CEV's Q & A with Madalyn Sklar
Madalyn Sklar started IndieMusicCoach.com in an effort to provide one-on-one consulting and coaching to indie musicians. She founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians, with a vision of bringing together and empowering musicians from around the country. Ten years later it has become a welcome destination for women in music through networking and events. Madalyn produces the GoGirlsMusicFest, Invasion of the GoGirls, Battle of the GoGirls and more. In the last 6 years, she has spearheaded over 100 benefit showcases for various organizations including the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, MusiCares, American Liver Foundation, Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation and more. She has spoken on music panels at 2NMC, Dewey Beach, Dfest, DIY Convention, Invasion of the GoGirls @ SXSW, Millennium Music Conference, NEMO, Rockrgrl and South Park Music Festival. She's been a judge for the Outmusic Awards from 2003-2005 and was named one of the 15 People You Should Know In the Biz by Indie-Music.com. She doesn't stop there! She also runs Orbit Web Design, a web site development firm in Houston, TX and GIGPAGE.com, an online do-it-yourself calendar resource for bands and venues.
CEV: You started GoGirlsMusic back in 1996, what was it that you had in mind that you wanted to accomplish for women in music with this new organization?
MS: In the mid-90's I the saw the Internet as a means to connect with others across the country and even the globe. At the time there we no online communities that supported women in music so I set out to combine the two.
My goal was to start a forum for female musicians. I sat down on my laptop computer and created the entire site in one day then launched it the very next morning. That was in January, 1996. And here we are almost ten years later!
CEV: Why weren't these goals being met by any of the existing organizations out there and how was it that you were going to approach it differently?
MS: At the time the Internet was new and there were no online organizations such as this. I saw the potential of using this new medium to connect fellow musicians that shared common goals. I wanted to provide resources and information.
CEV: Tell me about some of the largest hurdles that women in music have to overcome in the indie field of the industry to make a success of themselves?
MS: They have to take themselves and their music seriously and not be afraid to ask for what they want. My goal has always been to empower women.
CEV: How has the field of indie music changed from 1996 when you formed your company till now and what part has GoGirlsMusic had in making it a friendlier place to the women who have chosen to pursue careers in this field?
MS: Independent music has changed drastically since 1996. There is no longer an urgency to get signed to a major label. So many indie artists are now empowered to DIY (Do It Yourself). It's exciting to see so many women taking charge of their music careers and educating themselves on the business side.
Of course artists want the help that the majors provide: recording budgets, marketing dollars, and tour support. But who wants the headache of getting dropped when you don't sell 2 million records! And on top of that you don't even own the music. It's ridiculous.
The GoGirls community is a warm and safe environment where female musicians can get support and advice. As we all know, the music business is harsh.
It's nice to have a place to turn to where you feel the love.
CEV: I was reading an article in the latest issue of Billboard magazine about a group who is dealing directly with indie stores selling their product and making a go of it with their music, do you see this as a more viable route for women artists to take rather than pinning their hopes on the big contract with a major label?
MS: I see this as a viable route for ANY indie artist!
CEV: Tell me about some of the events that you have sponsored over the last 5 years and how these events have allowed female artists to network and get their music known beyond the local areas that they start out playing in.
MS: Our two biggest annual events are the GoGirlsMusicFest and Invasion of the GoGirls @ SXSW.
The GoGirlsMusicFest is an annual benefit series we produce in the fall that does two things: it promotes our GoGirls members while supporting a great charity. Each year we choose a different charity. This year it was They Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. In the past we have worked with The American Liver Foundation, MusiCares, Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, and more. We typically put on 15-20 GoGirlsMusicFest shows across the country each year and it's such a great opportunity for female artists to network with others for a great cause. We also put out a compilation CD in conjunction with the Fest. It's an opportunity for our members to gain additional exposure on a national level because the CD is given out free at every GoGirlsMusicFest show.
Invasion of the GoGirls @ SXSW is our annual "unofficial" showcase event we put on each year in Austin, TX during SXSW weekend. It is one of the best opportunities to network. I mean who wouldn't want to be in Austin during SXSW when there are thousands of music industry professionals? That alone is priceless. I make sure we have plenty of network and showcase opportunities available for our members. We produce three evening showcases as well as several daytime shows along with panels and workshops. We attract industry professionals, fellow musicians as well as locals at each show. We are excited to announce that our 6th annual Invasion of the GoGirls @ SXSW 2006 headliner is Sarah Bettens of K's Choice!
CEV: You do a lot of speaking on music panels and conferences, what is your message to the industry when you go out on the road to speak and do you think that it is having a cumulative effect on the industry as a whole?
MS: I speak about the "business" of music. How to get in the business mindset, how to market and promote, how to network. There are so many musicians out there who need help and guidance in these areas.
CEV: Tell me about what it is that you offer an artist who wants to take advantage of your one to one consulting services?
MS: I offer an ear. I listen. And with 10 years of knowledge in the music business I'm able to provide useful, practical advice. I help indie artists and music industry professionals set goals and in achieving their goals, they get from where they are to where they want to be. Check out my site for additional information as well as testimonials at http://www.indiemusiccoach.com
CEV: How do you feel when you hear about the successes of women in music that you or your organization had a hand in bringing about?
MS: It's an incredible feeling!
CEV: Do you feel that women in music are well represented on the web and if not what do you see as a way for female performers to gain more recognition for themselves in this worldwide medium?
MS: Yes, I do feel that women in music are well represented on the web. The Internet is an amazing medium that is getting used very well. Look at Myspace for example. There seems to be just as many women on there, maybe even more!
CEV: How would you like to see GoGirlsMusic grow in the coming years and what would you like to get involved with that you aren't already doing for women in music?
MS: I see GoGirls growing with more showcase events and music business workshops around the country. We are involved with many great music conferences and festivals and I see that growing as well.
CEV: With the major labels seeing sales declines every year what are you predicting for the indie labels and those who distribute their own music in the coming years? What kind of future do you see?
MS: I see a very bright future for indie artists. The major labels are struggling and I feel their days are numbered. Seems they are becoming more of a distributor than anything else. I mean realistically who cares more about your music than you? Why give it away to a company that only cares about one thing: the bottom line. So with that said, I see indie labels and DIY'ers expanding sales on their own through touring, the Internet, iTunes, etc.
CEV: To finish out this interview how involved do you become with those who are members of your organization? Do you view GoGirlsMusic as an extended family and is that why you are perceived as one who truly cares about the artists?
MS: I have forged incredible friendships with members of GoGirls. It is without a doubt my extended family! I become involved with those who are active and show an interest in the GoGirls community. Too many artists sit back and wait for things to happen. Well that is not how we operate! We are in this together, helping each other out. GoGirls is a springboard to help you achieve more with your music career. You get out what you put in. As for me, I'm extremely approachable. Why? Because I love what I do which is helping women in music.