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 Action?

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!

 

Tips for Playing Outside

By Laura B. Whitmore

The weather’s getting nice and if you’re like me, you have a bunch of outdoor gigs that you’re getting ready for. Playing outside presents a unique challenge. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about sharing music in the great outdoors!

Tuner Uh-Oh
If you have a LED readout on your tuner and it’s a sunny day, you probably won’t be able to see anything. The bright sun makes the readout, well, unreadable! You’ll need a tuner with a needle meter to tune in the sunshine.

Cheat Sheets
If you use any cheat sheets or lyric books, you’ll want to make sure you have a way to keep your pages in place, Even a light breeze can send those papers flying. Some kind of clip or even some tape might help. I often use an iPad as my cheat sheet and usually putting it in reverse mode (white type on a black background) makes it more easily readable outside.

You Might Sweat
If it’s hot out, your palms could become sweaty and impede your playing. You’ll want to have a small towel around, like the ones you’d use at the gym. I little bit of baby powder can help too, and a little clip on mini fan that puts you in control of the breeze.

Sun Protection
Aside from the usual things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, you’ll want lots of water. If you are playing on a black stage, it can turn into a frying pan, so make sure you have thick soled shoes!

Hear Comes the Rain
A couple of years ago I was doing an outdoor gig and a sudden squall blew in so fast that no one had time to get any gear out of the rain. The PA, amps, pedals, etc. got soaked. They dried out ok, but the gig was over. Luckily we had a small pop up that we could run under and our guitars were spared. Look around and have a plan. If the weather goes south you’ll need to make a fast decision about how to get you and your gear out of harms way.

Sound Scenarios
Outdoor sound can bounce of buildings or get swallowed up by large open spaces. Make sure you have an adequate PA to carry your sound into the crowd and close monitoring so you can hear yourself and your band mates. The PA system you usually use indoors may not cut it.

You’ve Got the Power
If you are playing in parks or public spaces, you may not have access to any power. That means you have to bring a generator. I’ve rented small generators that worked just great for this purpose. Just make sure you have extra gas. It’s a bummer when you run out and that’s the end of the fun.

Laura B. Whitmore is the founder of the Women’s International Music Network and a singer/songwriter based in the Boston metro area. She’s pictured above with her writing partner, Jenna Paone.

Front and Center: Guitar Center Manager | Music Marketing & Artist Relations, Maria Brown

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: Guitar Center Manager | Music Marketing & Artist Relations, Maria Brown

By Leslie Buttonow


In the music world, there are rock stars, people who support or promote the rock stars, and – every once in a while – people who are a little of both, in their own way. Guitar Center’s Maria Brown fits into that last category. If you ever attended a Guitar Center Drum-Off or King of the Blues competition, watched the Guitar Sessions TV show series, or saw the induction of a drummer into the Guitar Center RockWalk, you’d agree. Brown is one of Guitar Center’s resident “rock stars,” as the driving force behind those and other popular programs across the country.

She recently spoke with us about finding her groove in a career that perfectly suits her, how it almost didn’t happen, and some challenges she met along the way. And, naturally, we asked her to name-drop some of the interesting musician’s she’s had the opportunity to work with!

To find out more, visit guitarcenter.com.

The WiMN: Tell us a little about how you came to your current position at Guitar Center, and how would you describe your current role?

MB: My career at Guitar Center (GC) almost didn’t happen. I was in my early twenties trying to get into nursing school, interning at a music magazine, waiting tables and going to shows 3 to 4 nights a week, when someone recommended me for a spot at GC. I turned down the offer at first but called back a month later to see if it was still open, and I’ve been with GC ever since. My love for music, passion for helping others, and ability to juggle several things at once turned out to be just the right combo for a job at Guitar Center.

I first started as an assistant on the Promotions team, which evolved into event coordinating, artist relations, partnership development, and eventually program management. While at GC, I’ve had the opportunity to do everything from executing contests to pitching sponsorships, programming a radio show, booking talent and venues, developing marketing campaigns, and producing content and artist profile features.

In fact, I’ve had the chance to produce some of GC’s artist empowerment programs – Drum-Off, King of the Blues, and Get Out of the Garage, as well as our artist-driven content series, including the radio show Connections Made by Guitar Center with Nic Harcourt, our podcast & web series At Guitar Center, our TV show Guitar Center Sessions, and artist editorials.

The guiding force behind what I do at Guitar Center is supporting musicians and celebrating music, whether that’s by making it easier for musicians to get their hands on gear, giving them opportunities to further their craft, helping to extend their reach to a bigger audience, or telling their stores in a meaningful way.

The WiMN: Were you involved in music growing up, or did you have any musical influences around you?

MB: Music has always been an ever-present part of my life. I grew up in a house with a piano, took three years of lessons, was in choir, and played flute in our middle-school band. On top of that, music was just always on… tapes, CDs, the radio, MTV. My parents were avid music fans, and a shared enthusiasm and curiosity for exploring music became something I connected and bonded over with other people.

In my early 20s, my best friend at the time – who played guitar – bought me an old 1976 Fender Musicmaster bass. I think he was looking to convert me into a bandmate! We both felt fervor over much of the same music, and he encouraged me to mess around on keyboards with some of his original music. I eventually got a couple of synths of my own and practiced and experimented with his band.

Ever since, I’ve been consistently engaged with music in my life: whether making mixes for others, joining a good friend a few years back for a spell of DJ gigs, or going to concerts (this past Coachella was my 13th year in a row!).

The WiMN: Entertainment marketing and artist relations have traditionally been male-dominated areas until recent years. Have you ever faced challenges being a female in those roles? If so, how did you handle it?

MB: There’s a tendency to assume that women just play the role of an admin type. I think it’s hard for some to grasp the fact that women are capable of leadership roles. I’ve definitely been mistaken for someone’s assistant before on more than one occasion and have politely had to correct that perception.

I’ve also had some experiences with men having a hard time taking direction from women. That’s been jarring at times because it makes you second-guess yourself. I think it’s good advice to try to own what you do. Take pride in it, and have confidence – you have to be your own advocate.

The WiMN: Do you see more opportunities for women in those roles currently, and what do you attribute that to?

MB: It’s been encouraging to see more and more women taking on prominent roles and carving out their own lanes. I think more women are coming together in an ongoing effort to bring the female perspective to the table and more boldly enlighten others to the fact that we have a unique point of view and just as much to offer.

The WiMN: What advice do you have for young women looking to break into our industry in some capacity?

MB: Always be on the lookout for those golden opportunities. Find your voice and use it in a way that resonates. Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re not sure what exactly you want to do, start somewhere. Your skills and abilities should guide you, but sometimes, unfortunately, you may have to work even harder to get the same opportunities as your male counterpoints.

I’ve been guided by a spirit of service to the arts. Being able to understand what’s important and valuable to an artist while thinking strategically about how GC can further their musical ambitions has been invaluable to my role on the team. If you are genuinely excited about what you do, that can be infectious.

The WiMN: Any memorable stories working with artists that you’d like to share?

MB: I have a lot of gratitude for the things I’ve been privileged to work on at GC. One of my favorite things about working on Drum-Off over the years has been being able to do something special for the drum community and honoring drum legends with a Guitar Center RockWalk induction at the show. Each of the ones I’ve worked on (examples: Steve Jordan, Jim Keltner, Steve Ferrone, Clyde Stubblefield & Jabo Starks) have been incredibly rewarding.

Getting the opportunity to first sit down and talk with these artists and dig into their incredible life experiences and careers – then fold that into a script, take the music, photos and videos, and work with our production team to create this tribute to them at the show – has been so much fun and personally rewarding. Then getting to stand on the side of the stage while they take in the recognition they deserve, has been very touching.

The WiMN: Are there any upcoming Guitar Center events our readers may be interested in watching, attending, or participating in?

MB: We’re working on some new content initiatives to get people excited about music. They’ll provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what goes into music-making by demystifying the process, digging into the tools for shaping sounds, and recognizing how your environment impacts you creatively. Stay tuned!

Front and Center: Live Nation Marketing Manager, Raychel Sabath

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: Live Nation Marketing Manager, Raychel Sabath

By Myki Angeline

Many musicians dream of making it big in the music industry. Securing that dream recording contract. Nailing the big break with a hit single that gains a million downloads. Performing in sold out venues packed with 50,000 screaming fans – all of them singing along to every song. In order for this type of success to be maintained, an artist’s work needs the right type of marketing and promotion. It simply isn’t enough to be talented; you need the right skills and platform that will bring your music to the people.

Raychel Sabath knows the importance of marketing musicians. As the Marketing Manager with Live Nation, which boasts to be the global leader for live entertainment, her drive to bring an artist or band’s dream to fruition is truly inspiring. She recently relocated to Sacramento, California from Washington D.C. and has quickly fallen in love with their local music community. I reached out to Sabath to pick her brain for this enlightening interview via the WiMN.

WiMN: Tell us about your role as the Marketing Manager with Live Nation in Sacramento, CA (Ace of Spades).  What is a typical work day like? And what is your favorite part in this field?

RS: As a marketing manager with Live Nation Clubs & Theaters, I handle all show and brand marketing for our Sacramento clubs and theaters. So—not only do I handle Ace of Spades, I also work with Punch Line Sacramento!

The typical work day for me is atypical; I love having a job that keeps me on my toes. I handle building out unique paid advertising campaigns for our concerts and venues, scheduling press, creating ideas on fun social media campaigns, planning activations. Even helping with logistics and ops when I can.

My favorite part about working in the entertainment industry is simply knowing on a daily basis I have a part in someone’s best day ever. We have the honor of working with a variety of artists and their dedicated fans, and I love knowing that someone is experiencing a memorable night with their favorite artist in our venue. One of my favorite things is to watch a show from the artist’s perspective and to see fans connecting, singing along, and being fully immersed in the moment.

WiMN: You recently relocated to Sacramento, California. Where did you work before? What was the music scene like there, compared to Sacramento?

RS: I relocated to Sacramento from the Washington DC area. I was working with Live Nation Clubs & Theaters division there as well. In regards to the main venues, I focused on marketing with The Fillmore Silver Spring and Warner Theatre. However, there were many third party venues I had the opportunity to collaborate with as well.

The music scene in DC is pretty strong, but like any market it always ebbs and flows.

What impresses me about the Sacramento scene, is that there is an extremely active community behind it.

WiMN: What influenced you to work in the music industry?

RS: I think everyone is initially starry eyed about the idea of working in the entertainment industry. For me, it was the behind the scenes efforts that really sucked me in. On any given event, club sized or arena, there is a team of people helping to book, market, and build that show. There are so many thankless jobs – and those are the ones that really make the show happen.

WiMN: What sets Live Nation apart from the rest?

RS: Live Nation is unique because of the people that are part of our team! Yes, we are the world’s largest live entertainment company, but in order to maintain that status we have to have a solid team.

An awesome team needs a worthy leader. Our CEO Michael Rapino is an amazing human being. He does a great job making sure employees have access to excellent benefits and programs, including tuition assistance, a Sabbatical Program, and even paid time off to volunteer your time with a community organization.

WiMN: Tell us about your role as the Sr. Producer at HeyDays Vintage TV. How did this project come about?

RS: HeyDays Vintage TV is a fun project that I’ve worked on with my cousin, Nico. She is passionate about all things vintage and retro. She looped me in when she was developing the show and helped me further develop my video production experience. I also got to appear as talent on a few segments, being on camera is not as easy as some people make it look! Definitely a fun experience, I love producing content and video.

WiMN: Do you play any musical instruments?

RS: The piano and guitar, but it’s been a minute!

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?

RS: Overall, I’ve had a positive experience as a woman in the music industry. I think the biggest challenge is getting started – sometimes you really have to work harder, be faster, be better, and be funnier than all the guys. But, the industry isn’t as much of the old boys club that it used to be. You’d be amazed at the strong women that are the backbone of the entertainment industry. I’m pleased to see diversity among my colleagues and contemporaries, and this definitely contributes to the high quality of work that is produced.

WiMN: Where did you grow up and who are some of your mentors and icons who helped influence your path into the music industry?

RS: I grew up in Maryland, and went to school in Northern Virginia. The DC area is definitely what I consider home.

Honestly, the biggest influence of my path into the music industry when I was growing up was our local music scene. There was a large, strong community of local musicians and fans. We were our own music incubator. As a community, bands were formed, shows were booked, There were marketing campaigns, and everyone came out to support. This solidified my dedication to my career path.

My biggest mentor has been Dr. Lisa Passaglia Bauman. She is without a doubt one of the most interesting humans that I have the pleasure of calling a mentor and friend. She encouraged me to pursue a second degree on a topic I was just plain passionate about [art history]. She has always taken the time to grab coffee and discuss life and career goals, always accompanied by some sound guidance on how to handle a variety of situations.

WiMN: Do you have any advice you would like to share with other women who are considering a career in the music industry?

My advice is for everyone. Dedicate yourself. Be passionate. Be proactive. Ask questions. Remember small things matter. Never stop learning and always be open to constructive criticism. Take responsibility for positive and negative situations. And above all: be a good communicator. Communication –  good communication –  is key to success in any industry.

10 Tips For Aspiring Musicians by the Command Sisters

19 and 22 year old sister duo, known as the Command Sisters, have been performing together for over 10 years. No strangers to the music industry, the young duo have been on many adventures with their career! Touring Shanghai, being invited to meet Prince William and Princess Kate, and performing at our She Rocks Awards!

As indie artists, social media fanatics, and overall music lovers – they have learned lots in their short career span.

Here are 10 tips for aspiring musicians by the Command Sisters!

1.) Never doubt your age.

For years, people told us we were too young. Now, they are warning us about getting too old!!

When an older musician/industry individual looks down on you because of your age, laugh it off and move on.

Charlotte and I really started getting inspired and motivated when we focussed solely on ourselves and our own vision. Blinders on and move forward!

Everybody has the same opportunities. It’s up to you to go up and grab them! Regardless of age or gender!

2.) Two words: social media.

Almost every second day we have musician friends asking us about social media!

It can be hard as an artist to dedicate the time and commit to a strong social media presence.

But I promise you, it has transformed our career!

Think about this: how many famous artists do you know of that you’ve never seen physically in person? Feels like you know them, right? That’s the power of the media!

There are millions of fans, friends, and inspiration at your fingertips! You should definitely utilize social media.

3.) Treat your music as a business.

For some, this can be the most stressful part of being an musician. But trust me, it can be fun!

I would suggest going to the library and picking up multiple music business/branding books.

Read your favorite artists success stories and get inspired!

The reason why I say branding books is because that’s how we found our identity.
How will people remember you? Do you dress a certain way? Do you look like how your music sounds? Maybe you always wear this one type of hat or wear sunglasses!

Basically: How can you make people recognize you in a crowd of other musicians?
I like to push out this brand on social media 24/7! It’s a great way for people to know what kind of artist you are at first glance.

4.) Business may be cool, but the music is always #1!

At the end of the day, you are using social media as a free advertising tool for one thing: YOUR MUSIC! Prioritizing your time to fit in the important stuff is key. I would write down a list of 3 things you need to work on in order to get to that next step. (Whether thats guitar playing, vocal practice, or songwriting!)

Everyday work a little bit on these skills simultaneously with social media. Use social media to push out the talent you’ve been working so hard on! You cannot have just one or the other.

#5: DON’T TAKE IT SO SERIOUSLY!

OK – so to totally contradict everything I just said: don’t take everything so seriously.
Minus the stress, being an artist can be so exciting. You’re able to be constantly creating!

Music videos, photo shoots, branding, music, yourself!

You can create an alternate universe that people can get excited about! How amazing is that!

Have fun creating your world so your friends/fans can live in it!

If you aren’t having fun, they won’t!

#6: Always. Thank. Everyone.

If someone says good job on a new cover or messages you a compliment, try to make time to appreciate every single one of those people!

Everybody has their own life to worry about. It’s amazing when someone takes the time out of their day to support you and your passion!

It always blows my mind.

Make them feel appreciated/loved as much as you can because without them music just isn’t as fun!! Why release your music to a crowd of 1!

#7: Surround yourself with open minded people 🙂

As musicians, we’re weird. Like, really weird. Super expressive, we always say what’s on our minds, and we love geeking out over people like Hanz Zimmer or Joe Satriani.

Growing up, we surrounded ourselves with people who didn’t understand the music industry. It was really hard being understood and accepted.

Being in a community of people that inspire you is key! Try finding like-minded friends by joining a local music club or going out to open mics!

#8: Decide the “why” in your career.

Let’s face it… this has got to be the hardest one of all.

The truth is: for us (and many many musicians), we aren’t creating for “fame.”
Forming projects and writing music is something that we’re programmed to do.

Music has so much purpose, and it matters. Your music can matter too!

#9: Take constructive criticism but be VERY cautious.

There has been so much (potentially dangerous) advice that we have been given over the years.

If you know yourself, your heart, and your vision – that’s all that matters!

With that being said, advice is awesome! Take what you want and ignore the rest. Again, don’t take it so seriously!

#10: It’s up to YOU!

So many people (including ourselves years ago) think that if they will get signed that’s when their career begins.

No different than people going to university, you need experience.

Play a million shows, record albums, work on your social media, and have a BLAST!

Don’t wait for industry to find you before you start taking your career seriously. Because, they will see that you ​aren’t ​taking your career very seriously! Work hard, love what you do, and strive to make every day more productive than the last.

Connect and learn more about the Command Sisters on their social media platforms:

● Instagram: ​http://bit.ly/2ipJAi1

● Facebook: ​http://bit.ly/2lEisxs

● Website: ​www.commandsisters.com

Front and Center: Artist and Multi-Instrumentalist, ZZ Ward

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: Artist and Multi-Instrumentalist, ZZ Ward

By Laura B Whitmore

Critically acclaimed artist and multi-instrumentalist ZZ Ward is set to release her second full-length album, The Storm, on June 30. The Storm summons the ghosts of ZZ’s chief inspirations such as Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Big Mama Thornton, while echoing over soundscapes situated between gritty hip-hop bounce and moody guitar-and-harmonica riffs.

With a soul-shaking voice and incendiary guitar and harmonica chops, ZZ Ward has consistently delivered powerful neo-blues steeped in hip-hop swagger since the release of her breakout mixtape, Eleven Roses.

2012’s full-length debut, Til The Casket Drops, boasted raucous bluesy anthems like the title track and “Put The Gun Down,” which racked up over 7.4 million Spotify streams and counting, claimed a spot in the Top 10 of AAA radio for 10 weeks, and landed high-profile syncs in the box office smash We’re The Millers, among others. The album also featured standout collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs.

Ward is currently on tour in support of this new release. Here we sat down with the supremely talented ZZ to talk about the inspiration for The Storm and more! 

ZZ Ward’s latest album, The Storm, will release on June 30. Find out more at zzward.com

The WiMN: So this album was a very personal direction for you. Was this a cleansing of the demons?

ZW: Yes, it really was for me. I had found inspiration through some of my past relationships and things that didn’t work out. You know, you break up with people, and I had been moving so fast that I hadn’t really had a chance to address a lot of stuff. So this album really was a cleaning out my closet and facing my demons.

The WiMN: Do you feel like, ok, even though you are going to have to play these songs for the rest of your life, that now you can move to a new place?

ZW: Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be in a different place, but the good thing about me is that I do make more out of less. There are pros and cons to that. When you’re a songwriter it’s good because you think about things so much, and they become kind of monumental in your mind. And with that comes the ability to capture a moment.

The WiMN: The songs are so personal but they feel so universal. Do you keep a journal?

ZW: I don’t keep a journal. But I think that sometimes things get stirred up after a relationship is over. You see that person, or you are reminded of all the feelings you once felt for that person. It might be different with each song, but usually if I feel something like that I quickly go to write the song, because I know that you have to capture it when it’s that raw feeling. Because if you wait too long then you are not in that moment any more. So with this things were just stirred up, and as soon as I felt something I tried to capture it.

The WiMN: Your groove is an important part of what makes your songs feel so different. What is your songwriting process like? Do you start with a groove or work on lyrics first?

ZW: It’s different with every song. Sometimes I’ll start with a lyrical idea and a concept. Once you’ve figured out the concept for a song I think the rest is downhill. Because really you can have a great melody, but if you don’t have a feeling or an emotion behind the song, then it’s not special enough for me. So for me it’s usually concept first, but sometimes it will start with a melody that just gives me a certain feeling that will connect with me to tell a certain story over it. I think that’s the beauty of songwriting. You really never have full control over it. You’re almost out of control when you’re writing, and that’s what’s so challenging about it. It’s not like a skill that you get down so good that you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got it.” It keeps you on the edge of your seat! And that’s the highs and lows of being an artist, too.

The WiMN: Let’s talk about gear for a minute. What’s your go to guitar?

ZW: I play two different guitars. I play a Collings acoustic/electric. I love it. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever played. It has a really nice, deep sound to it and I love the way it feels on my hands when I play it. It’s a beautiful guitar. And then I also play a Fender – it’s a white Stratocaster – which is also just a great guitar. I love the sound out of it. So those are my two babies.

The WiMN: Tell me a little bit about how you got into playing guitar and writing.

ZW: Songwriting I got into through my dad. He was a songwriter and always encouraged me to be creative and supported that. I started writing pretty young, maybe 12 or 13. I used to sit at the piano at my aunt’s house and come up with melodies on piano. I was encouraged to be creative and as a kid, and when you are encouraged to do that, that’s all you need to just kind of go for it.

I got into guitar a little later. I started learning to play when I was 17. My guitar instructor was in the blues band that I was in growing up. He was a great teacher. I think he was also the vice principal of my school. So instead of going to lunch I would go into his office and get a guitar lesson. He was a really cool guy. And I tried to learn everything that I could, really knowing that I use a guitar to help me write songs. It gives me a foundation to help me be creative.

The WiMN: I was thinking about why your songs sound so special. You took the blues and brought it to a new place. Who are your more modern influences?

ZW: I would say my modern influences are people that are influenced by older music and have a way of making that contemporary. And have a way of keeping it authentic. I think some examples of people that have done that are The Black Keys and Alabama Shakes. I think I’m most influenced by people like that because I think that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m very into the blues, and so how do you make that work with a very old form of music and make it work for what’s going on right now? And so I think that anyone who can do that and also keep it authentic is a real influence on me.

The WiMN: Do you write a song that feels more traditional and then just funk it up? Or does it come out that way?

ZW: It depends on what it is. Sometimes if I’ve written a song that feels good in a traditional sense I can sit down and play it on guitar or I can play it with a band, and I know that it would feel good, then I know that when I go in with a producer that I need to make it special. That’s where I add my hip-hop flavor or whatever it is. If the song is good by itself with just guitar, vocal, piano, then the rest is just a calculation of finding the right person to produce it and makes the most sense in bringing your vision to life.

The WiMN: I love how your music introduces a new generation to this classic genre of the blues.

ZW: I did a Son House cover of “Grinnin’ in Your Face” on the last tour and someone came up to me and they had a tattoo of “Don’t You Mind People Grinnin’ in Your Face” on their arm. And I was like, “Woah, great tattoo!” And they said, “I got it after you introduced me to Son House.” And that was a really cool feeling!

Front and Center: Sr. Manager Education Division, Korg USA Tiffany Stalker

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: Sr. Manager Education Division, Korg USA Tiffany Stalker

By Laura Whitmore


Many of us have heard studies that demonstrate how kids who learn music do better in other areas of life, including academics, behavior, responsibility, and confidence. Couple that with today’s exciting music technology offerings, and you have a winning formula for motivating new students to learn about music. However, all too often, budget cuts force schools to downsize or eliminate their school music programs. And that’s where a select group of music industry companies, non-profits, and leaders such as Tiffany Stalker come into play, to address this important topic.

Stalker is the senior manager of the Education Division of Korg USA, where she has the opportunity to help schools learn about and incorporate technology into their programs, while also developing programs and creating awareness for ways in which schools can obtain funding to keep their music programs strong. The goal is to impact the lives of children in a positive way through music, while enabling our music industry to grow in future generations, which is something she’s very passionate about.

As a strong music education advocate, Stalker is also very active in publicly promoting strong music programs and touting the benefits of incorporating technology. She can be seen attending the NAMM organization’s Music Education Advocacy Fly-in sessions in Washington D.C., sitting on the board of TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators), and out in the field at music education conferences and speaking engagements.

For more info, visit education.korg.com.

The WiMN: Please share some of your background. How did you initially become involved with promoting music education?

TS: As a child, I played multiple instruments both in the classroom and through private lessons, so I know what a positive impact music can have on a child. When the opportunity arose at Korg to help create opportunities for more music in the classroom, I was excited to be a part of it. I’ve always been passionate about building brands, and by nature am very competitive, so those two qualities motivate me to think outside the box and collaborate with Korg and others to create more music makers.

The WiMN: Were you a music lover or surrounded by music growing up?

TS: Yes! Beyond playing instruments, there was lots of music in our house. One of my fondest childhood memories is what we now refer to as “Saturday Morning Records” – back when people played actual records and it wasn’t just a novelty. My dad had an amazing collection of some of the greats – Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, Al Jarrreau, Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, Styx and many more. Each Saturday we’d wake up to something new and fun to listen to.

The WiMN: You’re responsible for many aspects of your division. Tell us about some of your responsibilities.

TS: I’m fortunate to work for a great leadership team. We collaborate on ideas to grow our outreach in schools, assist our dealers to have an impact locally, and create programs to help music educators provide a great student learning environment. I’ve had the opportunity to lead our development team in creating a new successful hardware/software lab system, I get to work with our brand managers to create innovative approaches to selling products in the school market, and develop programs like our Keys for Kids Fundraising Program to help schools raise money specifically for music programs through direct donations.

I also manage SoundTree and the great team that works so diligently to increase music technology in schools via labs, studios, and other installation projects. I love that the scope of the job is wide! It allows me to creatively address our schools’ specific needs to help them overcome challenges and ultimately put more music in the classroom.

The WiMN: How did you develop your audio technology skill set, and how has that benefited the schools you serve?

TS: I had a small amount of tech background before starting at Korg, and honestly, I found audio technology intimidating at first. Over the years, through mentors and experts, I’ve gleaned enough knowledge to confidently tell educators, ‘If I can do it, you can too!’ The best thing about today’s technology is that it’s easier than ever to use, implement and teach. Many music educators aren’t quite sure how to integrate tech, but it’s a necessity for the longevity and growth of sustainable programs. Kids thrive on technology and it’s hard for them to imagine doing anything without it. We’ve heard countless success stories from failing programs that experienced revival by integrating something as simple as an iPad. Add some electronic instruments, speakers, a DAW and a microphone, and magic happens! There are many great funding opportunities available for technology that our music educators need to take advantage of to invigorate their programs.

TheWiMN: While the general education field has traditionally been female-dominated, the general music industry tends to be male-dominated. Have you faced any challenges as a female in music education marketing, or is the playing field more level in your scenario?

TS: First and foremost, I’m a mom to four beautiful, talented children who inspire me to make a difference every day. When I go to work – whether it’s at the office, a school, or a conference – I don’t really see the male vs. female challenges typically seen in other industries or markets. I see amazing people who are passionate about teaching music and making sure the arts are strong for future generations. In this field there’s also a different effect, because my kids give me credibility. They’re my sounding boards for new ideas, they’re my beta testers for lesson plans or new program ideas, and they give me the confidence to say we’ve tried it and it works.

The WiMN: What advice would you give young women starting out and trying to acclimate to a position somewhere in our music industry?

TS: Patience. This industry is unique in that we’re surrounded by musicians who are extremely passionate about what they do and have been doing it for a long time. Take your time and appreciate their wisdom, learn from anyone you can, and prepare to be the newbie for at least five years. I’m also a huge advocate of networking and facilitating introductions. When you’re somewhere new, don’t be afraid to ask a co-worker to connect the dots. Once you get a feel for where you are, it can end up being a small world, and it’s fun to get to know people. Stick your hand out and introduce yourself.

The WiMN: Why is outside support for music education more important than ever? Is there anything our readers can do to help support this cause?

TS: In today’s political environment, it’s more important than ever to make sure your local and state government knows you care about adequate funding for school music programs. As federal education budgets get cut, we’re seeing programs wither away and entire schools do away with music. That is unacceptable if we expect our industry to grow and thrive, and it’s up to us as industry professionals to do what we can to help these programs stay strong. Elementary music, middle school orchestra, high school marching band – they all feed into remarkable programs that transform students into effective leaders.

If I could inspire readers to make a difference, I’d encourage them to find a local organization that could use help. Carve out a few hours a month and get involved. I’d also challenge readers to learn what their state is doing to implement the new ESSA Federal Education Law. This has a localized impact, so letting your local representatives know you care about music as part of a well-rounded education might benefit your neighborhood schools right away. NAMM’s Support Music Coalition also has some amazing outreach tools.