Breedlove Guitars Announces Dustin Lynch Giveaway Contest

A unique Twitter contest offering 26 chances to win!

Breedlove Guitars announces a unique contest in partnership with Platinum-selling country music star Dustin Lynch and 26 Breedlove dealers. Every Tuesday, between March 7 and the end of August, 2017, Lynch will be tweeting the name and location of a participating Breedlove dealer. The first person to arrive at the store and mention the contest will win a Breedlove Discovery Concert Sitka Spruce – Mahogany guitar featuring a pickguard autographed by Lynch. They will also be registered to win the contest’s grand prize.

This amazing custom beauty was designed by The Guitar Sanctuary.

One grand prize winner will receive a VIP Experience package for one of Dustin Lynch’s 2017 shows on Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots tour. The package includes: two tickets to a show of the winner’s choosing* and a backstage VIP experience, plus airfare for two and hotel for one night (if necessary).

Suitable for beginners through experienced players, Breedlove Discovery Concert Sitka Spruce – Mahogany guitars feature a solid Sitka spruce top and Mahogany back, sides and neck, along with an East Indian rosewood fretboard and a natural gloss finish.

To learn more, visit Breedlove Guitars website HERE.

For more on Dustin Lynch, visit his website HERE.

Click below to watch Dustin Lynch's video for "Small Town Boy"!

San Francisco Bay Area Bassist Diana Rey Plays The Music Of Queen

By Carl J Mancuso

Carl J. Mancuso is a graduate of Louisiana State University (Journalism) and the University of Central Florida.  He has published music articles on Blogcritics.org featuring Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Girl in a Coma, The Dollyrots, and others. He is a strong advocate for promoting Women in Music via Upswing PR and his concert series, "Ladies Rise Up and Rock," which has donated funds for music education in Northern California and Oregon through The Grammy Organization and Rock Camp for Girls. He resides in Birmingham, Alabama.

A self-described geek about all things related to bass, Diana and I hit it off immediately.  Within minutes, her voice conveyed her vast knowledge of bass techniques, songs, and gear.  At the same time, seeing her perform on stage revealed a perpetual smile and joyful happiness, splendid musicianship, and a love for her band mates in The Killer Queens, the world’s only all-female Queen tribute band.  Founded in 2011 by lead vocalist Nina Noir and guitarist Joyce Kuo, the current lineup of the band features Noir on lead vocals; Diana on bass/vocals; Nichole Boaz, keyboards/vocals; Lindy Day, guitars/vocals; and Karla Downey, drums, percussion, and vocals.

Visit The Killer Queens website here.

CJM: A lot of folks probably don’t realize that you are also a very talented keyboardist.  Given that you started out on piano first, how long have you been playing bass and what beckoned you to embrace it so much?

DR: I'll start out with the story my mom tells everyone about when she realized she had a little musician on her hands. When I was four, she put on a Sesame Street album and went into the next room. A bit later, she returned to find me on the piano, jamming along in key as if I was part of the band on the recording. One of my favorite things to do at that age was to sing, play the piano, and put on silly shows for my family where I forced everyone and anyone to sit down and watch me be a ham. I did costume changes, choreography, the works! In response to all this, my parents started me in piano lessons when I turned 5, so I continued to train classically until the age of 12. I'm kicking myself for quitting piano then, of course. At that time, I began playing flute for a year and switched to clarinet the following year, performing in my middle school's band. A few years later, I discovered my spirit animal, the bass guitar. It's a bit odd that I read music and tabs but I definitely prefer to learn music by ear. For me, playing by ear is nearly instantaneous and definitely instinctual, whereas sheet music takes me some time to absorb and translate back onto the instrument.

CJM:  How and where did you learn how to play bass?

DR: Three places. In my room with the radio on, I'd figure out the chord progression and jam along with any song that aired. For 7 years, I played bass every week in my church band during mass. In my friend Liz's garage for something like 10 years with a band that consisted of me, Liz, her brother, and her cousin. I took a lesson one time and found it to be a waste of time, but I know now he was just the wrong teacher for me. Technically I'm self-taught, but really my teachers were a regular practice routine, the experience of being in a garage band, and the bassists who played on the recordings I studied. I read Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code about how it takes time, passion, and lots of focused rehearsal hours to master a skill. I definitely put in my time jamming and performing in front of people.

CJM: Who are some of the musicians who have inspired you and have had the greatest impact on your approach to bass?

DR: John Deacon, Flea, Nik West, Tony Kanal of No Doubt, Geddy Lee, Paul McCartney, Cliff Burton, Jaco Pastorius, Lee Rocker, Esperanza Spalding, Victor Wooten, and Tal Wilkenfeld. This isn't in any particular order, just random as they came to my head. Don't ask me to rank these players! When you're talking about the greatest of the great players, they're so unique and talented that it's hard to compare skill level. I think at the top levels, it's more a matter of musical taste. But what sets these guys apart from the rest, is how unique and groundbreaking their playing and performing style is. My favorite female bassists include: Nik West, Catherine Popper, Esperanza Spalding, Tal Wilkenfeld, Angeline Saris, Ariane Cap, and Anna Sentina.

CJM: What specific challenges do you face as a female bassist and what are some advantages?

DR: Challenges - The music industry has historically been very male dominated, and so I long to see more women filling roles both onstage and behind the scenes. There's more of that going on now than before, so that's really exciting. I have two kids and I can see first hand why women may take time out of pursuing a music career to take care of the home front. Other female musicians can be really challenging. We can be each other's best supporters and each other's worst critics. I've worked with both kinds and some that are in between. It's pretty deflating to feel like one of my musical sisters is trying to bring me or anyone else down, because that is so not what I'm about. I want to see other women killing it onstage and support them. In the past year and a half especially, I've learned to grow a thick skin and be careful who I take criticism from.

Advantages - It's rad to surprise people when I get on a stage and they see I'm the bass player and singer, instead of just the lead singer. The stereotypes are changing as more and more women are playing instruments in addition to singing. Another advantage to being a she-bassist is connecting to other women in the audience. I look out into the crowd and I see the ladies looking at me and loving that I play a guitar and play it well. I can tell they feel empowered by it because they come up right in front of my spot on the stage and rock out with me, giving me lots of love. I also hope that I'm showing other chicks (including little girls at my all ages shows) how to rock like a girl. When young girls come up to me after a show to chat, I always ask if they play any instruments and if the answer is no, I encourage them to pick up an instrument and play!

The Killer Queens are: (Left to Right)- Nichole Boaz (Spike Edna), Diana Rey (Joan Deacon), Nina Noir (Frederica Mercury), Lindy Day (Brianna May), and Karla Downey (Regina Taylor)

CJM: What tips/advice would you give to aspiring bassists on how to navigate through the music business and promote harmony in a band?

DR: I am a huge believer in the team mentality. In a harmonious group, each member feels like they add value and bring their skills, experience, and wisdom to the table. I've seen time and time again that bands succeed when they work together as equals for a shared goal.  Bands fall apart when any one or all members act as individuals only looking out for themselves, and acting like they alone are the reason for a band's success. If we uplift and appreciate each other, we can fly higher. Together, we either fall or fly high. Sounds hokey, but this is the truth.

Balance is the other crucial element. My love for music and my love for family and friends are the two most important parts of me. Don't ask me to choose between them. I draw inspiration for my music from my personal life, and the music helps me blow off steam and process what's going on offstage. If it weren't for my family, I'd be a workaholic musician and I wouldn't have a life outside of that. I've seen so many times how important it is to have something going on in your life outside of your music because it can be easy to get completely consumed with the passion and drama of life in a band. My family helps me let go, focus on other things, and not take everything that happens in my bands and music career so seriously.

CJM:  As a musician, is there anything you have learned in the last year that you wish you had known when you first started playing bass?

DR: I definitely had a tough lesson to learn this past year about believing in myself and recognizing that I have to carefully evaluate what a person's motivation is in giving an artist negative feedback. So often when people criticize you, it has nothing to do you with you and everything to do with them being uncomfortable with themselves. Since they won't accept and then work on their inner demons, they lash outward in the hopes that it will distance them from their fears and insecurities. This lesson applies to all aspects of life, not just music. So if I could hop into a time machine, I'd tell my 16 year old self that I have every right to believe in myself and ignore the critics. If I'd known back then where I'd be today, I would have chosen a different path during my college years and gone to Berklee to study, perform, and write music.

CJM: Did you start out on upright bass in high school?  Can you explain why Brian May joked about using an upright bass on the song?  Explain what you like most about playing the upright bass on stage?

DR: Upright bass on stage adds so much to the look of the band. It's like having another band member up there! The Cremona is bigger than me for sure. I like to do upright bass tricks because it also adds a fun visual effect to a show. During "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," I lean the upright bass over a bit and kneel down to brace it with my knee so that Nina Noir (our Frederica Mercury) sits on the side of the bass while singing to the crowd. It's always fun to show off like that. Definitely a photo op moment, and the bass trick is fitting for this song because it's Queen's rockabilly song. I started playing upright bass back in 2012 because I joined an all-girl rockabilly band, so it's fun to throw that vibe into our set for a song. I had always wanted to play upright, but finally when I joined the rockabilly group (Pedals & Pistols), I had an excuse to buy one and perform with it. Queen was very showy and theatrical, so I think they'd approve of the upright bass making an appearance and giving me and Noir the opportunity to do some upright bass tricks on stage.

The Killer Queens pose with The WiMN Founder, Laura B. Whitmore at the NAMM Show.

CJM: The Killer Queens have been really busy in the last three years, playing at NAMM, at Giants Stadium prior to a major league baseball game for the San Francisco Giants, and playing in various venues in Northern California and Nevada.  Nina mentioned that you were also invited to play in Detroit for a Queen convention.  What is on tap in the immediate future for The Killer Queens as far as touring is concerned?

DR: We're hoping to play for more audiences and venues in the US and eventually around the world. Currently we've been playing more in the wine country area of Northern California, but we also hope to play soon in the northern west coast. We'll keep you updated on our website The Killer Queens, as well as our Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

CJM: Not long ago you told me that you were working on a solo album.  How far along are you in the process of getting that material recorded and released?  More importantly, how would you describe the texture and feel of the songs you have written for the project?

DR: This is definitely a work in progress! Right now I'm listening to and inspired by tons and tons of Queen, Sara Bareilles, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Alabama Shakes, No Doubt, Imelda May, Miranda Lambert, Amanda Palmer, The Beatles, Etta James, Meghan Trainor, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Florence + The Machine, Muse, and The Pretty Reckless. I love so many genres such as blues, classic rock, rockabilly, soul, country, and alternative. I also sing barbershop with Bay Area Showcase Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, and I adore the use of harmony in songs. So I wouldn't at all mind if my work sounds like some kind of mashup of these artists and genres. We'll see. It's really in the infant writing stages right now and I have no sense for how long it's going to take. I have lyrics for days already written down, and so now it's just a matter of putting it to music. I need a producer, so if anyone wants to work with me, give me a call.

CJM: Ok, one last question for you.  There are a lot of bassists out there that struggle with singing and playing bass simultaneously.  However, I have found that Paul McCartney and Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles, Poco) have really mastered it.  How do you get to the point where it becomes second nature along with the bass?  I’m guessing that one way is to learn how to speak in sentences while playing bass slowly and eventually playing faster, perhaps with a metronome.  True?

DR: This is a great issue to bring up because playing bass and singing is NOT easy! For the longest time, I thought it was just not going to happen for me and that I was the only one who struggled with this. Now I know it's a common issue for a bassist. Much more so than for any other instrument such as piano or guitar. On bass, you're thinking of two different note sequences and rhythms, not to mention voicing with finesse through both instruments. I think the talking while playing to a metronome exercise you mentioned is a great idea! I'm going to try that. I tend to practice my singing and bass parts together slowly until it seems weird to play the part without singing as well. Depending on the song (ie not Queen's "You're My Best Friend"), singing backup vocals is very doable for me, but I hope to someday be able to sing lead and play bass. As with anything, putting in hours of practice will result in progress. So keep working on it and don't give up!

CJM: Diana, it has been a pleasure talking with you today.  I have known about The Killer Queens for a long time, and I was very pleased to hang out with you and the band in San Francisco.  Keep on rocking the low end.

DR: Thanks Carl! I always dig talking with you - you're a dear friend to me and the rest of The Killer Queens. Let's hang out again soon and you keep rocking the low end, too.

Below are The Killer Queens Live at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA:

Front and Center: SIR Nashville General Manager, Laura Ford

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 Nashville General Manager, Laura Ford

By Leslie Buttonow

For those not familiar, SIR (Studio Instrument Rentals) is the nation’s premier provider of musical instruments/gear rentals and rehearsal facilities for musicians preparing for music tours or TV appearances, as well as for major festivals. They are located in most major cities across the country, and Nashville is no exception. Laura Ford has worked at this location for the past 29 years, first as their office manager, and then after a few years, as their first and only female general manager – a position she holds to this day.

Although SIR Nashville is located in the heart of “Music City,” they serve a territory that spans far and wide, including cities such as Dallas, Charleston, New Orleans and Detroit, delivering gear rentals directly to a wide array of performance venues. With that kind of responsibility and geographical coverage — and the ever-changing nature of tour productions — they need someone who can stay organized and exemplify the expression “grace under pressure.” Luckily, Laura Ford is just that person.

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

The WiMN: You’ve been driving the bus at SIR Nashville for quite some time. What are some of the day-to-day business areas you’re responsible for, and how many people are on the team at your location?

LF: There are 15 of us altogether. I do a lot of paperwork and accounting, but I also research and make a lot of the purchasing decisions, and do research on touring and recording trends to keep up with the equipment demand.

The WiMN: What are some things you feel have kept you successful in your career over the years? Any particular habits, skills or personality traits you find especially helpful?

LF: For one, you have to be a complete crazy person with multi-tasking. You have to stay calm with everything that's thrown at you. Nothing stays as planned, and so every moment, you need to think about how to solve problems. Shows and tours hardly go off as planned, but if you can get everything to work at the end with minimal stress for everyone involved, then you've done your job well.

The WiMN: SIR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – that’s a LOT of artist support! Are there any favorite artists you’ve worked with during your time there, or stories you’d like to share?

LF: In my 29 years, I have a ton of stories. Once I came around the corner of the hallway at our facility and ran into Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings comparing open heart surgery scars. They turned to me with their shirts open and asked me whose scar looked better. Yeah, I told them to button it up; I wasn't going there! Ha ha!

Another time we had a big snow here in Nashville. I let all my employees leave to get home and I was waiting for the last order to cancel. Eddie Money walks in the door complaining about the Nashville drivers in the snow. He had called to have someone pick him up because he didn't want to drive with all the crazies, and he proceeded to tell me that I needed to shovel so people could get in our parking lot. I told him it was fine and that it would be gone tomorrow. Just then, the phone rings and it's my last customer cancelling their order. When I got off the phone, I was looking for Eddie to find out when his ride was coming. He wasn't in the lobby or in the back. I looked outside to check if he was there, only to see that Eddie Money had grabbed our shovel and was shoveling our parking lot!

That's just two of many...

The WiMN: Working with all of those artists, tight deadlines and last minute requests must be stressful at times. How do you and your team keep your cool during those times and work through it together?

LF: I think for the most part, I keep my staff calm because I stay calm. I always remind them that getting upset only hurts them and doesn't get the job done. Plus at this point, I think we are all used to it.

The WiMN: What has your experience been like as a woman in the industry––any challenges you’ve had to overcome?

LF: When I first started, I really was the only woman in a higher position in this end of the business – the male-dominated end of the business. So there are always challenges; unfortunately, even now. You have to do it right and do more without complaining. Then you earn the respect of the male counterparts. But it’s great to see that there are a lot more women in my end of the business now.

The WiMN: Any advice for young ladies looking to break into the performance side or business side of the music industry?

LF: Definitely go to school and remember as a woman you have to do it right and do more. Once you earn the respect of the males, then the playing field is even – sad but true.

The WiMN: Are there any big tours or festivals you’re preparing for currently that we can expect to see in the spring or summer?

LF: Our two huge events we do in June are Bonnaroo and Firefly Festival. They’re a very big undertaking, but very satisfying when all goes well.

Front And Center: Blues Rock Guitarist, Samantha Fish

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: Blues Rock Guitarist, Samantha Fish

By Laura B. Whitmore and Myki Angeline

Guitarist Samantha Fish, best known as a blues player, ventured into a different sound with the release of her fourth solo album, Chills & Fever (Ruf Records). The record was released on March 17.

Collaborating with members of the blues/punk band Detroit Cobras, and adding a New Orleans horn section, Fish puts a new spin on classic soul songs from the '50s and '60s including covers of "Hello Stranger" by The Capitols, and "Hurt's All Gone" by Irma Thomas.

The album has already received rave reviews from The Huffington Post and more. Guitar World said, “Chock full of swampy guitars, New Orleans-style horns and fronted by Fish’s powerful, blues-tinged vocals, I can’t think of a better representation of this story of regret.”

We caught up with Fish to discuss her inspiration behind the album, and find out what it was like to move into this new direction. She also shares her experiences working as a woman in the music industry, and the steady rise of women in music.

You can purchase Chills & Fever on her website here.

WIMN: Let's talk about your new album. What prompted you to move in this direction?

SF: To me, it was a logical evolution of the band. I have so many different influences that make me who I am as a musician, and right now in the trio, soul music has played such a big part of my vocal style. My favorite singers are soul singers – it's the stuff I try to emulate when I am singing, so it made sense to me to pull more of that into an album. We had the opportunity to pick from really great songs!

WIMN: How did you select the songs for the new album?

SF: It was a mix of songs between me and the producer, Bobby Harlow. Bobby knew of all of these incredible '50s and '60s girl groups like the Ronettes, and he pulled together some really incredible material – obscure stuff that I hadn't heard before. We sent music back and forth for months saying "check this out!" before whittling it down. I am a huge Nina Simone fan, so a Nina song got on the record. "Crow Jane" by Skip James is on there as well. I know that's not soul, but to me It felt like a cool song that needed to be redone. Not to make it sound like we were rigid in our perimeters in picking material; we wanted great songs we could redo with a horn section and keys. We featured members of the Detroit Cobras, so the sound is like Detroit soul/punk rock band meets New Orleans horns, and whatever the hell I'm doing. It was just fun!

Not to make it sound like we were rigid in our perimeters in picking material, we just wanted great songs we could redo with a horn section and keys. We featured members of the Detroit Cobras, so the sound is like Detroit soul/punk rock band meets New Orleans horns, and whatever the hell I'm doing. It was just fun!

WIMN: Do you think there is a growing appreciation for this style of music?

SF: I think so. I definitely think people are digging back into the older class of music like this because it's good, it's timeless, and it doesn't go out of style. Over time it seems like people end up going back to the things that are tried and true, so if there is another resurgence of that, it makes sense to me.

WIMN: Your guitar sounds amazing. Can you tell us a little about the gear you are playing with?

SF: I am in such a gear transition right now! I have so many cool guitars, but my main axe is the Delaney guitar, which is a custom build that I have been playing for years. I have also been playing a new model SG which I am really in love with. For my acoustic sets, I play with a Taylor guitar, and then of course I have my favorite cigar box guitars – they're a mess! My favorite one I am holding together with duct tape. I have people come and give them to me all the time. It's the coolest, sweetest thing, but I am so attached to the one that I play, that I just keep taping it back up. Right now I am looking at getting a Jaguar, and I am getting another Delaney custom made (a 335 or 339). This is the year I am expanding my guitar arsenal.

WIMN: Would you say your approach to what you are playing and your tone changed for this new album?

SF: We were doing it all on vintage gear for this album, like Supro amps and really crazy old tube amps I had never even heard of before. They had tiny wattage and we would just crank them up. We had a lot of fun using vintage amps. I used my guitars and just dialed them to different tones. I got a guitar tech last year, and I had never used pedals before, EVER. I just wasn't a pedal person. I would just plug into a tuner, and then into a big amp.  It was just about the amp, and the guitar for me. Slowly but surely my new guitar tech would say things like, "oh, you should try this Octave pedal. It's going to sound bad ass!"  I fell in love with it because it was fun. I used Tremelo and Octave pedals on this album too.

WIMN: Will you be touring with the Detroit Cobras? Are you trying to get your touring band together?

SF: We are piecing it together at the moment. Kenny Trudick, who played drums with them for a long time, and had played guitar for Kid Rock years ago, is joining my trio, which includes my bassist Steve Nawara. We are working on the horn section and the keys out of New Orleans.

WIMN: Do you see more girls coming out to your shows now than you have in the past?

SF: I do! I see more women and that makes me feel good. I am seeing diversity at our shows, especially with the blues crowds who are generally a little bit older. I am seeing the numbers of male and female evening out, which is great.

It's really cool to see young girls at a show. We played in Columbia, Missouri and there was this 15-year-old girl who came out. I felt bad because I popped off with a couple of bad words, and she was right in the front. I didn't realize at first and I was wondering what she was doing in a bar. But she had me sign her guitar! She was a fan of mine and it was cool to see a young woman excited about guitar and just music in general. I remember being 13 or so – that was when I first starting seeing other women playing guitar. It shocked me because I didn't know that was a thing, which is really odd. It definitely has its challenges, but I like being a girl and I wouldn't change it for the world.

WIMN: Have you experienced challenges as a woman in the Blues genre?

SF: I'd say yes, there are definitely challenges, but I think it is challenging to be a woman in any field of work. It's a little tougher; it's kind of a boy's club in a lot of different ways. In many ways it has been challenging, but at the same time it has added a bit of interest to what I'm doing. People will say, "oh, a girl playing guitar?", and I hate that because you have so much more you have to prove. You really have to work a lot harder to prove that you're not just here because you're a woman. It does pique people's interest and I think it's just because it is not the norm yet, it's not something that people always see. There are so many things that a female artist has to worry about that a male artists doesn't as much. The aesthetic is so ingrained in us to work a lot harder on that, and sometimes it is a bit distracting from the music. I just try to stay focused on writing and becoming a better singer, becoming a better guitar player...that is all you can really do.

Watch Samantha Fish's new video from her latest album, Chills & Fever below!

Canadian Artist and Owner of ‘RockStar Reflections’ Stacey Wells Commissions Hollywood Pop Art

By Myki Angeline

Stacey Wells with Alice Cooper, one of the many artists she has painted.

Stacey Wells loves to talk about art. Her paintings have captured the hearts of many, especially the celebrities she has created portraits for. Her works can be seen in several art galleries across the U.S. and art collector's walls world wide. Wells has painted everything from cityscapes, to animals and abstract, as well as creating nude sculptures. She captured national attention with her Hollywood pop art of famous musicians like Aerosmith, the Beatles, Liz Taylor, Elvis Presley, J Lo, Deborah Harry, Madonna, and the Rolling Stones to name a few.

Visit Stacey Wells website HERE.

Wells resides in Vancouver BC, Canada where she was born and raised. She began painting celebrities at age twelve when she completed her first art piece on pop rock legend Rod Stewart, "it was then when I fell in love with faces and doing portraits. Rod Stewart has since pulled me up on stage twice and signed a couple of my paintings of him. The original drawing is in one of my old portfolios." says Wells.

One of her specialties is painting celebrities on wine bottles. She founded her company Rockstar Reflections, capturing time in a bottle with art reflecting good times had with music and wine. Her unique creations include Jimi Hendrix, Lady Gaga, Gene Simmons, Marilyn Monroe, and Jim Morrison.  Wells loves the challenge of painting new subjects and favors acrylics and sometimes water colors on canvas. Her most recent accomplishment is being the only woman listed as a celebrity artist (that isn't a rock star) on the ROCK STAR gallery's website alongside famous rockstars/artists such as Ronnie Wood, Sebastian Kruger, Grace Slick, Paul McCartney, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.

Wells' positive, intuitive, sensitive, and goodhearted personality lives to be of service to others. She recently donated a painting of Johnny Depp that raised $35,000 for underprivileged kids to learn music, dance, and art lessons. She has given art lessons to homeless teens at LAYN in Los Angeles, as well as underprivileged kids at youth programs, "They are so talented and I love the confidence it gives them when they see how good they are." she says.

Her advice to women who are breaking into the world of art as an entrepreneur is simple: "Do your own thing. I've never followed in anyone's footsteps. I create my own path, do things my way. I find that the passion in your work shines through when you are doing what you love. Create your own unique style. Respect that art is valuable."

"Art is the illusion that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. " ~ Stacey Wells

 

 

Front And Center: Indie Artist Resource Founder and Entertainment Attorney, Erin M. Jacobson

By Jenna Paone

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: Indie Artist Resource Founder and Entertainment Attorney, Erin M. Jacobson

In a music industry that can sometimes seem like it’s full of sharks, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., otherwise known as “The Music Industry Lawyer,” helps artists and companies navigate the legal waters. As a music attorney with her own practice, her clients include Grammy and Emmy Award winners, legacy artists and their catalogs, songwriters, music publishers, record labels, and independent artists and companies. She is based in Los Angeles, where she handles a wide variety of music agreements and negotiations. In addition, she is the owner and founder of Indie Artist Resource, the independent musician’s resource for legal and business protection.

I sat down with Erin to learn a little more about the services she provides and why it’s so important for those of us in the music industry to have someone like her on our side.

WIMN: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in working in the entertainment side of law. What led you to becoming “The Music Industry Lawyer”? Were you a musician or music lover prior to becoming a lawyer?

EJ: I have always loved music. As a kid I considered myself to be Elvis Presley’s number one fan. I was known as the resident Beatles expert at my high school, then expanded into classic rock like The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, followed by an exploration of many other genres. At the time I did not think about working in music because I thought that the only way to work and music was to be a musician or performer.

When I was in college at USC, I took an Introduction to the Music Industry course that explained the roles of managers, agents, and music lawyers. I thought the contracts and copyrights were extremely interesting and thought the job of an attorney handling these matters for musicians was just about the coolest job a person could have. At that point, I decided to apply for law school with the intention of becoming a music lawyer. I then went to Southwestern Law School (known for its great entertainment law program), and I focused all of my electives and activities around music law. Once I graduated and passed the California Bar exam (first time!), I began getting referrals from people I knew in the music business and decided to open my own practice.

WIMN: What sorts of services do you provide, and what types of clients do you work with?

EJ: I represent songwriters, artists, music publishers, independent labels, and other professionals within the music business. I draft, review, negotiate, and counsel clients on music publishing agreements, record deals, management agreements, producer deals, licenses (synch and otherwise), library agreements, and more. I also help people on the film side clear music for films, and I represent people or companies buying or selling song catalogs.

My clients range from independent artists to Grammy and Emmy Award winners, as well as legacy artists. For new artists, I get them properly registered for copyright and with the necessary royalty collection services, as well as put all agreements in place for when they are collaborating with other artists, producers, etc. For legacy artists, I will deal with copyright termination issues to recapture rights they granted away years ago, in addition to the other types of music agreements I mentioned. When representing companies, we are signing songwriters or artists, as well as managing issues with existing deals.

WIMN: You deal with a lot of contract drafting and negotiation for both major and emerging artists alike, including songwriter agreements, music licensing contracts, and more. Can you tell us why it’s so important for artists to get into the habit of putting everything in writing in order to protect their best interests?

EJ: Putting agreements into writing is absolutely necessary for several reasons. One, without a written document there is no legitimate proof of what the agreement actually was between the parties. Two, disputes become one party’s word against the other party’s word. Three, there are usually misunderstandings about what each person meant as to the terms of the agreement. Four, people’s memories tend to become fuzzy a while after making an agreement. Five, a written agreement always provides a reference of the framework of the relationship.

Emerging artists should seek out an experienced music attorney to make sure their interests are protected. Consider it an investment in yourself and your career. The cost of dealing with a major problem later is usually much more expensive – and the consequences much greater – than if the matter was handled properly from the beginning.

WIMN: At what point should artists consult an attorney? Any advice for those reaching out to an entertainment lawyer for the first time?

EJ: Artists should consult an attorney any time there is a contract in front of them or any legal or business matter they don’t understand.

Here are some links that will be helpful:

How to Actually Hire a Music Lawyer

How to Choose a Music Attorney Whose Perfect for You

How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU (series)

Why Hire an Entertainment Lawyer

How to Get Legal Help if You Can’t Afford a Music Attorney

WIMN: You’re an advocate for songwriters, artists, and publishers getting fair pay for their work, particularly where streaming services are concerned, which often pay only minuscule sums for the music they depend on. Why should artists be paid fairly for what they create, and how do you think those of us in the music industry can work together to make this happen?

EJ: Artists should be paid fairly because making music is an artist’s career and how an artist earns a living! It’s the same as you pay for food in a restaurant, clothing in a store, or the services of a doctor or lawyer; making music is both a service and the product of an artist’s endeavors. Why is it fair that you can pay for food you consume in a restaurant but not the music you consume throughout your day?

It’s not only the artists that deserve fair pay; there are companies that manage or own the music, like music publishers and record labels. These companies all have employees that have rent to pay and families to feed. When artists and writers make less money, so does everyone involved with their careers.

Those in the industry need to stand together to demand fair pay for use of their music and not accept anything less. If enough artists and artist representatives stand up for fair payment, those using music will have no choice but to pay fairly.

People got used to services like Napster and the free download era, which diluted music’s value to consumers. Those that license, use, and consume music need to come back to the idea that music has value and think about the people that actually make and manage that music instead of regarding music as just a passing sound in the air.

WIMN: The music industry is in a state of major change, and has been for some time now. What do you think the future holds/what would you like to see happen for your clients?

EJ: For now, the immediate future holds massive efforts to reform copyright law, as well as continuing to try to find a good model to monetize music in the digital age and command fair compensation.

I would like to see all of my clients, but also all in the music business, fairly compensated for their work and their creations, able to make a living off of making music, and have their music impact their public as only music can do.

WIMN: How has it been thus far working as a female attorney in the traditionally male-dominated music industry?

EJ: Definitely interesting! Females in the business do have a different experience than males. I enjoy working with the majority of my male colleagues, and most of them are great! Of course, as in life, there are always some men who can be inappropriate or have a hard time handling working with smart women.

WIMN: What advice would you give young women just starting out and trying to acclimate to our industry?

EJ: Know your job, remember that you are a professional, and act accordingly. You are not there to be a groupie. Be the best you can be at your position and don’t be intimidated by the men in the field – you deserve to be there as much as they do.

Blues Guitarist And Vocalist Jackie Venson Releases Live Album To Rave Reviews

By Myki Angeline

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Austin-born indie/blues guitarist/vocalist, Jackie Venson, released her live album, Jackie Venson Live, to rave reviews from publications including Guitar Player Magazine, Austin Chronicle, Austin Monthly, Texas Monthly, and Bitch Media among others, and recently performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The live album is a raw follow-up to her 2015 studio full-length, The Light in Me.

She Shreds states, “Jackie Venson is one of the most talented up and coming blues guitarists of her generation. With a gorgeous singing voice, a guitar style that is both dynamic and technically precise, and music that blends genres, she is one to watch out for".

Visit her website and purchase Jackie Venson Live HERE.

Daughter of Austin music staple, Andrew Venson, Jackie’s early drive for music led her to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she picked up a guitar for the first time. Inspired by blues, R&B and pop artists alike, Venson draws on diverse influences ranging from Buddy Guy to Sade to Alicia Keys. In April of 2014, she was handpicked from over 2,000 entries by Southern retail chain, Belk, for their Belk Fashion Lounge concert series. Throughout the series’ five amphitheater performances, she supported famed country and southern icons Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw and James Taylor. The Austin American-Statesman has hailed her sound as “an astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and laid back grace.”

Jackie Venson completed a successful European tour in 2015, along with several U.S. dates in 2016.

Below is “Rollin On'” by Jackie Venson:  6 minutes of pure-blues recorded LIVE!

 

Front and Center: Guitar Center Director of Merchandising, General Accessories / Media, Kristy Porter

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 Director of Merchandising, General Accessories / Media, Kristy Porter

By Leslie Buttonow

Kristy Porter is all about business––the music retail business, that is. Since 2001, she’s been a top performer at Guitar Center, where she’s held a number of roles in their retail stores and at the chain’s Westlake Village, CA headquarters, receiving several promotions and distinctions along the way. She has also put her experience as a guitarist to use in recognizing a customer's need for an enjoyable, stress-free shopping experience in Guitar Center stores.

Below, Porter shares some of her story and advice, as well as a behind-the-scenes tidbit about life behind the counter at a music retail store.

To find out more, visit guitarcenter.com.

WiMN: You’ve held a number of roles at Guitar Center, working hard and climbing the proverbial ladder. Can you share some of your previous positions there, and how long you’ve been with GC?

KP: I’ve been with Guitar Center for 15 years. I started as a sales associate at the front door in our Oxnard, CA store when I was 18 years old. I quickly moved into the Accessories department, then became the Accessories department manager, and soon after, I was promoted to Assistant Manager of the whole store. Along the way, I took several training courses to learn all about pro audio and guitars, so that I could sell in all departments. I was also the top salesperson for three years running while I was there.

Several years into my career, a job opportunity came up at Guitar Center’s corporate office in Westlake Village, CA for an assistant category manager of accessories. That was my dream job, so I applied, and got it. I became the first female to have a buying role at GC at the time.

WiMN: Please share your background as a musician. Is that part of what attracted you to join the Guitar Center team initially?

KP: I have been playing guitar since I was 14 years old. I went to the Oxnard store to buy some strings and was quickly impressed by the cool vibe and gear in the store. My love for music inspired me to apply to work there.

WiMN: Your current role focuses on a specific business segment––musical accessories. Many people may not realize how something so seemingly small can be so impactful, yet your track record proves it to be true. How important is that segment of Guitar Center's business and how do you keep it a success?

KP: The accessories business is a vital part of Guitar Center’s overall business. From a merchandising standpoint, the power of presentation is very important. We want to ensure we have the right selection, and that our products are easy to identify, easy to shop and easy for our customers to buy. It’s also important to analyze the business on a daily basis, look for opportunities, try new things, and take risks.

WiMN: Time to dish out a little dirt––during your time working on the retail side of things, what challenges did you have from customers? And what songs were the most overplayed by customers in the guitar department all day long? 😉

KP: I think with any retail store, you will have great customers and also difficult ones. I always viewed the difficult ones as an exciting challenge for me to make their experience great. I’ve had a few customers not want to deal with me because I was a female and they thought I didn’t know my stuff, but I saw it as an opportunity to prove them wrong.

I’d say the most over-played songs in my store would definitely be “Enter Sandman” by Metallica and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.

WiMN: Your company seems to be very supportive of female customers and employees, from the ground floor up. During your time there, what changes and advances have you seen, and what do you attribute that to?

KP: When I started, the industry was very male dominated. In all the positions I have had––from a salesperson, to category manager, to director––I was the first female in Merchandising. Now, I see more and more women joining the industry every year. Guitar Center has worked hard to change the ratio of female/male customers and employees, and it seems to be increasing.

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

KP: The biggest advice I can give is to be assertive and tenacious; don’t be afraid and seize every opportunity. Learn who you are and don’t let fear of failure talk you out of taking risks, branching out, and putting your best face forward.

During my time as an assistant category manager, a head accessories buying position opened. I spoke to my boss and told him I was very interested. He was reluctant because I was only in the assistant buyer seat for a year. Instead of accepting that answer and waiting, I asked him what I had to do to prove myself, and he told me to write up a business plan for the department, so I did. He was very impressed with my plan, and I got the job.

Remember, you are your own business card. Tap into the confidence you were born with so that you can stand toe-to-toe with anybody and be successful.

WiMN: Any new events or promotions coming up at Guitar Center that our readers may be interested in?

KP: Guitar Center recently launched a free mobile app for musicians that makes it easy to shop, browse used and new gear, read reviews, build wish lists and more. It’s available now on the iOS App Store and Android Google Play, with all the unique features musicians need to help find their sound.

Additionally, Guitar Center's Sixth Annual Singer-Songwriter competition Grand Finals will take place on March 24, at The Troubadour in West Hollywood. After nearly 10,000 submissions from across the country, the top five undiscovered songwriters will compete at the Grand Finale event. GRAMMY® Award-winning producer RedOne (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Usher) will choose the winner. If you can’t make it to The Troubadour, go to Guitar Center’s Facebook page to watch the event broadcast live.

Her Story, Her Voice: The Iridium Hosts Four Weeks Of Fierce Female Performers In Celebration Of Women’s History Month

By Myki Angeline

March is the month to celebrate women, and what better way to do so than to host it with women in music.

This March, the Iridium, a musical landmark which celebrates over 20 years of showcasing next generation talent in NYC, will host four weeks of fierce female performers in celebration of Women’s History Month.  HER STORY, HER VOICE will feature an eclectic mix of musicians and women thought leaders, with Grammy-nominated neo soul singer/songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello kicking it off with three shows March 1 through March 3.  Additional performances in March will include She Rocks Awards recipients and performers Jennifer Batten, Beth Hart, Steph Paynes, Lez Zepplin, along with artists Liz Longley, Shemikia Copeland, Meiko, Aziza Miller, Chely Wright, and more.

"As one of the only female booking agents at a music venue in NYC, it has been an aspiration of mine to highlight and bring together strong women in the music industry,” says Grace Blake, General Manager and Senior Booker at The Iridium. “More specifically I have been wanting to bring an all-female lineup to the room, and what better time than now?”

A portion of the month's proceeds will go to The Women's International Music Network (The WiMN).

Click here to learn more about this incredible event, and view the calendar of performances:  Her Story, Her Voice

Front and Center: Executive Director of Bob Moog Foundation, Michelle Moog-Koussa

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: Executive Director of Bob Moog Foundation, Michelle Moog-Koussa

By Lina Bhambhani

Michelle Moog-Koussa is the Executive Director of the Bob Moog Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the life and legacy of her father, Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer.

Born in 1968 and raised in New York, Moog-Koussa has always had an interest in her father’s work. She recently led a presentation at Winter NAMM titled “Insights Into An Innovator: Bob Moog,” based on materials recently uncovered in the Moog family’s archive of historical materials. The presentation showcased several photos and documents – many that had never been shared publicly.

“[It was] only fitting to reveal much of this material for the first time among the industry that played such an integral part in the Moog legacy," she said.

The WiMN got a chance to connect with Moog-Koussa, and you can discover more about her and the Bob Moog Foundation in the interview below. For more information, visit moogfoundation.org.

WiMN: How did the Bob Moog Foundation come about, and what is the organization’s mission?

MM:  The genesis of the Bob Moog Foundation can be found in the extraordinary outpouring of support that the family received during my father’s illness and passing. Thousands of people from all over the world sent testimonials about how Bob Moog, the instruments he created, and the music that came from those instruments changed, and in some cases transformed, their lives. We knew at that point that this legacy of inspiration deserved to be carried forward to future generations.

Our mission is to ignite creativity at the intersection of science, music, and innovation by providing interactive educational experiences to children and adults. Through these experiences, we help foster a sense of discovery and creative thinking.

 WiMN: Tell us about the presentation you led at Winter NAMM that showcased many never-before-seen documents. How these materials were uncovered? What was that like for you?

MM: I was fortunate to give a TEC Talk presentation at Winter NAMM called "Insights Into An Innovator." During the presentation, I shared 25 new letters, documents and photos from the Moog Family Archives, a collection of historical materials that was recently gifted to me by my mother, Shirleigh Moog. I focused on three relatives who were of particular influence in my father’s life, and on his early years, from birth to age 18. His intense interest in science, music, and electricity surfaced at a very young age and it’s fascinating to watch that develop in his own words through some of his earliest letters.

The presentation was standing room only, with a line at the door. It was wonderful to see people’s interest in understanding Bob Moog the person, and not just the icon. I was most touched by people’s reactions after the presentation as many told me that they felt they had a much better understanding of who Bob really was. That is deeply important to me, as he’s often portrayed in a very surface oriented way that does not lend a understanding to his true nature.

WiMN: Can you tell us about some of the initiatives spearheaded by the foundation?

MM:  The Bob Moog Foundation has two major projects that we’re focusing on right now. First is our hallmark educational project, Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, through which we teach children about the science of sound through music and technology. We’ve provided this innovative, experiential curriculum to over 7,000 children since it started five years ago. Our other project is the preservation of the Bob Moog Foundation Archives, a vast collection of documents, photos, schematics, notes and other memorabilia that trace Bob’s work, and the history of electronic music.

WiMN: Tell us about some of your favorite artists that have used Moog Synthesizers over the years.

MM: It’s very hard to identify favorites, but what appeals to me is creative and unusual applications of the synthesizer, whether it be with the technology itself, or how the instrument is used amongst other instruments.

WiMN: Can you share one little-known fact about your father that you wish more people knew?

MM:  My dad loved to garden. He found great solace in nature and found a particular joy in growing things from the earth. I’ve often thought that the unique organic quality of his instruments was essentially a sonic mirror of the natural world.

WiMN: Tell us about your experience as a woman in the music industry. Have there been any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

MM: While I am deeply fortunate to have a wealth of support from the music industry, it’s often been a challenge for me to be taken as seriously work my work demands. Somehow nice, compassionate woman in this industry immediately get labeled as “sweet,”  lacking in substance. I’ve definitely found that a hardened exterior has been a necessary part of doing business in this industry.

WiMN: Can you share some advice for women looking to start a career in M.I.?

MM: You have to be completely committed, passionate, and driven to even begin to succeed in this industry. Don’t give up, and use your network to the fullest extent possible.

WiMN: What’s next for you and the Bob Moog Foundation?

MM:  The Foundation is working to scale Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool so that we can inspire children nationwide through the wonders of science. We hope to collaborate with large school districts in the Los Angeles area in the next year or so. Our work with the Bob Moog Foundation Archives is ongoing. We continue to receive new items every year and our focus is to catalog our entire collection and share it with museums, research facilities, and the general public. History is a great source not only for knowledge, but for inspiration. We aim to inspire as many people as we can.