Women Crushing Washington Panel
4 Key Takeaways From Women Crushing Washington, A Month-Long Celebration Of Women In The Music Industry
To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Recording Academy’s D.C. Chapter presented Women Crushing Washington, a month-long event that featured weekly panels highlighting female artists and executives in conversation with each other about the music business. From engineers to music industry marketing managers and executives, women shared their expertise and advice that women of all ages can learn from.
The event, which featured welcomes and introductions from Elise Perry, Washington D.C. Chapter President and Sharon Ingram, Washington D.C. Chapter Membership & Project Manager, may be over but below are some take away from the four panels featured throughout the month.
Don’t Put Pressure On Yourself To Have All The Answers Right Out Of College
The first panel, Jump-Starting Your Career in Music, featured a lively talk with Tamar Dayanim, Digital Marketing and Strategy Manager, Spirit Music Group; Honor Williams, Contract and Procurement Analyst Events D.C.; Kennelia Stradwick, The Recording Academy’s People & Culture Generalist; and vocalist Halo Wheeler. The ladies opened up about their individual career journeys, each sharing their unique path to where they are now. Whether it’s being an artist or an executive, what these especially driven women share is the belief that you can never go wrong following your heart. That’s where you find your greatest reward. "Go where the energy is matched," said Williams succinctly.
Stradwick pointed out that times have changed and "we’re moving out of that era where you get a job and work towards retirement, and that’s it" so it’s important to find the job or role that brings excitement.
"Find your passion and push towards that," she said. "We’re in an age where you can align the things you are really passionate about and care about with your work and career and your day to day..."
To get to that desired career, it is important to be open, Wheeler said. "Your first job doesn’t define you...the first couple of years out of college are about exploring different sectors of the industry and figuring out what you want to be doing," she explained. "So don’t put that pressure on yourself to know exactly what you want to be doing at this point in time because you have your whole career to figure that out."
Williams, whose first job out of college was real estate, agreed and added that everything will work out in the end.
"It truly doesn’t define what you want to do. You’re so young, graduating from college, and your passion may change but do it and enjoy it [at] this age," she said. "Everything will eventually figure itself out … be patient and don’t put pressure on yourself to have it all solved by age 22."
While everything will fall into place, Wheeler noted it is crucial to use your instincts to decide which opportunities to pursue. "From an artist standpoint, I would just definitely say to use your discernment when people are trying to book and hire you for gigs," she shared. "Going with your gut, knowing what feels good and what doesn’t feel good, and knowing when to say, 'No' has a lot to do with knowing your worth as an artist."
One Of The Biggest Lessons Of The Pandemic: Learn To Make the Most of Challenging Circumstances
The next session, Live Programming: From the Pandemic & Beyond, was a fascinating exchange between Anshia Crooms, CEO, Founder & Chief Booking Agent, Briclyn Entertainment, and Kelly Flanigan, President DC/MD/VA U.S. Concerts at Live Nation. The discussion focused on the necessary changes to adapt to the pandemic amidst all the uncertainty, and the constant need to evaluate and re-evaluate at every step along the way.
"This has been a very tough period in terms of routing because no one knows when it’s going to end, so people have had two three or four or five different routings......it’s been a learning curve for the industry as a whole," Flanigan said.
Crooms said she began to treat her time like her clients were recording and began to make her own events in order to adapt to the new circumstance: "The way we made it through this pandemic was shifting our mindset and narrative and catering to the times to figure out the best way to get to our fans and the best way to bring them into our homes at the same time."
Using Social Media As A Place To Get Instant Feedback For Music
Spicing the week up with a little music, Engineering Techniques featured Grammy-winning audio engineer and music producer Ebonie Smith (Cardi B, Janelle Monáe), founder of Gender Amplified (a non-profit organization supporting girls and women in music production). It was a treat to watch Smith playing her music live and building a song up layer by layer. At the same time, she described her artistic process in real-time and outlined her editing process while discussing her favorite features of the programs she uses to make music. Throughout the pandemic, Smith has been enjoying performing on Instagram. "It has been cathartic and therapeutic on so many levels, and it’s great to get that instant feedback," she said.
The Pandemic Has Been a Blessing and Curse
Lastly, Vocal Techniques & The Creative Process was an inspiring talk with Imani Grace, Washington National Cathedral Solo Jazz Vocalist, & R&B singer/songwriter/pianist Alex Vaughn, both of whom have taken a cup half full approach to the pandemic, finding inspiration wherever possible to get through it.
Vaughn and Grace were candid about their struggles while remaining grateful for being able to find solace in their music. "I can’t imagine how many viewers we’ve had, but every service has like 10,000 15,000 30,000 people across the globe watching live, so it’s been a huge blessing to reach all those people in a way that’s encouraging and uplifting," said Grace.
The jazz singer said the challenging part has been getting used to the new rhythm of things. "The top of the pandemic was rough because it went from working like at least on average three, four nights a week with some awesome opportunities coming up that just stopped,” she shared. “The amount of energy and effort we put in as artists on a day-to-day basis, just to prepare for the next day, the next month, the next year, and then what you were preparing for is not happening, so, what?"
What helped her adjust was finding a new approach to things:
"Once we started getting back into figuring out a way we could safely maneuver, that helped things, and the virtual world has been quite gracious for me and to me with people realizing how instrumental music is in their everyday lives, so it’s a blessing and a curse, for sure. The fact that we had to endure a plague for people to long for music is a little sad, but that’s kind of how human nature works, unfortunately."
Vaughn shared her struggle was due to the lack of inspiration. "I didn’t feel that inspired because of the climate of our country and so on," she said. At the same time, the pandemic has taught her to look elsewhere for the inspiration she had been missing: "It showed me different ways to kind of tap back into myself and different ways to appreciate what is around me and just to find new ways to get inspired."
Taking road trips helped her find new perspectives again, ultimately fueling her creativity. "I’ve been super productive. I’ve made so much more music. I really have to thank the pandemic for squeezing this all out of me," she said. "It’s been interesting. I’ve been appreciative of the process. I’m excited to see what other things I’ll create out of our situation."