This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Laura Whitmore, founder of The Women’s International Music Network, & creator of She Rocks Awards.
After being in the music industry for decades, it occurred to Laura Whitmore 12 years ago that the medium was teeming with women who were collaborative, creative, and strategic.
But the then singer/songwriter, music marketer, and journalist didn’t know many of the other women participating in the mainstream of the music industry.
She thought it would be a great idea to start an organization, and an event that would help bring women together; that would raise awareness of women in music, and create further opportunities for leadership, exposure, and broader contributory actions.
In 2012, Whitmore founded The Women’s International Music Network, an organization dedicated to providing support, information, and community to women within the music industry.
The organization serves as an outlet to share news pertaining to female musicians, projects, and products relating to women in the music community.
The WiMN next launched the annual She Rocks Awards, now in its 10th year, honoring trailblazing women from all sectors of the music industry; as well as its website, TheWiMN.com, which hosts interviews, news, events, and a community forum.
Furthermore, the She Rocks Podcast features interviews with women in music.
Among the previous 120 She Rocks Awards recipients are: Nancy Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, Pat Benatar, Gloria Gaynor, Kate Pierson & Cindy Wilson of the B-52s, Suzi Quatro, Colbie Caillat, Sheila E, Chaka Khan, Ronnie Spector, Orianthi, Lisa Loeb, the Bangles, Lita Ford, Shirley Manson, Esperanza Spalding, the Go-Go’s, Cherie Currie of the Runaways, Margaret Cho, Amy Lee, Linda Perry, and others.
Since 2020, Whitmore, an award-winning instrument and audio marketer, has served as the senior VP of marketing for Positive Grid, a music technology software, and hardware company.
Previously, after graduating from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, Whitmore worked for CBS Records for three years in special products, and at Korg USA for 20 years, overseeing marketing, PR, and artist relations for Korg, and the distributed Marshall, and VOX lines.
In 2008, Whitmore left Korg USA, and founded Mad Sun Marketing, a boutique agency that specialized in marketing, PR, artist relations, event production, graphic design, and more for music and audio companies.
Among her Mad Sun clients were Positive Grid, ArtistWorks, 108 Rock Star Guitars, Academic Superstore, Acoustic Amplification, Agile Partners, Breedlove Guitars, Colby Amplifiers, Dean Markley USA, Korg, KVRaudio, MusicFirst, Muse Research, NewBay Media, Notion Music, Peavey, SIR Entertainment Services, SIR Stage37, SoundTree, Sterling Audio, and Take Me To The River.
The 10th annual She Rocks Awards will take place at The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim, California June 2nd, coinciding with the annual NAMM Show at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Recipients include singer Dionne Warwick; musician Meredith Brooks; Covet guitarist Yvette Young; singer-songwriter Milck; Bones UK guitarist Carmen Vandenberg; music editor and podcast host Lyndsey Parker; EarthQuaker Devices CEO Julie Robbins; TV and film composer Sherri Chung; Mix Messiah Productions owner Leslie Gaston-Bird; EveAnna Manley of Manley Laboratories, Inc; and former artist manager and creator of the Girl Power! Women Working in the Music Industry Conference, Kerry Fiero; and Susan Larkin – Chief Operating Officer, Audacy INC.
The awards will be co-hosted by Lzzy Hale, and AXS TV’s Katie Daryl. The opening performer will be Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist Tenille Arts.
The 2022 She Rocks Awards is being sponsored by Positive Grid, Sweetwater, PRS Guitars, Reverb.com, Shure, Roland, Martin Guitar, Audacy, Berklee College of Music, Blackstar, D’Addario, D’Angelico, dw Drums, Fishman, Gator Cases, Gibson, iZotope, 108 Rock Star Guitars, KMC, Korg, Levy’s, MAC Cosmetics, Manley Labs, NAMM, Pigtronix, Soundgirls, Supro, Taylor, Tech 21,The Music People, WRiiG, Zildjian, AXS TV, Parade, Future Publishing, Guitar World, Musicradar, and Guitar Girl Magazine.
Why locate the She Rocks Awards in Anaheim on the West Coast when you live in Massachusetts?
We do it during the NAMM Show (June 3rd-5th).
Described as “the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products, pro audio, and event tech industry,” the NAMM Show is an annual event at the Anaheim Convention Center, organized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).
We have always attached ourselves to the NAMM Show. I had always gone out there to it while working in the music instrument industry. At one point, I was thinking, “Man, I don’t know the other women working in this industry. We should get together.” That’s how it got rolling, and it has since been traditionally presented during the NAMM Show.
The She Rocks Awards started out in 2012 as a breakfast for about 125 people with 6 or 7 awards, and with Australian singer/songwriter Orianthi performing. How surprised are you that it is now a decade old?
It is kind of mind-blowing because when I started the She Rocks Awards I wasn’t really thinking about, “What are we going to be in 10 years?” It was nothing more than to feature female role models, and get together and know each other. We’ve honored over 120 women, and the event has progressed so that it is really exciting and an energizing focal point, and it has grown up. It is really nice to see the support. For us to have continued, and for people to still find it meaningful, exciting, and important. Each year we try to evolve the event to meet the times. There are lots of prizes and exciting things that happen. And, yes, it is kind of mind-blowing to me that it has been 10 years.
What is truly unique about the She Rocks Awards is that it honors women from so many sectors of music including artists but also those working in production, management, at labels, and in music journalism. When you originated the awards did you have that career diversity in mind?
Yes. I had always thought that there were women contributing in every area of the industry. The main goal of the event is to shine a spotlight on these role models. To get other women to say, “Okay, there’s a career path there. There are other women doing this. That could be me.” And I think that it is really important to look at the other women who are doing all of these different roles and are rock stars in their own right in what they are doing. You know how it is. It takes a village to make the music happen. It is not just about the artist up on the stage, and their contributions are amazing as well. To me, it has always been important to have that diversity with who we are honoring, with the stories that we are telling, and just putting out to the world that there are women doing amazing things. That they are assets of the industry. And that this is how we help build their recognition and help that snowball effect to accelerate.
What is the award’s attraction to the recipients you honor?
You’d be surprised. There are things like Billboard annually doing the Women In Music Awards show (which recognizes music’s top female artists, producers, and executives for their contributions to the music industry and their communities), and it focuses on pop. There aren’t a lot of opportunities (in our industry) for women to feel honored by their peers. We are not a competition. There aren’t a bunch of people there, and you are wondering who is going to win, like the Grammys. This is about that we have decided that these women are worth honoring, and we want to shine the spotlight on their accomplishments. It is really a celebration of them, and their past, and what they do. And it has just grown into this fabulous gala, and I think that people appreciate that.
How do you pick the recipients to be honored?
We open things up for nominations. We post a form on our site, and people can nominate somebody. We also do a lot of research, talk to a lot of other groups of people, and reach out. You have no idea of how much outreach we do. We go to a lot of sources to pick who we are going to honor this year. We really try to diversify the roles of the people that we are honoring. We have a lot of people in this area thinking, “Can we get an educator? Can we get a record person or a radio person that can make a difference?” We also think of the diversity of their (the recipients’) backgrounds. The kind of music that they do, and who they are. A lot of thought goes into who we honor each year.
To be honest, it was a little bit challenging this year because of the pandemic, and NAMM shifting their show to June from January. So now it’s June during the tour cycle, and it was challenging to get people who work on tours who could be there. It is also hard to work around being with a group of people in a room right now. That’s also a challenge.
With a decade of She Rock Award memories, what are the ones that stand out?
The year that we had the B-52s in 2019 was probably the coolest (at the same time honoring Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, and Exene Cervenka). Before that, we had Shirley Manson in 2017. Trump had been elected president, and it was literally the day after the inauguration. And she said all of the things that we all wanted to say.
Heart co-founder Nancy Wilson was honored last year.
Nancy Wilson is fantastic. I was able to interview her a couple of times, and having her as part of the She Rocks Awards was great. It was a little sad because last year we did a completely virtual She Rocks Awards. I didn’t get to hang with her in person which is really a fun part of the She Rocks Awards.
Behind the scenes of the She Rocks Awards, and the Women’s International Music Network are legions of volunteers and staff, including Bonnie Gallanter, an event producer, and talent manager for over two decades.
Bonnie Gallanter is the director of the Women’s International Music Network, co-producer of the She Rocks Awards, and the president of Muse Artist Management. She has managed musicians Jesse McCartney, Stephanie Scott, children’s performing group, the Broadway Kids, filmmaker, and director Jeremy Heslup, and has represented Daisy Rock Girl Guitars.
Bonnie started working with me about 5 years ago, helping me produce the She Rocks Awards, and now she is the director of the Women’s International Music Network. She devotes a huge amount of time to producing the awards, bringing in volunteers, and hiring the other production people that run the show. She has been amazing, and she is really important in the production of the event.
Then we have Myki Angeline who has a radio background. She does our social media, our webcast, and interviews on our Women’s International Music Network site. She’s really helpful too and has great ideas as well.
An on-camera personality, freelance writer, DJ, event emcee, show promoter, and business founder, Myki Angeline is a broadcaster at 98 Rock, and is podcast producer for Audacy, Inc. in Sacramento. She is also the creator of “The Bad Filipino” podcast, and blog on Medium.
There are a number of people who help make this happen and we have tons of volunteers that help produce the awards and who participate in different events that we do.
In 1986, during a late-night studio conversation in Toronto, Linda Ronstadt and Sylvia Tyson, two iconic female music artists, both told me that when they have talked music matters to male backing musicians, they often encountered resistance to what they had to say.
Have things changed?
As we normalize with more women in the world working, things do change. I think that there are still pockets of those kinds of experiences happening. I talk to a lot of women in the industry, and I think that there is movement, positive movement.
That may be true, but the music industry is nowhere near reaching gender parity when it comes to songwriting, producing, and engineering, according to recent studies, and despite the Recording Academy’s attempts at trying to expand women’s opportunities with its 2019 initiative, Women in the Mix
According to a recent count, less than a quarter of the artists on the Billboard chart in 2021 were women. Over the past decade that number has been stagnant at 21%., with women songwriters only at 12.7%, and women producers a dismal 2.8% in 2021.
Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk addressed the issue with me in 1996 when she observed correctly that I hadn’t liked her debut album, “Under These Rocks and Stones” She said she hadn’t liked it either because she wasn’t listened to during its recording. That her managers, A&R, producers, engineer, and backing musicians were all male. That she was told to sit in the corner and let them get on with recording the album.
Women music artists still often face that same dynamic today.
Yeah, and I think that will change as we get critical mass with women in these (production) roles. You’re right, maybe, that other organizations are fostering ways to get more women involved behind the scenes in careers as well as being in front of the microphone; and with more women involved with production, it just kind of snowballs exponentially. It’s part of normalizing the idea the ideas of women’s contributions in the music space.
This month, Hill Kourkoutis won recording engineer of the year at the 2022 Juno Awards in Canada. It was the first time a woman had even been nominated in the category since it was inaugurated in 1976.
Right, nobody close ever? We still have all these obstacles, and it’s just not in the music space.
It’s seven years after “Tomato-gate,” when country radio consultant Keith Hill, compared female country artists to tomatoes in a salad, saying, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out. I play great female records … they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Reportedly, there are still few female voices today on country radio, as women account for 10% of daily radio spins on Mediabase’s weekly airplay reports.
Many of us grew up in an industry in the ‘70s when radio’s unwritten rule in all formats was that two woman songs could not be played back-to-back. That has changed overall, but the ruling is still in effect at many stations.
Yeah, and I think that some of that (competition between women) has to do with that. If a radio station is only going to play one artist, then that automatically pits women against each other because of the scarcity, right? Okay, there’s only one piece of pie. If we just make the pie bigger, and everybody can be a part of it, then that gets taken away. I also feel like the parameters placed on this, “Oh, we can only play one female artist,” those are artificial constraints. Those are constraints that somebody decided to do at some point, and everybody was like, “Well that’s what we’ve got to do. “Well, a fresh new perspective needed to come in and change how people approach it better, and I think that has happened.
Since the early ‘90s women have emerged as executives in all ranks of music business, and are now a considerable force. In the ‘80s there were only three female agents in New York, Marsha Vlasic, Barbara Skydel, and Jane Garrity; and only a handful of women in American management ranks,Marcia Day, Susan Maneo, Mary Martin, Trudy Green, and Susan Joseph.
That has changed.
Something that has also changed, and which has been transformational, women in the music industry being more supportive of each other.
A decade ago, I remember a female label and management senior VP telling me point-blank that she refused to mentor younger women, saying “I had to do it the hard way, let them do it the hard way.”
You don’t see that anymore. You see far more bonding and mentoring today and, as a result, there are many women in music helping other women in moving the dial in all aspects of the business.
Women are more supportive of each other for sure.
That seems to have changed, and being partly credited is the #MeToo movement, and Harvey Weinstein. Not only did Weinstein bring disruption to our culture, but so did the publicized activities of such men as Billy Reilly, Charlie, Rose, and Louis C.K.
Now the allegations being heard in Johnny Depp’s defamation trial with ex-wife Amber Heard may provide further #MeToo discussion points.
If we have understood one thing in the two years since actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #MeToo it is that an accused abuser will be rapped sharply across their knuckles for such behavior, and companies paying lip service to gender diversity issues doesn’t cut it anymore
Am I wrong thinking that some of the changes we now see came out of the #MeToo movement.
I don’t think that you are wrong. It’s interesting because I have a daughter (Emma) who is 26 years old, and seeing her in the workplace, and not tolerating the kind of behavior that was so normal to us as women at her age; that we were always like, “Oh, we just have to deal with this.” You don’t even think twice about it because that’s just the way it is. And this younger generation, they are not going to tolerate that type of behavior. They are like, “This is not okay. We shouldn’t be treated this way.” And people realize that we don’t have to be just okay with this. That things have to change. So I do think that there is a shift in what women are willing to just suck up and deal with.
Also contributing to the change, and the greater expansion of female roles in the music industry is the internet and hyper-communication. Not only providing greater access to information sources but also being able to communicate with others, including peers and mentors.
Today you don’t necessarily have to take a course at a school or go to music industry conferences or buy a book to consider opportunities. There are websites detailing most jobs, and anyone interested can connect with those in the field for advice and encouragement. They can research an occupation on the internet, and think, “I can do that.”
Yes. And I think that makes it less scary too. You don’t have to be in a room with 10 men, and you are the only woman, and you are kind of put down about what you know or don’t know. It empowers everybody to have this equal playing field for how they learn and where they are at.
In 2019 for her “In The Hot Seat” profile, Sharon Osbourne candidly told me that as a manager of her husband Ozzy, she had to stickhandle past all of the music industry crap of the ‘80s. That there was a patriarchal order in the music industry when women were either secretaries or publicists. It was an era of cocaine and outrageous business expense accounts.
Sharon told me, “Listen, it was at the time when it was a real boy’s club. Everything was cocaine. Women were for fucking, and that was it. That was it. Unless they fancied you or they thought they could fuck you, they (male executives) didn’t want to know in the industry. It was the boys’ club. It was going to strip clubs, getting hookers, doing the coke. You don’t do that with women. You do that with other guys that ran radio stations, and with the editor of magazines. They basically didn’t want women to be hanging around cuz you would bust them to their wives.”
I told Sharon that she is viewed as being tough, and she said, “I am tough. I had to be tough.”
That was the industry, and It was male-dominated.
Not as much today,
Many of us have adjusted to the rise of women who “move the dial” in all aspects of the music business. I’ve been doing “In The Hot Seat” series for CelebrityAccess for nearly 13 years, and for the past 4 years or so, about 50% of the profiles have been with women.
There are many women with sharp intelligence “moving the dial,” and also rallying the music community to advance opportunities for women in the industry while putting the spotlight on women in the sector as role models, and sharing their career stories.
Yeah, back then women didn’t feel like they could push back because they didn’t feel empowered. Sharon, she’s a unique individual. Good for her. I think that someone would feel like they were locked out of opportunities if they pushed back too hard. It’s tricky. But that’s real too.
With gaming now a lifestyle, women are a significant part of that culture, and according to industry sources, the number of women gamers is increasing at a faster rate than male gamers. Even though gaming is a male-dominated industry, with challenges in diversity and gender inequality—women account for 46% of all game enthusiasts today.
Wow, I didn’t know that.
The Women’s International Music Network has recorded 300 interviews with women in the music industry.?
Probably more than that now. There’s plenty of interviews. For a while we were doing an interview with a woman in the industry every week. Now we do more live streaming and those kinds of interviews. We have podcasts. We are always doing panels, and sharing what is happening with women in the industry. So yeah we have done bunches of interviews. People say, “You are going to run out of interviews.” And I’m like, “No.”
As a music journalist yourself, you know that it was quite rough being a female music scribe decades ago. One of the biggest misconceptions was that women got into the field as a way to meet, and, perhaps, sleep with male music stars.
Or that they use their feminine wiles to get a scoop or gain access.
Among the American and British trailblazers and trendsetters are: Lisa Robinson, Toby Goldstein, Martha Hume, Julie Burchill, Mary Harron, Gina Arnold, Vivien Goldman, Gerri Hirshey, Caroline Coon, Barbara Charone, Lillian Roxon, Penny Valentine, Sylvie Simmons, Ellen Sander, Ellen Willis, Jaan Uhelszki, Susan Whitall, Evelyn McDonnell, Elysa Gardner, Ann Powers, Holly Gleason, Hazel Smith, Jane Scott, Ronni Lundy, Melinda Newman, Susan Nunziata, Gail Mitchell, Deborah Evans Price; and Canadians Jeani Read, Nathalie Petrowski, Lynn Saxberg, and Karen Bliss.
Several years ago, I was asked by the women organizer of an music conference in Arkansas to be on a panel discussing women’s issues. The moderator, a New Yorker who arrived late, saw that I was on her panel, and got very pissy with me. I said to her, “I’ve been married to a woman in the music industry for 35 years. I’ve seen what she and others have gone through. I’m not saying I’ve experienced what you or other women have, but I can call out the sexism and misogyny that is embedded in our industry. She refused to engage with me during the panel.
I don’t agree with that. So now we are going to be exclusive, and lock people out of the conversation? I don’t think that is the right direction. I think that being inclusive, and having everybody participate, and be on our side, and help get the word out, is a good thing.
Your day-to-day job is leading the marketing team for Positive Grid, a music technology software and hardware company.
Yes, it is. I work more than full-time for Positive Grid. It’s great because Positive Grid is such a different and disruptive and interesting company to work for. The fact that I do both She Rocks Awards, and Positive Grid gives me more things to talk to people about. I like to get out in the world, see new things that people are doing, and be clued into new ideas.
You are going to pitch me on the Spark guitar amp (The #1 Best-Selling Practice Amp of 2022), aren’t you?
(Laughing) Well, yeah.
Shouldn’t I hold out for the Spark MINI which retails for under $200?
The Spark MINI is pretty awesome. It is incredible sounding. It is one of those things when you are in a company, and you are working on a project, and they are telling you how great it is, but until you get it into your hands, you don’t really know.
The Spark MINI is a one-stop-shop for non-studio jamming with an app-controlled Bluetooth speaker, and USB-C recharging.
When I finally got an early production model, my jaw dropped at how great it sounded. I’m a guitar player, and there are other guitar players that I live with, and we have been having a great time with it. The fact that it sounds so good and it’s tiny, and it’s portable and battery-powered, and it has all these smart features. It’s a cool product.
You are a graduate of the private university Hofstra in Hempstead, Long Island, New York, with a bachelor of science degree in music merchandising, and a master of business administration degree in marketing?
You then worked in direct marketing at CBS Records in New York?
Right out of college, I worked for CBS Records, and that was in the heyday of the record industry. There was lots of money being tossed around, and all kinds of crazy extravagant campaigns going on. I worked in the Columbia House division for the record club. Remember the Columbia Record Club?
Oh, for sure. Envelopes from Columbia Record Club (aka Columbia House) would show up at our home on a regular basis. The unique marketing strategy was giving a potential customer a handful of records or CDs for a penny with the promise that the customer would then purchase a required number of additional CDs at full retail price plus shipping.
I was there for three years, and then I moved over to Korg USA working with that musical instrument company.
That’s a significant shift in jobs. What attracted you to Korg USA?
Well, they had a job open in the artist relations team. So I was able to move over and work with all of their endorsing artists, and really build up their roster. I also did a lot of other marketing projects for the company. I found that really exciting and creative whereas when I was with CBS, I was someone’s assistant thinking, “How am I going to move up in this company?” I was living on Long Island, and Korg was on Long Island. So I didn’t have to commute into Manhattan, which was also helpful. I ended up at Korg for 20 years. The team there was just so great. It was like my family. I got a lot of training there, and there are a lot of opportunities.
Working at Korg USA, you oversaw marketing, PR, and artist relations for Korg, and the distributed Marshall, and VOX lines. Additionally, you were an editor for Korg’s ProView Magazine and the Vox Catalog.
In 2006, you won a Davey Award, the prestigious award competition for smaller agencies, presented annually by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.
When I was in college thinking about a career in the music industry the musical instrument part of the industry wasn’t on my radar. I would never have thought of doing that.
It wasn’t on anybody’s radar.
Yeah, nobody’s radar. As a woman in that industry, I was pretty unique. Getting to really beef up my knowledge of the gear and the marketing, and I’m a musician myself, so it ended up being a great step for me. And I continue to be in that space now that I work for Positive Grid (as the senior VP of marketing.)
Was one of the appeals to you as a musician working in the musical equipment field access to all of the cool products coming to market? “Look at what I was sent today, oh boy.”
Yeah, you do end up with a lot of gear in your house.
You would have been at Korg for the launch of the M1 synthesizer and music workstation.
I started working there when the M1 came out. I was doing artist relations and there was a list of almost 300 people waiting to get the M1. I had no idea then, but that was a very cool product launch.
The M1, a popular synthesizer and music workstation manufactured by Korg from 1988 to 1995, has been used by 808 State, Banco De Gaia, Depeche Mode, Fluke, the Cure, the Orb, the KLF, Plastikman, Bomb The Bass, Gary Numan, Robert Miles, Mike Oldfield, Kitaro, Rick Wakeman, Rod Argent, Joe Zawinul, Patrick Moraz, Pet Shop Boys, Vangelis, the Cranberries, Sin, and Jellyfish.
Toward the end of my time at Korg, I was working on the launch of Vox guitars which was really fun, and cool. I had a really good time marketing Vox because we would do these crazy photoshoots on the streets of Manhattan. We did a photoshoot at CBGB right before they closed (in 2006), and shot our whole catalog there. Just some really fun projects.
As you know, the Beatles used Vox amps due to a deal made with their manager Brian Epstein that specified they would always be seen and photographed using Vox amps for guitars and bass. The deal spanned almost all of the Beatles’ history. They would get new models whenever available, Vox would fix any issues as they happened, but continued to own the amps, and leased its amps to the Beatles.
Like with any company, you have to think forwards at the same time as you are preaching your legacy. It’s tricky but it was really fun to work there.
Instrument equipment marketing is targeted to music instrumental shops, and to musicians through equipment magazines. Whereas record companies have traditionally had radio as a marketing tool to sell records, both audio and equipment manufacturers don’t. They have to be nimble, and imaginative with their marketing.
Yeah, you are always trying to come up with something new and different and then you have to be able to communicate that to people why do they want this new different thing?
Do musicians have you on speed dial seeking the newest products?
Maybe not anymore because I have other people here who do artist relations. When I was at Korg, I was talking to people (artists) every day. I would go to shows 4 or 5 nights a week. That was pre-internet. I was out there in the world seeing people. It was very exciting, and fun to be out there.
Who did you meet?
Oh my gosh. there were so many. I remember meeting Billy Joel, and I got to go to the studio. I saw Guns N’ Roses, and I met all those guys a million times. I met Elton John and Sheryl Crow. I met a lot of musicians.
You are a guitarist and a songwriter, and you are partnered with singer/songwriter Jeanna Paone. Are you any good?
Yeah, I am.
I was kidding because I have seen your balls-to-the-wall YouTube video “I Like It Loud” of you two rocking out at the 2017 She Rock Awards.
You two had an album “Girl” set to go in 2020.
It hasn’t been released yet. I haven’t put out any music in a while. It’s been really hard with all of the other demands on my time.
Finding the time to write songs?
Yeah, that’s the tricky part. It’s like anything that you care about, right? You have to carve out and prioritize the time for it, but it’s not easy.
Two decades ago, people generally knew when a new artist or a new band arrived. Their music was played incessantly on radio and the recording or the artist were featured in influential music magazines. Everybody within your circle knew what had been released and, if impressed, awaited the upcoming tour.
Today, there are few music magazines available, and radio airplay isn’t as it was. It’s challenging discovering newer artists, and releases by any artist. You can’t even visit a local record store anymore. Today, you read through the Brit magazines, like Mojo or Uncut, and there are hundreds of album reviews of artists you’ve never heard of. There’s also so much music on Spotify and other subscription streaming sites that it’s hard to break through the white noise.
Yeah, it’s using the social tools, getting on Spotify playlists, and all of those things that put you in front of people. There are two ways of finding music. You go searching for it, or it gets put in front of you. You can give people reasons to look for you or put it in front of people. That is how they discover. It’s tricky now because you are right. It’s so fractured. There are a million little places instead of one big place to go and find out about music. So there’s some pluses and minutes there.
Today there so many great people around like Kat Cunning, who I know you also like. I love her recordings of “Boys” from last year.
I write about music for Parade magazine, and I get pushed a lot of music from publicists. It is very interesting that once in a while somebody will cross my path and I just light up when I hear them. That they are so good.. Kat Cunning is one of those people. When I heard her music. I was just like “wow. “She is so talented.
I’m greatly amused that the first concert you attended was a bill with Shaun Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers. But both did release exceptionally good pop recordings.
Yeah, that’s pretty hilarious. It’s funny because I remember it. I was 14 or so, and that was the whole teen live thing. It was a lot of fun. But I was also a huge fan of Styx’s “Paradise Theatre” (concept) album (1981) so I was so psyched to then go to a show on the Styx Paradise Theater tour.
You also grew up embracing singer/songwriters that exploded pop song conventions.
I grew up in love with Caryl Simon, and Carole King. I was able to meet both of them throughout my career, and that was really exciting for me. They influenced my own songwriting and performances, Of course, I’ve listened to millions of other musicians.
Where do you live?
I live in a little town called Onset, Massachusetts, right near the beginning of Cape Cod.
You’ll be out to the beach following the She Rocks Awards.
Well, I do actually prioritize going to the beach.
Do you sail?
I don’t sail. I am content with paddling around in a little float in the bay. My family had a powerboat when I was a kid. I like it when somebody else is sailing, and I’m on the boat. I live three houses up from the water. So I will put on my calendar to jump in the bay during a workweek.
I look at all of the things you are doing, and I wonder how you find time for everything.
I know. It’s a little bit crazy right now. Once the awards are over I can refocus on music and other things. Right now a lot of my time is focused on getting the She Rock Awards born for 2022
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-80. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.
He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is a co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide,” and a Lifetime Member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
He is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry.