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: Vice President and Controller, Inside Track O.E.M. Solutions
With a degree in accounting from Arizona State University, Doreen Daley Skopp’s career has been a combination of numbers and music. At Inside Track, Daley works alongside M.I. veteran Evan Skopp, and runs the company like a fine-tuned German engine: with graceful precision and a track record of excellence in performance.
A self-employed accountant, she has served as financial controller for a variety of music-based non-profit organizations including the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Opera, the Ojai Music Festival, and Notes for Notes, an after-school music program. She served as production manager at the Ives Concert Park, an outdoor performance venue in Danbury, Conn. She also has an active client list that includes a variety of for-profit businesses, mostly in the Santa Barbara area.
Daley Skopp has attended many musical instruments trade shows over the years including multiple visits to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show, the Frankfurt Musikmesse, the Tokyo Music Fair, the Shanghai Messe, and Merlefest. She’s learning electric bass guitar and has performed in an all-girl band.
To learn more about Daley Skopp’s role at Inside Track, visit InsideTrack.me.
WiMN: How did you get started in the music industry?
DDS: In the ‘80s, I managed an outdoor music and arts venue in Danbury, Conn., called the Charles Ives Concert Park. Working directly with artists and management was my first introduction to the music industry. Around the same time, I managed a few local Connecticut bands. I moved to Santa Barbara in the late ‘90s and began stage-managing various outdoor events, mostly as a volunteer and mostly involving live music.
In 2000, I met Evan Skopp who was Vice President at Seymour Duncan and President at GAMA [the Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association] at the time, and well respected in the music industry. I started traveling with Evan to various trade shows, events, and customer visits; and after awhile, I became known in the musical instruments industry.
WiMN: Can you describe exactly what Inside Track is?
DDS: Inside Track is a boutique sales representation firm owned by Evan and me. What makes us unique from the other musical instruments rep firms is that our customer base is not music stores. Instead, our customers are musical instrument builders, primarily guitar makers: from one-person luthiers to the biggest guitar factories in the world. As far as we know, we’re the only rep firm in the world following this model.
We represent compatible brands: so for example, we have one brand of pickups, one brand of strings, one case line, and various other products used in guitar building. To the guitar builders, we offer one-stop shopping and all our brands are high-end market leaders.
We’re also production liaisons, which means we help guitar factories find customers and vice versa. And we’re a marketing services firm that performs things like artist relations, public relations, market research, copywriting, and such for our clients.
WiMN: Can you describe what “a typical” day is like as the VP and Controller for Inside Track?
DDS: Well, Evan is the sales and marketing guy working the phones, and I do pretty much everything else. Most of our revenue is commission on sales. And every client has a different commission structure and sometimes multiple commission rates depending on the product lines. I keep track of all the orders and commission rates and make sure we’re getting paid what we’re supposed to be paid. I also bill clients for marketing services, which are charged on an hourly basis. And because of my accounting background, I do all the monthly financial reporting. Earlier this year, I set Inside Track up as an “S” corp.
So in a typical day, I’m reviewing sales reports and communicating with the accounting people at the companies we represent. In addition to all that, I handle all our travel logistics—we’re on the road quite a bit. Along with Evan, I attend all trade shows, customer visits, factory tours, business dinners and meetings.
There is always plenty to do. Evan and I have a rule of not discussing business during dinner.
WiMN: What were you doing before Inside Track?
DDS: I have a degree in accounting and I’ve been working as a freelance accountant continuously since college. So before Inside Track, I was a full-time accountant. Since starting Inside Track, I’ve kept my accounting business going, just not full-time. My accounting clients are small for-profit businesses and non-profits, mostly in the music world. They’ve included the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, the Ojai Music Festival, and others.
WiMN: Have you noticed any improvement with regard to gender inequality during the course of your career in music? Please discuss.
DDS: Honestly, my perception is that it has improved a little, but not as much as I would like to see. In M.I., I guess the ratio of men to women to be around 19:1 at most levels. There is definitely room for improvement. There are high-powered women whom I really respect like Jasmin Powell-Dunlop, Lisa Sharken, Tish Ciravolo, Janet Godin and others. I just wish there were more like them.
WiMN: If you were able to change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
DDS: I wish more parents would gently push their girls to play guitar and bass. I think that’s where real change is going to start ultimately evening out the gender gap. I know GAMA is trying to get guitar programs started in schools, which is great. But as we know, music and arts programs are being cut. I think much of it has to start in the home.
WiMN: What are your favorite things about the industry?
DDS: It’s a very small, very friendly industry. It’s even friendly amongst competitors. I think that’s because most of us are in this business because we want to be working around music. It sounds funny to some, but we’ll occasionally have dinners or drinks with our biggest competition. We don’t discuss business. But there’s never a shortage of things to talk about. Because of all the shows we attend, we often see our industry friends in international venues more often than our local friends in Santa Barbara.
WiMN: What is something you wish you knew when you first started your career in music?
DDS: I wish I was a better musician. I took years of piano lessons as a girl. In my ’40s, I took up electric bass and even joined an all-girl band for a while. But I’m a beginner, really. When I look at women like Jennifer Batten, Divinity Roxx, Cindy Cashdollar, or Tal Wikenfeld, they command instant respect from men and women alike because of their skills and talent. I’m not saying I could ever be a player like that, but if I could be as good as FMIC’s Pauline France, I’d take it!
WiMN: You are a well-traveled businesswoman. Would you say the ratio of men to women in music is uneven around the globe?
DDS: Absolutely. We do a lot of travel in the Far East and it’s even more unusual to see women in decision-making roles there. As difficult as it is for women to break into the music industry here, it seems like it’s much harder there. I guess when you put it in perspective, women in the Americas and Europe are fortunate.
WiMN: Let’s wrap up with one of your favorite quotes.
DDS: It would have to be this one from Mae West who said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”