As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 20 – Summer 2022
A wise disco-pop girl group once sang, “We are family. I got all my sisters with me.” As trailblazing leaders and visionaries of their time, Sister Sledge were speaking about the magic that happens when women get together. There is a spark that occurs when women take up space on stage, in the studio, and in the boardroom. But, music remains a male-dominated industry. In a recent study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?” report disclosed that women currently make up less than 22% of all artists, less than 13% of songwriters, and less than 3% of producers. Though the 2021 Grammys saw a surge in female nominees, the report concludes that “the last decade has been one of insignificant change…” A few years ago, former CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, was quick to blame the lack of diversity on women themselves and said that we need to “step up” if we want to have success in the industry. The numbers clearly show that there needs to be a mindset shift in the marketability and consideration of us for key roles across the board.
But how do we start to bridge the gap and provide a way for more women to enter the industry? The answer can be found in women-led events where we are the focus. From band camps to festivals and networking sessions, here are three ways that female-driven events inspire community, networking, and mentorship for generations to come.
- Build a supportive community
With the rise of concerns over mental health, having a supportive net can be the lifeline that keeps more women in the industry. As reported in the USC Annenberg report, “music can often be a solo activity for women.” When we share a sacred space with kindred souls, we take refuge and receive authentic support from someone who just gets it. The safe communal space that events provide allows the opportunity to have your voice heard and receive motivation that can have a lasting impact on your career.
- Build connections and foster relationships
In a study conducted by Berklee College, they surveyed women across all sectors of the industry and found that 54% thought that their careers were positively impacted by having access to networking opportunities. The music business is a relationship-driven business, meaning that you need to develop people skills to succeed. One of the best places to develop these skills can be at networking events where you are interacting with people from different backgrounds and sometimes speaking directly with women who are in the roles you want to be in. Whether it’s a mixer or camp, opportunities are always right around the corner.
- Build a legacy of women in music
Representation and mentorship both play a huge part in how big the next generation dreams. Mentors can significantly contribute to the success of your career by sharing guidance and knowledge that gets you to your goals faster. Additionally, networking and mentorship can lead to internships or job placements which allow you to get hands-on experience in a variety of positions. According to the Berklee study, 79% of women felt that internships helped them further their careers by providing the connections, skills, and experience they needed to move forward.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp’s first-ever women-only event provided a space where community, networking, and mentorship could thrive. Over Mother’s Day weekend (May 6-9, 2022), women ages 13-63 met heroes Melissa Etheridge, Nancy Wilson, Kathy Valentine, and Orianthi and forged lasting bonds in a non-competitive environment. Throughout the weekend, women participated in a variety of activities that helped them gain valuable knowledge, grow their confidence, and take their stage presence to the next level. Spearheaded by the musical director of the rock camp and Vixen guitarist Britt Lightning, the attendees received mentorship from rockstar counselors and played at the Viper Room along with the world-famous Whisky a Go Go.
On the event, Camp Host Lori Majewski (host of Sirius XM Volume’s Fierce Women In Music) said, “Sure, the campers get pro tips, bragging rights and selfies while jamming with the legendary likes of Melissa Etheridge, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go’s and Orianthi. Yet there are so many other unexpected takeaways from Women’s Only Rock N’ Roll Fantasy Camp that’ll end up tattooing your soul: the life lessons, the camaraderie and the community, the laughter and the tears…the ecstasy of playing on stage at LA’s infamous Whiskey [sic] a Go Go! Having witnessed it in person, I can honestly say this is an experience unlike any other. Next birthday/Mother’s Day/wedding anniversary, tell them to skip the flowers and send you to camp!”
“It’s so inspiring having organizations such as The Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp embrace and support women in the music industry.” ~ Melissa Etheridge
“The thrill of attending Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp is the up-close and personal attention each camper receives from our RockStar counselors.” ~ Nancy Wilson
“The support and empowerment all of the women gave to each other over the weekend was truly inspiring. Women from 13-73 attended with the same intentions to grow and lift each other up, it was very special and I can’t wait for the next one!” ~ Britt Lightning
With over 26 years of providing Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camps, the first all-female camp marks a bold step in promoting gender diversity and equality in the music industry. The rockstar mentors extended their hands to pull their “sisters” up and help women advance to the next level in their careers. Volume II comes in January 2023, and you don’t want to miss this event.
When one of us rises, we all rise.
By Alicia Needham
USC Annenberg Inclusion Institute Report https://assets.uscannenberg.org/docs/aii-inclusion-recording-studio2021.pdf
Neil Portnow / The Recording Academy Statement https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/30/pink-sheryl-crow-slam-grammys-neil-portnow-women-step-up
Women in the U.S. Music Industry – Berklee College https://college.berklee.edu/sites/default/files/d7/bcm/Women%20in%20the%20U.S.%20Music%20Industry%20Infographic_0.pdf