforms and technologies, whenever their music is used. Today, SoundExchange works at the center of digital music, developing business solutions to benefit the entire music industry.

WiMN: What are your primary responsibilities as the Senior Director of Industry and Artist Relations of this non-profit organization? How did you become involved initially?

LBB: As Senior Director of Industry and Artist Relations, I am responsible for driving awareness and visibility for SoundExchange across multiple channels related to performance and music entertainment. I work every day to ensure that artists and rights owners are aware of all the services that SoundExchange offers. I initially became involved with the organization in 2005-2011, when I ran Warner Music Group’s Washington, DC, office. We worked closely together on business and advocacy issues of importance to the music industry. I was struck by the trust and respect that the overall music community had for SoundExchange for a wide range of areas that are central to its success.

WiMN: What kind of impact have you seen with artists who have registered with SoundExchange?

LBB: One of the best parts of my job is the personal interaction with SoundExchange members. I have the honor of attending various trade shows and conferences, and it is not uncommon for artists to approach me with heart-felt gratitude for all that SoundExchange means to them. This applies to our biggest payees and to artists who are just getting their start. Each has a unique story about the impact that SoundExchange royalties have in their professional career and personal lives. I have heard hundreds of anecdotes about where artists apply their SoundExchange royalties. Each one warms my heart and reminds me of the important work that we do every day.

WiMN: Can you talk about some skills learned from your other business experiences, and how they apply to your current position with SoundExchange?

LBB: My entire professional career has been centered on policies and practices that apply to the music industry. From crafting the legislation that governs digital communications as a Counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, to representing the companies affected by those laws, I have a solid understanding of how the industry operates. It is often complex, but it has been an incredible journey to get to this point of omnipresent digital distribution for music. SoundExchange gives me the opportunity to apply those skills to ensure the artists and rights owners are fairly compensated for their creativity.

WiMN: Do you play an instrument? Who have been your role models?

LBB: The last concert I sang in was when I was 8 months and three weeks pregnant with my first child. The choral conductor made me take a seat because I was making him nervous. I hope to get back to that someday, but for now I am focused on working on the business side of the music industry (but I do take part in the occasional jam in a neighbor’s basement band on weekends).

WiMN: Have you experienced any struggles or hurdles as a woman in this industry? If so, how have you overcome them?

LBB: I wouldn’t use the word “struggle” in this regard. Certainly, the ratios of men to women are not even in the music industry, but I think that is true of most industries in the U.S. today. I am fortunate enough to be involved with several “women’s” organizations in both D.C. and Nashville and have found that those ties and relationships have been immensely beneficial professionally. I also like to work with young women who are coming up in the industry to ensure that our representation only continues to grow in the future.

WiMN: Do you have any advice or recommendations to women wanting a career in the music industry?

LBB: Focus on the work and do a great job every day. Period. If you are a hard worker, you will be rewarded professionally, regardless of gender. I often cringe when I hear women say that we need to “think like a man.” If you trust your instincts and think like yourself, your energies will be better spent. Also, be sure to cultivate strong relationships with other women in the business. Good people will look out for each other. And, I have found that most people are good people.

WiMN:  Can you share with our readers, some fun facts about you?

LBB: This will be my fifth year teaching a class as an adjunct professor at the KOGOD School of Business at American University, entitled “Protecting the Creative Class in the Digital Age.” This is a particularly heartening opportunity, as I received my BA in Communications from American University many years ago. To get to return to the same classrooms that I sat in decades ago, and to see the quality students there today, is a true privilege.

Front and Center: She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase and Interview with Julia Jordan Kamanda

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase and interview with Julia Jordan Kamanda

By Leslie Buttonow

On July 13, 2017, the She Rocks Summer NAMM Showcase took Nashville by storm!

Held at the Listening Room Café and hosted by The WiMN founder Laura B. Whitmore, guests were treated to an enjoyable evening of performances by talented musicians from all over North America, each offering their unique stories and messages.

The WiMN was also pleased to welcome some first-time She Rocks performers to the stage. Featured performers included:

First-time She Rocks performer Southern Sirens is a female duo that calls Louisville, KY home these days. Together, the pair puts an Americana twist on a wide variety of musical genres, performing both originals and covers.

Singer-songwriter Laura Clapp hails from New England, has a love for life, and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Her diverse career experiences include a stint as a backup singer for an 80s synth legend, to demonstrating music technology products, to performing her own original music and recording her upcoming fourth album.

Sisters Charlotte and Sarah perform as Command Sisters, a unique Canadian duo the delivers lush vocal harmonies and guitar stylings that make their live performances stand out. To date, their career has included a winning entry in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, a collaboration with a platinum producer, and a private performance for Prince William and Princess Katherine.

Laura B. Whitmore and songwriting partner Jenna Paone also joined in the on-stage festivities, showcasing new original songs such as “Pretty” from their upcoming Girl album, which is a project featuring empowerment songs for girls.

Another first-time She Rocks performer was singer-songwriter Julia Jordan Kamanda. Not only is she a dynamic musician and performer (having toured the world with her father, guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan), but she is also a teaching artist and an author of children’s music books. We asked her to share a little about her musical background, current pursuits, and what music means to her.

The WiMN: How did you enjoy your experience performing at the She Rocks Showcase?

JJK: I really enjoyed playing at the SheRocks Showcase! It was my first time playing in Nashville, so it was a real treat to have it be in connection with such a great organization like WiMN. I met some amazing other female musicians and left with a sense of excitement for the future.

The WiMN: Tell us about some of your song selections for the evening and why you chose them.

JJK: The songs I selected were a combination of up-tempo, groovy songs and a few mellower ones that are introspective. Depending on where I play, it’s sometimes hard to play the quieter stuff because you’re not always in an environment where the audience is listening intently enough.

For a place like The Listening Room Café, I figured I could bring my voice and vibe down a bit and connect with people on a more emotional level. Of course, I always like to play the songs that are upbeat and filled with positivity. When people hear my music, I like for them to leave with a sense of optimism. There is a lot of sadness and uncertainty in some people’s lives, so I want them to experience my music as a breath of fresh air.

The WiMN: Our readers may not realize that you’re also very involved with children’s music education. Please share a little about that and how our readers can get involved in this great cause.

JJK: There is no way I would be where I am today without the encouragement of phenomenal music mentors and access to a safe creative space while I was growing up. Now that I get to make my own way through the music world, I try to create the same safe space for other young musicians. So, I founded J3 Music Studios (www.j3musicstudios.com), which offers a private lesson program for piano, guitar, voice, and songwriting.

I am also developing a series of children’s storybooks that introduce music concepts to young children. Each book introduces a different musical concept through original stories and globally-inspired music. There is a supplementary teaching guide available that can be used for classrooms, homes, and community programs. You can find out more about the series on my website, www.juliajk.com.

The WiMN: In addition to your music education advocacy and playing solo performances such as the She Rocks showcase, I see you also sit in on some dates with your father. It must be quite an experience playing your original music with him!

JJK: I do sometimes sit in with my dad! It feels very full-circle when we do shows together. You know, my parents never pushed me into music, they both just cultivated a creative environment where I could find my own voice. And as I grew, I found that voice through songwriting.

When I play with my dad, we do a combination of jazz standards (which we’ve been doing since I was a kid), classics like “City of New Orleans,” and some of my originals. The originals are always fun because we do them a little differently every time. And we are very in tune with each other on stage in ways that other duos sometimes aren’t, just because of our connection. It’s really fun for us!

 

Front and Center: Guitarist and Vocalist, Jackie Venson

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Guitarist and Vocalist, Jackie Venson

By Lina Bhambhani

Soul/pop guitarist and vocalist Jackie Venson hails from Austin, TX. As the daughter of musician Andrew Venson, she was born into a musical family that motivated her to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. It was at Berklee where Venson picked up the guitar for the first time.

In April of 2014, she was chosen from over 2,000 entries by retail chain Belk for their Fashion Lounge concert series. Throughout the series’ five amphitheater performances, she supported well-known artists like Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw and James Taylor. Venson released her debut The Light in Me in 2015, and Jackie Venson Live in 2016.

To find out more, visit jackievenson.com.

The WiMN: How has your father, Andrew Venson, influenced you as an artist?
 
JV: I definitely have a lot of his influence and my taste in music does resemble his. However it wasn’t just the music, he also was the leader of his band and he just gave me really great advice on how to keep a band going and how to hustle and stay alive in this crazy industry.
 
The WiMN: What attracted you to guitar over other instruments?
 
JV: Guitar players always look like they’re having so much fun! I wanted to be able to tilt my head back, stick my tongue out, and play some rockin’ lead.
 
The WiMN: Your music is described as soul/pop. Can you tell us about any artists that have helped shape your sound or style?
 
JV: Stevie Wonder is my biggest influence when it comes to songwriting and arranging. He really is just incredible and I feel so blessed to be sharing the earth with him right now.
 
 
The WiMN: How was your experience performing on the Belk Fashion Lounge Concert Series?
 
JV: it was really incredible especially considering that it was my first real tour. I learned so much and had somewhat of a safety net to catch me. Since then I’ve done tours and have definitely run the gamut of experiences. However, those first dates were extremely eye-opening.
 
The WiMN: Have you experienced any struggles or hurdles as a woman in this industry? If so, how have you overcome them?
 
JV: People like to make a lot of assumptions about who I am, who I am not, and what I sound like. It can be a struggle to constantly be judged or labeled something. However, I just use it to inspire me to work hard, and to always be in a position to bring my all and do my best.
 
The WiMN: Can you tell us about any projects you’re working on currently?
 
JV: I just finished a new EP called Transcends. The EP explores genres from funk, to rock, to soul, and pop
 
The WiMN: What’s next for you?
 
JV: I’m starting a new project in September and I’m excited for that. Other than that, I am excited for more dates coming up with Gary Clark Jr, as well as the release of the EP. More music, more tours and more fun!

 

Front and Center: Songtradr Director of Creative Services, Erin Dillon

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Songtradr Director of Creative Services, Erin Dillon

By Leslie Buttonow

At any given time, an artist has finished a new music piece they’re looking to license. At the same time – whether across town, across the country, or across the world – any number of brands, apps, television or film studios are seeking just the right song for their new project. The missing piece of the puzzle for bringing both sides together is Songtradr, an all-in-one, global licensing platform that delivers an efficient way for buyers and sellers to connect. Their client list includes the likes of MTV, Netflix, FOX, Amazon, Microsoft, ABC, Disney, and more.

Erin Dillon is Songtradr’s director of creative services. She enthusiastically digs in to their catalogue of music to perfectly align hand-curated songs with high profile placements. Truly inspired by the music itself, Dillon shares how her background in music supervision and as a trained pianist has helped her to excel for her company and its clients, and what motivates her each day in her role at Songtradr.

To find out more, visit www.songtradr.com.

The WiMN: I see you’re a classically trained pianist. Growing up, did you always aspire to have some type of career in the music industry, or was that just a happy coincidence?

I think on some level I always knew I wanted to work in music; my path always seemed to lead there. As I grew up learning the piano, I also fell in love with movie soundtracks. That was what interested me in music supervision, initially. The idea of putting soundtracks together like a playlist seemed like the best thing in the world!

The WiMN: How did your background as a pianist prepare you for the various roles you’ve held in the industry over the years in music supervision and creative control? 

Knowing the language of music theory allowed a deeper connection in working with composers. I felt it made it easier to relate and mediate between the creative vision of a director versus the musicality a composer brings to a project. And with a trained ear you can give better notes and guidance. This is true not only with composers but when working with up-and-coming artists or new talent.

The WiMN: For young women exploring various careers in the music industry, can you share a little bit about your current position at Songtradr and what that type of job entails? 

At Songtradr, I’m the head of music curation, which is comprised of me bringing in new music as well as keeping up to date with everything currently on our site, which is a lot! I make curated playlists for clients looking for specific types of music, along with licensing and artist relations.

The WiMN: What are some things that motivate you each day in your job?

Hearing from the musicians on our site is always the best part of my day. I love building a rapport with the different people whose music I’m listening to every day. Their successes and difficulties are mine as well. Whenever I get to be the bearer of good news and tell someone their music is going to be licensed, it’s a great day. I also love being excited by music each day. It’s part of my job to keep finding diamonds in the rough and listening to new and unusual stuff. There’s still a spark for me when the challenge of a particular search request comes through and I get to be the one to dig and find it!

The WiMN: Many areas of the music industry are male-dominated. Is that the case for your area? Were there ever any challenges you’ve had to overcome in that regard?

It’s definitely a male-dominated industry overall, but I pride myself in being part of a generation that has come up alongside many women my age. I have many colleagues who inspire me and are truly positive, powerful women. The best part about it is, many of the women I’ve come up with, really have the best intentions for each other. We want to see each other succeed and I believe it’s genuine. I can’t speak to particular challenges, but I will say hard work speaks for itself. Once you’ve put in the work, don’t be afraid to use your voice. If you have an idea or a thought, throw it out there. Trust your gut — a woman’s intuition is one of the most powerful forces on earth!

The WiMN: Any advice for our readers who are musicians and may be exploring licensing their own original music?

The best advice I can give is educate yourself. Do your homework, utilize IMDB, speak to fellow musicians who are in your boat or have had licenses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Decide what it is you really want to do with your music, then go after it. Celebrate the small victories that will inevitably lead to larger ones.

The WiMN: Are there any particularly exciting projects you’re working on (or recently completed) that you’d like to share?

Songtradr has worked closely with a women’s clothing company called Ardene in the last year. They’ve licensed some awesome music from us – like Bad Bad Hats and Esjay Jones – that really seems to speak to their brand.

Front and Center: SIR Director of Marketing & Artist/Vendor Relations Manager, Jenn Triquet

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: SIR Director of Marketing & Artist/Vendor Relations Manager, Jenn Triquet

By Leslie Buttonow

Anyone who’s ever attended a festival or concert tour can appreciate how much work goes into those full-blown productions. Artists and event managers need to ensure that things will run smoothly – from rehearsing, to obtaining the correct musical equipment for each tour stop, and more. A tall order made much easier with Jenn Triquet on the job! She’s the person they rely on for their musical needs and manufacturers rely on to support their artist endorsers.

Below, Jenn talks about moving up in the music industry as a female and meeting some challenges along the way. She also shares how her musical background and experience on the other side of the desk led to a new opportunity at SIR, who’s celebrating 50 years of service as the nation’s largest musical equipment support service for top musicians.

To find out more, visit sir-usa.com.

The WiMN: Growing up, you played an instrument, and you were very much into music and bands. Tell us a bit about your experience with music and how it influenced you in your youth?

JT: From the moment I started school music classes I knew I wanted to work in music – I remember in kindergarten sitting on the mat in a circle knowing that was something I wanted to do when I grew up. I played the viola starting in fourth grade through an experimental program in our middle school to get younger kids interested in the orchestra and found love!

I continued to play during college at Hofstra University and even after I graduated, in community orchestras. It was my happy place! I also sang throughout my school career and got a partial vocal scholarship. Through my teens and early adulthood, music helped shape who I was as a person and the friends I kept – which were vast and varied. As an example, the first concert ever attended was Rush Counterparts, and the following week I went to see Grateful Dead’s Spring Tour ‘94!

The WiMN: Many years later, you find yourself working at SIR , and learn that there’s an interesting tie-in between your favorite guitar player’s first band and their career-changing experience with SIR. Care to share that story?

JT: As the artist relations manager for Korg USA (which represented Korg, Marshall, VOX and Vestax at the time), I had the opportunity to work with many artists. Of course, I had to keep my professional hat on, but I couldn’t help but get a bit giddy every time I got to work with Marshall endorser, Slash! Growing up listening to Guns N Roses, how could I not? Interestingly enough, years later, I’d come to work for SIR. It was at our Los Angeles office where Slash had rented (and may have absconded with for a brief period of time) a Marshall amp – the famous Marshall #39 (as told in this story) from which he got his signature Appetite sound!

The WiMN: When working with vendors and artists in the touring industry, it’s probably safe to say there’s no such thing as a “typical” day, but take us through an average week for you and what that entails.

JT: As the artist and vendor relations manager for SIR, my typical week involves a lot of endorsement request phone calls and emails from artists and manufacturers alike. I help everyone get the best possible pricing and service from SIR across the U.S. Many times, this involves entering orders for the entire band and making sure all the details are in order for a single show or a month-long tour in multiple cities across the USA. Additionally, as SIR’s marketing director, I just worked to overhaul our website (www.sir-usa.com), I write our monthly newsletters, manage our social media accounts, have graphics made for our trucks, cases, stickers, shirts, etc, — if it involves SIR branding, you can bet done I’ve done it!

The WiMN: You are the first person to formally hold your specific title at SIR. What is something you brought to this position that you’re most proud of?

JT: You’re correct! This position didn’t exist before I began here. I remember as the artist relations person for Korg how frustrating it could sometimes be to have to reach out to the 12 different SIR locations to try to arrange the same thing for my endorsers – there was no central point person who could field my request. Each SIR office had its own email addresses and even websites! It was basically the Wild West – each office for itself!

I’m really proud to say that since I took on this role in October 2008, SIR has become unified with one website, one email address system, one look and feel for our branding, and that we’re now the unified operation we’ve always been but didn’t quite look like since day one. I also love that our manufacturer partners now have someone they can call directly and they now have one central point of contact – I’m here to make everyone’s lives easier in the fast-paced and ever-changing artist relations world!

The WiMN: Are there any particular favorite artists or tours that you and your company work with?

JT: How can I pick just one? SIR has built so many fantastic relationships over the past 50 years that I’d surely leave someone out if I started naming names. However, I do have my own particular favorites and have built lasting relationships with many bands and artist management teams over the years. And being stationed in NY, I am proud of every single order and product we put forward. Just recently, I did the production for the Governor’s Ball on Randall’s Island – that production takes four to five months’ of legwork to put it together! It was the third year I personally worked with the festival, and we’ve really found a groove working with one another

The WiMN: On the flip side, are there any particular challenges you’ve faced working in this industry, overall, as a female in a male-dominated environment?

JT: It’s funny you ask as I had a surprising incident just this week. I answered the phone and was helping a potential customer with an order and answering a bunch of technical questions about an amp. When he was finally ready to place his order, he asked to speak to the salesman! I said “Yep, you’ve got HER!” I’m glad that women in the music industry are seemingly on the rise but you still get a few knuckleheads that just don’t get it. Yes, women can help you out just as well (and sometimes better) than the men!

Breaking the mold of the “boys club” is something I pride myself in doing. Being a girl who’s into baseball, can talk shop about gear, and someone who sold skis (a position at the store I worked for that was typically reserved for men – why? I have no idea!) have definitely given me an upper leg, I think. But that boys club mentality is always there lingering in the background.

The WiMN: Looking back at your younger self first entering the music industry, what advice would you give to someone else at that point of their career?

JT: As a fresh-faced 20 year old entering the music industry, I had no idea how many different areas there were in this industry. I entered college studying Music Merchandising, thinking I would ultimately end up working at a record label or a management firm. Little did I know there was a huge portion of the industry that had to do with the musical instruments themselves. The best thing I ever did was to secure an internship – it helped teach me my strengths and weaknesses and find what I really excelled at. I would highly recommend interning in multiple aspects of the industry until you find your passion.

My former boss, Larry DeMarco, once told me – and I’ll never forget – “You have to find a job you love going to every day or you’ll never truly be happy at work.” He was absolutely right. Coming to SIR is never a chore for me; it’s my second home. I love the people I work with on a daily basis, and after almost nine years here, I’m still very passionate about my job. Find your happy place and it’ll never be work!

The WiMN: This year is the 50th anniversary of SIR. Anything in particular you’d like to share about that?

JT: It’s been wonderful seeing many of the artists we’ve worked with over the years offer such nice testimonials about their experience with SIR. They’ve shared some fun videos and stories that you can see here.

Front and Center: President of Women In Music, Jessica Sobhraj

The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: President of Women In Music, Jessica Sobhraj

By Myki Angeline

Jessica Sobhraj is a woman of action. She serves not only as the President of the non-profit organization Women In Music, but also as the CEO for Cosynd, a company that educates and assists creators in protecting their content. Sobhraj loves giving back to her community, especially when it comes to helping out women in the music industry who still battle with issues such as the wage gap, discrimination, and harassment.

She spoke with us recently on how she came to volunteer for WIM, and how much the organization has effectively impacted the music industry in the U.S. and around the world since it’s humble beginnings nearly 32 years ago.

WiMN: What was the initial inspiration for the creation of Women In Music?

JS: Women in Music (www.womeninmusic.org) is a 32 year old non-profit that is dedicated to supporting women in the arts. It was initially formed by a group of women in New York that wanted to host casual gatherings for women in the music industry to network with each other. Over the years, WIM developed into the largest and most far reaching organization for women with a mission to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment, and recognition. Today, the organization is operated by a volunteer staff of 60+ with chapters established all over the world to support thousands members.

WiMN: What are your primary responsibilities as the President of this non-profit organization? How did you become involved initially?

JS: Serving as President of WIM has been one of the most personally fulfilling times of my career. Before I became President, I served on the board from 2012-2015 as the Co-Chair of Fundraising. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to give back on a large scale to a community that faces discrimination, harassment, scarcity of opportunities, the pay gap, and more.

As President, I work very closely with our Board of Directors to set the tone for the organization and to determine the goals that we will collectively work towards each year. There are some responsibilities that are constant and predictable like certain administrative tasks and others that are more spontaneous and creative like structuring partnerships or collaborating on new programming. I’m most happy when I get to roll up my sleeves and tackle something with each of our different committees (membership, communications, fundraising, events). They keep me on my toes and ensure that I never have a “typical day” – I’m so grateful for that!

Personally, I like to think of myself as “Chief Empowerment Officer” of WIM. I get to work with the most talented, altruistic, and incredible people in our industry to support an amazing cause. It’s my responsibility to ensure that our Board members, advisory board, and volunteers all feel empowered and engaged by the organization to accomplish the things that are dearest to them. We all joined WIM to support women in our industry and we all captain specific initiatives that we’re passionate about – it’s my job to define the resources and processes to make those passions reality within the scope of WIM’s mission. For an all-volunteer organization, I’m very proud of the fact that we have very little turnover and attribute that to the dedication our mission inspires within our community.

WiMN: How many chapters are there currently? What kind of impact have you seen with the expansion of WIM?

JS:  Domestically, WIM has chapters in New York, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Internationally there are both established and developing chapters in Canada, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Barbados, and Brazil. We are working on launching four other international chapters in 2018.

WIM has always served as a hub to locate any resource imaginable. Our members use our group to find advice on any topic, career opportunities, housing opportunities, discounts to conferences, referrals to professionals, gear and space rentals, and more. By launching new chapters, we’re able to help our members access new markets and expand their individual networks on a larger scale. WIM is a truly supportive community in a myriad of ways.

During our rapid expansion, we have also remained focused on improving our infrastructure and our dedication to providing valuable programming. Over the last year, WIM has launched a new membership platform, hosted several high value events in major music markets such as our executive brunch at Midem for 100 hand picked executives across 22 nationalities, and crafted a suite of new membership programming in a relatively short time.

WiMN: Do you play an instrument? Who have been your role models?

JS:  I grew up in Toronto, where access to the arts was very important in early education, so I had access to most common instruments. I’ve played both guitar and clarinet…I remember just enough to embarrass myself should the occasion call for it!

There are definitely people in my life that I would have called a role model or mentor at one time or another, but they have since become part of my inner circle of trusted friends – that’s the goal, after all! Mentorship is most fruitful when the relationship can grow organically to a point where there is a genuine desire to want to help each other. Asking my mentors “What can I do to help you?” has always led to a more solid relationship. If I had to highlight (and thank) just one of my mentors, it would be author and angel investor, Kelly Hoey. I met Kelly a decade ago when I interned for her at a major law firm. Now, she is an advisor to Cosynd and a great friend to WIM! Kelly literally wrote the book on networking called Build Your Dream Network. Check it out!

WiMN: You are also the CEO of Cosynd. Can you share with us what Cosynd is about and why it is so important to content creators?

JS: Cosynd (www.cosynd.com) is a simple, cost-effective, and legal way for creators to protect their content. We make it easy for them to create agreements that collectively establish ownership of their content. Our users can also register works with the Copyright Office, and the performing rights organizations, and propose monetization opportunities to their collaborators.

Our founding team and advisors have decades of experience in intellectual property and the hurdles of establishing and documenting ownership of content. We were able to collectively build a powerful, but easy-to-use tool to help creators protect themselves without having to spend a large amount of money (some creators neglect to take this step because they believe it is too costly). Ultimately, establishing ownership is a necessary step that creators have to take if they intend to monetize (license, sell) their content via a service. Doing so early on reduces liability and the potential for conflicts between collaborators when a deal is actually on the table – that’s when things can get really messy!

Similarly there are benefits to registering works with the Copyright Office. For example, registration ensures that there is a public record of your ownership of the content. Registration is also necessary if you intend to file an infringement suit and will permit you to pursue statuary damages as well as attorney’s fees from litigation.

WiMN: Have you experienced any struggles or hurdles as a woman in this industry? If so, how have you overcome them?

JS: Yes, I’ve experienced nearly all of the common hurdles, unfortunately!

Our sister organization, WIM Canada, has actual data on what has been most beneficial to women in overcoming these hurdles. Of the women that participated in their study, they indicated that the following solutions had the most impact on their progression in the music industry:

  • Providing women with more access to networking opportunities
  • Implementing an overall workplace culture that is supportive and sensitive to the needs of women
  • Providing women with more access to mentors

We have also found the following methods to be successful in contributing to the progression of women worldwide

  • Creating a community for women to network
  • Making a conscious effort to hire more women in executive capacities and providing internal support
  • Celebrating our leading female experts
  • Providing educational resources
  • Encouraging and engaging men to support these initiatives too

Within Women in Music, our members will find instances of all of these solutions.

WiMN: Can you share with our readers some fun facts about you?

JS:  I’m a dog mom to a feisty pup that hates the clothes I force her to wear. Yes, I’m one of those people.

WiMN: Do you have any advice or recommendations to women wanting a career in the music industry?

JS: Fear, insecurity, and doubt are the common enemies that we all have, regardless of our career status. Fear in particular can lead to crippling complacency if it’s not addressed. We’re often told to “not be afraid”, but fear is such a natural emotion to have – you can’t help it! It’s our internal gauge that something we’re doing is either a mistake or something truly worthwhile. If you’re afraid, be afraid, but also be fiercely brave too. Keep going until you’ve got clarity on whether you’re on the path to a mistake or your next great adventure…and if it turns out to be a mistake, so what? Mistakes often turn out to be the greatest teachers.

Lastly, I would highly recommend joining Women in Music. For women, it is a highly supportive and beneficial community both personally and professionally. There, you will find a tribe of women that have expertly overcome the very same fears, insecurities, and doubts that you may be grappling with!