As the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of #WomenCrush Music, Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov has spent the past 3 years building #WomenCrush Music into a thriving platform for women artists searching for an inclusive community. And despite it being 2020, women are still presented with challenges in the (still) male-dominating music industry. But, thanks to valuable organizations like #WomenCrush Music, women are provided with powerful tools and experience to chip away at the ever-present glass ceiling.

Ashley began her career in music as a singer and songwriter (Ashley Xtina) in the heart of NYC where she grew up. It was her relocation to Portland, Oregon in 2015 that ignited her calling; writing songs for others, while assisting them in advancing their music careers. This eventually developed into #WomenCrush Music, which Ashley founded in 2017.

2020 presented a host of struggles that include endometriosis surgery, and a traumatic car accident to which she suffered several pelvic and spinal fractures. More recently with #WomenCrush Music, she found herself shifting gears due to the recent Coronavirus scare (COVID-19) that has spread so rapidly around the world. This global pandemic forced the shut down of public concerts and live events, motivating her to focus on the community’s needs by boosting their presence on social media, and in Facebook groups: #WCM Southwest, #WCM Southeast, #WCM Rocky Mountains, #WCM Northeast, #WCM Midwest, and #WCM West Coast. To learn more about this change, read Ashley’s personal note in The Crush Blog.

WiMN: You began your career in music as a singer and songwriter before working with #WomenCrush Music. Are you still writing and producing music?

AKS: While I took a break from performing around the end of 2017, I continue for myself here and there but mainly co-writing with other artists for their releases (working on Kingsley’s album now) and for music that can be submitted for licensing. I really want to get into more co-writes in Spanish! I’ve always had a dream of starting an all-women Spanglish group – perhaps now that I’m in Miami that dream can become a reality 🙂

WiMN: How long have you been involved with #WomenCrush Music, and what does this organization mean to you specifically on a personal and professional level?

AKS: This month actually marks the three year anniversary of #WomenCrush Music. A lot has changed since I started the organization in 2017, in the industry, in my personal life – however, the need for us to band together to amplify our voices and presence in this industry has not. I know that #WomenCrush Music has already helped thousands of rising women songwriters and through our new mission of creating opportunities through community, I believe we can reach even more. Though I am no longer performing music, I will always be a songwriter and I will always advocate for equality in this industry. My main goal for #WomenCrush Music has always been and will always be to help make a difference – whether it be on a local, national or international scale. Thus far, through the amazing support of our community and team of volunteers, we’ve been able to make a bit of a wave, but we have ambitious goals and we’re always adding to our to-do list.

People always joke that I’ve done things a bit backwards – most people become CEOs and then start a nonprofit or join a board. While in the beginning I was 100% completely winging it, the experience of building this community has not only fulfilled me in ways I never imagined possible. I am very grateful to say that it’s also opened many other doors for me professionally. When I’m not volunteering for #WomenCrush Music, I’m working on helping other creatives launch their projects and helping like-minded organizations build more supportive and engaged communities. Everything about #WomenCrush Music has been a huge blessing.

WiMN: How as the national COVID-19 Pandemic affected #WomenCrush Music’s ability to support women in the music industry, particularly in New York and San Francisco? Especially now that public performances have been postponed? Are you able to assist artists with alternate methods?

AKS: The COVID-19 Pandemic has been incredibly heartbreaking on so many different levels which is why after almost 6 months of being on hiatus for organizational restructuring, I chose to make a statement on The Crush blog. It is now more than ever that we need to be continuing to engage with our community and share opportunities with them virtually. One of our goals for 2020 regardless was to facilitate more promotion of the artists in our community through our blog, social media and newsletters. We’re also reaching out to bigger potential partners to see about putting together sponsored virtual showcases & playlists. For now, we’d love to invite everyone who wants to join our community to our Facebook groups (#WCM Southwest, #WCM Southeast, #WCM Rocky Mountains,#WCM Northeast,#WCM Midwest and #WCM West Coast), to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram @womencrushmusic so they can get community updates! And as always, my virtual door (aka my email ashley@womencrushmusic.com) is open for new ideas/feedback. I love to hear from artists about how we can truly help them.

WiMN: Where do you see the future of #WomenCrush Music for artists in the next 2 years?

AKS: I see #WCM being able to provide tour and recording support, special collaborations with music publishers & supervisors, perhaps some intimate songwriter retreats with pros. We want to be a resource for not just connections but also for real growth – not just events, but events and other opportunities that lead to career advancement.

WiMN: Can you share with our readers a valuable source that is often overlooked?

AKS: Is it fair to say books? I always say to artists that they should think of their artist career as a business (because it very much is) and reading business books along with books by other songwriters might be very very helpful. Some favorites: Start With Why by Simon Sinek, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter by Shelly Peiken, Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles.

WiMN: What have you been doing to keep yourself sane and safe during this pandemic that is music-related?

AKS: Virtual co-writes! Starting lyric docs and sending them to friends, exchanging voice memos, figuring out harmonies via Skype – time goes by when you’re singing your heart out!

WiMN: And finally, who is Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov today?

AKS: This is a fantastic question – and at 28 years old, I am not going to pretend I have it all figured out. But here’s what I’ve got so far: Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov is a driven and passionate community-builder, leader and strategist. Her main mission in life is to facilitate growth, whether it be through helping people launch their creative endeavors or helping startups and small businesses reach their expansion goals. She believes in taking on life’s challenges one step at a time & hopes to inspire others to do the same.