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Empowering Women in the Music Industry

Melissa Weinstein

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It scares me to think that there are people out there who are sitting at a desk every single day doing a job they don’t love. That thought keeps me going when people give me the infamous “aww, that’s cute” look when I tell them my dream job is to work for Spotify.

A couple weeks ago, as I was feeling overwhelmed by my unrealistic goals and hopeless about getting a job after graduation that I truly enjoy, I was told about a Facebook group called Music Biz Besties. This private group of female musicians and industry leaders was created by Katherine Forbes, music lover and founder of Designing the Row which is a company dedicated to helping musicians and small businesses with website and brand design.

With nothing to lose, I proceeded to make a free profile on Music Biz Besties where I got access to a job forum, a directory of “besties” in the area who I could connect with, and so many more helpful resources.

Daniel Christopher Photo

I was in awe of Katherine’s story, and her mission of wanting to create a community for women in the music business, so I decided to reach out. She immediately responded within minutes and agreed to chat.

As I asked the designer how she got her start, she explained how she moved to Nashville the day after graduation all by herself. “I can’t believe my parents let me do that,” she laughed. With no place to live, no job, and no idea who to talk to, Katherine quickly found out that you can make connections wherever you go. She created Music Biz Besties with the idea that community means everything. Going to a networking event or even a new city seems a little less intimidating when you have a group of women by your side, experiencing the same thing. Her Facebook group of 30 women in the music business quickly turned into 300, and now has almost 3,700 members, all utilizing each other to find new opportunities in the music world.

As a fellow introvert, I questioned how Katherine gained the courage to move to a new city and go out of her comfort zone to make all of these new connections. “I didn’t have a choice,” she explained. She went on to tell me that if you want to be successful, you need to learn how to use your voice to speak up and speak out. As the designer stressed the importance of women empowering each other in music as well as in general, we discussed the large amount of men dominating the music industry which led her to tell me a piece of advice she once received: if you stay true to yourself and put in the work, anything is possible.  

At the end of our conversation I asked Katherine what advice she could give female college students trying to get their foot in the door of the music business. She directed me to a recent post she wrote on the Music Biz Besties Facebook page answering the very same question.

She says:

  • It’s ok to have NO IDEA what you’re going to do next. That’s part of the process.
  • You actually already know more than you think you do. You know you want to work in music, to be creative, and to enjoy what you do… listen to those instincts! They’ll guide you.
  • You’re going to have to try out several different jobs before you find “the one.” Internships / entry-level jobs aren’t just for businesses to get help with filing papers or to have someone to go on coffee runs – recognize that these are opportunities for you to learn and make connections but also to figure out if you could see yourself in that line of work long-term!
  • Your long-term goals will get more specific with time. When I graduated my piano professor gave me a book that inspired me to write down my goals. I wrote down that in 5-10 years I wanted to be working in music, starting a family, have friends (at the time I was moving to a Nashville and knew NO ONE), and to be doing work that would make a difference. Start. Where. You. Are.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others! Just because I’m writing emails/blog posts about wanting to launch a certain number of websites this year, grow my business, or whatever – doesn’t mean you have to do any of that! I share to inspire you, challenge you, and also let you know what’s possible.
  • You’re already doing this since you’re in this group – but surround yourself with others who are ambitious and who have similar career goals as you do. Community is powerful.
  • Do at least one thing every day that will move your vision forward. Your vision will change and evolve over time, but as long as you do something productive every day – you will come out on top!

After I got off the phone with Katherine, I felt a new sense of hope. I knew I wanted to work in the music industry ever since I was a freshman in high school, and doing anything else didn’t seem like an option. Now, I know I’m not alone in my career endeavors. The community she has created with Music Biz Besties is allowing women like myself to learn from professionals who have all been there, done that. As Katherine continues to build her business and community, I am prepared to take advantage of all its opportunities, and I encourage other college students stressing about their future to do the same.

For more information about Katherine Forbes and Music Biz Besties, visit their site.

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