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Photo of Piper Kaplan, Pearl Harbor.

Piper Kaplan, Pearl Harbor.

It's hard to say what's valuable and what isn't this early on, but I'm sure we'll know pretty soon!

Photo of Sofia Talvik

Sofia Talvik

"82% of the people that use social media daily are women.. use it to your advantage. Connect with your fellow female musicians and help support each other. Social media is also more and more becoming the most important platform to connect with your listeners. Don't sit around and wait. You have to work hard in the world of music. Record your songs, get them out there. Start your own label. Go out play!!"


"My best advice was from my Dad who said don't believe the bad stuff they write about you and don't believe the good stuff. Don't let the good stuff swell your head, don't let the bad stuff bring you down. Instead know who you are, what you are about and stay steady. This life is such a rollercoaster that I almost daily remind myself of this!

My advice to a woman musician starting out would be to do the best with what you've got. Don't try to be something you're not, as a musician, as a person, as an image. Just work hard at making the best out of what you've got. It's all about working hard. And sticking together as ladies and supporting each other, instead of comparing and bringing another girl down. Leave that to the men to do!! We need to be strong together I think. Its healthier all round."

Photo of Frankie Rose, Frankie Rose and the Outs

Frankie Rose, Frankie Rose and the Outs

I have no idea about "the industry" I do think that if you wanna start a band or make an album you should just do without judging yourself too harshly. None ever taught me to ply anything. In fact , I still don't know how to play. i mostly just pretend. it has seemed to work thus far.

Photo of Marianne Dissard

Marianne Dissard

Don't date at the office.

Jen O'Connor, Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, We are Jeneric

My advice would be -don't listen to most advice. There are a lot of people out there who think they know the way to do things, or think they know the answer to your success. Truthfully, if you don't follow your own instincts and your own integrity you may find yourself successfully miserable. Only you know what you are trying to achieve from your music.

Photo of Lily Chapin, The Chapin Sisters

Lily Chapin, The Chapin Sisters

Our dad told us to own your own masters. And keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Photo of Zoe Keating

Zoe Keating

I see a lot of promising musicians give up too soon. It takes time, years of hard work to make it. Don't give up.

Photo of Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins

Zahira Gutierrez, Wild Moccasins

"Someone said once to not care about how people react to your music or what they write. Not everyone will like it and there will always be people who will say negative things and that's okay. I try not to pay too much attention to reviews. As for advice to women, as cheesy as this sounds, you have to be yourself. Don't let anyone tell you what you have to look like or sound like to be successful. "

Photo of Sandra Velasquez, Pistolera

Sandra Velasquez, Pistolera

"I have been lucky to work with and meet many great people in the industry who have given me some invaluable advice. 1) Follow the love. In otherwords, play where people invite you and want you. If you are not having success in Boston, don't force it. Follow your success. (Pistolera has been on tour to Belgium more times that it has played New Jersey) 2) Every overnight success is 10 years in the making. Keep at it. 3) Every shot you don't take is a shot you miss. 4) Don't ever give up 5) Don't pay no mind to no haters"


"no, i never had big plans and was surprised when i found out that (some) people even liked it. so it went on and on. my advice is: just DO IT! don't wait for big record companies, booking agencies or whatever. nowadays it's so easy to put out your stuff and book shows for yourself. just use the internet and spread the word. be courageous and adventurous and you will win! play play play!!! <3"

Photo of Reyna Kay, Blessure Grave

Reyna Kay, Blessure Grave

Toby has given me the best advice. He has told me he believes in me. From that advice it really positioned me to belive that I am capable of anything. I've taken that and really applied it this new part of my life.. My advice to other women would be, to go for it, try everything and anything, practice, and find a way to allow what's inside you to come out through this art.

Photo of Blair Gimma, Blair

Blair Gimma, Blair

I would tell a woman artist the same thing I would tell a male artist, which is to work tirelessly on your art, the rest will take care of itself.

Photo of Julie Feeney

Julie Feeney

"Yes in many ways. As a woman you have to be careful not to get caught up in the issue and just make sure to get on with it. It could side track you. People will more than likely express surprise that self produce my music and self manage my career when they probably wouldn't say that if I was a guy."
I can't remember any advice right now that I was given. My advice to anyone is to follow your nose and work really really really hard on every aspect of what you do. Don't expect any magic wand effect from anyone. You will need to do all of the ground work your self if you want to be prepared for 'take-off'.

Madame Scorpio, Scorpio Rising

"Get a job. If you are in a band or doing it for yourself you and other members better have a job. There will be many expenses to pay. Practice faculty, tour transpo van, gas, food, instrument repairs, adding instruments, trailer, keeping your travel van up on maintenance, registration, inspection, van insurance, advertising, flyers, give always, tshirts, all your merch, legal advice...many many tings that need to be paid for. If no one in the band has a huge bank roll...get a job! If it comes down to having to quit your job because your music is taking off so well, that is great...but it will probably not happen. It is best that you wear all the hats, no one else will have your bets interest except yourself...don't trust anyone.. so ""get a job"" and ""don't trust anyone"" is my advice, along with grow a thick skin...you're under the spot light and people have their opinions. On the same note...having a job helps with a bank account to pay medical expenses. I was diagnosed with breast cancer Oct 16 2009. Fortunately I have a full time job with great insurance, even though the co-pays are kicking my butt at this time, I have no idea what I would have done with out the insurance. i know for a fact my treatments would not be the same. I am in my 5th chemo treatment with one more to go. I had a mastectomy and will go through a couple more surgeries to finish up the reconstruction already in progress. We are playing SXSW showcase at the Ghost Room 304 west 4th str. on Thursday, March 18th at 7pm sharp! Austin Texas in the warehouse district."

Photo of Beth Tacular, Bowerbirds

Beth Tacular, Bowerbirds

"I didn't really get any female-oriented advice. I just watched what the women did who I admired, and tried to learn from them. I'm lucky there are so many female musicians playing in the triangle area, mskbg some of the best music coming out here. Come to think of it, there is a woman in every one of my favorite local bands who also tour, save maybe two. "

Amy Rude and Heartbeast

"I have received great advice from many women and men over the years. The best advice I ever received was from an artist who told me to take as long as I need to make the stage my home before I perform. That pause that I now make before playing has made all the difference for me in the world! My advice to anyone just starting out is: Learn an instrument or if you sing, really learn about singing. Learn how to dance. Collect records. Music doesn't have to be a geeky science. Always serve the song. You don't have to recite numbers and notes and memorize everything. You can be shy, bold, expert, novice or naive--just play! Music should be still a social tool. It's silly to have that reserved just for the ""Industry."" The Industry is just a collection of people who care about art. If you're ambitious--that's great. However art is also about longevity and a certain aesthetic form. Learn about who came before you."

Photo of Laura Ballance, Superchunk

Laura Ballance, Superchunk

Not specifically as a woman. I would advise anyone in the music industry to do it because it is fun and personally rewarding, and try not to think of it as a way to get famous or even make a living, or that might make it disappointing for you. Take it for what it is and keep it fun. Keep your day job. Most musicians don't become well known.

Photo of Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland

"I have been given both wonderful and horrible advice by people meaning well in this industry. The worst advice I am happy I did not take was to stop playing guitar, have plastic surgery and receive a large check. While I have never been offered that amount of money since, I am happy to report that I can sleep at night and play the music that moves me on whatever instrument I choose. The advice I would give is simple: Remember that the music IS the journey and the reward. Be realistic, live cheap, share. This business is brutal in order to weed out those who are not in it for life."

Photo of Martha Johnson, Martha and the Muffins

Martha Johnson, Martha and the Muffins

"It's very hard to have it all - a successful career as a musician, a healthy, happy relationship with a partner and children in a stable home.

My advice would be - don't try to do everything at once. Make sure you enjoy all aspects of your life and don't burn out too soon. Be there!

My mother gave me some good advice. She said there are a lot of drugs and alcohol close at hand most of the time in the life of a musician. She said I should be careful not to get drawn into that world. She was right as I have seen so many musicians both male and female destroy their lives with abuse of these addictive substances.

Stay focused on the music and remember you will always have your ups and downs."

Photo of Olivia Broadfield

Olivia Broadfield

My advice isn't woman specific, it's just work! Work work work, work like no-one else has before...think outside the box. Contact everyone, the people no-one usually bothers with, those people become your friends and help you out more than you will ever know. Be kind...it might seem girly, but people like sweet kind people, if they like you, they will want to see you do well and work harder to help you achieve what you want to achieve. Simple, but true.

Photo of Madi Diaz

Madi Diaz

"my dad always told me that there was always going to be somebody better, so ever don't stop. ever.

my advice would be much of the same. there are millions of people with dreams, the difference is between those who can ruthlessly chase them and those who don't. "

Sara Bell, Regina Hexaphone, Shark Quest

Lots of people. Make sure you own your own songs. Educate yourself about your gear and about the business. Educate yourself about the history of the music you love and follow its trails. Always be true to yourself, your own voice is the best one there is, and if you listen to your heart and translate it into music everyone else will want to listen too.

Photo of Amelia Meath, Mountain Man

Amelia Meath, Mountain Man

Most of the friends who have given us advice have been men, and they usually say, continue onward and protect yourself. My advice would be: listen to your intuition, actually. Do not back down from what you believe in and do not feel pressure. Women feel easily pressured, one of the gifts I have been given is to be in a band with women who stand in their ideals. And if things get bad, start getting loud.

Photo of Christina Marrs, Asylum Street Spankers

Christina Marrs, Asylum Street Spankers

"This career path basically fell into my lap. I didn't research it first to find out how I should make my way; I just figured it out as I went along. It's almost laughable to think about how green I was when I started doing this. I had natural talent, but no real skills yet; I didn't even know how to count off a song! I think the best advise for any musician starting out is to just get out there and play. Play as much as you can. Play with different musicians. Collaborate with musicians who might be coming from a different place, musically, than you are. I have learned so much from the very talented musicians I've been so blessed to have shared a stage with. There is a different set of muscles you use when you play with other people, as opposed to playing solo. You can, and should, practice alone in your living room as much as time will allow you, but playing in front of an audience is invaluable experience, so even if you don't have any gigs yet, go to an open mic to get used to performing, as opposed to simply playing. I think that it's probably best to just think of yourself as a musician, rather than a woman musician. In my mind there's really no need to make a big deal about the distinction. "

Photo of Jackie Bristow

Jackie Bristow

Yes i have been given lots of good advice. I would say write, write write, play as much as possable. Do it yourself and don't wait for someone else. I say that from experience I think I would be more successful if i had known how important it was to build your fanbase and from the ground up. I was signed with major labels just before the change and I as advised to not play and let radio do the work.. but radio ever picked me up so I am still building my fan base. Once you have an audience you have a career!

Maya Miller Band

"We both present ourselves and act first and foremost like Humans as opposed to women.

The only valuable advice i can recall was to remember that no one is our friend - but that advice was not female specific.

Advice to someone starting out: do the best you can, don't fixate on thinking you have to do anything a certain way just because you're a woman. don't trap yourself and then maybe you don't have to be trapped by others."

Photo of Ruth Merenda, Mike & Ruthy

Ruth Merenda, Mike & Ruthy

"Hmmmm. Because my parents and most of their friends are in the music business I received plenty of advice good and bad.

I think the best advice I got was in my theater training where I learned to breathe and be in the room in an audition setting. I know that sounds pretty basic, but it's easy to forget when you start playing high-profile shows and feeling like you have to impress everyone.

It's the same advice I'd give to anybody. Be present. Don't forget to breathe . . .

. . . and maybe a couple of tips I got from my Dad over the years, like: Don't burn a bridge if you can help it. Make sure you're still having fun!

There will always be high-paying gigs that are no fun low-paying gigs that feed your soul! Get a good balance going and you'll be alright. "

Kate Levitt, Teeth Mountain and the Dan Deacon Ensemble

When I first started playing the drums, I was listening to a lot of Riot Grrrl bands. Specifically, I was super into Bikini Kill, and Sleater Kinney--bands who activly promote female musical empowerment. I think this was a very good place to start. Listening to these bands was of particular importance to me becuase I was very into the New York punk scene when I was a kid, I hung out at places like ABC No Rio, and that genre is very male dominated, with an obvious male hierarchy. While the Riot Girl scene developed out of Olympia, and I was living in NY, having female role models who came out of the punk scene was really helpful to me becasue it made me feel like, "hell yea, we can do this too!" The first couple of bands I was in when I was a kid were "riot grrrl" bands. I guess I would suggest that any woman who was feeling kind of self contious about this stuff pick up one of those cds and do a bit of research into that scene. Having female role models I think is really good for any female musician to have positive female role models.

Also, having your first band be with other women can be empowering. There is a strong bond you make with the people you play with, and it is simply different when you are playing with dudes. I can't really explain it further then that. It's intangable and ineffible. I guess for the most part I have found that the people I play with have become my best friends, and having a female best friend is different then have one whose a dude. I'm not close with many of my girl friends from high school, for example, but of those i remain close with the majority are people i played music with at one time or another.

Ultimatly though, the advice I would give to a woman musician just starting out would be just to play the music you want to play, and play at the bars you want to play at, and don't give a shit about what anyone tells you, especially if what they say is discourging. Unfortunatly, though, thats easier said than done.

A NOTE: I think it is really really awesome that you guys are doing this. Check this out: on december 9th i sent a very similar show idea to This American Life. However, I sent it by e-mail and figured no one would ever read it. If you guys did, that is sick. But if you came up with this idea with out reading that e-mail that's even cooler becuase it means more people are just realizing this is a relevent topic. Thanks NPR!!!

Nancy Lombardo

be the next you not the next anyone else....advice have a backup plan

Photo of Liz Burke

Liz Burke

I would say when starting out the most important thing you can do is play as many shows as you can for a diverse variety of people and not be intimidated by men....they can actually be your biggest fans.

Photo of Pilley Bianchi

Pilley Bianchi

"Amazing pianist Lee Luvisi (I studied with him at Aspen Music Festival) He said ""the only secret is, there is no secret, you just have to work hard and practice.""

Pianist Ivan Davis. ""you can do it, I believe in you.""


Jone Stebbins, Imperial Teen

go for it.

Kelly Crisp, The Rosebuds

"I've always studied women (and men) that I respect and I try to identify what it is that makes them successful. It is usually ethics and their approach to business that I notice first. I do want my band to be wildly successful, but it has to be our own way. To be respectable in business is more important to me (than bling or whatever) and so I aspire to those goals.

My advice is to be active and present in all aspects of the creative and business life of the band. If you are making truly valuable contributions, you will remain happy. And your gender should not become an issue so long as you do not make it (or use it) as one. It is easier to be a successful woman in this business than outsiders might think because, at least in my band, we are all working together so feverishly for better, more intense creative expression in our project that we forget to see our differences. Or we burn them for fuel."

Mel Watson

"I had boundless support from my music teacher, and my parents. My father said ""it's all about the marketing and management....."" I didn't take his advice, but he was right. i was interested in making my own way, and finding my own path.

Be you. This is the most valuable advice I would give any one starting out. I want to hear what you have to say, not what you think I want to hear. :)"

Kristina Esfandiari aka Mountshout

toughen up! do what you feel compelled to do and don't let anyone pressure you into doing things their way.

Photo of Pamela Rose, Wild Women of Song

Pamela Rose, Wild Women of Song

"It's changed so much since the days I started out, when women were supposed to be 'chick singers' and cook dinner for the guys and clean up after rehearsals. (I kid you not). I used to feel that I had to sing powerful strong songs so as not to get pigeon holed as the 'ballad singer' (chick singer).

My last CD which was about the women jazz composers naturally featured a lot of great women players. I'm happy to report in that I can't close my eyes and say that there's a 'women' style of playing that's qualitatively unique or different than the men's style. We've come a long way, and I work with some pretty bad ass women musicians.

And of course, let's discuss the fact that to have a boyfriend or husband in this business, he better have a good healthy ego, able to handle that you are getting flirted with from stage or off stage. The male musician 'band wives' go to all the gigs, but the husbands don't, for sure. "
"My new show ""Wild Women of Song"" does talk a lot about the unique challenges of having a family and being in music biz. It's hard for anyone to juggle the demands of work chldrend...but so much harder when you are on the road, when you can't promise you'll be there for birthdays or recitals.

And women, I feel, aren't as naturally comfortable promoting themselves as men are - so much of the networking happens from hanging out at parties and in bars, etc. Really difficult on the musician moms, who just can't do those things.

I'm happy to say I've got a wonderful, very supportive, strong minded husband who is not threatened by my lifestyle, and who has had to throw many a birthday party for our kids when I've not been around. "

Submitted Anonymously

The best piece of advice I ever got was from my high school friend Amanda Palmer, who is now a successful solo musician and 1/2 of the duo The Dresden Dolls. The night before I was scheduled to talk on the phone with a label that was interested in releasing my first EP, I called her to ask what I should say. And Amanda told me, unabashedly, that you really really really have to WANT it. If you aren't 100% invested in your music, then audiences and labels and industry people. etc, will sense it and, in turn, invest their faith and their resources in you. She convinced me that a half-hearted effort would only end up giving itself away, and that if I wanted to make music my life, I had to fully commit to it.

Photo of Elizabeth Cook

Elizabeth Cook

yeah people told me to not change, but i've definitely changed. i would tell them its okay to change and its okay to let a man carry your gear.

Sara Hickman

"Peter Himmelman once said to me, ""Just be yourself. Don't let others talk you any to anything. The way you are creating is amazing."" And Lucinda Williams brought me on stage when I was stiffed by a club owner to perform before the bar had even opened...she heard what had happened, and at the end of her performance, while the club was packed to the nines, she introduced me as her FRIEND (we'd just met) and had me come up and sing to an awesome, enthusiastic crowd. She shared the moment with me so graciously; I've never forgotten the awe I felt from her unselfishness and caring.

I would say to a woman musician starting out: surround yourself with women you admire, even if only in recordings, and network wherever you can---festivals, conferences...and be yourself....be bold in sharing your work....send thank you notes...ask LOADS of questions...imagine yourself where it is you want to be, and everytime you are on stage, make it your best performance possible. Take constructive criticsm, mull it over, and take what is true that can help you grow. Listen to a variety of music and practice, practice, practice. Keep a journal. Ask to open for women you admire. Don't ever, ever,ever give up----even when club owners say you're fat or an audience doesn't respond or a label turns you down or someone doesn't like your song---all that just makes you stronger. Play music with people better than you. Listen to what people are saying around you at conferences, you'll learn a lot. Take notes. Expand your horizons and never be afraid to try something new with your voice/lyrics/sound/music. There is room enough for everyone, don't let anyone tell you different. And, lastly, you don't have to be a household name to make a career/living on what you love to do. Do what you love. Be happy. Enjoy the moments. Make your songs an extension of who you are....you're the only you that will ever be and YOU MATTER. Thanks, Sara Hickman, Official State Musician of Texas for May 2010-May 2011"

Photo of Hatii Rose De Leon, Dazzle Ships

Hatii Rose De Leon, Dazzle Ships

I think some of the best advice I got was to be genuine, to be myself and not force it. Making songs that come naturally to me is just more fufilling, when I try to overthink parts or calculate everything out it usually doesn't work or flow as better as something that just comes natural. Its important to keep a real part of yourself in the music I think. My advice to a woman musician just astarting out is to not be afraid, I know its intimidating with so many male musicians who have been lead in this department for so long, and I know how its easy to lose yourself and just have someone just tell you what to do. I say don't be afraid to share your ideas, have confidence in your abilities, just because your a female doesn't mean anything, you're just as talented as any human being out there. It took me a while to realise this myself and it just made me feel so much better about myself, my confidence, and my abilities.

Shannon Stephens

I've gotten plenty of advice, mostly bad. All of the bad advice I've received can be summed up in the statement, "You must kill your own soul to achieve success." The good advice has come from my own gut. I refuse to kill my soul, to harm myself, to harm my child or my marriage, to achieve success. I refuse to quit everything else that gives me hope and enjoyment. Music is a part of my life because it's a part of me, but it's not the only part of me. I do it for the joy of it, and if success comes from that, I will be glad about it. If not, I'm free to continue making music or try something new. To a woman musician starting out, I would say: Make sure you're taking voice lessons from someone good, and singing every day. Work hard to stay in tune. Practice your instrument at least a half hour a day (this will sound lazy to some). Warm up before shows!!! Learn to be a savvy businesswoman as well as an accomplished artist. And don't harm yourself for success. See yourself as a whole person. Do music not because you need validation from "The Industry", but because you love it.

Tanya Horo, Sherlocks Daughter

"The best advice i've ever had was from an old boss, who said to me ' if you believe in what you're doing never give up.'

It's true, never give up, never surrender!!"

Photo of Meklit Hadero

Meklit Hadero

"I cant say that i ever got particularly valuable advice about making it in the industry. but when women musicians ask what they should do when just starting out, i say two things.

1. embed yourself in a community. much will come of that. do not go the route of trying to make it alone. it's not really the point of music anyway, and you'll end up feeling the struggle of it more.

2. organize. bring people together, and you become invaluable within your community. when you dedicate yourself to a group, it can be enormously hard work, but it helps the mind to stay in the big picture. and you'll always get more than you gave.

everything that has come to me in music has come from these two points! it works!"

Miranda Lee Richards

I have received so much advice, but some of the best advice had to do with learning to do what was right for me. It's important to know somethings about the business so you can make educated decisions, but even then, you will have to be in touch with yourself to know when a situation feels right, when someone has your best interest at heart, or when an opportunity feels exciting or just the opposite. Very rarely do you feel good about things that turn out bad. I have felt cautious about things that ended up turning out great, but I've never felt bad about something that turned out good, does that make sense?

Stephanie Winters

David Darling was my cello teacher (he just won a Grammy). He told me to play music with love. I have followed this advice and it has served me well. If you play music as a way of connecting to something large and wonderful - the rewards are inherent and it nourishes you internally. I am not rich or famous, but I have no regrets as I followed what I loved to do and I am proud of the music I have made.

Photo of Lou Hickey, Codeine Velvet Club

Lou Hickey, Codeine Velvet Club

"I was just told it was hard, and that I would need to toughen up. You have to put yourself out there and give it everything you've got. It is hard being a female working in the music business. To someone starting out, I would say, keep your head down, work hard, and if people choose not to see your intelligence and talent, then more fool them. Sometimes playing up on their pre-conceptions of women is the very thing that can outsmart them the most. You can use it to your advantage. "

Carrie Clark

"If you are the only woman in a group of men, don't convince yourself that you have to be ""one of the guys"" to be accepted. Have confidence that you are all equal and enjoy the fact that you are different. Respect and nurture those differences. At the same time, take time to understand how male communication can be different. Learn the language and expect respect in return. Lastly: nothing is more important than your health. really. Know that your 115 pound self houses that brain that makes all of the music possible. Take care of them both."

Betty Rupp North Elementary

Advice no. My advice, just do it and have fun!

Photo of Kera Washington, Zili Misik

Kera Washington, Zili Misik

Listen listen listen. Ask questions. Find good mentors. Try not to burn bridges even when it is difficult. I have lots of mentors that I still call for advice (although my mother is not a professional musician, I ask her advice everyday!)

Tania, Via Tania

"over time probably, but no one really hit the nail on the head. No one really knows, it's such a crap shoot. Ok I guess really the only one that matters is persistence, which is boring to hear even when you know it's the case and in times when you think : this doesn't make sense, on paper, or from any way I look at it, -I could be actually having a wildly successful extremely lucrative career in an actual job that exists- heh

Except I like to make music and write songs and I'm choosing to do it for my own well being and I'd be pretty miserable without it."

Photo of Meaghan Smith

Meaghan Smith

Sarah Mclachaln is someone I am inspired by. I grew up listening to her and am eagerly anticipating this summer's Lilith Fair as I'll be one of the performers in the line up. She is obviously a very smart business woman who is creative and original. I aspire to her level in every way. She has given me amazing advice and I would pass it on to other musicians. And that is to be yourself. Be smart. Don't dull down the brightness of your light and work hard. I hope at some point we don't really care about the fact that a musician is male or female. If you make good music, that's all that counts.

Terra Lopez, Sister Crayon

I don't really remember any one single thing that has stuck out, other than people who have just told me to keep it going. There has been a lot of support for the band that I am in and I appreciate it so much. It's amazing to me that people even listen at all, you know? I would just tell someone that if they have the feeling where they would not feel complete or even alive if they were not making music, then go with it and stay with it and run with it. If it's genuine, people will respect it and see that. Genuine music/genuine people will always win. I believe that.

Shonna Tucker, The Drive-By Truckers

My dear friend Spooner told me once two very important things.... "The more stuff you have, the less you need" and "take more pictures". I would pass this along to anyone just starting their journey in the music world. And to just always do what you do the way you do it. Don't be confined to one style or sound, but don't lose who you are. Always study, practice and go see as many live shows as you can. And learn to say "thank you".

Carol Lester, Carol Lester & The World Women

Always practice and perform standing up. Put your whole body mind and soul into every single song. Be as vulnerable, furious, ecstatic, turned on (etc) when performing as you were when you wrote the piece. Name names and be true to what you believe in.

Kelley Mickwee, The Trishas

"You know, no one ever really gave me any advice or pushed me in any certain direction. I think for some musicians, especially for me, it was just something that I never lost sight of, even when I attempted to have a real job after college. Its kinda built-in for some of us I think. I have always wanted to be a performer, and cant remember a time when I ever thought that wouldn't be possible for me. It never seemed too far out of reach. Even if it meant just playing a weekly gig down the street for 50 bucks, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I think for women musicians my age, it is as possible to be successful in the music business for women as it is for men. Two things you need: Talent and Determination.

My advice to women: There is nothing you can't do. Follow every avenue, you will grow with each opportunity. "

Jill King

"1. For any musician male or female: You must have a higher reason and a lasting passion for doing music, one that goes above and beyond basic goal-setting, or you will not last.

2. Try to keep emotions in the music and out of the business and continually keep good lines of communication open with those you're working with. Don't assume people can read your mind, and listen carefully to what others have to say.

3. Good paper makes good business."

Photo of Amie Maciszewski, Amie & Sangeet Millennium

Amie Maciszewski, Amie & Sangeet Millennium

A publicist woman friend of mine told me: don't be afraid to get your work out there. This was valuable because I was always reticent about self-promotion. I had gotten too much discouraging feedback from men in the past. My advice to starting women musicians: understand what you want, mastermind your goal, and go after it. Be strong, work hard, and believe in yourself, but don't be afraid to be flexible.

Jill Barber

I had an older brother that encouraged me from the get-go. I had lots of people give me plenty of advice, but my approach has always been trial and error. I started early, and moved slowly through the business. I feel that the business aspect of music has always come pretty naturally to me. I've always worked hard, but never had to try very hard to understand the ins and outs of the business. Sometimes I worry about young musicians who attend music conferences to "learn the ropes." I'd rather see them get out there and just do it their own way and learn as they go.


It probably sounds a little cheesy, but my advise to a woman musician would be to always believe in herself as an artist/performer. There may always people who may think less of you as a musician just because you're a woman. Prove them wrong :-)

Meredith Sheldon, Family of the Year

"Make something you really believe in. Be honest. "

Photo of Hannah Lew, Grass Widow

Hannah Lew, Grass Widow

I had very few role models to tell you the truth. My advice to a woman starting out would be to find friends who have a similar belief system as you and just play! Ability has very little to do with being in a band. Everyone gets good at their instruments by playing with other people. Most of what being in a band is functioning on pure belief and genuine love for what you are making,outside of any external influence. Also I would say that we as women have the opportunity to represent ourselves with artistic dignity and manufacture personal confidence not in relation to our appearance. We have the opportunity to thrive in our community first as musicians, then as women.

Photo of Amber Rubarth, The Paper Raincoat

Amber Rubarth, The Paper Raincoat

"Yes yes yes yes yes. Very valuable.

When I was 17 I moved to Carson City, Nevada to become a wood sculptor. I worked with a chainsaw carving animals and sculptures seven days a week for 3 years in that apprenticeship program and I left because the head sculptor (who had also become a mentor to me) told me this: You will only be truly great if you follow your number one passion. If you don't, you're not only not going to be as great as you could be, but you will not serve the purpose you were put here on earth to do, there is something only you can do how you do it, and you're robbing the world of that if you decide to take the safe route and do what you're told rather than carving your own unique path out. Don't have a Plan B, once you decide what you will do, work hard and give it as a gift and the universe will come together to support you.

I quit that day. I traded my chainsaw for a guitar and have never looked back. It is the best advice I've heard and I think of it often. It is easy to think when we're doing something that we are being selfish in choosing exactly what we love, I struggled with that for a long time. But when you recognize it as a gift, and give it as such to the world, that erases all self-consciousness you feel on stage, all worries about whether you are supposed to be doing that or getting a ""regular job,"" etc. Don't have a back up plan and give everything you have to giving to the world through the way that you love and only you can do."

Photo of Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

Be honest, always be nice to everyone, if you believe in what you do and what you say what you write, you will never be disappointed with a show or a release or your decisions. And ALWAYS work with people you trust and know and would consider a friend. And NEVER do anything because you think the listener would like it - you should do it because YOU like it.

Photo of Stephanie Luke, The Coathangers

Stephanie Luke, The Coathangers

"NO! However the best advice my mother ever gave me about anything was to never quit! If it isn't difficult it usually isn't worth doing... Much love! "


"the same as to a guy--> be yourself, look deep in you and once you love what you've found be strong and flexible all the way out!

Try to be independant, don't be lazy, and love everything you do, bureaucracy as the music itself, if you don't love it-> let someone else do it!

Surround yourself with good and talented people, pay them for their good work, and keep clean connections. Be a professional!


Mia Doi Todd

"I had very little advice going into the music industry. One record exec told me to hurry and get myself together, because I was getting old. I was only 23. I was very creative as a young performer and I realized there would be very few roles available to me in acting because I didn't have a particular look and I didn't want to wait around forever for nothing, so I started writing songs out of a need for self-expression. I would say only do it if you really feel you HAVE to do it. It's not easy, nor very rewarding in many ways. But if you have to, start writing songs immediately and start performing them out live for an audience. You don't have to be a guitar virtuoso. Find your own personal voice. Do not imitate your favorite singer.

I made a record with Mitchell Froom as the producer, and he taught me about making decisions and moving forward when recording. It's a good idea to decide which take or compilation of takes you are going to use before moving on to the next instrument. "

Margaret Ayre, Fern Knight

My roots are in the DIY indie rock early 90s era, back when indie labels were all still independent and not owned by majors. It is a different world now, but my advice would be to make your online presence strong through social networking sites. Try digitally releasing singles and turn those singles into videos with your talented friends. The CD format just isn't selling these days like it used to, so then releasing an LP and/or a 7" as well as digital might be a better second step, either releasing them yourself or finding a small label who can help you get started. Own your own masters and keep your publishing rights!

Jen Olive

"well .. the same advice i would give to anyone which is... don;t lose your integrity. your vision for yourself as an artist is ALWAYS the right one.. that's what makes YOU the artist... and if you are a woman... don;t feel that it means you are obligated to put forward any particular perspective or viewpoint because of that. your perspective as a woman IS the female perspective... and whatever your take, it will bring strength to more people, not just women, to express their own views as well."

Utah Green

Yes. "Gypsy Dance" I would tell the woman beginning to continue to do everything that is beautiful and feminine, embrace the good and the bad, and remember We are all One.

Photo of Ginger Brooks Takahashi, MEN

Ginger Brooks Takahashi, MEN

"I learn so much from my bandmate JD Samson on a daily basis. Her experiences in Le Tigre have given us an incredible base to work from. Advice to young women: Follow your intuition and play how you want to play. "

Camila Grey, Uh Huh Her/Adam Lambert

"My college Professor at Berklee gave me some sound advice. He said,"" When you go to LA and embark into the music industry, be sure to bring some vaseline. It will make the ride much less painful"".

As far as my advice to younger women starting out...""These days being a musician encompasses so much more than just making music. You have to wear many hats. You have to be willing to be very creative in a climate where music is the least common denominator, and personas, hype, and twittering are valued more. I would also say that ownership in this day and age is of utmost importance. Owning rights to masters, publishing, merch, tours, etc. is the only way you'll make money as an artist. It is like the holy grail for people who want to do this for a living"". "

Photo of Alanna Meltzer, Jews and Catholics

Alanna Meltzer, Jews and Catholics

Well, not so much music industry advice as something my first bass teacher said to me that has always stuck with me. I was struggling with learning how to carry my instrument. It is a beast. I was even shorter then, and I'm only 5'2" now, this thing was huge. And I must have asked someone for help or something and she told me that if this was what I wanted to do, if I really wanted to play this instrument, I would carry it for myself. I would always carry it on my own. I still hear those words in my head and I think it's important as a woman to carry that over into other aspects of being in band, not just schlepping my instrument around, but being sure to pull my weight with everything we do just like any guy would (or should).

Photo of Mo Perce, Lick Lick

Mo Perce, Lick Lick

Randy Biscuit Turner always ended his shows by saying, "Now go form your own band!" You need to make sure it's fun, whatever you do.

Janiva Magness

"Yes. Bob Tate who was the Musical Director for Sam Cook for many,many years. I had the honor to work with Bob for a few Years in Phoenix, AZ. What a beautiful soul he was. He taught me much (and still does) about practicing and getting better command of my instrument. He used to tell me it was the ONLY way to get respect from other players. He talked a lot about Sarah Vaughn and Aretha Franklin and how they could show up ANYBODY on their instruments and piano. Sarah was ruthless - so he said - about players that gave her crap and didnt play the right changes behind her. She would school them fast and hard - it wasnt pretty - and they would get in line or be fired. Simple. But she had full command of her instrument and knew music and could read like a M.F! So can Aretha he said. He would tell me again and again ""...and dont take no stuff from these men... cause they gonna dish it! But dont take it, no matter what they say. And for god sake dont sleep with them... cause they all gonna want to sleep with you - soon as they feel your power! Soon as you do - its over!"" Well I took his words in and boy was he right for the most part. Hahahaha God Bless Bob Tate!

My first voice teacher, Gail Hensley Gunderson told me similar things, including that ""...when folks started to praise you, be very very careful to not buy their words hook line and sinker, cause people in the music business eat their young!"" Hahahaha boy was she right!

Nancy Cox my second voice teacher taught me - practice, practice, practice! And I still do!

MY ADVICE: Get control of your instrument. Practice, practice, practice. I still practice vocal exercises to this day - after 34 years. I do that because it works. I see so many players trying to make their way and havne't done enough homework to have a grip on whatever their instrument is, enough to command respect from their fellow players and artists. So players get frustrated cause they cant get any respect and get an attitude about that! Ha! Respect is earned, not a given. Remember half the gig is YOUR ATTITUDE! I work with people who give me what I need musically and otherwise, and if they dont or wont, I simply move on to find the right fit. Oh yeah, get real good at handling your own business. You are gonna need that skill! Also, try to be willing to have the ""student mind"" and be teachable, a very valuable thing I have learned. Learn what it is you want and then pursue that with a vengence. Be clear and whenever possible be kind. It is usually possible to be kind to people. Take the high road whenever possible when dealing with other humans. The music business is full of really bad musicians, taking money. Then there is this huge glut of mediocrity taking more money, above that are some tremendously talented and disciplined people, hopefully taking money. Strive for the 3rd category!"

Petra Mases, Francis

"I always been tought that if you want to do this you have to give it 110%. And I think thats true, you have to work as much as you can to get somewhere. If you want to make a living out of it, that is. Remember that the songs you write is yours and they are there for your sake. Thats the only thing that matter, that you enjoy playing your songs and that you do it with your heart."

Photo of Cariad Harmon

Cariad Harmon

"I have had a lot of advice along the way, some useful and some not so useful. I think believing in yourself is the most important thing regardless of your gender. It is such a hard and competitive industry, I think it's very important to take care of yourself, to remember that you love what you do and to work hard at maintaining a high level of self belief.

I think that the best advice I ever had was to make friends and collaborate with people. Every artist needs a network of sympathetic musicians and friends in the industry who believe in and support what they do. Reach out to artists you admire, go see a lot of shows and introduce yourself to the people who's work you love. In times when you want to pack it all in and go be an accountant, it's these people who will feed your soul and persuade you that what you do is important and meaningful enough to continue doing. They are also the people that will stay with you throughout your career and help you as you climb the ladder. With any luck, you'll also be in a position to help them one day and the wheel spins on."


"Allways take a moment with yourself before saying yes to anything. There are a lot of people giving all kind of promisses but they can not deliver. If you know you are good then relaxe and have fun, but know your goal."

Jennie Arnau

Stick to your guns- they fire just like a mans!

Photo of Sarah Tracey

Sarah Tracey

"It can be extremely overwhelming when starting out in music- trying to get your band together, creating your music, hustling for gigs, trying to create a following, doing all the internet marketing, etc- so great advice I have gotten is: choose just 3 music-related goals each day and do them. And don't forget to make some time to live your life and have experiences and adventures, this is the soul that you will bring to your art.

I've been lucky to meet a few successful female musicians that I look up to (Renee Fleming, Roberta Flack, among others) and the universal advice has always been a simple 'keep going and don't give up on your dreams'. I hold that advice very close especially now that I'm at the point where I've been developing my artistry for a few years in New York and I'm gaining ground and at a certain 'breaking point' where I'm ready to launch it on a bigger level. It's difficult to take the 'starving artist' path of building from the ground up, rather than going on a reality show chasing the overnight success. So amidst my bartending and cocktail waitressing and random vocal session work and being a professional Doo-Wop Girl and all the other things I do to feed the dream and pay the rent- I often tell myself, 'just keep going'. Hopefully persistence will be rewarded in the end! That's what I would tell aspiring female musicians- keep your head up despite setbacks, celebrate every small victory- and just keep going."

Dawn Landes

I worked at a music festival for 2 summers when I first moved to New York and I asked all the performers for advice. Jonathan Richman said something I'll never forget..."Play as much as possible. Play your aunts birthday party, play your friends porch, play as much as you can." I think that's good advice for any musician out there, boy or girl.


"No. They didn't! ... Haha, that's a little sad now that I rack my brain for it... but I'm almost glad that no one did. I might have done something differently, and I'm not second guessing anything I've done. I guess the closest I can remember, is one of our first managers always telling us to ""write more songs"".

... Advice I'd give to a woman starting out: Do this for the person you look at in the mirror every morning. If you're doing this because you want a record deal, or because you desire monetary fortune... you might want to stop... and re-evaluate. I'd say write a bunch of songs, and have a blast playing them. If you get better, and get better, all the right things will happen."

Emily Neveu, Calico Horse, also solo artist

"I haven't had any heart to hearts about being a woman in the music industry, but I have learned a lot from some well-seasoned musicians. While recording the Calico Horse album ""Mirror"", I had some really cool talks with Pall Jenkins. He's done so much and been so many places and played with so many amazing musicians, but he's the most humble guy I've ever met. If you're ever at a bar with Pall, you can tell that people know who he is, but he's cool with just sitting with you and drinking a beer.

I also had the pleasure of helping my buddy Joey Barro (The Traditionist) record his album at Tim Bluhm's studio in San Francisco. Tim's also one of the most humble and down to earth musicians I've ever met. He wakes up ever morning, goes surfing, then records bands. He's in love with his wife and takes people on nature hikes every summer. If you didn't know that he was in the Mother Hips, you'd just think he was a regular guy. I once asked him, ""Who are your music heros?"". He answered, ""Neil Young and, Barbara Streisand"" So rad."

Jenny Conlee-Drizos, The Decemberists, Black Prairie

If you act like there is no difference between you and your male counterparts, there most likely won't be.

Jennifer Knapp

"Many along the way have offered excellent advice as well as useless, self-serving dribble...it can get overwhelming! There's a big difference between those who think they know something that can help you and those who are passionate about what they've learned. Learn to the discern the difference and you'll have gained some valuable friends indeed....don't forget to trust your gut. If it looks like a duck..."

Evie Ladin, Evie Ladin Band/Stairwell SIsters

I'm not sure I got specific advice about making my way - I've always jumped in and made it up as I go along. Only recently has music become a career choice supported by the greater society - especially as the technology to make it a DIY career has changed. The one piece of advice I would offer is to be as versatile as you can, and tireless in making contacts. The only way to get work is to go looking for it. Play as much as you can, because that's the fun part.

Photo of Laura Burhenn, The Mynabirds

Laura Burhenn, The Mynabirds

My mom, who's got her MBA and doesn't work as a musician (except to accompany her gospel choir on Sunday mornings), has always encouraged me to be as creative and outspoken as I want to be -- but to do it with an eye for the business side of things. I think that's the best advice I've gotten. It's important to do your art. But if you want to make a living doing it, it's important to read the fine print, to know what the contracts say that you're signing, to think about investment and return. You're your own best advocate and protector, so don't be afraid to stand up for yourself -- or to say "no" when it's not in your best interest. And, as a woman, don't be afraid to put on some lipstick (literal or figurative) and flaunt what you've got. The world will love you for it.

Shilpa Ray, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers

Sure, tons of people, both men and women. The hardship of being an artist in this country is gender neutral. Own yourself, what you do, how you live and don't worry about the end results.

Elisa Randazzo

Don't let the opinions of others thwart you from letting your quirkiest moments come through. Try to write a lot and not judge your work till it's really complete, and you've had some distance from it. If I had heeded this advice, I would have written hundreds more songs!

Kim Shattuck, The Muffs

Don't get a manager. Do it yourself. Be true to your vision and be strong.

Arum Rae, White Dress

"""you've just got to work hard and be good, which you are so keep doing what you're doing"" Britt Daniel from Spoon told me that. He has had a helping hand in my career.

I would say to keep your head focused, extremely focused. Do everything in your capacity to do as much as you can on your own with out random music industry sharks getting in your way and distracting you. The fans/listeners are what matter, from 50 years ago to 50 from now, you have nothing if dont have any fans. "

Photo of Edie Carey

Edie Carey

A manager I met with once when I was first getting started told me that no matter what you do to "network" - whatever connections you make in the music world are really of no consequence if you don't do you work. We have so many tasks to take care of in this job - mailing out press kits, updating Facebook, emailing fans, trekking to the post office 3 times a day sometimes, recording albums...but the MOST IMPORTANT thing is that we write GOOD SONGS! I think I would pass along that same exact advice. Writing good songs is really our only crucial job. Everything else is ancillary.

The Whispering Tree

Don't compare yourself and your progress in this industry to anyone else's. Instead, celebrate each and every artist who has the courage and conviction to share their music with the world. See every victory of every artist as proof that your dreams are possible.

Stephanie Nilles

Yes, lots. Again, since I started so young it's difficult to pin-point most of it. What has worked best for me though is, don't think of yourself as a "young woman in music." Think of yourself as a young musician. Practice your craft, learn from your mistakes, be persistent, work hard, etc. The few times you are aware that you are being treated by a booker or sound guy or club owner in a particular way because you are a woman, ignore him. The best revenge is living well and all those other old sayings. Dwelling on any kind of unjust "ism" that is so deeply rooted in cultural history well only drain you of energy you could be using to create. That said, it makes excellent fodder for lyrical content.

Catie Curtis

"My fans give me advice. I talk to them every night after the shows, while signing CDs. From the beginning, they have always been clear: stay true to yourself, don't let the business make you over. Now my advice to emerging artists is this: find a way to make your career meaningful. Connect with groups of people who resonate with you philosophically and politically. Play benefit concerts, take a stand, be a leader. "

Photo of Anni Rossi

Anni Rossi

"Get as much experience as you can, quit your day job so your back is up against the wall and also learn how to sing in tune before you decide it's not your thing. Give yourself enough room to understand what kind of artist/musician you are and keep low expectations and an open mind about where you might be in the months or years to come. "

Ashlyne Huff

"My dad Dann gave me a lot. He didn't say much about man vs woman though, probably because he didn't want me to see it that way. He told me that I needed to have something to say, that I was always a work in progress no matter what part of the business I took part in, to make myself indispensable to everyone I worked with, to give those you work with gratitude that they can feel. Be yourself and go with your gut instincts. Women have killer intuition!


Luxor, Bam Bam

yes, not officially but my musician friends just by beeing friends gave me a lot of advices, most of them aremuch older than me. I think im lucky to find good people allt he time. The advice i can give to anyone is not to listen to anyone but yourself and be friends with Satan

Photo of Jonatha Brooke

Jonatha Brooke

Keep your publishing. Keep your pants on. Go to college. There's a lot of crap out there, so if you don't HAVE to do it to breathe, to survive in your soul... then find a real job. It's really hard to make a living now that music is for all intents and purposes, free.

Olivia Fetherstonhaugh, Fanshaw

I think that I fit the mold of what a woman is expected to be in music so it hasn't been that hard for me. I make pop music, my voice is pretty etc. So I don't feel like I've had any hurdles that I've had to jump over. If some guy wants to tune my guitar for me then the jokes on him!

Jessi Darlin, Those Darlins

"I grew up around a lot of musicians and was influenced by a lot of different people, so I don't really remember a specific moment of valuable advice... But I do know that as a 17 year old girl trying to make my way in the music world, I had a few things in my mind... Which is what I would tell any woman musician starting out.

Stick to who you are, don't back down on your beliefs, STICK TO YOUR GUNS! Also, don't forget to have fun. That's what music is all about. If it's not making you happy, you are doing something wrong."

Kate McGarry

I have received a lot of help in my life - support from people who understood and valued what I was creating and wanted to make it a little easier - to these people I am eternally grateful. I can't say I've gotten much advice from folks though..I think they are stumped as we all are, by this strange behemoth of a business. In general I have found that there is an inner GPS that keeps me moving in the direction that I need to go in, and my trust is growing that the desire to share love and emotion and create community through music is at the helm and knows how best to proceed.

Simone White

I'd give the same advice to everybody, just keep doing what you love.

Grace Parker, The Blue Hit

Anais Mitchell told me to never be afraid of making music that doesn't "fit" anywhere. If my heart is compelled to compose it, the piece has an innate right to life and I should nourish it all the way. She also encouraged me to hold onto my publishing rights because so few people still do. I would tell a new musician the same thing, and I would add that a little confidence goes a long way. But the most important advice I can give is that (if you are a singer) your lyrics are prayers that you say over and over. If you only write about one subject, like bitter love or endless war, you are bound to relive that feeling over and over in your heart. Too long repeating negative prayers or mantras like that will weigh heavily on you eventually - you are better off taking that negativity and turning into a song about what you learned from it, rather than just griping aimlessly.

Rebecca Schlappich, Kiss Kiss

The best advice I have ever received, and what I have learned since joining Kiss Kiss, is that no one will ever care about your music and your band as much as you do. As a young band, the dream is to get on a record label, get management and a booking agent, and then you're set! Nope. You need to have your hand in everything, you need to be promoting yourself and creating opportunities for yourself, otherwise you'll get lost in the shuffle of the 40 other bands your label or manager or agent work for. If you're just starting out, get yourself out there. It's so easy to promote yourself online, if you're not sure where to begin, you probably have 5 tech-savvy friends who can help you. And most importantly, be proud of what you create. Work hard, never settle for mediocre, push yourself to be awesome, and be passionate about your work. It may be cheesy, but if you are honestly striving to be the best you can be, you will find fulfillment and success. Ladies, you've just gotta have balls!

Andreya Triana

"My honest view and from my own experience is it's completely common place for a man to say what he wants and how he wants things done. However as a female the minute you are assertive and say you want things done a certain way you are called a 'diva' which I feel is a derogatory term.

I think to be successful in any career you need to be assertive and I sometimes wish that was embraced and not seen as a negative thing. And despite the 'diva' tag I will always continue to honestly speak my mind and be open about how I would like things done. "

Krista Loewen, You Say Party! We Say Die!

The best thing you can do is know your stuff. Know your gear, know your instrument, know what you want in business, know what's important to you and what your values are.

Shannon Frid, Cloud Cult

"My parents played huge roles. There was a time when I stopped playing the violin for awhile and they were still so supportive of what I wanted to do with my life. They were never pushy or forced me to practice....it was never a chore. I'd tell any woman musician starting out in the music industry that patience is important. It might take awhile to get to where you want to be but it will happen. Also, that they are capable of doing anything they set their mind to. Even lifting heavy gear!! : )"

Jessica Larrabee, She Keeps Bees

"I found my own way. i loved with all my heart the female musicians that inspired me. I tried to read and support and buy everything they did. I never really had one woman who told me anything.

To other women musicians i say .. RIGHT ON SISTERS!!! .. keep going and keep doing what makes your heart sing. forget the bullshit... the selling yourself.. the sexiness or whatever they say is the right path... continue to stay heart centered and connected to the healing music gives. rock the fuck out sisters! hellyeah!"

Chandra Watson, The Watson Twins

"Patience and Persistence

Give yourself room to be human


Mary Pearson, High Places

"My mother has always been very supportive of my pursuit of a music career. She studied music and taught it, as did her father. The advice I would give a woman musician just starting out would be to stay as hands on as possible with her career. The more you do for yourself, the more control you have, and the more you learn. "

Photo of Annalisa Tornfelt, Black Prairie.

Annalisa Tornfelt, Black Prairie.

"someone told me to ""make sure your home on kid's birthday.""

I would tell a woman just starting out just to really listen to herself. "

Photo of Becka Pimenta

Becka Pimenta

"Alot of the advice I got I would say I gained for myself through experience, though I am continuing to learn more and more as I go on. I have met with many industry insiders over the past couple of years and the ones that stood out to me were the ones that told me to be honest with myself, to fight for the kind of music that reflects who I am, and to keep going. One of the biggest things I have learned and would pass on to any women musician starting out is to find out who you are before you can give the chance for someone else to tell you."

Jen Gloeckner

The best advise I have ever received, and can give is to stay true to yourself. If you try to sound like someone else to make others happy, it is not going to work. You need to develop your own sounds and style, and do that the best you can.

Photo of Carolyn Cunningham, Woven Bones

Carolyn Cunningham, Woven Bones

"This may sound like a no-brainer, but I really listened to people when they told me to “go for it” when opportunities have arisen. When the Pillow Queens first went on tour, we didn’t know what we were doing but we just got out there and started contacting people and made it happen. When Woven Bones approached me to play with them, I was incredibly excited for them to ask me but I was nervous about what that would be like. Then a trusted female friend encouraged me to jump on this opportunity. It was different with my other bands because I was already friends with them when we started playing music together. As it turns out, joining Woven Bones has been a seamless process because I really like my bandmates and we all have a strong work ethic.

I would tell a new woman musician that there is nothing to be scared of, and that if you realize that all these other bands are playing shows and making records all the time, you can certainly go make a name for yourself. Also, don’t date your bandmates.

The best advice I would give any new musician is to go out and get involved in your local music scene. Check out your local independent newspaper/music blog/record store and meet people who are doing what you'd like to do. They can be your best source of information and inspiration.

I don't think that there are any post-feminist musical subcultures. Every woman musician will be forced to think about her identity in a musical context at some point. This sounds cheesy, but practice practice practice until you know your stuff is really good, and then get out there and play it for the world."

Rebecca Lucille Cannon, The Texas Sapphires

I think one of the most important pieces of advice i have gained over the years is to remain humble. After this, everything else I have learned is through experience. You will find as quickly as people praise you, and tell you how fantastic you are, including fans and critics, they can as quickly turn on you, and want to see you fail. So, you have to have a strong sense of self, and be able to put up with criticism. Absolutely, do not play music to be famous; play music, because you do not have a choice, and it's the love of your life.The musical ground upon which you stand, will be shallow and break, if you only want fame and fortune. Play any genre, any instrument that you desire, but you absolutely have to love it, and good things will follow, especially if you stick with it.

Rebecca Scott, Panda Riot, architecture

I can't think of any advice I received in particular, but the advice I would give would be to just be really determined and self-reliant. There are always reasons to give up, but you can't give in to that. If you don't know how to record, buy a manual and learn, if you don't have a drummer find one or make your own drum beats. You have to have the attitude that you will figure out a way to make it work, and a lot of times when you overcome those kinds of obstacles something really unexpected and creative comes out of it, like recording vocals in your shower or making a drum beat out of tape ripping, or something. It's all about just deciding to do it and then taking the necessary steps.

Doris Cellar, Freelance Whales

Well I was once told by a good friend of mine, Natalie Sky, that at any given moment there can be something trying to get in the way of your dreams, and that I should practice patience in order to remain strong and move forward in my career. My advice to any female  musician starting out is to always keep a pen and paper handy, and when an idea hits you don't be afraid to miss your train stop and if you don't have public transportation, pullover. 

Meagan Beth Plummer; Jonas Sees In Color.

"My piano teacher at home always tells me, ""You know what you have to do, so get it done.""

If a women decides to become a working musician, she has to be 100% driven and willing to fight to make it. You'll need patience and thick skin...it's hard...it's up and down, emotional highs and emotional lows. Friends, family, and your band can help support you, but in the end it's really up to you and your instrument. If you love it, do it."

Photo of Emily Robison, Court Yard Hounds (and Dixie Chicks)

Emily Robison, Court Yard Hounds (and Dixie Chicks)

The advice I got was to keep my own publishing. I did....BUT...with the music industry changing so quickly, I'm not sure it's really the cash cow it once was. The internet has changed everything. If I meet a young girl who is interested in music and asks my advice, I suggest she learn an instrument. There will always be a lot of great voices out there and not only will playing set her apart, it will allow her to accompany herself if she does want to sing. Playing in bands, doing gigs and just generally getting experience on stage (before trying to "make it") will always be a great way to prepare.

Jendayi Bonds, Charlie Belle

At camp they are always giving us advice on things like how to book our first tour, and how to get gigs in your hometown. My advice would be to play in public all you can. Don't just wait for the big stuff to happen. Play open mic nights at cafes because anyone can be in the crowd. We play all we can.

Frankie Blue, Schmillion

My advice, would be to think of yourself as a musician. Don't let people label you as a "female musician." Focus on your music so that you get recognized for that instead of your gender. It's fine if people recognize your gender - being a woman is great - but don't let them define you by it.

Marissa Nadler

"I think women today have a more DIY approach, with much of that due to the prevalence of technology. Women can book their own tours and build their own fanbases, as well as control their own images and imagery, from home. They don't necessarily need a record label and they don't need a label telling them how to dress or how to sound.

It is a good step for young women especially starting out right now. The options are so much more open. "
Hard work pays off more than anything else. I truly believe that. You have to be good at what you do and love what you do, and that goes for men too. The industry itself is horrible, and chews people up and spits them out. Therefore, you truly have to find peace within and enjoy it.

Amy Rankin, The Rankin Twins

It's honestly all about the perseverance and networking. Keep meeting people and if they like you they will promote you and so on and so on. You can't expect EVERYONE to like what you do but keep going after those that do.

Elana James, The Hot Club of Cowtown

"Sure! Eddie Stubbs, who hosts the Grand Ol' Opry told me one night when we were playing there and I was telling him I was kind of beat from all the touring we'd been doing lately and he said, ""Don't make yourself a martyr for country music, because country music sure isn't going to be a martyr for you."" Amen. Also, once I asked Mary Traverse (sp?) from Peter Paul and Mary if she had any advice for a female in a band with two guys and she said yeah. First, don't sleep with 'em! And if you DO, get over it, FAST! And that they may act all progressive and liberal, but when it comes to stuff like that, they're really not. Words to live by! Also Buck Owens told me to just keep doing what you're doing, don't worry about what everyone else is doing, so that when the tide turns and what you're doing becomes popular, you're right out there in front of it and just let it come and run you over (in a good way). Also got some good advice from Bob Dylan from three tours with him--more in the abstract--about just getting out there and doing it--I don't feel like he gives too much thought to some aspects of a show anymore, just the act of playing for people is sacred and a kind of spiritual practice of some kind.....

Re: advice I would give someone starting out? You have to want it--a relationship with music--pretty darned bad--to the point of single-minded obsession. There's a lot you're going to sacrifice, but if it's what you love, its going to be worth it. It's a reward unto itself, too--don't wait for some big payday that may never come. You need to come home from each tour, or wrap each record feeling like you did what you could do. That's all you can hope for. That and coming home with enough money to pay your bills. No one but you cares if you're in a band or not--if you're not satisfying yourself, it's not worth it. But when it's great, it's great!!"

Photo of Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

"I would say to someone starting out two very important things: 1. speak your truth, and don't doubt that you have the instincts to lead you through this industry. We are encouraged to doubt ourselves and listen to a lot of opinions, but ultimately we are given the tools to guide ourselves. 2. Surround yourself with people you trust on a gut level. I'm not talking about getting a lawyer or a manager who's your best friend. But trust that they are honest, and they'll work hard for you. And do the same for them. If we have to listen to a lot opinions, they might as well be from someone we trust. "

Kelly Ogden, The Dollyrots

"When I first met Joan Jett, before we were signed to her label, I asked her about being a woman and doing this and she said to just focus on my craft and be myself. I think that's really all there is to it. It's just like anything else you want to do in life, you have do decide you're going to do it, work really hard and then go. To any young women just getting started I would impart the same advice, and remind them that it really doesn't matter what other people think if you're doing what you really believe in, as hard as that can be sometimes."

Fay Davis-Jeffers, PIT ER PAT

You can only make one dot at a time. (from Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies)

Jan Seides

"Oh yes. That advice was to do my homework before doing any deals. Don't shirk finding out as much as you can about the situation, and if you don't understand it, ask questions. Or pay someone to take that responsibility, if you can't.

As far as advice about making music, the best advice I've gotten is to remember that it's about the audience, not about you. Try to be a blessing to your audience. "

Talia Sekons, The Lost Pines

"Don't give up your guitar to an arrogant guy in a song circle...they might just not give it back! It gets boring seeing only guys on stage. People love to see talented women up there, so and having a woman in a band in a sure way to stand out. Don't be intimidated by guys who have been playing a lot longer than you have. Learn from them. Chances are, if you are excited about learning and actually work at it, you will find many people willing to teach you/jam with you. Also, host jam sessions with players who are better than you are but whom you feel comfortable playing in front of. This way, you can feel comfortable in your own space and can learn a lot more than you might showing up at a jam where you might feel intimidated."

Vanessa Silberman aka Diamonds Under Fire

Navigating through the music industry can be daunting & a lot of it is trial & error. I was lucky & fortunate enough to have met my music manager early on & the honest advice she has given me about the business has been very valuable. Having people around you who don't sugar coat things & who support your creativity in the right way is important. Working with people who nurture your art but don't kiss your butt for you makes you a better artist. My advice to any female musicians & artists first starting out is to try & develop your own opinion/style/sound. Write as many songs as you can & tour. Don't follow trends, be yourself, respect yourself & let the music do most of the talking.

Katy, Peggy Sue

Don't be overwhelmed by all the boys, use it to your advantage. Have a list of influences to throw back at a journalist who compares you to a musician just because she is a woman it will be intensley satisfying.

Jennifer Leonhardt

"Not per se, it was just always a domain people in my family belonged to, music. The industry was an outgrowth of that not the other way around. My parents just taught us to think critically and for ourselves. My advice would be to be completely committed to your own reality and your own perspective, and to be prepared to go it alone if need be."

Leslie Stevens, Leslie and The Badgers

"Don’t apologize for yourself. It’s good to want your vision to exist.

A couple of friends and I formed a group in Los Angeles of female songwriters and we meet about once a month to play and critique songs and we support each others art. This has been really helpful to me as an artist.

I know I was raised to prioritize others choices. I think a lot of women I know were raised in a similar way, so being aware of that, and giving your ideas and choices their weight and value without apologizing is important. While selflessness is a wonderful quality in men or in women, I think it is helpful to be assertive to be able to achieve an incredibly difficult goal like the completion of a record with a vision behind it. It won’t exist exactly like it did in your mind, someone told me that once, and I have found it to be true, but you might get close."

Photo of Vanessa Lively

Vanessa Lively

"Oh my goodness, so many people have given me advice in this area. I am so fortunate to live in Austin where we have many resources at our fingertips and we are surrounding by working musicians everywhere, so there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom all around. You just have to ask.

As far as some people who really helped me out, I feel that my friend Danny really helped me know how to approach this life and what things I needed to do in order to move forward. And my two very close friends that I met in South America, Stefan & Dave Pope, really gave me some great tips and ideas in regards to my music and how to grow. They also played a huge role in my first album, which was recorded in Ecuador. Then also continued to play that role on my second album, since we recorded it at their home in England. I now feel that I am beginning to get a hold of everything and I am ready to step out on my own even more, but I am constantly relying on the support and advice from my peers.

What I would say to a woman musician just starting out is this: If you know in your heart that this is what you want to do, and you fully accept all the difficulties that come along with this choice, then just go for it no matter what. Always remember to be willing to grow and expand and get better in all areas that you can, and learn to take critiques well. And beyond that, follow your heart and know that you can achieve anything that you set your mind and your heart to. Most importantly, have faith in yourself and in life helping you out. Be confident and know that you have something unique and wonderful to offer. And never be too shy or scared to ask for help and advice. It is how you move along and how you learn."

Rebecca Pidgeon

I don't think I heard any more valuable advice than persistence is all. Stick with it, even when you don't feel like it, and something (even the unexpected) will come of it.

Catherine MacLellan

"The best advice I've ever been given is just to be myself and to remain myself. Don't let the music business change you. I would pass that on to anyone. For women in particular, I would say learn everything you can about the creative and business sides of music. The more you know, the less people can get away with or push you around. Also, as a band leader it is important to learn the language of music and sound technicians so that you can lead your players and and be the person who directs the soundperson. Then you get what you want, not what others think you want."

Photo of Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies

Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies

"Honestly there wasn't really one particular role model, however I did see lots of bands doing the hard yards and working their butts off to get their band heard and out there, that was inspiring.Our manager Paul Stepanek was also a person that helped us/me to not lose sight of what I was doing when things got tough, he inspired me to keep pushing forward.I also didn't pay much attention to the fact that I was a girl trying to make it in this industry that was mainly paved for guys. The one thing I never lost sight of was the dream, everyone has one and mine was to be successful in music and practicing the bass like there was no tomorrow so if that meant being the only girl, that was fine by me. The one thing I say to girls that ask me for advice when starting out is to NEVER listen to anyone telling you that you can't do it and always listen to your heart."

Chris Humphrey

No one gave me any advice. I'm still re-inventing the wheel for myself, learning as I go. If I were to mentor a woman musician just starting out, I would ask her, "is this something you HAVE to do?" Because if it is, she'll know it. And if it is, then I would encourage her to put her work out there, to make as many contacts as she can, to set herself some concrete goals and to stay focused on them rather than all the distractions, promises and lies that will come her way.

Photo of Leanne Macomber. Neon Indian

Leanne Macomber. Neon Indian

You must proove you're a superhero to be taken as an equal (to your male counterparts). Put all of your energy into what you love. be kind to all. Play every note with authority and conviction. If people still think Youre pretty good for a girl or you're eye candy or that you must be dating someone in the band you've probably made it.

Margo Timmins

I got a lot of good advice by many people. I suppose my advice would be to find your voice. Don't expect anyone to know what it is you need or to understand why you need it, but to let them know by telling them. Touring is a very difficult way to make a living, its hard on your body, your mind, your partners, mostly your children. It demands a lot to find the balance in all things, but it is very worth it.

Photo of Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri Bean

Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri Bean

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You aren't preparing for some big change or event to happen- your life and your music are not in the future. Whatever you are doing right now is what you are doing. With that in mind, do it for yourself. Try to do it in a balanced, healthy way.

Becky Ninkovic, You Say Party! We Say Die!

lots of valuable advice to share. to learn the balance to protect yourself at the same time as you share yourself. hold your own, do not listen to critical voices, do not give them power. be authentic, always true to yourself. we are all in this together like sisters who share in the same love of music and art and self and light and soul and fashion and self expression, etc.... all these things together. at this point, in this generation, it isn't about being original anymore. if people are focussed on originality then there will always be competition there. almost everything has been done, but authenticity is golden and we all have an abundance of authentic energy to share with one another and the world.

Photo of Suzanna Choffel

Suzanna Choffel

I've received lots of love and advice and reassurance from many female musicians in my life. We have to keep nudging each other to keep our heads up. Women have shared their experiences with me on lots of different things inside this crazy business. I would basically say to any woman musician just starting out, don't let your male buddies have too much sway or control over you, because at the end of the day you are a different animal and need to do things your own way. Keep doing what you do the strongest and best way you know how and if you put your best foot forward and stay positive, good things will happen.

Debi Nova

The 3 P's have always resonated with me: Patience, Practice and Perseverance. I'll add to that "Believe in yourself", "Focus on the work" and "don't forget to enjoy it". That's the best advice I've received and that's what i would tell any artist starting out.

Terri Hendrix

Yes, the most valuable advice I ever received was be aware that you are a woman. Dress for the job. Watch your pants when you bend over. Watch your pants when you sit down. Watch your shirt when you bend over. Watch your skirt if you have to sit on a stool. This stuff might sound stupid, but it's important. Play your instrument. Never quit practicing. Tolerate nothing less than respect. Give others nothing less than respect. Don't cuss on stage. Don't gossip. Never talk trash about another woman. Buy as much music as you can ... both men and women. Own your own universe. All of these things were told to me by a female guitarist named Marion Williamson who passed away in 1997.

Photo of Wendy Colonna

Wendy Colonna

"I was signed at 19 to a label and had no clue what I was getting into. I wish there had been a mentor in my life at that time who could've shared with me the pros and cons and realities of having a career in music, but didn't. I have, though, over the years had some really amazing peers and mentors who have helped me to navigate through rough periods.

Advice for a woman beginning her career.

1. Don't make any decisions based in fear 2. Don't make any decisions out of haste (also fear) 3. Embrace what feels natural, don't try to become something you are not able to fully embody 4. Stay focused. 5. Practice. 6. Get plenty of rest and exercise and do healthy things to de-stress. There's a LOT of booze in this business and it can really become a work hazard if you're not careful 7. Check in at each stage in the game and make sure this is a labor of love. . ."


The most valuable advice I have been given in this industry is to stay true to myself and honor my gut feelings about decisions. Although this advice was not followed early on, experience becomes your best teacher. Staying tight with your family, especially the mother, keeps you grounded despite what "industry" or people come your way. Decisions become clearer when you know yourself before going into the music business. Otherwise, it's an expensive and heartbreaking place to learn who you are. This is also the advice I would give any woman musician starting out in music, especially hip hop. Stay true to YOU even if that seems unpopular, unacceptable, invalid, or wrong. You are going to win and succeed in the end with perserverance, prayer, and talent.

Arran Murphy, Dark Room Notes

be fearless in your own self expression

Ginger Leigh

My mother always told me to "be myself and to be expressive." She also taught me to go get what I want and to never let anything get in my way. I am very independent, but at a certain point I have discovered that my boldness can also be to a fault. I'm not sure how to put this, since I am a strong feminist, but ladies, let the guys help you carry your stuff. Make room for those who want to help move your career along, while staying very true to who you are and what you believe in. No need to be a damsel in distress, but find your strength and also your flexibility. Like any business, we will always fight this gender fight. You just have to choose which part of your female power to use without selling yourself short. Be strong, be yourself, but be open to advise and then go forward without stopping.

Sara Hickman

"Listen to advice. Take what works for yourself and grow on that. Network like crazy. Send thank you notes. Join The Recording Academy, local songwriter groups, go to conventions, ask questions, take notes, practice, listen to a variety of different styles of music, write everyday, try the things you are scared to do (whether as a songwriter, vocalist, producer, etc). Have mentors.

Best advice I got was from Peter Himmelman, ""Keep doing what you're doing. You do it best!""

To a woman just starting out, keep discovering who you are and be yourself. Re-read what I wrote in first paragraph."

Astrum Lux Lucis, One World (R)evolution

LOL- I've received all kinds of advice, and depending on my mood, the valuable advice to take is - "get out now and get a "real" job" or "keep plugging at it, the cream eventually rises to the top". Unfortunately, despite coming from a pretty musical family, I was never encouraged to pursue music as a real profession. My Dad would always tell me I had a better chance of winning the lottery than I do of making it in music. So there has always been an internal battle going on inside me which totally hinders my success at times. It takes years to get over that kind of programming. The advice I will give to a woman musician starting out is: be true to yourself at all times and in all things. Keep perfecting your craft everyday, take people's advice and opinions for what they are but always remain true to yourself. There is no need to sell yourself sexually so just be yourself and let your talent shine the light. Success is a state of mind, so be the success you choose to be.

Stephanie Bradley, Stephanie Bradley Band

Sing, but don't sing drunk. Avoid the jitters by practicing. Remember people want to see and hear something different. Don't be trepidacious, because there is nothing wrong with what we do. Record it when it sounds good, and when the band sounds good...there might not be another chance.

Rose Baca

"If your music doesn't impact you, it won't impact anyone. The way you present yourself is how people see you, and if you're presenting yourself as someone you aren't then that's what people will see.

Don't fake it, commit to it. It's a hard lifestyle. "

Rochelle Terrell

The reason why I am still thriving in the music industry is only because God has been watching over me the entire time. And he puts people in my life that not only I can learn from but also people to protect me. I have learned to remain humble, give respect where it is do. Encourage the young. And to never give up!

Alyse Black

Work hard. Work every day at your craft - instrumentally, vocally, songwriting. And get out on the internet. Don't wait for permission to get your music in front of people. And ASK. Keep asking for what you want until you get it. "No" just means "no for now." Don't give up if this is really what you want to do. Be unstoppable. The world needs the art that comes straight from who you are. Make the best damn art you can, and give it to us!

Michele Murphy

"Think like a man. Don't take anything personally. Don't be afraid to step up and declare yourself a contender. Copyright everything, don't believe the 'pie in the sky' promises or indulge in satisfying your childish fantasies. It's a business. Get a degree in Business Administration, forget Music Business courses. It's all business. Treat it with respect, and demand that others treat you with respect. Fire anyone who talks to you like you are stupid. Don't sleep your way up, it's the quickest way to hell and victimization. Pay your taxes, stay straight with the IRS. Stay in shape and pay attention to your grooming. People are watching you; everything is a test."

Stefanie Fix

I've been given so much valuable advice from so many different sources that I wouldn't even know where to begin. I suppose I'd just say, stay open and try to focus more on the process rather then the goal. The goals come gradually and by the time they come, if you're too focused on them you'll lose sight of enjoying what you've accomplished. At the end of the day the only thing that matter is that you keep doing the work because it keeps you whole. What you achieve and being successful have nothing to do with who has noticed or how much money you make. Feel free to look at my web page. www.stefaniefix.com I hope this was helpful.

Elizabeth McQueen, Asleep at the Wheel

The best advice I got was from my male musician friends, who encouraged me to learn as much as I could and become as capable as I could. Not having to be dependent on men to express my ideas or create is huge.

Photo of Kerry Davis, Two Tears

Kerry Davis, Two Tears

Some friends and record producers taught me about the business and it's important to understand it, but my advice is to play what makes you happy as this industry can be evil and the satisfaction of playing can never be taken away from you!

Julieann Banks

When I first started I was told I'd never "make it" (whatever that means) if I continued to wear Converse All Stars instead of high heels. But I'm still here and I'm still wearing combat boots and All Stars alot! Although I will rock some heels for private parties! I consider "making it" to mean "getting the bills paid doing what I love". I'm not sure I'd want to be Taylor Swift (ugh!) or any of these other girls they trot out who look like marionettes on a string. Better to make it on your own terms.

Photo of Phoebe Hunt, The Belleville Outfit

Phoebe Hunt, The Belleville Outfit

Do what you love and the money will follow. If you love music and are truly ready to sacrifice the majority of the rest of your life, go for it. If not, keep it as a hobby.

Photo of Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters

"I was lucky to have great mentors along the way. The best advice came from my first publisher, who told me not to worry about conforming or trying to write songs that sounded like what was on the radio. For me that meant sticking to my guns and writing by myself, rather than co-writing (which is the norm here in Nashville). It set me on a path of independence, later as an artist, but first as a writer.

I'd reiterate this same advice to a young woman musician, and if her ambition includes being a recording artist, I'd add that she ought to think long and hard about how she feels about her image, and the possible pressure she might feel from her record company or management to ""be sexy"". This doesn't concern me from a ""morality"" standpoint - it bothers me as a feminist, as it undermines the idea that women can be talented, brilliant and successful musicians/songwriters/singers without using their sexuality to get noticed."

Corrina Rachel, Corrina's Dreamland Band

The best advice I've received is to be persistent, I would pass that advice along although it seems pretty obvious. Based on my experience, I would tell a woman who was just starting out to reach out to everyone she meets and to focus on forging relationships with people.

Photo of Emma Cooper, Standard Fare

Emma Cooper, Standard Fare

"I can't think of any advice. My parents were always supportive of me being myself whatever that meant at the time.

Advice would be use your strengths and network! Always be polite and thank people who have helped you or put you on etc. Enjoy the music and find other people you enjoy working with and playing music with."

Laurie Lewis

Play music you love because you love to play. That way, if you never get the big break, it doesn't matter, since you are doing what you love.

Melissa Greener

Constantly! The best bit of advice I can give is: Keep doing this. ... if you LOVE it. Don't ever stop because you're afraid you might not 'make it'. Don't ever stop because you feel pressure from others to 'make a living'. Keep going, if you LOVE it. Keep going, if there's nothing else you could ever do to be happy and fulfilled and satisfied. If living your fullest self means living your music, than DO IT! Ambiguous, I know, right?

Champian Fulton

My father is a musician and his advice has been numerous and valuable. He has always counseled me on being persistent and staying non-emotional about rejection and / or acceptance. Some people will be supportive, some people won't be supportive, and most won't care. I think as a musician in general, and even more so as a woman, you have to be able to count on yourself and only yourself. Be independent, be smart, and be proactive.

Kellye Gray

"Not really in the beginning. But, my peer colleagues and I began to see patterns. The same kind's of experiences were happening to all of us. So, we banned together to educate the younger generations to facilitate change. My advice to anyone, be they male or female is to do what you want and don't let anyone tell you different. You are the artist and even if only 20 people get what you do right now...who knows what will happen in the future. Never compromise yourself, because you have to continue to live with yourself throughout this lifetime. "

Photo of Deann René, On Edje

Deann René, On Edje

"Yes, don't listen to the naysayers. I guess Im just starting out really so the advice I could give is what I try to tell myself. My advice is you're never to old, or too young or too fat or too skinny or too this or too that to follow your dreams. If music is what you have inside of you then let it out and never stop!"

Photo of Suzy Thompson

Suzy Thompson

Advice: play from the heart; listen to and learn from older musicians (especially the very old ones - their life lessons inform their music - and yours will too, eventually); be pleasant and nice and friendly (but stay true to yourself); eat well (stop and snack before going into a hypoglycemic tailspin); take every opportunity to play with the best musicians that you can; cultivate the friendship of other women musicians (it is a life-saver); be humble AND have confidence.

Kim Miller

I don't recall who said it but somewhere along the way I heard that there are 10 people waiting right behind you to do what you do so you better take your gift seriously. I can't believe how many really talented female singer songwriters there are now. It's become acceptable to pursue the risk - parents and peers are more apt, it seems to me, to support a young girl with talent and dreams. I would say go for it - just keep in mind that you do it for the love of it. If you ever feel like you're loosing touch with your creative voice, don't hesitate to reassess why you are making music and what you want most from it. Fame and fulfillment are not necessarily the same.

Sarah Brown

I can't recall a particular mentor or any specific advice. Here's mine to others, corny as it is; believe in yourself and do the work to back up your belief.

Samantha Vanderslice, Good Goddess Almighty

Let your music shine. We all have something beautiful to share with the world. And we all are instruments for the Divine. So just enjoy your own unique sound.

Jean Synodinos

"I didn't start to play music publicly until i was well into my 30s, and by that time, most people knew better than to give me much advice. I'd have been wise to ask for some, btw.

But to any young woman musician, I'd offer:

1) Go out to hear other women perform. They're not your competition--they're your tribe.

2) Practice your instrument. The fastest way I earned respect (especially among men) was by picking up a guitar in front of people and surprising them.

3) If you're a singer-songwriter, study the craft of lyric writing, and study it hard. I wish someone had said this to me earlier. I won some songwriting competitions when I first started to play in public, so I thought I knew what I was doing. Wow -- what I didn't know could've filled an ocean. It still can, but at least I've got a lifeboat now.

4) Don't be an apologist on stage. I've seen this in both sexes, but it's particularly true of younger women I've seen. We've all got insecurities about one thing or another, but the stage isn't the place to work it out. Trust me, your audience does not wanna see it.

5) Supplement your big dream with a little strategy. Map it out: what do you want to do, and how are you going to get there? What resources do you have, and what do you need? What do you do really well, and what do you need to do better? Who in your life can help you? I know you want it all *now* but a little planning will keep you on track til you actually get there. And quit saying I sound like your mother. All most mom's really want is for their kids to be genuinely happy and for them to have a plan.


6) Have a blast doing this! You've chosen the coolest thing in the world to do with your time on this planet. You'll have days when you hate having to work your day job, when you can't get a gig to save your soul, when you it looks like there's no way you'll get the money to record, and when everything else in your life feels like an obstacle. Don't let any of that turn you into a victim. The second you hear the voice of ""Poor me"" come out of your mouth just hush up and remember: you are doing the coolest thing with your time on the planet that you could possibly do. So go do it.

[Thanks -- this was fun. I think I'll go pick up my guitar now.]"

Lindsay Wells

Yes. I would not be where I am if it weren't for the advice given to me. Some advice I would give is to find someone you can trust to help you get organized because there is a lot of work involved and organization is key. Also, find our who you are as an Artist, what your voice is, and how it is different from anyone else's. Never stop trying!!!

Submitted Anonymously

I've had a lot of great mentors, many of them women. I can't think of any single one advice that did it. What I notice is that being around other women, sharing stories, validating each others' feelings of the struggles of the business, offering support and encouragement, has made the biggest difference to me. I'm not sure if men do that, the way we do.

Myrna Cabello, The MyrnaRocksBand

"The best thing that could have happened to me was joining the Women In Music Professional Society here in Austin. A group of great woman that network from all aspects of the music business. Nancy Coplin and Rose Reyes realized the challenges for women in music and put this wonderful networking opportunity together. Through it I have booked gigs, found support, and learned so much. Whenever I've had a question or needed support Nancy and Rose have been there to help.

I strongly encourage any woman to find that kind of support whether through an already existing group or through creating one of your own. After all there is strength in numbers. Get yourself educated on the music business and learn how to approach the people you need to get where you want to be. Whether it's finding venues to play or joining bands, or getting a manager. Practice! Take your self seriously and others will too."

Deborah Holland, The Refugees

"the only advice was to have no expectations. I would tell a woman starting out to do it because she loves music and can't see herself doing anything else. I would tell her to do it for the love and satisfaction of creating music. I don't think this advice is any different from what I would tell a man. The only difference is I might tell a woman don't be surprised if you still viewed as a ""chick singer"". "

Ruby Jane

I've had good advice and bad advice. There are plenty of giving musicians and plenty of sharks in the biz too. I think just surrounding yourself with the loving ones is key. Stay away from the bottomfeeders.

Brigitte London

"The best advice I ever got was from my sister, who told me to stick to my guns.

The things I tell my female pickin' friends --- KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALL THE WAY THROUGH. What your values are. Be Authentic. And get behind yourself before you let anyone else get behind you. Trust your gut over your head, keep out the shoulds and go with what feels best for you. and just Create. that is what matters! .

of course, my advice may not get you the most money - or any money for that matter, keep that in mind ;) But its best for avoiding feeling used, powerless, and creatively bereft...

Thanks for being interested in the women's journey in music. Sincerely, Brigitte"

Laura Mordecai

"To make it in the business - Take a ""basics in business"" class and pay attention. To make it as a respected professional musician - Hold on to your integrity at all cost (e.g. don't sleep with your band mates just cause you can). Never lose sight that your job here is that of a messenger with a most important message to deliver. To make it as a successful performer - When you sit in with a band remember - ""everybody's got something to say. Say what you need to say, then sit down and listen to the next guy."""

Laura Marie

"I've received tons of advice but the most valuable advice was to listen to myself. No one knows what your vision is but you and you can't build a career out of other people's wants and desires. When people give you advice, it's based on their perception, their limitations, the obstacles they've faced and the failures they've had. You can't limit yourself to someone else's experience.

That said, it's helpful to find someone you can talk to who is honest, has integrity and is capable of being objective. My closest friend is someone in the industry who holds me accountable to the goals I've set for myself. If I become lazy or discouraged, I have someone who will take me aside and question me. I'd rather have that in this business than someone to flatter me. Compliments are nice but you can only learn what you've done right and not what needs to be improved. "

Tortilla Factory

My father once told me to eat an breathe music . I live by it. An anyone starting out my advice would be to surround yourself with better musicians. There is always room for growth! An DONT EVER GIVE UP!! DARE TO DREAM!!!

Phanie Diaz, Girl In A Coma

Joan jett told us to always enjoy and live in the moment as things arte happening. I would tell any women musician to never give up no matter what is told to them. You don't have to look a certain way or come from a certain background. Work hard and just be.

Lauren Morris

Absolutely. Learn as much as you can, do as much as you can for yourself, wear as many hats as you can, keep your backstage ego in check, and learn how to produce. Be responsible to your art and be the best person you can be. Remember, you are a servant of the music and you are there for the audience.

Photo of Audrey Auld

Audrey Auld

"Advice I've been given: It's who you know. When you think you've arrived, you haven't. Keep your feet on the ground.

Advice I'd give: Keep faith in your music to carry you through hard times. Trust in your art when no one else is believing in you. Work hard and don't wait for anyone else to come along and do it all for you."

Photo of Anne McCue

Anne McCue

Practice, practice, practice! Be your best. Shun the naysayers and don't let the bastards get you down. Play music with people you love, love your music. Leave your ego off stage. Write from your heart and soul. Love is all you need.

Susan Osborn

Odetta once told me.....always, take silent time before you make sound. And learn teh power of repetition...repetition, repetition, repetition!

Sara K.

"People taught me things along the way. Learning the road and how to perform when you're tired. One person told me ""you have to eat beef and drink whiskey to stay aggressive in this business"". That didn't really work though. I would just say to listen to your inner voice, find the one thing that's never going to let you down and hang on to it. Surround yourself with people who can keep your Spirits up cause there will be tough times and they'll help you to make it through. The tough times make for a good story someday. If you're a singer/songwriter, spread it around to as many people as you can. Recordings, Internet, the road. Not everyone will get it but you can find your niche and the fans will stay loyal. Definitely take chances. And if you get a deal, ask around for a good lawyer. Most of the time, there's bad stuff in the fine print. There's a good website to sell CDs and downloads at www.cdbaby.com. It's for independents and a good way to distribute yourself."

Maddy Prior, Steeleye Span

I'm sure many people did, but I don't remember at this moment. Someone said (my Dad, I think) that you should try to do it for the work and not look to the reward. I think music needs to be something you HAVE to do in this climate or leave it alone. It can break your heart.

Gia Ciambotti

Music advice.. Be able to do what you do, well.. without the computer as a crutch.. listen to the originators of the art form. Business advice.. be a great self-promoter.. Talent comes down the list, in the music industry. Your product has to look good. Steady your nerves, it can be a bumpy ride.

Lisa Sanders

"Yes Ron deBlasio my old manager.said If you don't want to do something in the business (like you've been asked to do something) that goes against your inner self.simply don't do it.

No your strengths, Your weakness, Don't be afraid to get help when you need it. Be totally clear on what you want in this business. Have a plan if you can. Have a Thick skin. If you don't have one get one or get out.


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Lynda Kay

If you love making music more than anything you've ever done in your entire life, then don't stop, no matter how challenging the business aspects are, and regardless of the personal sacrifices, always keep making music. It will be your saving grace.

Mandy Mercier

Yes, I've been encouraged to be true to myself and my upbringing; to take risks (e.g. contacting and following up with industry people despite fear of rejection); I've had a great example in a friend who was very driven and also would not kowtow to record companies even when that was "risky." Young musicians (female) today seem to have few obstacles; confident young women -- literally the sky is the limit. I wish them well and I think they are doing fine without advice from me!!

Connie Todd, The Occasionals

I really didn't ever make a living in the music industry, so I don't know how valuable my advice would be, but I'd suggest to newcomers that they keep track of what's going on in their field, who's who, who's writing what, who's reliable. It's like any other field--try to learn as much about it as possible.

Photo of Janet Robin

Janet Robin

"Well, the best advice I received was of course ""never give up"" that is NUMBER 1, no matter what anyone tells you.

Then, of course the rest is practice, practice, practice. Get good at all your skills as a singer, or musician. Whatever it is you do. Dedicate yourself to your craft. You may have to sacrifice some things in life, but if it is truly your passion, you will reach whatever goals you desire.

I'd like to say: This is a great idea that NPR is doing. I would love to contribute more if you need any information, I have a lot, and have been in the business for many years. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

I hope to hear a program like this soon on NPR.

Best Regards, Janet Robin www.janetrobin.com"

Julie Christensen

"When I was doing jazz at an after-hours club in Austin at around 20, I'd just come off stage from singing ""How High the Moon"" in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. A man stopped me and asked me to sit down. He said, ""you know, you pulled that off just fine, but when you drop the needle on a Linda Ronstadt record, you know within seconds it's her. Use your OWN voice, your OWN soul."" The man was the famous jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, who once had to wear blackface and hands to be in a film with black musicians and singers, during segregation.

I would pass on to younger singers that the pyrotechnics that can make you a finalist on American Idol pale in comparison to standing in the middle of the truth of the song. And always be kind to the crews who work so hard in every aspect of this business. They're the ones who can make you sound and look beautiful; no matter how salty they may be. And keep yourself healthy. Drugs and alcohol age you and your voice faster than the road itself will, and that alone will add years if you aren't vigilant with your health."

Texas Ladybugs

Find your own "voice". What kind of music specifically speaks to you and just play it.

Brandi Carlile

"The best thing that ever happened to women in music in my opinion is a sense of community. surround yourself with people who teach and inspire you and you might find the power in numbers. Women can sell tickets,records,and being a rockstar is not a boys game"

Photo of Cindy Cashdollar

Cindy Cashdollar

"I never really got any advice, I think it was all through experience and learning from each situation. The music business has gotten very tough, due to economy and everything that has gone along with it, but regardless...

Try to be as professional as you can, no matter what the situation, and to learn as much as you can as well. It's just as important to learn the technical side of things too, i.e. so you can communicate with a soundman at a live gig or an engineer in a recording studio. Don't be afraid to ask questions from those more experienced than you. Above all, you have to love what you are doing, and do it from the heart..there's no guarantees to ""fame and fortune""! "

Franc Graham

i guess not enough. my advice would be to find your own voice -- that's all that's important really. it may not make you "make it" -- but it's what will fill you. if you got that and can't envision the business end, get someone to sell your work for you -- too tough to do it alone.

Photo of Aimee Bobruk

Aimee Bobruk

"Focus on the song. Focus on the craft. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Let your strengths shine and surround yourself with fellow musicians on-stage that make your weaknesses strong. Be you. Don't worry about the press/attention/how to play that show/how to get on that tour/--just focus on the craft."


Roseanne Cash just tweeted at me today (she doesn't know me): "Work hard, keep your head down, and never give up." Jimmy LaFave has mused that most musicians who successfully run their own business might make better publicists, radio promoters, booking agents, etc. than most those who enter those fields without being working musicians first. Terri Hendrix has demonstrated to me that you have to work on the art and craft of writing, entertaining, and serving while also doing "the part that ain't art." There are so many who've given me great advice. If I were to give advice, I'd tell her there's always room on the shelf for more good music; people don't stop liking artists they love just because they like someone new. So don't look at music as a competition. Celebrate the greatness you see in everyone around you. Build others up. Champion your friends. Put others first. And yes, everyone else feels like a fraud too.

Jenifer Jackson

do it for the love of music.

Jessie Torrisi, Jessie Torrisi & the Please, Please Me

"Find a mentor. Lots of them.

First, find a great teacher or soulmate who will help you develop as an artist. Who you are willing to take their advice & critique & change things around just to see who it works. This is the only way to get great. You can't be attached to keeping everything just as it was when it burst out of you. You have to be attached to being great.

Second, the music business is more fragmented than ever & it's really hard to find people who will give you honest answers about how it works. Find someone who runs a successful label, or PR firm for bands, or booking agent, and get them to sit down with you & lay out how musicians in 2010 rise to the level of having a career. Call them up once a month to ask your questions. Be relentless. Know that some of these people will depress the shit of you, but others will give you a list of really valuable things you could be doing that most other bands aren't doing.

Think of yourself as an entrepreneur & this as a business. (Hint: you got to sink money in at the beginning.) If you've made a great record, hire someone who can help you get it heard. I recommend an indie publicist. They won't break the band. But you could consider a radio campaign, an internet marketing campaign, or agent as well.

Also, try to be friends with artists who a few steps ahead that might show you the way, let you open for them occasionally, and give your truest glimpse into how it works. Above all, educate yourself. But have your bullshit-o-meter on high. (A lot of people are clueless themselves & give bad advice, which keep you busy and focused in all the wrong directions.)

Everyone who's ever worked with you on recording, performing, or promoting your music... make them your ally. And stay in touch!"

Jan Bell and The Maybelles

"Singing takes courage, and does not always come easy. Someone once told me 'Sing with your own voice'. That helped me find the way. Also - its never too late to learn was a sentiment I felt in the folk music community. I started playing guitar at 29. People often assume I learned as a kid. I think just as many American girls get guitars for their 13th birthday now, as boys do. My advice to a woman starting out, is team up with other artists, work together to support one another in actual real life. Show up to each others shows, produce events together - go beyond face book and support the small business/venues and DIY bookers who present live music."

Ruby James

to be fearless... you have to be wildly passionate and determined in this business otherwise good luck.. and i always say that you really have to ask yourself where your heart is at.. is this a hobby or is this your life? either is ok but it's important to be clear.. there are no real easy roads but there are many to chose from.. i think it's always important to dream and to follow your dreams.. that's the only advice i could give to anyone.. male or female.. but to a young girl especially, i would tell her .. what do they say? shoot for the moon and land on the stars? i like that.. anything is possible, if you can dream it, you can be it!

Photo of Kelley Ryan

Kelley Ryan

You have to DO IT FOR THE LOVE. That's really the key to fulfillment, if not success, as well. Money and fame are mostly exotic looking distractions. Although they can represent a certain amount of validation as an artist, they are also both a Pandora's Box of trouble. The best thing you can do is never lose the LOVE for what you do. Just keep feeding the muse. Head down. Get lost in your art, whatever it may be.

Christina Martin

I've received lots of valuable advice. Probably the best advice that I would pass along is: Figure out WHAT YOU WANT and then MAKE A PLAN to start taking the steps to achieve it. Ajust the plan every day, work every day, and find a balance between Business and Art that works for you!

Kat Edmonson

"Yes. Jose Feliciano told me to never let any man come between me and my music.

My advice to a woman starting out: Listen to your heroes and try and make music like them. Good music doesn't die with your heroes. Don't waste your time saying, nobody sounds like that anymore. Go and be the real deal and let somebody say that about you one day. Go and be one of the ones."

Jess Klein

"When I first started out, I was living in Boston, and a fellow their named Geoff Bartley told me it's really important to stay connected to your friends and your community no matter how successful you get, because those people will nourish you and inspire you. When you get disconnected and isolated, your work will go downhill. I've learned that too - I didn't really have a musical community when I lived in New York, and I suffered psychologically for it. Once I realized I didn't want to write songs about my own suffering anymore if I could help it, I decided to move. Now I live in Austin and it's very community-oriented and all I have to do is roll into any local venue and see my friends play and I feel inspired. It's made a huge difference in my energy and my work. I believe in that whole if you build it they will come thing. I think because I moved somewhere where I could open my heart and feel supported, I've begun to have more success business wise too.

I would tell young women just starting out to trust your gut instincts - in terms of your art and in terms of who you surround yourself with. Don't let anyone who makes you feel bad get too close. There will always be a lot of people around you with opinions. Take them into consideration if they are from people you trust, but in the end, go with your gut. Those people can only guide you, or keep you company, or point things out along the way. You're the one making the music. "

Shelley Short

Well, it sounds corny, but "stay true to yourself", was the best advice I ever got. Being a musician, touring, making records can suck you into this other dimention, this smaller world. Its important to stay well rounded.

Molly Neuman

Various people have but when I started playing there was less access to example or information than there is today. My advice to women is the same as to men: work on your craft, have a point to what you are trying to say, have fun and don't take yourself too seriously.

Photo of Betse Ellis - The Wilders

Betse Ellis - The Wilders

Can't remember specific advice that I received. Sure I was given advice by many over the years and I'll still take advice any time. What do I say to young women musicians? I just had the opportunity to give advice to a talented 13 year old singer/guitar player in Scotland. I suggested that she spend lots of time working on her scales and knowing her chords and playing as much as she can with others. And I praised her for her listening skills. If I'm asked by a young woman what she should do to get started in the music biz, I will tell her to know her instrument really really well. I will tell her to not be too defensive when people give her advice or criticism. I will tell her to be honest and diplomatic and kind. And that she may have to make a choice sometime whether to be kind, or to completely mow over anyone in her way. And that she should consider this choice carefully and not with an impulse decision. And I'll tell her whatever else comes to mind at the time. Thanks for providing this survey. I appreciate thinking about these questions and the opportunity to add my voice to the mix.

Photo of Cathi Walkup

Cathi Walkup

"When I was starting out a wonderful piano player let me come to his house every Wednesday for a year or more. He helped me get charts together, taught me a lot and played for me to sing and worked with me on gigs. I didn't realize at the time how very generous this was. I've always felt an obligation to pay this forward and try to help others when I can.

I would say to never stop learning, to learn your instrument from the ground up and know that music is communication, Learn to communicate on every level with other musicians.

Always remember it's the journey and not the destination. Life is like a lottery. Everyone gets a chunk of time, nobody knows how much. What you choose to do with your time determines the quality of your life. Don't forget to have fun."

Marilyn Harris

My college professor told me to retain my copyrights as much as I possibly could - this prevented me from making deals that would probably have led to much heartbreak ultimately. Given the current state of the music industry, there isn't much I feel qualified to give as advice to young women starting musical careers, and when I've tried to show support and give feedback to my juniors, I've felt dismissed and devalued by them. The only valid advice I can give anyone at this point is: "take care of your teeth - you're going to need them your whole life!"

Stephanie O'Keefe

"Oh, yes.

My advice would be to be professional always - these men are so valuable as allies that it is silly to get involved with them romantically, unless it is VERY special."

Judy Chamberlain

Well, of course! There is a "difference" hiding behind every venue, booker, owner, producer and sideman. This would take years to explain. Let's just say we women have to use all of our instincts, all of the time.
The best advice anyone ever gave me is that there is no substitution for the elapsing of time as you work to be better at your craft. Learn tunes. Understand that a rest is a musical note. Become a master of phrasing, intonation and inflection. Be a team player, but also an innovator. Don't let anyone bully you or put you down for having ideas. And don't let anyone discourage you. Becoming an accomplished musician is painful, not comfortable. Stick with it.

Cat Conner

To any vocalists, I'd say, learn to play an instrument, at least a little. Know you stuff and respect other musicians. Sing from the heart and everything else will follow!

Photo of Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

I think as I grow older and more confident as a person, those differences matter less... as a young musician, being a woman mattered a lot. the testosterone levels in the room would rise by having one woman and several guys together... that would often lead to sexist comments, and uncomfortable situations... as time passed - I learned to keep a certain distance, choose my musicians based on personality (at least as much as based on their musicality), and cut people out of my environment if they are unable to address me as an equal based on my gender. also - I often work with other women, which is very nice as well...
"many have given me good advice. and many have given me living examples...

I think most importantly, for men and women - have conviction in your way. be truthful in your music... meaning - make choices that make sense for the music, without concern for how it will be received (you can figure out marketing LATER, and you should... but first, make good art...)

constantly work on developing your craft. you're never done learning...

keep an open eye for venues, series, musicians, groups that make sense for YOU, for what you do or aspire to do, and try to get involved with them.

if you're genuine, persistent and good at what you do, you can have a life in music. it takes a lot, but worth every second..."

Photo of Carol Heffler, Carol Heffler Trio or Quartet

Carol Heffler, Carol Heffler Trio or Quartet

One piece of advice I got was to do it (music) because you love it, not because you think you'll make a lot of money or be famous. Do it because you HAVE to do it to feel like a complete person. I would pass that long to a young musician.

Alexandra Frederick

I've been told so many times to stop apologizing for myself, and I would definitely take that stance with someone younger. In this business, a lot of "civilians", i.e. prospective clients, people who want to hire you for education purposes, etc. don't really know how to judge good music or musicians, so they take you on the terms that you set yourself. People who are hiring often don't know what they want, so you have to be very clear in explaining to them. If you're not what they want, also don't try to just fit into another mould - they'll ultimately be unhappy and so will you with the product. Define yourself and your music and be who you are.

Laurie Krauz

Find the things you LOVE to say with music and say them. It's a tough tough business so your art must always be a source of inspiration because it will take you through the really tough times. If you're not that into it, you won't last.

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Andrea Wolper

"I can't think of any advice I was given.

The advice I'd give is:

Be smart, be strong. Cultivate mentors IF you honestly connect with their music and personality. Try not to worry about what other people think of you. Express your music from the deepest, most honest place you can find. Take advice that's meaningful to you, and leave the rest behind."

Mary Foster Conklin

If you sing, make sure you also play an instrument. Do both very well. Also, learn to negotiate and read a contract. You will often be your best publicist.

Lisa Otey

"In the beginning, I think I played harder to try to fit in with the men. They never treated me differently as a musician because I was a woman. However, if I didn't play as well as they did, that's another story. As a woman, it can be hard to fit in with men who might look at you as a sexual object. I was 17 when I started and frequently had to deflect their flirtations. even now sometimes. I earned their respect, however, and have felt like an equal for most of my professional life.

In my genre of jazz and blues, I have found an inequality- not among musicians, but with booking agents and festival and concert programmers. They usually want a white guy with a guitar in the US and a black guy with guitar or a black woman singer in Europe. In the US, you might see one woman piano player on a festival, or one woman period, but a dozen white guys with guitars. In Europe, they see jazz and blues as Black American music. They want it to be authentic so someone like me will be on a side stage, never on a main stage. Even so, I have felt very successful in my career and see more doors opening every day.

I have also never waited for someone to discover me or to create opportunities for me. I realized early on that it cost the same money to produce a short demo and shop it to different record companies as it did to produce your own full length CD and sell it. When I realized I didn't fit with concert programmers, enough to sustain myself, I started producing my own concerts as well. I have felt successful doing these things on my own. The audiences have been very receptive as well."
"People told me to write my own songs, tell my own stories. They told me to K.A.T.N. (Kick Ass and Take Names). I have always believed that the universe will meet me halfway. I need to do my part, get my skills together, and put my dreams out there. Everything I have ever wanted as a musician has come true for me. It is a blessing to be able to make a living doing what I love.

I encourage everyone to follow their dreams and trust they will be taken care of. It's hard in these times to trust that you can let go of something that seems like a sure income. What is a sure income any more? I have never made a lot of money but I have always been able to pay my bills. Every time I put a thought out there for some kind of work I would like to do musically, the phone rings or an email comes. This has happened for every creative person I know who has done their part to be ready for these opportunities. I have truly been blessed. I am told that I don't just keep the door open behind me, I hold it open and push others through. My life has been so full and I still feel like I'm just getting started. Thanks for doing this survey."

Amy Cervini

"I've gotten a lot of advice, some great, some awful. I would say that any musician should follow their dream. If you love to play standards - play standards. If you love to play free - play free. People can hear the love you have (or lack thereof) even if they can't describe what it is they're hearing. If you are honest and genuine about your music the audience will feel that and become interested in what you have to say.

Surround yourself with other musicians who make you feel good. If they can play rings around the next guy but have a horrible attitude on the stand and off, they won't make you feel or sound good.

Music is your business. Don't forget that. Also, don't forget that you have a responsibility to your audience. Believe in what you do and they will come with you on whatever journey you take them on."

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Amanda Monaco

"My college guitar teacher, Ted Dunbar, always said to ""keep on going, straight ahead"" - words that have stayed with me through the years that inform all that I do in this crazy business of music.

The advice I would give to a woman musician just starting out (aside from what Ted told me) is to make sure not to get frustrated by male peers who may be bullying out of jealousy. Sexism hasn't disappeared, to be sure, and it can be so damaging to a young woman, especially one that's heading off to music school which can be stressful regardless of gender."

Diane Moser, Diane Moser's Composers Big Band, Diane Moser Quintet

"In the beginning no one gave me advice-I just had to make my own way. However, thru the years I have received timely advice from female and male musicians alike. My advice to women musicians just starting out would be..... 1)always protect yourself when playing in less than safe conditions-don't be too proud to ask the biggest guy in the band to walk you to your car after the gig. 2)Seek out older women musicians-ask them to lunch and for advice-they'll be delighted you asked and even more so to help. 3)Make sure you learn about the business side of music! 4)Remain true to your creative spirit. 5)When it's your turn-help the women musicians who are coming up behind you."

Amy Camie

My advice to all my students is to play from your heart and 'share' the music...don't 'perform' it. When you share music from the inside, you're not dependent upon the response of the audience...there's no attachment to the outcome, thus there's no stress. You play because YOU love to play. When you 'perform,' you're always dependent on the audience's response, which is crazy since you have no control over how they'll respond. Thus, the tension and stress can become almost unbearable...and that energy is then flowing through the music...which, on an unconscious level, the audience is picking up. The bottom line for me is to play from the inside out...not 'for' the outside, hoping to fill up the inside.

Dori Levine

"NO! Save up some money. Self promotion can be expensive. Sharpen those skills..there's a lot of competition out there."

Anita Brown, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra

All the men keep telling me to keep doing what I'm doing and eventually it will pay off. Trombonist Luis Bonilla took me aside once when I was distraught over feeling as though I had not been treated with appropriate respect. He said, "Screw them! You're Anita Brown! You have to stop giving them so much respect and give them some of their own crap!"

Photo of Anne Mette Iversen

Anne Mette Iversen

Being a musician is a long journey, so don't give up and keep working on it through periods where you might be less active musically. And don't pay too much attention to you being a woman playing jazz, vs a male jazz musician.

Jan Leder

I studied with two great masters and so I would say find a great teacher and never give up, find your own road and enjoy the journey~

Lisa Sokolov

Stay true to your voice and just keep on doing it. Keep on doing it. Make relationship. Long term relationship with players, producers, engineers.

Cady Finlayson

"I think the one thing to remember is that every path is different and what is right for you may not be right for someone else. It is important to have a strong sense of who you are as a musician (and this may change over time) and to choose projects that reflect that and that excite you. If you hang on to ""what is music"" for you and what makes you want to jump up in the morning and play, then all the tough aspects of the music industry are just challenges that you will find a way to navigate with your soul intact.

-Cady Finlayson Spirited Irish fiddle with a Global Twist cadyfinlayson.com www.fiddleandguitar.com"

Photo of Jane Stuart

Jane Stuart

I did get a lot of support from many people over the years. Thad Jones was a friend back in the 70's and used to tell me to just keep singing. Plan on living a long life, in music...PLAN ON IT. Along the way, just observing and learning from the many truly great musicians I worked with, I learned thhat it's always got to be about the music. Not the money, personalities, the "getting ahead", it's about the music. Oh, and save your money. Hah!

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Susan Krebs

Make the music from your heart.

Submitted Anonymously

Yes. Perseverance and dedication. It's also all about making the right connections.

Photo of Mary Louise Knutson

Mary Louise Knutson

A few people warned me not to go into the business, but other than that I don't recall ever receiving any valuable advice about making my way in the music business. I always wished I had had a mentor. My advice for young women musicians would be to only go into the music business if you can't imagine living your life without the act of performing music. And only if you can still enjoy playing if no one is listening....since much of the time you will be playing for a room full of people talking to each other. Also, 90% of the biz is biz, not music. Can you imagine doing business all day, sometimes foregoing your art to get through the business? Do not go into the biz for money or fame. These are the wrong reasons. Also, when men (in the band and/or from the audience) want to get together with you for coffee, it's not about business or friendship. It's about their romantic interest in you. This took me forever to learn!

Christiana Drapkin Jazz Group

"Yes, I liked the indiebiz.com newsletters, blogs and publications by Dave Hooper. My advice: be consistent; organize your business end of your art; spend regular time on promotion and follow up. You'll be learning on the job and you'll be more in tune with what a venue needs from you, how to match your pull with your audience with the right-size venue; how to grow a following, how to establish good relationships and get repeat gigs, and grow and prosper with your music. Most important: I'm very much hoping for the long-awaited breakthroughs in health insurance reform. We artists need affordable health insurance for ourselves and our families. If we're no longer yoked to a day job for the sake of health insurance, we can free up more time for our artistic growth, and leave the existential dread of being ruined by an accident or illness, behind. "

Jessie Reagen Mann

"Yes! Dr. Kaufman at Mannes in Intro to Undergrad studies. The class in a nutshell was an outline of what you need if you're gonna make it. From knowing your industry to taking head shots. I think most people weren't ready for it mentally as freshman, but I still think about that class, and am still in touch with Dr. K. "

Catherine Dupuis

Keep true to your self and your soul. Know what you want to say. Take care of your own business, don't expect anyone to do it for you. Grab what you do by the gonads and have all the fun you can with it.

Photo of Nicole Pasternak

Nicole Pasternak

A valuable piece of advice I received early on was to never turn down an opportunity, even if you think it doesn't fit into your "career plan," because you never know where it might lead you. This has proven to be invaluable to me. I think it's important to own your own material. And lastly, ignore the critics, respect the musicians.

Gale Cruz

No one told me this but I would say, always keep an open mind. Learn many things, don't be elitist.

Hailey Wojcik

People love to give advice; I'm not sure what has been valuable and what hasn't really, but if I were to advise a woman embarking on a musical career, I would say to try and surround yourself with people who are not going to be too negatively critical at the start...it is really important to be willing to make mistakes and take risks, and not be shot down too early. I think a lot of women are afraid of this (more afraid than men), which is probably also why less girls raise their hands in class when they're not 100% sure of an answer, for instance. Be willing to write some terrible music and play some terrible shows while you're on your way to writing/playing good ones.

Amy London

"Nobody ever really gave me advice, I figured most of my career out on my own, learning through successes and failures. I had a wonderful voice teacher at SU, operatic bass baritone Donald Miller, who warned me about the 'K-mart-ization' of our culture. I have always set my sights artistically at a high level, which can sometimes lead to disappointment, but is the best place that I know of to live one's life as artist. It is the way I am, and I'm happy with that.

Please feel free to contact me for more information, I LOVE NPR, I've been listening daily for decades, and regularly contribute to my local station, WNYC. Thank you for so many years of the best information available in the media."

Elli Fordyce, The Elli Fordyce Jazz Quartet

No. Making your way in the music industry is rife with unknown factors. (I have had great advice about evolving my own creativity, a completely different question.)

Libby York

"Pianist Dollar Brand(Abdullah Ibrahim) told me early on that ""if you just keep doing what you're doing long enough, sooner or later someone's gonna take notice."" Also the great Abbey Lincoln encouraged me to give the lyric its due and don't worry about scatting. ""Why should I try to sound like a horn....the horns are trying to sound like me."" For woman musicians starting out, I would say be as versatile as possible to increase your chances of working, keep a tough skin, and only do it if you can't not do it."

Holli Ross, String Of Pearls

"I have been given advice about recordings, business, networking, ""making nice"", but I think I learned some of the most valuable things from my father, who was a Juilliard graduate himself. He said, ""don't just be prepared, be better than prepared."" In my own way I've taken that to heart to mean, have it all together, no holes allowed. I wish I can say that I've always lived up to that standard but there's not a day that goes by I don't try.

I'd say to any musician, but especially to women who are singers, be independent. Don't depend on others to write your charts or decide how you'll sing a song. Educate and arm yourself with listening to the masters, and not just singers. Learn various styles of music and what distinguishes those styles from one another. Know how to talk to a drummer, a bass player, pianist and guitarist since you'll mostly be accompanied by that instrumentation. I don't think this is really ""women"" specific advice. It's for all musicians which I hope in the end has no real distinction in quality. "

Teri Roiger

Yes, but not as much as it used to be. When I was learning jazz piano when I first fell in love with jazz when I was in my 20s, I used to play piano for some of the musicians I would sing with, and they would say "you're not supposed to be able to do that!" They were saying this because I was a "chick singer" and wasn't supposed to really know what was going on! I have always been very involved in music and very talented, and I make it very clear to my jazz vocal students that they are a musician as well as a vocalist, and make sure they know the ins and outs of being a musician, know the language, how to talk jazz, and always teach them basic theory as well as singing technique and history.
"Be true to yourself and follow your own path. Don't be afraid to tell people what you want or expect out of them as musicians and collaborators. I have found that other musicians appreciate direction, and it took me a long time to learn that.

Thank you for this opportunity! Peace and Blessings! TERI"

Regina Harris Baiocchi

"Let you music be its own reward."

Judy Niemack

Study hard and practice so that you are on an equal level with any male musician, be prepared to prove yourself, and enjoy it, and take your talent seriously.

Photo of Judi Silvano

Judi Silvano

I have gotten many pieces of encouragement from musicians. Mostly, I was encouraged to continue studying and focus on the music and improving my craft. The musicians that I played with in the jazz world early on, like Kenny Werner and Joe Lovano, told me not to worry about the public's or critics' responses and to just keep on working to get better at what I did. They appreciated my contributions to the music and were generous to me and accepting. My advice to any musician, male or female is to focus on the music and keep that love in your heart by continually studying and being open to growing in new ways. That way you find yourself and can express your own personal "voice" and while you may incorporate much of the work of generations before you, you will find a way to express your own way if you are courageous enough and persistant enough. Go for it. That's the real joy of being an artist.

Photo of Jody Sandhaus

Jody Sandhaus

"I wasn't given any helpful advice. The one thing I tell musicians starting out is that they have to be honest-musically speaking. As long as one is honest, they will find people who appreciate it and are swept into the music because it is heartfelt. I think that's what makes one artist different from another."

Submitted Anonymously

I have received valuable advice from my voice teacher, from vocal coaches and others. The important thing is to keep asking questions and to keep developing one's style/voice.

Cassandra Douglas

"Yes!!! Every week I sift through advice about what to do next. I am my own manager and I like to think of myself as a private company of one! I have my own best interests at heart. It is essential to surround myself with people who believe in my ability and have the tools to help me attain my goals. The sooner a young singer does this the better. Classical music is a hard profession and one needs really strong people along the way to help embolden a singer. Ultimately, it is up to the singer to really come to terms with whether or not singing is something they really want to do. It is truly the life of a starving artist and the rewards come in the actualization of a performance where you bear all the pain, love, or joys you've ever had to a group of people who are paying you to move them into an emotional state of ecstasy. Being that vulnerable is not for everyone. There are also too few people available to support singers financially. The idea of a patron is a thing of the past and the money to pay for all the coachings, voice lessons, accompanist fees, audition fees, headshots, audition and performance attire, and music scores has to come from somewhere if ever one wants to come close to actualizing their dreams of performing professionally. The real joy for me in singing is that it actually feels wonderful to sing and sing well. I also love the drama of opera and the chance to connect with an audience. After 14 years of study under my belt, it wasn't until last year that I felt I must sing because there is nothing else that I love to do more! Being a singer is one of the most personal journeys one can make. For me, I've come to discover that it is worth the struggle to be able to share so much of my self with others. "

Cristie Strongman

"I never had any real support for my craft, probably why I'm working a day job that is non music related. However, I still take my craft very seriously and work hard at getting better and performing any chance I get.

Advice for a woman musician starting out, let's say she is young: learn piano and solfeg so that you can sigh reade very well, learn to improvise musically, take dance classes for physical coordination and intergration, learn as many languages as you can but consentrate on German, Italian, French, English and some other romance language like Spanish, Portuguese. Learn now to study an operative role on your own and learn to KNOW when you are ready to seek out a voice techer, a vocal coach, repetituer for help and when you can still do the work yourself to save time, effort and money. Get as many full roles under your belt that are right for your voice type. Lean what you sound like objectively. Always record yourself when you can and listen to it afterwards privately and then after maybe with a teacher or very good friend. Have a network of supporters (singer and non singer friends). Learn now to network with everyone! Keep business cards and always have some of your own with you. Always carry a pen. Last but not least - remember that it's supposed to be FUN for you too! :)"

Photo of Marni Nixon

Marni Nixon

"A woman musician, is a musician who may happen to be a woman. That doesn't mean there is a sexual-bending nature of it necessarily, or a lesbian ""slant."" any more than there is a homosexual slant to to male musicians. Music is music, musicians are musicians, each according to their own talent and perception and profesionalism and skill..creative or performing-wise those are all divisions that don't need to be divisive, nor even dwelt upon. We are HUMAN BEINGS, male and female with all the diferenes we have inherent and all the similiariities inherent in our particular human soul,with possiblily different points of view and slants. Some are things we would want and find it worthwhile to program on one given program and sometimes we don't need to dwell on that aspect of programming at all. One chooses to market those possiblities to whatever audience one chooses. Sometimes there is no difference in marketing ""female material"" than there is ""male material"" at all.

Above all I do not want to see Androgenous. And a muddied outlook of the material I choose to sing or hear. That goes for keys, subject matter, presentaion, and so much more, right?

I like to choose material on its own merit and to suit the theme of the program.

Anyway, advice? Be as deeply routed in the appreciations and techniques of the past and present that or any matierial as deeply insightfully as you can. Have fun with it. If you truly apreciate it and comprehend the music you are performing you will find a way to make it be heard in the best way..whether it's you own music or someone else's.

Practical advice, make sure you can proceed constantly, even if it is stop and go at times. Just keep at it and don't cut yourself off from loiving you life. Music is a refletion of LIFE for heaen's sake It's also to be a part of each other and to heal ourselves and others by being the way you are and letting and helping it to SHINE, for heavens' sakes.

Do the making of it all your life."

Laurie Rogers

Be as well prepared as you possibly can be. Your competition is hard on your heels. Every day that you don't hone your knowledge and skills is a day you backslide in some way. Stay strong and develop a thick skin. Be persistent - much of success depends on sheer tenacity. If you really love what you do, make it happen somehow, in some way. Don't let ANYBODY tell you that choosing to have a family is the end of your career.

Photo of Michelle Trovato

Michelle Trovato

The advice I've been given is to give 'em what they want. Be thin, be a great actress, and sing as well as you can, (possibly in that order) because that's the only way you're going to stand out in the crowd.

Jennifer Peterson, operamission

"More than one successful women musician have told me they don't think about the differences, they just do their work.

A female role model (undergraduate teacher) told me that women have to work more than four times as hard as their male counterpart to attain equal recognition, and I see that as true and also good advice to live by."

Deborah Karpel

Tenacity. Practice (seriously), keep a light heart about judgments and learn from every gig you do. It's about connection to music and people, not just impressing someone who has more power and status in the music industry. I hope you like to travel and creative lifestyles!

Sharon Azrieli

"I got great advice on how to be great singer, almost none on how to make a career. I wish i had been given some! Now I wouldn't know what to tell a young singer because there is so much that is different; for example I believe one has to publish oneself on youtube and do everything one can to self promote these days... look at obama girl, that is the way of fame now..."

Submitted Anonymously

"Not really. Just the - ""you have to be twice as good as a man"" - and ""play with more balls"" male teachers really said those things to me

A couple of key people treated me as a fellow musician, which is the most valuable.

To women starting out: Play what you love. Seek out those who support you. practice, stay healthy. It's not that easy, - for men or women - so just accept the challenges."

Joan Crowe, Jesters of Jive

"If you are the type of personality that needs security like to make plans for the future than this is not the business for you. But If you thrive on the adventure of not knowing what is around the next corner than go for it. Just know what you need to be happy and understand the reality of the business and its built in ups and downs."

Julie Rohwein

Keep going. Don't let the naysayers win.

Sunny Zank

Practice - all the time.

Susan Borwick

As a college professor, I influence women musicians just starting out all the time. I encourage them not to lose their dreams in the discouraging world of music.

Susan Cohn Lackman

I was not mentored AT ALL. I was not taken seriously by any males. Fortunately, I have done all right, but my way is not good for mental health. Many women who could mentor nowadays are still quite competitive - there is insecurity among women composers.

Elizabeth Vrenios

Have a goal, strategy, and work harder than you ever have to make it. Make friends with everyone, because that is where your next job will come from.

Anna Maria Manalo

Let your Music and musicianship guide your career, not vice versa

Photo of Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon

Keep as many of your rights as you can (copyright, master recordings). Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it, whatever your art form. Always work to make the very best art and performance that you can.

Lana Mountford

Learn as much as you can about ALL aspects of your chosen craft, apprentice if you have the opportunity, and don't expect to "make it big" until you've paid SOME dues.


"My initial training as a musician was horrible in terms of how to get started in the business. No one gave me any advice until I was much older.

My advice to young musicians these days is to just stay with it. Don't give up. It is hard to get established as a musician. Sometimes it takes years but you must do whatever it takes to survive. Have plans laid out about how you expect to make money while you build-up your music career. Be willing to take on students and give back what you know to them. "

Terri Sandys

Come prepared. Arrive early. Be gracious. Don't gossip. Be friendly. Be a team player even if you are the headliner or leader.

Emma Lou Diemer

Learn to play an instrument well, learn to sing, learn to conduct, develop an outgoing personality, don't give up.

J. Michele Edwards

"Minimal concrete advice about the practical realities.

Work with other women; don't see them so much as competition. As Gerda Lerner said: ""Take someone with you."""

Jenn Cristy

I've basically learned everything by experience. I wish someone had told me early how things would effect my career. My advice, and it's the advice I give my students, has always been 'Be you'. If you start to give up pieces of yourself to please others, you are just a step closer to losing yourself. I always do my best to play the role without losing my integrity. I love my job, I love performing, I love writing. If I can do those things and keep the love, while making the music world a better place, then I don't think I'm really losing anything by not conforming to what I see on Mtv, Vh1, or the internet! My fans are my fans for the pure fact that I have never been false, I have never lost the drive or passion, and it's obvious that I love what I do. I believe I will live longer in the industry by staying true to myself and to my fans!

Nicole J. McPherson

Joan Tower, Libby Larsen, Shulamit Ran and Cynthia Folio have. You have to be very passionate about what you want and what you after and go for it. Don't let anything or anyone get in your way.

Beth Anderson

Yes I was told to either marry money, inherit money, write commercial music or learn to type/teach/nurse so that I could afford to be a composer. I would tell them the same thing. Then persist. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it if you really must compose.

Photo of Vivian Adelberg Rudow

Vivian Adelberg Rudow

"Start your own group of any kind. Or join a group and work your way up to be a leader in the group. Always pitch in and help, move the stands chairs, run the boards, just like the men. But do let the men be men! Be upbeat! Smile a lot.

If orchestra music double check your instrumental parts!!!!

Never whine & complain that you're a women. If you're good and your music excellent, you'll get somewhere.

Most of us don't get as far as we like. It's a ""Have to"" field."

Pro Arte String Quartet

"i was told it might not be possible for a woman to be in a major string quartet; that changed just as i finished my studies. go after your artistic dream because dreams come true. "

Gabriela Lena Frank

Yes, I had incredible mentors, both male and female. I would tell women musicians nowadays that they are very much needed, and they are needed at their most excellent. They must work hard, grab every opportunity to learn, be merciless in their self-scrutiny, and keep a sense of humor.

Sarah Mattox

Always approach the work humbly and with an open mind. The joy in this field is that you never know everything, and at any moment you may stumble upon a life-altering realization about your art. Also remember that live performance is at its heart a collaboration...First with yourself and the (usually dead) composer, then with the other musicians, and most importantly, with your audience. I think today, most audiences don't realize just how big a part they actually play in the performance they attend. There is a breath, a connection, an energy that only exists once you add an audience, and each audience is unique. Art is communication. Until there is an audience, the work is incomplete.

Barbara Case, Free Range Chix

"The advice I got was not to go there because of my gender. My advice to women of any age and field: make your own opportunities.

Thank you!!"

Anna Rubin

Get a good support system, know something about other women in music, and know that you'll need as much creativity in the business side of music as in the making of it.

Hasu Patel

Please find a music agent which can present you properly. I am still looking for myself.

Joanna Messer, Madison Symphony Orchestra (WI), Wisconsin Philharmonic, International Chamber Artists (Chicago)

"Yes! Jeanne Baxtresser, my teacher for my graduate study, told me that I must always think of the music first, to be in service to it and to trust in it, to remove my ego and my self from the process. Ms. Baxtresser would know; she is one of the pioneers in my field, having spent 35 years as principal flutist in the main symphony orchestras of Montreal, Toronto, and finally New York. She has given me much more advice than that over the years.

I also received valuable advice from my undergraduate teacher, Ernestine Whitman (professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI). ""If you quit, you'll never win."" I took more than two dozen orchestral auditions before winning my first position. This is not unusual; statistically speaking, finding orchestral work in the US is like trying to be a linebacker in the NFL, and it's only getting harder. If I had given up after audition five or six, I wouldn't have the career I have today.

I also love that I have a hybrid career. I grew up in a library, thanks to my mom's work as a librarian and library director, and I am happiest and most balanced when I have all of my work together: teacher (I teach online for the City Colleges of Chicago and give masterclasses), librarian, performer. I wouldn't trade my life for anything.

As for young women in music just starting:

Take charge of your decisions and own them. Say ""no"" to things you really can't do, but still say ""yes"" far more often than you say ""no"".

Make good friends with people who play your instrument; while you may see them in the green room at an audition as your competition, if you are a good colleague and a trustworthy friend, s/he will remember that and give you opportunities later when s/he can. Also, no one is going to understand you better than someone else who struggles with the same things as you do (this is another gem from Ms. Baxtresser). My closest colleagues in music have come through for me personally as well, and I can't discount the working relationships that have enriched my life deeply, particularly from my years in the training ground of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Finally, if this is going to be your life's work, be kind to everyone you meet. You will see these people and work with them for the rest of your life, even after your so-called ""retirement"". Memories are long, and you want to be your best self, always in service to your music and your art. "

Elena Ruehr

Practice. Practice. Practice. Wait to deal with the business until you are really good. Then get better. Make friends with other musicians who like your music. Be prepared for rejection. The jobs you don't get don't matter, only the ones you do.

Oberta Stephen, classical musician

"No. Net work with performers and presentors. Find out what they need and wnat, offer to write music especially for them. Try for a commission."

Linda Swope

Just advice in making your way at all is good. It pertains to all facets of life, and in this case, music...not just music industry. The best advice is positive advice - it keeps you going and keeps your self-esteem up. Follow your heart, make your dreams come true. That's all.

Marcia Bellamy

I would say, be open to everything, but don't stick around where you're not appreciated.

Rosa Avila

I say go for it , whatever your dream is ..... don't let anyone tell you , you 're not supposed to play that or that instrument ;-)

Lisa Lorenzino

"This is exactly what I want to look at with my research as well. Valuable advice however can be either positive or negative. I think one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given, and this is not just about the music industry, but about life in general, was just to go out and do what you love; because you love it,you will do it well. This is my general life philosophy and I have been fortunate enough to be able to do so. My advice to women just starting out in the music field is the same- just do it. It won't be easy, and neither is it easy for the men in the field. Find supportive people, find wonderful role models, play with the best musicians, practice, play what you love to play, look to all things in life for inspiration and just keep on doing it.

PS I would love to know more information at to what prompted this survey as it is an area that I am very very interested in. Please also inform me when this information will be broadcast, Lisa"

Sarah Stiles

"No one has ever given me USEFUL advice. I did hear that there was sexism, and found that true. I have been warned that composers can be scathing and prejudiced of each other, and have found that true. I have also found the opposite to be true. So the advice has been, ""watch out, be ready, don't be surprised, expect it,"" but that advice has not been useful. In terms of giving advice, I think each person is different, and no sure formula will work for getting into the music industry. I myself have not found a sure path, so I don't have any strong advice. However, the usual MUSTS are hard work, dedication, diligence. I also encourage artistic integrity, but have seen that's not always the most important thing for ""making it."" In fact, sometimes ""selling out"" is hoe people are ""making it."" Sad."

Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio

Having good people skills is the most important element to a successful career.

Photo of Hsiao-Lan Wang

Hsiao-Lan Wang

My previous professors always encouraged me to be a better musician, and be myself. They did not particularly bring up the gender issue.

Amy Zigler

No one specifically gave me advice about a music career, but I would encourage a young woman to work hard, have fun, and enjoy the roller coaster.

Linda Dusman

Don't quit. And find out who you can work with.

Sumitted Anonymously

Be aggressive and promote yourself. Do not allow anyone to belittle or intimidate you.

Cathy Wilde, Cloigheann & Your Irish Pocket Companion, Three Scones of Boxty

Get really, really good at what you do. Be twice as good as the average guy. Pay attention to technique, craft, nuance, and mastery of your instrument; your style will come out of that eventually -- and meanwhile, no one can argue with the fact that you kick ass. In other words, your looks and charm and cuteness will change, but if you're a great musician you'll get respect. And you'll just get better as time goes on. If your work's great and your music's great then people aren't going to care who made it.

Antoinette Montague

"Just go straight ahead. Keep yourself constructively busy in music. MARKET YOURSELF even in conjunction with other people so that you understand the process. The internet has leveled the playing field, take advantage of this amazing tool. AntoinetteMontague www.antoinettemontague.com"

Patsy Rogers

I have nothing to do with the music industry. Why don't you take a REAL survey where the questions are open ended and intelligent!

Michelle May of Musique Noire

The advice I received would be the advice I would give: study your craft, learn about the music business, be open to others and ready for new opportunities. Be able to articulate your vision, but it's o.k. if that vision is flexible. Be a lifelong learner. Be careful to whom you give your trust because there are many, many people out there that are jealous and do not have your best interests at heart. Meditate and pray before making any decisions.

Photo of Laura Schwendinger

Laura Schwendinger

My teachers were excellent at teaching me about the musical and technical aspects of composition but not so much the business end of things.

Photo of Geri Allen

Geri Allen

"Find a mentor, someone willing to spend quality time with them, male or female, an expert in the field, and be certain they love it enough to withstand the ever changing climates."

Photo of Clare Shore

Clare Shore

Others have expressed confidence in me as a musician - that is better than any advice. I have tried to work very hard and be persistent and make and keep friends - that is very important. My advice would be to never give up.

Submitted Anonymously

"no no special advice for a young woman musician - it's really tough for everyone, and my advice isn't about the business side of music anyway, except for the obvious, which younger people seem to have no problem figuring out - get to know someone with power in the field.../my advice is strictly about how to work with musical ideas and performers/ "

JoVia Armstrong

I would give the same advice to a young man. Play hard and practice smart. If your sexuality gets you in the door without losing dignity, then oblige. For a long time, I was really hung up on men hiring me because they thought I was cute or pretty. I wanted them to hire me for my talent. After some time, I learned how to use my femininity to help my career....... without losing any dignity.

Photo of Kate Vincent, Artistic Director of Firebird Ensemble

Kate Vincent, Artistic Director of Firebird Ensemble

I was given wonderful advice from one of my teachers who said: If you can do something other than music, you probably should. If you can't live without it as your primary way of life then you will find a musical way to make a difference, to create something special to share with others.

Eva Kendrick, Anne's Cordial

You are only ever in competition with yourself. No one else writes the music that you write. Don't second guess your instincts and don't try to guess what other people want to hear. Certain people will always get attention due to gimmicks, but if you are true to yourself, you will earn the respect of your colleagues and musicians. I have a whole list for Tips for Composers on my website at www.evakendrick.com.

Sibylle Johner, Damocles Trio

can't think of any valuable advice, sorry....

Roma Calatayud-Stocks

Don't worry about what others are doing, do your music because you love it, and continue on, do not let negative thoughts impede you from pursuing your dreams.

Annalisa Pappano, The Catacoustic Consort

Yes. So much of music making is about interactions between musicians (and between the musicians and the audience). Behave professionally and practice! Always evaluate what it will take to make you happy. Being a musician is a big struggle. If it is too much of a struggle to provide fulfillment, look for other outlets that will contribute to that end...

Photo of Dena El Saffar, Salaam

Dena El Saffar, Salaam

I wish! I feel like I have learned everything the hard way. As a music major, all the instruction I received was for refining my performance, never about how to survive in the business of music. Luckily, I have been helped through by many musical comrades; we all learned the ropes together. My advice to a woman musician just starting out is to give it her best, practice alot, and be undeniably good; don't sell herself short, and PLEASE don't undercut the market by playing for cheap to free all the time!!!

Beth Nelson, aka Johanna Volkert-Nelson

"In graduate school, there was another cellist I considered to be my main competition within in the school. My professor observed how I deferred to her and basically told me that was totally unnecessary. I think it just taught me an important lesson about valuing your own point of view. So that's pretty much what I would tell other female musicians: Come, on girls! Know your Inner Goddess! Damnit! :-)

Hope this helps. "

Andrienne Wilson

Flora Purim gave me the best advice I ever got. Never make a record deal yourself. Let them think you are not savy enough to figure it out, and let the lawyers handle everything. The men in the music business are so intimidated by strong women that you have to back off somewhere, as not to immasculate them, and it's never a good idea to back off on the music! I would advise young women to become better musicians, and to write their own music. There is no reason to sell yourself short. Our perspective needs to be heard. This is being done in Pop, but I'm afraid most of the young singers coming up in Jazz are quite happy to do the same standards that everyone else has done a thousand times. They don't realize that it condemns the music to a historical reference which, for an extemporaneous art form, is death. Also, don't sleep with any of them. Let your music speak for you, not your sexuality.

Suzanne Juniper

I don't think my advice would be much different than that I would give to a young man, at this point.

Carla Cook

I'd let them know that while this career can be extremely satisfying, it is not without sacrifices, often personal ones like marraige, family. It's probably not impossible to "have it all', but it's certainly improbable.

Wendy Evans, Elgin Symphony

This is a very difficult career, especially if you want to have kids! The hours are tough, and if your spouse is also a musician the babysitting gets very expensive. It is very satisfying, though, if you can make it work.

Photo of Stephanie Jutt

Stephanie Jutt

Don't wait for anyone to give you permission to do anything. Trends are set by leaders.

Amy Rhodes

"No one ever gave me advise in music that helped me. The best advice was from my dad. He said ""if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way"". He was a football coach. Advise for the newbies? Be really smart about your money."

Lucille Field IAWM

Years of teaching gave me the opportunity to help women musicians. To young women I say perform, audition, apply, advertise yourself in every way possible. Develop your talent and perform perform perform -- everywhere possible.

Photo of Alisa Ohri

Alisa Ohri

"oh yes!!! :) what a blessing to get advice from folks who have been in it for awhile!

Here's my humble advice: :) 1) ALWAYS be on time and prepared. ... never give anyone a reason to judge you except for the quality of your work! 2) Remember, at the end of the day - this is a job/business. There will be times that are challenging. Don't involve yourself with gossip and negative activity. ... ""Smile and get your paycheck"" 3) Follow your heart and you'll always make the best choice for yourself!

.... sending love and support! ~Alisa :) xox"

Rika Seko

start with the understanding that gender does not play any roll (negative or positive) as long as you are a good musician.

Carol Lahti, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lyra String Quartet, ESQ (the Elgin Symphony Quartet)

The best advice I've gotten is to learn your music ahead of time, show up early, be responsible and reliable, be pleasant to work with, and try not to be too high-maintenance. This is, of course, in addition to the most important piece of advice: Practice! This is what I tell all my students, regardless of gender.

Sally Reid

This survey seems to be very weighted toward pop music and live performance. I have tried to fit my information into your categories although they seem very narrow in their focus.

AnnMarie Sandy

Yes, my former voice teacher back in Texas said "The ones who are successful are the ones who stick with it." That is what I've lived by, through the rejections and successes I've experienced. I keep working on my craft as a musician, a singer, and never limit myself from my potential.

Tia Imani Hanna

The best advice I ever received was in public: Play what I want and how I want to and make sure I was very confident about it. In private keep working and perfecting and experimenting with sounds and styles. Ask questions from mentors and listen like crazy when given the opportunity to work with those who have more knowledge than I do.

Deborah Burton

Don't listen to what anyone tells you.

Becca, War Tapes

Music should be fun.


All the guys around me were the ones I watched, I learned from the best and am proud to be considered on of the team players. That is my advice be a team player but always give 101 percent.

Kelly Irene Corson, The Art Of Shooting

"Yes, they said to me "" Don't say you're a girl band"", you are a woman who happens to be in a band, you are no different than any other band aout there trying to do the same thing you are. They've also said ""Don't give up before the miracle"" which has been one of the best pieces of advice I hold to when I'm frustrated.

The advice I regularly give to young women musicians is after usually hearing a bevvy of excuses.... ""Shush up and play anyways!Play no matter what."""

Kathy Leisen "Glass Rock"

My advice would be do it because you love it. and that there's a lot of assholes out there, but there's also a lot of amazing people out there too. So be patient and be persistent and have a good sense of humor. Success is personal.

Alex Marvar, Common Prayer

A friend's aunt advised me to have a drink before I sing in front of people. My dad recommends drinking lemon juice "like Frank Sinatra did" (?). A lot of folks have stressed the value of not taking oneself too seriously. Since I'm not a *solo* woman musician, I don't know that I'm necessarily in a position to give advice, but, in my experience I'd say 'be confident and you'll go far.' If anything compromises my performance / my role in the band I guess it's a lack of confidence / fear I don't know what I'm doing as much as the older people in my band, the guy who writes the songs (probably true but they seem not to mind), and I don't want to give my opinion or participate any more than people ask me to. Sing when sung to.

Sabrina Pena Young

Persevere. And remember that you can't just be good. You have to be the best.

Automatic Loveletter

"Allison Hagendorf (the first A&R i had at Epic Records) told me..you gotta tour tour tour,earn your stripes,learn it and earn it the hard way, make it real and organic...then people will believe you. I would tell them, to be themselves,dont let people tell you its too hard or impossible. And that there's only one of 'them' on the planet, so they have something new to offer. I would also tell them to listen to the classics, The beatles,zeppelin,bowie,simon and garfunkel,bob dylan,jimi hendrex,rolling stones,billy joel, the list goes on!! Its like musicians Bible Study. You can't become a priest or a preacher, if you dont know who God is."

Carolyn Keddy, Dog Rats

It is better (and now easier) to do things yourself. These days the music industry as such is inconsequential to playing music. Practice a lot and play out as much as possible.


My vocal teacher always tells me to respect myself and my values. She always reminds me that this industry is very challenging and I cannot lose myself or my goals while climbing my way to the top. I give every female musician the same advice whenever I have the opportunity. Every woman is so unique and deserves to have an equal chance in this record business! I always envisioned myself becoming the first female artist to own my own record label, make my own decisions, and create my own side businesses. I am so lucky to say that I am living my dream! I am so thankful for my incredible team and my supportive family. I would love to speak to NPR even further about being a woman musician in 2010. Please feel free to contact me at any time and I thank you for inviting female artists to reflect on this business.

Photo of Alicia Jo Rabins, Girls in Trouble

Alicia Jo Rabins, Girls in Trouble

"I guess I'd say to trust your instinct and not sell yourself short. Don't trust record labels. And know that everyone always says what they think you want to hear. It's a weird, speculative business and it's OK, probably imperative, to learn how to do that (estimate on the larger end of the draw you think you'll get, etc.)

I heard an interview (on NPR, actually - WNYC) recently about how women are less likely to brag, to promote themselves, to be pushy. Learning to do this has been really crucial for me, even though I still find it kind of painful. But for any artist it's really important, because you are running your own business. And if women are naturally or culturally less inclined to trumpet our talents and abilities, it puts us at a disadvantage - we have to really consciously make sure we promote ourselves and don't be afraid to take up space and go get what you want, to say ""I'm what you need, and this is why."" Of course, some women are naturals at being pushy, and to them I tip my hat. I kinda wish I were one of them. "

Jessie, Public Radio

No, no one has personally ever given me any advice about making my own way. Although, I'd have to say I am inspired by the women artists who are going after it and doing a fine job like Regina Spektor, Kori Gardner, Chan Marshall, Karin Bergquist, and so many more of my heros. My advice is to not be "the angry girl", and try not to use your body to sell your music. Let the music sell itself.

Photo of Hiromi


Don't think too much and just play. Man, woman, we are all human, doesn't matter. Important thing is, when you close your eyes and listen to the artist, gender, color,does not matter, only important thing is if you like what you are hearing to, if you feel something special for what you are given, so play the music you feel that you need to express, then you will be fine.

Jude Johnstone

"Too many people to name. My advice to women just starting out in the music biz, might be to NOT forget your love for music with or without success...if you become weary and disenchanted, then take a step back and try and remember again why you chose this path and start again. Just do good work. Love the process. Don't be lazy and don't underestimate yourself to justify a means to an end. Excel and you won't go unnoticed."

Cynthia G. Mason

I got a lot of encouragement along the way from friends and the local music community. I wish I had gotten more advice, though. The music business is brutal. Showcasing for labels is brutal. Schmoozing is brutal, and I'm not good at it. My advice is that it takes a lot of determination as well as a whole lot of luck to do well. So, practice, play shows, "network", etc. I think networking is probably the most important thing if you want to make your way through the music industry. Most of us have to keep our day jobs along the way, so try to find a day job you like so you're not completely miserable. Unless being miserable fuels your creativity. : )

Photo of Georgia Muldrow (G&D)

Georgia Muldrow (G&D)


Betty Widerski, Ginger Ibex, Las Aboricuás, The Gobshites

"The most down-to-earth advice came from my rock violin teacher, who warned me that ""guys in bands will just fart all the time and unapologetically"", which I found to be true!

To anyone starting out, I'd say: pay attention to the details, get agreements in writing, follow up with bookers regularly, show up with all the gear you need in working order, and learn to let all that go on stage because the audience wants to see you having a good time!"

Cat Hartwell

I feel like as a girl in music sometimes you might have to work twice as hard as the boys to prove yourself but once you do the rewards will be twice as gratifying.


"Ive had a few women in the industry give me sound advice about how to move in this industry, being in a man dominated industry. I would tell women to be mindful of how they carry themselves, how they're spending they're time, and stay focused on the goal. "

Rene' Ormae-Jarmer, Here Comes Everybody

"Well, we paid dues and continue to pay dues and learn. Along my career, there have been too many experiences, too many different people to name who've helped (and disappointed) me. I think the most valuable lesson I've learned wasn't any one thing that someone said to me, but a continual learning experience.

Advice to a woman starting out: Sometimes being a woman will work for you, but not all the time. Don't play the gender game. Become a really great musician, practice. Don't rely on being a girl and being simply ""OK"" to carry you. I get so tired of hearing how someone heard a fabulous female drummer (for example) and then finding out that she is not really that good. It gives us a bad name! But people seemed charmed by the fact that she was a she. Do you homework and BE NICE to people. Be professional....don't be a diva or princess. That shit gets around and you'll find that no one wants to do shows with you.

More advice: If you take anything too seriously, especially music, it can eat you up. Find some balance. Don't lead the ""pain-is-good-for-art"" musician's life. I know both men and women who live in a studio apartment hovel and have no dental/health insurance or even a signficant relationship and are sad and bitter their more mature years because they didn't have something else besides music to keep them healthy and balanced.

Last but not least advance: Enjoy music. Have fun. Make good music and make it the best you can in the moment. "

Photo of Tierney Sutton

Tierney Sutton

"I tell my students : 1. don't sleep with him if you want him (or her) long term in your band and 2. don't forget to have kids"

Kip McCLoud in Lucky 57

Follow you heart - don't let them make you feel like your an idiot -- don;'t be afraid to turn up your electric guitar and ROCK OUT - don't be intimidated by technology and don't fall into the trap that more is better! In music LESS IS ALWAYS MORE! don't fall for guys technobabble when it comes to the studio or equipment -- they love to make it a "mine is bigger than yours thing."

Photo of Kay Stanton, Casper & the Cookies, Supercluster

Kay Stanton, Casper & the Cookies, Supercluster

"I can't think of any specific advice I've been given in the past, though I'm sure there was some. My advice would be to not let your gender overly define you, but you also shouldnt try to squelch what is naturally there. There are a million obstac, but ultimately, the music is the reason for doing what you do. Be strong, be secure, have fun.

Ps. Sorry for any typos. I'm writing this from the back of the tour van! "

Haley Fohr, Circuit des Yeux

Keep your music honest, and even though there will be obstacles when pursuing music as a women, it is worth fighting for equality.

Jennifer Glass, Starling Crush

"yes, many. Mostly misguided, and mostly people in the business.

Just be authentic. Trust your instincts. Be honest and who you are, and your audience will know."

Cheetie Kumar, Birds of Avalon

"the only valuable advice i was ever given is true for most things: don't worry about the things you can't control... i would certainly pass this along to anyone trying to do anything, starting out or otherwise. as far as musician-specific advice to the new musician: practice a lot, think about the music you like and why you like it and figure out what makes it sound the way it does. load your own gear, learn how to fix as much as you can, buy a tuner, buy records, listen to a lot of music, don't limit yourself and never be obedient to anybody but your own gut."

Wendy Richman, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)

Perhaps I've been really lucky, but I don't think it's particularly helpful to primarily define oneself as a capital-W "Woman" in this industry. Just play well, be nice, and get there on time, and it doesn't matter what gender you are.

Photo of Anna-Lynne Williams aka Lotte Kestner

Anna-Lynne Williams aka Lotte Kestner

i believe people should not conform to fit the trends... if you keep doing what you feel is natural and honest for you, at some point in time that will be relevant and you won't have to make any big compromises.

Submitted Anonymously

I think that the best way to learn how to do things is to do them yourself. So someone just starting out should really make an effort to learn how to do everything for themselves, whether it's setting up gear, learning about various technological things, advancing shows, etc.

Lisa Simpson, Finn Riggins

Someone once told me that a woman musician should never tell people her age... and I thought that was total bullshit. The reasoning was that you never want a man to equate you with your mother (and this was from a woman!). The best advice I was given was to have it always be fun. When it stops being fun, it's time to re-evaluate. I would tell women just starting out to not let fear and intimidation stand in the way of learning and having fun, and also, imitation is great when you're first learning but then it's time to find your own voice.

Rebecca Coseboom, Stripmall Architecture (formerly from Halou as well)

Be phenomenal.

Photo of Stefanie Drootin, The Good Life And Tin Kite

Stefanie Drootin, The Good Life And Tin Kite

Don't give yourself a pass or set low standards for yourself because you are a women. You are capable of doing whatever a man can do so work hard, be confident and have fun! You are a musician.

Photo of Jordan Valentine, Jordan Valentine & the Sunday Saints

Jordan Valentine, Jordan Valentine & the Sunday Saints

One of my mom's favorite expressions has always been, "don't let the bastards get you down." I use that a lot. If somebody asked for my advice (god help'm), I'd say the most important thing is to never ever let anybody else tell you what you're supposed to be. And bring a pillowcase full of peanut butter crackers with you on tour. Just trust me on that one.

Gin Wigmore

Don't rush. Things take time and you need to make sure you are ready mentally and physically for a job in music. Get great people that you would trust you life with around you and weed out any bad or negative energy people immediately!

Boshra AlSaadi, SAADI

Follow your own vision, trust your instinct, and don't let men (and women,but mostly men) in the industry try and mold you or shape you into their idea of what you're supposed to be. Also, DON'T EVER STOP WORKING ON IT if you're really serious. Otherwise you'll become another jaded musician.


The only advice I have ever heeded is "be yourself".

Photo of Rachel Flotard, Visqueen

Rachel Flotard, Visqueen

Best advice was wrap your chord around your strap, THEN plug it into your guitar. That way when you step on it, no one shuts out the lights. And my advice would be to find what makes you happy, and try like hell to hang on.

Carly Comando, Slingshot Dakota

"No one ever gave me advice, but my own advice is to do what I love and follow my heart. Once my heart tells me to quit music, I'll do it. But that will probably happen the day I die.

For other women, I say, there are some ignorant people out there. It is important to have a thick skin and to do what you love. In doing what you love, you can show other women that they can play music in a band, or maybe inspire them to do something different. I grew up in a very male dominated scene, and me and my best friend Donna realized that we could play music at shows when we actually tried it out. Some people need to see other women being strong to realize they are capable of doing the same things. I guess, in all, just believe in yourself, even when it's hard. You are your own inspiration, and in working really hard and following your heart, it's inevitable that someone will see it and be affected in a positive way."

Kelly Lynn

As Dorothy Norwood has told me, I would say "persevere" and "stick with what works for you".

Meg Castellanos, Totimoshi

"I didn't really have any mentors coming up, but we do have friends that started bands the same time as us who are now on majors and playing stadiums. We've made some pretty bad decisions regarding record labels and contracts, managers and booking agents. I've learned a lot from those mistakes and we're still soldiering on. This year, our 12th as a band, will be our busiest touring year yet, with 2 European tours done already and a few US tours coming up. the music industry is up in the air so it's undecided if we'll actually move to another label or release a record ourselves. Advice to younger female musicians? prepare for a life of poverty, but an exciting life of living out your dreams, seeing the world and inspiring others like yourself."

Lucy Woodward

"Always make music because you love to do it. Never do it for any other reason. People can see right through that. Fans, friends and eventually you yourself will stop believing you. I think the power of collaboration is something every new musician starting out should plunge themselves into. You learn so much about working with people and understand who you are as an artist and what you can offer. I also advise doing music ALL the time, whenever you can. Jam sessions, writing with as many people as possible, songwriting circles and gigs. Just BEING a part of that energy will trigger so much creativity and spark.

Funny advice I got once (sad, but true):

""don't think getting drunk with A&R guys will get you a record deal"""

Megan Burtt

Lots of it! Stick with it, because eventually most everyone else will give up. Be someone people can fall in love with. Write happy songs :) (working on that one!)

Whitney McGraw, Cotton Jones

Myself and our band have really just been taking everything as it comes. Learning as we go and hoping not to make the same mistakes twice. My best advice would be to make music that you know you can stand behind. I think this is the best way to keep a passion for what you're doing, and a willingness to stick it out through the moments that make you want to quit.

Stephanie Gunther, not currently in a band.

I can't remember specifics of advice given to me, but I've learned a lot going through it. I'd advise to have a thick skin when it comes to putting yourself out there. Persistence is key, and there are going to be people that will disregard you for no reason other than you being female, but if it's what you love keep pushing forward.

Photo of Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever

Chhom Nimol, Dengue Fever

The best advice I received was to stay focused and avoid drugs. Love what you do so it will show in your product.

Photo of Exene Cervenka, X, the Knitters, and solo

Exene Cervenka, X, the Knitters, and solo

hundreds of people have given me valuable advice. i mostly learned by watching other women and figuring out what not to do. my advice: work, work, work. practice a lot. never stop writing. listen to your gut. don't let anyone use you or abuse you. stand up for yourself and what you believe in. work with other women, when possible and set a good example of kindness, chacter and responsibility for the women who will come along after you. be professional. don't "act like a man" to get ahead. "if you can't beat em, join em" DOES NOT apply anymore. rock on, sisters!

Annie Palmer

"I'm sure they did and I hope the reason I can't remember any right now is because it sank in and became one with me.

my advice would be: force yourself! if you're scared of it, if it seems hard, it's probably going to make you better. do things you think you aren't good enough to do."

Jocelyn Greenwood from Jets Overhead

I think the best advice I have gotten and can give is just be yourself...that will always lead to success. Don't type cast yourself into what people expect, don't do anything you don't feel fits and don't be afraid to go for it.

Tasha Golden :: Ellery

"Two things have been vastly important to me/us: 1. On the practical side - Someone told us in the beginning, ""Don't go into debt."" So our mantra has been, ""If we need it, we'll have the money for it."" In other words, if you're at a place in your music career where you need a fab tour vehicle, great sound equipment, or amazing merch, you'll be at a place in your career where you can afford it. If you can't afford it, you either don't *really* need it, or you're not being smart enough about how to get it. (Borrow, barter, pare down, recycle!) There *have* been times when we've had to front money for business purchases, but it's always with a trepidation; debt should never feel easy. :) And we've always had a plan to make it back - For instance, if we're buying CDs, we're also planning their publicity, and a tour on which to sell them. 2. One of the most important things we've heard for our music (and our lives) is from our dear friend, photographer Michael Wilson. He said, in his quiet, hesitant way, ""You just have to go out there and say, 'This is who I am; this is what I do.'"" I don't remember what he was referring to; I seriously doubt he was speaking in that instance about Ellery. But the words have certainly stayed with us."

Cheryl Lindsey, The Breeders, The Carrions, Tsk Tsk, Exene Cervenka

Don't shit where you eat!!

Maree McRae

Follow and listen to your heart and try to not get distracted by all the BS in the biz. Do it because you have a mission to share your songs. Keep that focus.

Photo of Catherine  Cavanagh, Chop Chop

Catherine Cavanagh, Chop Chop

"My close friend Jussi - aka Liz Enthusiasm from Freezepop gave me great advice the last time I saw her - she told me I need to just keep on working. She is also a great example of an artist who really holds onto and appreciates her fans. And my brother has always told me to jump on opportunities when they present themselves.

I would tell her not to be intimidated by fancy talk or impressive titles - and to focus on her vision and her work. And save your money, because records are still expensive things to do right. "

Photo of Lili Haydn

Lili Haydn

"Ultimately, I don't think there is a substantive difference between men and women musicians, in that it takes passion and discipline to master any instrument, and the expressive qualities of receptivity or aggressiveness are not necessarily particular to one or the other gender, despite the stereotypes.

But as a woman, I have noticed that I have to be exceptionally on top of my game as a musician and as a business person in order to be taken seriously. I am the only woman composer at the large complex of composers and musicians where my studio is, and I have almost always been the only woman musician at any festival where I've performed. This became clear to me when I played at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1993, where I notice there were several women singers, but no women instrumentalists. Even as I've continued to tour the world, not much has changed.

I also became aware of the unique challenges of being a woman in the music business, when I was making my second record with a producer, a fundamentalist Christian who was simultaneously trying to save my soul, and bed me. When I wouldn't submit, he sabotaged the record, both musically, and with the label. The cd never came out, but I learned a valuable lesson: that I had to be more vigilant about taking responsibility for my music, both aesthetically, and in business, so no one person can ever derail a given project again. Since then, I've produced or co-produced everything I have put out."
My mom, comedienne and singer/songwriter Lotus Weinstock, told me "No one ever gives you permission to be original." I would tell anyone, and especially a woman starting out, not to be afraid to experiment and be outrageous, because the only way to really have fun and longevity is to be authentically yourself and to stretch to your limits.

Kat Burns - Forest City Lovers

Just keep playing shows, writing songs and realising your own career!

Rebecca Martin

The advice that has stuck with me was to always keep at it. My advice would simply be to practice and to communicate ones needs in all aspects of music making. Making music is a personal journey. Sometimes I think of myself as a farmer. For music to remain authentic throughout a lifetime, one must be present at all times, keeping it protected from the elements with the intention of a rich harvest season. Year after year it's the same.

Kim Bonner, The Backsliders

HELLLLLLLL no and my advice is DO SOMETHING ELSE! you'd have to be a MAS - O - CHIST to wanna be a lifer like ME! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHhahahaha....wait a minute...

Photo of Chantal, Morningwood

Chantal, Morningwood

The best advice I have received is "don't count on anything happening until it has happened". People make a lot of promises and whether or not their intentions are good a lot of things fall through, so don't get your hopes up too high until you are doing something. Also I would say learn to play your instruments and perform better than a man. You don't want to have to rely on the fact that you are a girl to get you through your career. You can be sexual but have your musicianship down first then you can do whatever you want. It is like learning your lines for a play before you can experiment.

Photo of Camilla Ingr

Camilla Ingr

"I don't know if I ever got any memorable advice besides ""sing from your asshole"" (bandmate's mom), but I think I've learned a lot from my mistakes. Be extremely wary of the media-- know that they are happy to distort anything you might say in order to fit a pre-conceived notion they have about you. There's not a lot you can do about it but choose your words carefully. Be generous. Be kind to everyone working for you. Don't give up."

Photo of Lyla Vander, Des Roar

Lyla Vander, Des Roar

No I wish they would so I could make a living off playing. My advice would be to play music you like and can get behind, but hustle.

Megan Reilly

"In a recent conversation after one of my shows, I asked a friend, ""Am I going to be fifty years old lugging my amp onstage at The Mercury Lounge? And he said, ""Yes"".

We work on our art because we are meant to do so no matter the recognition. The best thing any musician can do is follow their instinct."

Marie Parker, Secret Cities

I'd give the same advice regardless of the musician's sex or gender, and it's this: Have confidence and be proactive. Also, if you're like me, you write two or three songs you hate before writing one you like. Don't let it discourage you.

Julia Cafritz, Free Kitten

Be LOUD. Listen to records... it's a double edged sword. I now regret taking up an instrument completely in a musical vacuum. I think knowledge makes your music more interesting. BUT had I been listening to other people's music at the time, I probably wouldn't have had the arrogance to start a band in the first place.

Photo of Laura Pleasants, Kylesa

Laura Pleasants, Kylesa

"I wish! I've learned a lot on my own! I would advise a woman to be herself and stick to her guns. Don't let the snide comments get you down but, rather, let them be a challenge for you to rise above people's misconceptions and ignorance. Take pride in what you do and work hard. The music industry is a tough ride. "

Photo of Lauren Denitzio, The Measure [sa]

Lauren Denitzio, The Measure [sa]

I think the most important thing is to play what you love, don't compromise that to sound more attractive or accessible, and don't take any crap from anyone about it. No one wants to listen to music you're not passionate about and even if certain topics may be heavy or difficult to think about, that's when music gets really powerful. I think it's really important for women to not be afraid to write about what's really on their minds and affecting their scenes and communities.

Photo of Paz Lenchantin, The Entrance Band

Paz Lenchantin, The Entrance Band


Rykarda Parasol

Be yourself. Because that is being a true artist.... but don't sleep with boys in bands. Serious. OTher boys aren't sleeping w each other and you need to be respected and play shows etc. You are only as valuable as you are rare and a women needs to stay professional along the way

Silvana Kane, PACIFIKA

"my family always encouraged me in my artistic journeying, and that was invaluable. i grew up understanding that being unique was a strength, thought not always the easiest route. as i grow and evolve i realize that what comes naturally to me is what i am best at... it's 'my thing' :) in this music industry, music is the easy part... it is important to have a great manager, a team that has the same vision and that can lead you in the right direction, so you can focus on the music and grow as an artist. it makes all the difference to have good people around with a common goal, people you like, people you trust. be open to life... it is a great muse... "

Sarah Saturday, Gardening, Not Architecture

I run a website offering advice to unsigned and independent musicians (http://earnityourself.com) and have always been asked about advice for girls in bands - I always tell them to forget about the fact that they are a girl. If you focus on your gender over your art as being the main thing that defines you, so will everyone else.

Photo of Natalie Brown

Natalie Brown

"One of the most valuable pieces of advice was about retaining and exploiting my own publishing. I've made my living from placements of my music in film/TV/commercials and if I had not learned about publishing, I think I would have had to take a day job that was not music related to feed myself.

As for advice for women just starting out: 1.) Don't sell sex as your main appeal. You will age and in this business older than 25 is OLD! So be sure to sell your musicianship instead of your booty and breasts. You may have short term gain, but your career will not last long if you 'sell sex'. 2.) If you can write or co-write your own songs, do it! Learn about publishing and how to exploit your songs to earn income for yourself. 3.) Be careful of pretty much any man who approaches you to 'make you a star'. They generally want to bed you and will discard you once they get what they want. There is no instant stardom. 4.) Get to know the BUSINESS. Don't put your career into the hands of anyone else but you. Yes, get a good team around you, but make sure that you end up with the final say. 5.) Listen to your gut instinct, it's usually right!"

Rebecca Vernon, Subrosa

"Yes. Some of the most valuable advice I've been given had nothing to do with being a woman, though. In regards to advice about being a women in the music world, though, I had a friend tell me once that if you're a girl in a band with guys, people are going to automatically assume the guys wrote all the music. So be clear that you write the music (or explain what parts of it you write).

Advice I'd give to a girl starting out? Be strong and don't let yourself be used or exploited in any way. Demand respect and you will get it."

Dottie Alexander, of Montreal

It seems as though women in music are given 2 options for success: be a sex symbol, or a crazy hardass. I think that my best advice would be to scrap these extremes, and just be really really good at what you do. Work on your musical prowess and stage presence. It's amazing how much respect you can gain just by being as good as the dude playing next to you.

Photo of Gwyneth Moreland, I am the girl half of a boy/girl duo called Gwyneth & Monko

Gwyneth Moreland, I am the girl half of a boy/girl duo called Gwyneth & Monko

What I am learning, is not to dwell on the bumps in the road, or set backs too much. I don't want to complain or dwell on the injustices that woman in the music world experience, because complaining or focusing on it is what will keep us down....that's how it works! The only way to change it is to learn from it, rise above it, move on and kick ass!

Lisa Pykäri / Regina

No. I would say that don't get stuck with the idea that being a woman would restrict your work as a musician in any way.

Kimberly van der Velden, Daily Bread

Use the fact that you're a women. Play with the audiance, be the cute girl or be the bitch. Doesn't matter cause they will like you because you're a female.

Photo of Elizabeth Elkins, The Swear

Elizabeth Elkins, The Swear

I don't think it matters if you are male or female. My advice is to get used to hearing the words "no" and "we'll pass" - and use them as motivation.

Beth DeSombre

I have several wonderful women who are full-time folk musicians who are my mentors; they have helped with everything from song-critique to tracking suggestions for my CD, to booking ideas -- or, in the best cases -- invited me up on stage in front of (their) big audiences to introduce my music to others. Without them I would never have had the confidence to do what I'm doing, and would be doing it much less well.

Clare Muldaur Manchon from Clare and the Reasons

Noone ever really told me, although I watched family members struggle in different ways and I learned from watching them what not to go for, like major labels. I would say know exactly what you want musically and don't let any boy tell you how to think about music. Don't try to be too many different things all at once.

Photo of Liz Hysen

Liz Hysen

"Not really. I did hear the singer of the Buzzcocks tell someone not to think about what people liked. That's pretty good. I don't think the music industry is very conducive to creativity so I try to stay out of it, to be honest.

My advice for a woman would be to play with and tour with as many people as possible in order to determine what kind of musician you are. Some people really aren't suited to performing or improvising and it may take a while to figure out what you respond to most. "

Sarah Elizabeth Foster

"People over the years have always told me to learn as much about the business as possible, so I did that for sure. I also had a female teacher try to claim ownership of my songs and it was very upsetting. For a while I didn't want to collaborate with anyone because if that. But my other long-time teacher and mentor told me that I had to risk it and go out and work with other people because I was living like a hermit! Well, that was some of the best advice I've ever gotten. The next week I hired my producer and started recording my first album.

My advice to a woman starting out would be, do whatever you want. Do whatever you want with your business decisions, with your music, with your live show. Don't be afraid or intimidated by people and don't live for others. Live for yourself, do whatever you want, and make the music you want. Think up the ideas and do them. "

Jenelle Coleman

Yes, I've been told that God has given me a gift and that that gift is suppose to shared with the world. My advice to other women musicians is to make sure that you are passionate about what you're doing and that regardless of the fame or fortune, or the lack thereof, be confident in fulfilling your God-given purpose in life.

Eleanore Everdell

Work hard. Learn from your failures but keep going. Work hard.

Photo of Julia Kugel, The Coathangers

Julia Kugel, The Coathangers

"To be true to who you are and always feel in control of your art. That mantra has helped us through a lot of freak-out moments! Advice for a woman starting out... Don't be scared or intimidated. And do your best! It's not that serious! It's fun! "

Ana Egge

Iris Dement told me years ago that the only way to go is your own way. To be yourself and that way you can't have any regrets.

Di Gomes, Dayenu, The Shucks

If you want something done right, DO IT YOURSELF and if you don't know how, LEARN!

Eden Fineday, Vancougar

I don't recall receiving much advice. It's too bad, really. I feel like I've been looking for advice my whole life. But it's so competitive out there. People can come across as jerks, that's for sure.

Joanie Leeds, Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights

A very smart manager I know once told me a few years ago that as an artists you have to do one good thing for your music every day, one great thing every week, and one AMAZING thing every month. The same goes for networking. Make one good contact every day and so on. As a woman, we have so much going on and it may be hard to stay focused but the reality is most of us are in charge of our own careers and destinies so if we want to succeed, we need to be proactive. I joined an amazing women's networking group called Urban Girl Squad. It's mostly women in their 20's 30's and 40's who attend events, not having anything to do with the music industry. I love going to meet people but also networking, taking yourself out of your routine and meeting new people is the best thing you could possibly do for your business and in return, you share music and that is life's biggest gift.


I would say find that circle of supporters, that team that makes you comfortable and makes you feel supported. Then tear down the house. No one will be able to stop you.

Photo of Emm Gryner

Emm Gryner

"No one ever taught me that good songs don't always equate to success. I thought that was all I ever needed to do, was write a good song. Turns out there are so many factors that contribute to ""making it"". My career has been glorious trial and error, but it's still a career. You can't always be what someone is looking for, but you can be what a few people are looking for, and if you're doing what you love, who the hell cares about anything else? Things can go wrong, but as Anvil said, ""at least there was a tour for it to go wrong on!"" Advice to a woman musician starting out? There's something to be said for being creative and interesting before being just a pretty thing.


Zina Goldrich

"Advice is tough. Most people advised me to get out of the business. :) I would say, ""Do what you love... and do it because you can't imagine doing anything else. You must be twice as good as any of your male counterparts. Don't explain. Don't complain. Do it backwards and in heels. And as one of Marcy's and my songs says, 'Sing Your Own Song.'"" I do believe that eventually there will be more equity, and that perhaps we won't have to give separate advice to young female musicians. But in the meanwhile, I think we do; so my best advice of all is, ""Don't let anyone tell you you can't be everything you want to be."" Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer these important questions. Zina Goldrich"

Cynthia Nelson, Freesia

In my feminist rock band we always said, the music comes first. We are feminists, but the music is what we care about more than the feminism. We just want to have our music taken on its own terms. That was good to focus on. Also, the music before the glamour of rock band-ness, etc.

Erin Tidwell Overcasters

Make your own scene. Believe in yourself. and have fun!

Sara Magenheimer, WOOM

"No. I never got any advice. I never knew any women musicians growing up! That's why I didn't get up the courage to play until I was 23!!! I had so many misconceptions about what good music was and how it should be made, and who made it and what they looked like. I guess my advice would be to follow your heart and your gut and make the music that you like listening to. Don't worry about what other people think. And keep an open mind as far as what techniques you use to make it- there's no wrong way to make something amazing! (Men/boys could easily take this advice as well!) "

Jerry Casey

"The best book I ever read was ""The Savvy Musician."" It had more practical helps than I have ever seen anywhere else.

Advice: Be the best you can be; develop your talent and your musical skills, but also develop your business and marketing skills. Don't ever quit trying."

Photo of God-des and She

God-des and She

"I would say we learned it all by trial and error haha. I would say ladies know your business. Be involved with it all. You are the ONLY one who really cares about it.

I apologize for any spelling errors haha ..I can't spell for shit. our website is www.god-desandshe.com tell everyone about us haha!"

Dana Falconberry

"my former dance teacher, whitley hill (a dancer and musician herself) told me when i was young that she thought that making art was just as important in the world as being a doctor. i have lived by that sentence since then. i think that an important piece of advice is to always keep your art safe. treat it like it's your baby. always sign contracts and define roles very clearly, in order to protect what you love. also, always keep in mind that no-one knows your art or your path like you do, and while people may have great ideas and suggestions that change it forever in positive ways, it is ultimately your decision. "

Ash Reiter

"Jolie Holland once told me that it could be risky thing taking voice lessons, that it could really harm the character of your music. I haven't taken lessons and I think my unique voice is an asset.

I would just say make music fun, feel it and make the audience feel something too, otherwise its just an exercise."

Photo of Zambri


to a woman musician just starting out, i would say follow your heart, and listen to your gut feelings.

Abby Musgrove

You can whine about how it's "not fair" (and it isn't), or you can just accept it and do what is necessary. Which means you'll have to work twice as hard and be twice as skilled as the men in the field. This is difficult, but not impossible, and we must do it if we are to change the culture and industry. The only way people will begin to visualize a woman up on that stage in front of that black-clad ensemble, is if they begin to actually SEE women up there doing the job, and doing it well.

Photo of Carmen Souza

Carmen Souza

"I have amazing people that are with me from the beggining, and they were the ones to really show me what it is to be a musician I speak about Theo Pas'cal, who really was to blame for getting me into this. I grew musically and as a person due to his experience of 20 years being a professional musician and a fighter for life and for what is Right. The other person is my manager Patricia Pascal who is the person who reallly understands me an has potencialized my work through the right channels. The reason why I spoke of these two people is because they are probabaly the most important people in a womans career who is just taking of. To be surrounded by THE RIGHT PEOPLE is very Important. The world is full of Managers and Producers that in the end just want to get money and a lot of other things from you. And it is also very important to have a strong personality and a strong belief in what you are, what you are doing and where you want to go."

Photo of Sara Renner of Sara Renner & The Elements

Sara Renner of Sara Renner & The Elements

I've received many tidbits of valuable advice from many different sources; male & female, artist or business person throughout my career. I've sat down for coffee and mentored many young women starting out in music. My advice: Define your vision, pour your heart into it and believe in yourself and push past the fear. Yes, seek mentorship and surround yourself with trustworthy and knowledgeable folks but remember that you are your number one advocate. You determine the direction of your art and your career.

Melissa McClelland

work tirelessly at your craft. That's your only job. Find good, honest people to work with.

Tory Daines, Those Mockingbirds

My mother gave me the best advice I could have heard, and that is to never forget why your doing what your doing, because sometimes you may get lost in the process of making a career and forget the simple pleasures of a few notes. Advice I would give specifically to a female musician would be to never allow anyone to judge you on sex but only on talent and attitude.

Traci Eggleston, Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band

The best advice I was ever given was from Nick Harmer from Death Cab for Cutie. He told me, "No matter what happens, just stick together as a band." If I ever get frustrated with "the industry" or touring or criticism I just remind myself that breaking up would only alleviate a temporary frustration. It will not further our cause in the long run.

Photo of Sandra McCracken

Sandra McCracken

Find a good support system. A community or a couple friends to ground you and to give you perspective and strength. And find ways to make it sustainable. Dream big. And guard your heart from fake impressions of "success." Things that look like failure on the surface can become your greatest strengths.

Megan Birdsall, MBird

Yes. I came up in the Jazz and Blues communities in Kansas City and with prairie folks from North Dakota when I started writing and singing. I was told to never forget where you come from and that no matter what you play or what you sing you are the interpreter for your listener. Male or female, everyone has bridges they walk over, emotions they feel, and as a writer, player, or singer, in those moments you share you should set yourself free so the people listening can be free to go into themselves to feel or come with you to listen. No matter who they are.

Angela McCluskey

BE YOURSELF...stick to your guns..do nOT let anyone change your mind if you feel in your gut you are right..be immoveable in your heart and you will always know you left something of beauty in the world ..that's all we are here for...x

Eve Goldfarb

Only do it if you really love it and can't/won't do anything else.

Photo of Alli Rogers

Alli Rogers

"I have been given some great advice over the years. I had the privilege of meeting one of my musical heroes when I was 17 and at the time I was recording a record with the same label she was with. This may not sound like advice but I will never forget her whispering two words to me before we left her house. She said, ""it's hard..."" and I could tell she wanted to say more but she stopped herself. Looking back now I realize what she meant and I think I would say the same to any new musician. With the trailing train of thought and all. I had to find it all out for myself like most people do, and whatever this woman was thinking after she told me those two words I wouldn't have heard anyway. I had to try. I will be overjoyed if my children decide to become musicians, but I will tell them with certainty, ""it's hard"".

from a practical standpoint I would tell any woman who desires to have children to work as hard as she can before that time comes so that when it does she can afford to step back for a bit. "

Ruth Gerson

"Yes. Don Dixon said even if ten million people in America buy your record because they like you, that means 240 million people in America didn't buy it, because they don't like you, don't know who you are or don't care! In other words, how popular you are is pretty meaningless. You need make what you do have meaning for you. Bob Dylan told me - don't let people call you a songwriter. You don't write the songs, so they sit on the page, you write them to play them. You are a song performer. What I took that to mean is, a song is a song being sung to somebody in the moment. The meaning of it is in the moment it is song, it is in the air between or among people - in other words, you're irreplaceable, so are the people listening to you. I have so much advice. I will put an article on my myspace blog, now that you've got me started. I'll try to be brief here. Define success for yourself, and make your goals accordingly. Make a 5 yr goal, 1 yr gold, 6 month, 3 month, this week and today. I'll write a song today. I'll book these gigs. I'll record this EP. Etc. Get specific. Write it down. If success for you is fame and fortune, think about what kind of music your making, and how it will get you from here to there. If success for you is making a living expressing something that isn't ""commercial"" figure out how to make a living at it, one day it may be commercial and make you millions, otherwise, you may make a million over the long haul. If success for you is helping others with your music, don't wait to be famous for it, do it now. Be creative and think outside the box about making a living making music. Don't wait for people to do things for you. Do things for yourself. Appreciate your life, don't get so caught up in ""making-it,"" you lose perspective - it's a blessing to be able to talk, let alone sing. Improve your skills. Learn to sing better, play better. Listen to great music, listen to all kinds of music. That's probably enough for now. OH - wait, this took me til I was thirty-five. Don't care what other people think of you. It helps to make it not about you. It helps, right, if you believe in a higher power, to not let others have power over you. But, if you don't believe in God, it's a little harder to have that kind of self-propriety. So, don't care what other people think. Care what you think, care what your trusted friends think, and especially as a woman, though it can be hard, force yourself to believe in yourself in this one way. Every note you sing or play is a beautiful note, because it came from you. And that's true.


Photo of Nona Invie, Dark Dark Dark

Nona Invie, Dark Dark Dark

Find your own voice. It might take a few years and lot of performing, but find it and don't lose it.

Photo of Heather McIntosh, Gnarls Barkley, Circulatory System, used to play w Lil Wayne

Heather McIntosh, Gnarls Barkley, Circulatory System, used to play w Lil Wayne

not really, and any advice that i have received has not been gender specific. as long as you can surround yourself with great players, artists, and music you can be happy doing this for a long time.

Shannon Steele

Be confident. Introduce yourself to people. You don't have to think about being a girl. Just be a musician first and foremost.

Diane Cluck

I've received a lot of crappy advice about navigating the music industry. People get really tense around that stuff; there's an idea that there's this narrow opening to squeeze through if you're lucky but I don't feel it like that. Creativity is a continuum and worry is its adversary. My advice to a woman musician would be, don't worry about being a woman. Focus on being a person. Find your grounding and learn how to maintain it. Don't let others with more 'experience' bowl over your own intuition when it comes to expression. Don't worry about others' timelines when it comes to your version of success. I conclude by saying -- I do not authorize anything I've written here to be published / spoken over the air in conjunction with my name. If I can be of any help in person, please let me know. I ask that my reponses are not edited in any way for content. Please inform me as to when this program will air in respect for the time I've taken to reply. Thank you.

Tracy Bonham

I was given advice that turned into something valuable. A family member told me "be prepared to starve" when I said I wanted to be a singer / musician. That ended up being very good advice, and a way to breathe some rebellion into everything I did after that, rebelling against that statement.

HolleThee Maxwell

Don't lay down

Ariana of Admiral Radley & also Earlimart

"No one ever gave me any advice about the music industry per se, but my parents always told me to work hard at whatever i decide to do.

I would say to another woman to find a way to do as much as you can on your own and don't wait for someone to come along and solve all your problems for you... but I would say that to a boy too.

I guess, just to the ladies: drink lots and lots of water. And if you're touring with a bunch of boys, be their sister. Don't demand special treatment. But don't lift anything heavier than you are... I learned that one the hard way."

Beth Waters

The single most valuable piece of advice that I have been given, but really had to figure out for myself is: Write to please yourself. Don't try to please your audience, but really make the music you want to and the audience will follow. I feel like I have to re-learn this all the time, but it's a simple truth. When you are true to yourself and your art, it translates and your audience "gets" it.

Rupa, Rupa & The April Fishes

i would tell them the same thing i'd tell a guy starting out in music--to educate themselves and to not be afraid of their power. we are artists and we have something valuable to say. we must know our equipment, our roles, our responsibilities. we must know what our record contracts say--before we sign them. we must know how we want to be represented and not let the culture machine eat us up and spit us out in their packaging. we must educate ourselves in our business because it's what we do and we can't expect people who are making money off of our work to work in our soul's interest. and we must know that when we are given a microphone or a place to play, we are given a gift and a responsibility to communicate something powerful. to do it with dignity and with the awareness that the younger generation is watching and learning.

Susan L. Yasinski Group, Susan and the SurfTones

My first guitar teacher encouraged me way back in 1965 when girls just didn't play Stratocasters. Without him I don't know if I would have developed that early confidence so many female players lack. My advice to younger female players....get tough and stick with it. It belongs to those who stay in it.

Lisa Mathews, Milkshake


Be true to yourself. Don't sign anything just because you're desperate or there's nothing else going on. Think. Make connections with good people. Be ready to be your best at all times -- even if it's just busking in a subway. Don't follow trends. Be persistent. Be flexible. Listen. Always think of the next project and don't wait to do it. Follow your muse. Write what you know and experience (ie it always amazes me there are kid music artist without kids!). Be on top of changing technology and if you can't do something that needs doing to better your career, hire someone who can (Milkshake employs a booking agent, and publicist, for instance). If you've run out of worthwhile things to sing/write about, do something different with your life (I'm prepared to go dig dinosaur bones in the desert when that time comes, and I'm excited about it :) "

Juju Stulbach, Undersea Poem

"Yes, Chris said: ""Don't worry about it and just shake that ass"". My advice would be the same that I'd give to anyone that wants to follow their dream in any area. Stay truthful to yourself. Find your own voice in whatever you are doing. Don't worry too much about the opinions of others. Live your lives fully, open heart, open mind. Go inside."


"Don't write your music for anyone but yourself. It wasn't really advice from anyone, just something I say to myself.

I get a lot of criticism about the sound of my voice. It is odd to some. Instead of being bothered or trying to change. I remember that this is the voice I was born with and I use it how I naturally would, so not everyone has to like it. It is unique to me and that won't change. "

Coco, The Ettes

My mom warned me that I was going to have to work for people that were stupider than me, and they would make more money than me, but that I could get my job done by saying, "I don't care who gets the credit, only that it gets done." Find me a woman who doesn't think that's a good strategy to get what you want from men. Make 'em think it's their idea, oldest trick in the book.

Sarah Dashew

Absolutely! My mentor, Chuck Plotkin (producer for Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan) coached me relentlessly to live, breathe and sleep the songs I love...He taught that they would infiltrate my subconscious and in turn help teach me how to write songs that work, songs that stand solidly and can't be knocked down. It's the best advice I've ever gotten--works for a man or a woman. For women specifically, I would also say--be kind, don't be a pushover, and always--ALWAYS!--accept help carrying your gear. :)

Submitted Anonymously

"No. Although I have a doctorate in composition from Columbia University, no one ever advised me how to create a career in classical music. My advice to a women just starting out in classical composition is first of all to study the great music of the past in depth, as a performer. Secondly, to choose as a composition teacher someone whose music she likes a lot. Thirdly, to create a network of performers who like playing her music, and be in touch with them often to offer them new pieces. "

Rachele Eve Guastella

"Other than the givens- love what you do, don't quit, and work hard.... I would say to accept the pace in which opportunities come and don't rush into anything without being 100% sure it's what you want and more importantly, what you need for your music to live on. In the beginning, all you have to do is play out and get fans. That's the easy part. The rest will come in due time."


Perseverance. That's the best advice I've been given and that's what I'd say to anybody asking me for advice. If music is your life, its not really a choice is it? You just have to.

Leslie Sisson, The Wooden Birds and Matt Pond PA

The best advice I've gotten: be yourself and be true to yourself. Advice I'd give: make as many friends in music as possible (sincerely, not 'networky'), don't burn bridges, don't sleep with your bandmates (unles you were sleeping with them first), and warn your bandmates when you're hormonal.

Clara Kebabian

I go with what my parents told me in regards to everything - work hard and keep working. And I listen to my dad's advice to "not eat yellow snow"

Jana Herzen

What comes to mind was a drummer friend telling me about how to lead a band. Because I was inexperienced and was hiring much more experienced players, I had a tendency to look to the band for support and leadership on stage which resulted in an unfocused stage presence. He pointed out that leading is like being the front horse of a charriot... you need to feel the power of the team behind you, but don't look back, and don't hesitate or ask for anything from that position because that can interrupt the whole engery flow. That's true of in life in general. Need to lead from where you stand with confidence.

Photo of Lys Guillorn

Lys Guillorn

Don't quit your day job. Be your own sugar mama. Do what you love.

Bari Koral, Bari Koral Family Rock Band

i've been a professional now for about 20 years, and have been leading bands. Very recently I decided to get very serious about my guitar playing and take lessons and practice many hours a day. My guitar teacher also insists I be able to write out my own charts (which I have never done before) and basically encourages woman to not just be the "chick singer leading the band". since this experience I'm more saavy to that. I used to not mind- I relied on the men for so much. but now I really want to be a true leader in every sense. that means knowing what keys we are playing in, talking in the musical language that they and all their buddies know. also as a girl I had MANY relationships with the men in my bands. it does blur a lot of lines. now it's very professional and i'm glad about that.
"one person said that I was very talented and I needed to stay in the game because just by attitrition (i.e. others dropping away while I stuck with it and got better), I would make it. I see that happening- never thought it would be in family music because I used to just sing for adults- but here I am having a pretty rosy career at 41. also read an interview with tom petty recently who reinforced the idea that when you write- the verse and the chorus need to be equally good, as well as the bridge. so just aspiring high. I think if you work really hard at anything you can succeed. I'm 41 and I'm just really learning so much know about music and the guitar. sometimes I wonder if I applied this at 20, where I'd be- but who cares. just work hard- aspire-compete, in a great way with your best work, and with others best works. i'd tell anyone to work and just enjoy life. also there is life and there is our life's work. separating the two is a good thing. because at times your life works may not be going so well, but your life can still be going great. I think people really suffer when they can't separate the two."

Julia Richter

Advice would be to be open & able to move anywhere (different cities, etc.) to build experience as an orchestral musician.

Tara Vanflower, Lycia

Follow your own path and never compromise.

Lucia Turino, The Devil Makes Three

The only advice given to us that really made an impression is to take the worst third of the gigs you play and get rid of them. It really works. You may make less money at first but you will be less burnt out and it will extend your career. Besides that, I tell musicians just starting out to stay humble and stay determined. Don't bite off more than you can chew, i.e. don't do a national tour as your first tour. Try with just a week around your region and see how you do. Really, if you want to be successful, go to Danny Barnes website. He has spelled out the most comprehensive, smart, DIY guide to being a musician that I have seen.

Gayelynn Mckinney

"Luckily, I have had many great mentors in my life, women and men. My father, mother, uncle, and many of my father's musician friends mentored me.

What I would say to a young women starting out is, make sure you have studied your craft well, and when you think you know everything, study some more. Try to erase that saying: ""She's good for a girl."" Be strong, and don't let anyone discourage you from what you're trying to do. PLEASE STUDY THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC!!! That way know one can get over on you.

Last but not least, I do music for fun but, it's the time that costs you. Remember that. :-)


Elizabeth and the Catapult

Keep trusting your own instincts, without them you have nothing.

Merica Lee, The Naked Heroes

"The mighty Dean ""Rattlesnake"" Rispler, who produced our record, is great with advice concerning the band! As far as being a girl who can play I've never really had a woman mentor. Basically, if I ever have any questions I just think ""What Would Poison Ivy Do"" (WWPID)

To a young girl starting out on the drums I would say: Sit in the pocket and watch every youtube video you can find with The Cramps."

Submitted Anonymously

Write constantly, collab with others, put your music first in your life, get collaborators to help where appropriate, do what you love to do.

Ariane Cap

"I have gotten invaluable advice from my mentors and teachers, who believed in me and inspired me. Especially my (now) husband just encouraged me to explore playing because I loved it. When I first saw MeShell NDegeocello play live I was completely blown away. I truly didn't know that a woman could do something like that. When you are learning, you need someone mirroring back to you how well you are doing. Every person has music in them and, with a good amount of passion and desire, can learn to play. A good teacher will see the musical personality in the student and foster that and bring it to fruition. My advice is to search for that spark, never stop until you find it (get help from a teacher if you need to) and to go for it. "

Photo of Tessa Souter

Tessa Souter

Jazz vocal legend Mark Murphy, my mentor for four years, used to say, he was always doing it for the love of it, not for any other reason. I think that is great advice. Imagine if Vincent Van Gogh were doing it only for the glory. There would be no Vincent. My advice to a woman musician would be the same as to any musician: Music is a means to expression, it isn't the thing itself. Life experience is what feeds and inspires the music. Otherwise you're like a kind of whirlpool spiraling inwards with nothing to say, except perhaps to other musicians. I think it has to be broader than that. As another of my musical mentors (Sheila Jordan) likes to say: "You are the messenger, not the message." When young journalists used to come to me for advice when I was a journalist, I would always show them the big pile of rejection letters that I'd had before I became successful, and tell them to just keep going. Being a professional musician is the same. It's a marathon, not a sprint. There are times when you feel totally inspired and as if you could run forever. Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes behind. Just when you are so exhausted you're not sure if you can carry on, someone from the sidelines will cheer you on. Slow down for a while if you have to, but keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when it seems really tough, remember that's all grist for the mill and embrace it, if you can.

Kit Wallach, Gracious Calamity

Do It Yourself.

Kristie Rethlefsen, The Very Foundation

Just be who you are and don't try to be someone you are not. People will see right through it.

Rennie Sparks, The Handsome Family

My advice would be to not rely on anyone (label, manager, band mates). Learn how to do everything yourself and be in charge. Don't take the easy road and allow yourself to be taken care of. Someone always will take advantage of you in the end. Take advice, but listen to your own heart.

Chrisopher Clara Brasseur

One of my composition professors (female) told me to always do my research, that there are wonderful accepting environments out there and there are very isolating ones, but if you do your research and check things out in advance you will be able to find a place to thrive.

Photo of Olof Arnalds

Olof Arnalds

My singing teacher, Ruth Little Magnusson, tought me the importance of seeing and understanding every word you sing. Keeping that in mind has had a very strong impact on my singing and my performance.

Monica Jackson

I had many valuable mentors/teachers over the years who provided invaluable advice and encouragement. I would advise any woman starting out in this industry to be confident in their chops, and to dare to be different (i.e. creative). I was never given that advice but find that those female musicians I encounter who are most fulfilled in their craft are those who adhere to those ideals.

Lisa Hearns

The advice I've received is not particular to me as a woman in music. I'd tell young women starting out in music to have a backup plan. Study hard and learn all you can about music, harmony and what you're doing. Listen to a variety of jazz musicians and learns from the masters.

Danika Holmes

"Consistency, consistency, consistency!

Also, LISTEN!!! There are a hundred other musicians out there who are willing to help and want to see you succeed. In this era of music, I really believe there is a market for everyone who wants to pursue music as a career to be successful. Don't view other musicians as the competition but instead as colleagues to bounce ideas off of and to grow with and support! We can accomplish so much more if we work together. I really believe that. "

Susan Morton

Think hard about what you're trying to get and what you may have to give up. Your personal sense of fulfillment. The musician's life is a difficult one full of sacrifices on every level. Not original but ever true.

Gazelle Amber Valentine, Jucifer

i read an interview with madonna in the eighties where she said that you shouldn't pursue a music career unless it meant so much to you that you'd die if you didn't. i think that's excellent advice. to women specifically, i'd say: don't judge yourself or shape yourself to male standards. often we feel pressure to live up to something - consciously or subconsciously we know we're criticized more because of our gender. i'd advise women to play for themselves and not try to emulate anyone else. the creative act of making music should remain individual and free. it shouldn't become an exercise for the sake of gaining equal treatment - which doesn't work, anyway.

Razia Said

"The best advice i've had was not to do it for the money but for the passion of it. The best advice i could give to a young woman who is starting now is basically the same and to be ready to do a lot of sacrifices."

Jackie Stewart, Smegma

Not in the industry per se. As a player though just to be confident and daring!

God-Des & She

If you are TOTALLY nuts, stubborn, and know music is the only thing in the world you can do, then this business is for you. If are not, then this business is not for you. Sadly it is no longer about just creating great music, it is called the music business for a reason. This is a business! And if you can't sell, then you won't be put on the shelves.

Lóa Hlín, FM Belfast

Don´t sign anything you haven´t read. If you don´t understand it, get a lawyer. Be yourself and try to ignore that you are in a male dominant industry. There is usually a woman around the corner that you can talk to and most of the time they are happy to talk to you.

Dr. Jennifer Kelly, Lafayette College

Advice - do it. And be aware. Study and be great. Focusing on the music is the first priority, but don't deny your gender because you are afraid you will always be sub-categorized. It isn't equal yet. It isn't equal yet. Act equal, choose textbooks and readings wisely, program music with an open mind, enjoy your music and your womanhood, keep learning, keep listening. Be responsibly critical of all music. You vote with your dollars - know what you support. If you love music enough to make it a career, study intelligently, and be really really good.

Anna Rose

"A wonderful teacher once told me that there can never be too much good music in the world. That has always stuck with me. I don't think I necessarily have enough experience to offer advice, but I would say that patience is very important. In my own path, I have found that there's never been a ""big break."" It's always been these seemingly small steps that end up making the most forward motion for my career. Lastly, to be a bit cliche, follow your dreams. They are what keep you alive. "

Monique Buzzarté

Follow your hearts (and your ears).


Know you are in it for the long run. Continue to study your instrument. Be the best you can be. It's not about fame. It's about satisfaction and joy. No one gave me any advice except learn your instrument well.

Photo of Jessica Bailiff

Jessica Bailiff

Yes, but I probably haven't followed it. I might tell a young woman that if she's going to do it, give it all she has, and don't look back. Don't let anyone stand in your way. Anyone that really loves you will be happy to see you pursue your dream. And don't get into debt that you aren't sure you can pay back.

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Erin Barra

"I would say this to any musician, not just women and that is to enjoy every step of the journey - every rehearsal, performance, lesson, conversation and obstacle that you encounter. Take your mind off the final goal of whatever it is you seek to accomplish, (I'm almost certain 100% of musicians end up someplace different from their initial destination), and cherish the journey. If you are able to make music at all then you are a blessed individual, so take the pressure of success off your shoulders and don't judge yourself. Just BE and be your best - the rest falls into place and you'll be a sane and happy individual for it.

Specifically for women - keep your emotions in your music and out of your business "

Perley Rousseau, Sonny & Perley

"Yes. Many years ago someone suggested setting up a website. To be my authentic self."

Photo of Naomi Yang / Damon & Naomi / Galaxie 500

Naomi Yang / Damon & Naomi / Galaxie 500

I really don't think, at this point that I would give a woman any different advice than I would give a man. . .It's a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a lot of disappointments too. You have to do it for yourself because the financial and emotional rewards are not things you can ever count on.

Kristy Osmunson

Practice. Every aspect of the business. Practice your craft. Your instruments, your song writing, your singing, your merchandising, your web design, your marketing... PRACTICE EVERYTHING EVERYDAY. The only reason I don't think as many women have made it, is because it has been easier for us to just be a pretty face, and skate by as a "chick singer." Not many girls had to learn to play there instrument. Most of the women from the generation I grew up listening to, didn't write there songs,,, They didn't have too. They were hand picked by some guy in A & R, and told how to sing it, by some male producer. (I only know of one female producer other than myself in this town, and I don't know of ONE SINGLE FEMALE ENGINEER in Nashville. One other interesting statistic... as of six months ago, out of 134 reporting country radio stations in this country there are only FOUR female program directors. Read that sentence again...) I came to Nashville to make a change. This has been a good ol' boy's club for entirely too long. A lot of doors were opened for me early on, because I had two assets right in front of me. But a pretty face doesn't translate onto tape....

Alex Roots

Loads of people ask me for advice in starting out and and getting into the music industry, but the truth is I don't know what to say because I just fell into it, and I don't think that what happened to me is very normal! I wanted to record some tracks and the person I met happened to be up and coming and we wrote together and everything just went from there. But what I would say is take every opportunity that there is to perform and seize it because you never know who is watching.

Annie Fitzgerald

"My mentor, Billy Barber, once said that it was a good thing that I didn't have any major neurosis and/or any drug problems. ;-) I think he was kidding around, but we both knew that was also very true.

If I were to give anyone any advice, I would say to just create. Let yourself be vulnerable and observant and loved and hated. Then write about it. Don't worry too much about the end result. Don't worry about being ""famous"" or all of the other crap that comes along with that. If your music is good, and if you touch one persons heart with it, then I think you're doing your job and using your gifts to the fullest. "

Kendall Jane Meade, Mascott

My sister always told me to hold on to my publishing. I almost signed a UK deal that would have taken almost all of my writer's share, worldwide, in perpetuity. She encouraged me not to take it, and it was the best move I ever made, thanks to her.

Photo of Andrea Rogers, Night Driving in Small Towns

Andrea Rogers, Night Driving in Small Towns

"I have been offered handfuls of advice from males and females alike. My mother is one of the strongest people I know, and she gave me the best advice ever when I was just a little girl: ""Do your best. That is all you can do, and that is good enough.""

If I had to offer advice to a woman just starting out in the music industry, it would be this:

Work your ass off. Ignore the stereotypes. Never give up and never give in. Work with people who respect you and appreciate your time and talents. Get out there and do it and don't ever regret working to achieve your dreams."

Photo of Ann Savoy

Ann Savoy

Believe in your viewpoint and stick to your vision..your own instincts about the sound you are trying to create are your best path..and practice, practice...and listen to old recordings and new, see what is happened and compare it to the past...

Brooke Waggoner

"The advice I was given is to expect extreme highs and extreme lows. Balance will be hard to find. The rollercoaster is often exciting but commonly draining. Be prepared for that.

My advice to women is to never let gender be a thing. Let go of any of that. Good music is good music. Period.


Photo of VV Brown

VV Brown

Be yourself and trust your instincts

Submitted Anonymously

Be prepared to hustle. That's something that I'm starting to lose steam on. I wish you didn't have to sell yourself (or find someone to do it for you), but it seems inevitable. Get comfortable with that, or you'll never be comfortable in the business. I've never been comfortable with that, so I'm comfortable in obscurity.

Robin Renee

"I was friends with Warren Zevon (What a crazy, amazing, talented guy-- He is so missed.). I don't talk about it much, but he did give me some thoughts on my music and the industry in general. He once told me ""I don't know why anyone who could be a biochemist would want to be a pop star."" (I studied Biochemistry at Rutgers and worked for a while as an analyst in a microbiology lab.) He was pretty cynical about the business, and most things for that matter. He did say though that the reason one should pursue music is that it is truly what you must do. It has to feel like the only thing you can do. If it feels like the kind of calling that you can in no way deny, then that is why you do it. That is a gem to me. I searched my soul for the reasons I keep going, and I found that I really must. I thank him for that reality check, and for teaching me that you have to have enormous drive to stay in the music business and that that drive has to come from someplace awfully intense and genuine.

As for my advice, I would tell a woman musician to be all of herself: Be all of yourself and when you discover that you are hiding or holding something back out of the fear of not being understood or accepted, work through that and let yourself shine. I have found that the more truth I reveal in my work the better it is, and the more people care. You won't be happy presenting yourself as a clone of the last famous artist somebody thought you ought to be like, and you'll never find the audience that resonates with the music of your soul by masquerading as someone or something else. "

Karla Schickele, Ida and k

I would say "think consciously about being a woman musician when you need to, but always stay rooted in the music, the music, the music."

Laurine Celeste Fox

No. Depend on the person and genre of music.

Courtney Kaiser, Kaiser Cartel

You know, no one has really ever given me valuable advice. Everything I have learned so far has been through experience. The only advice that I could give is to stay involved in every part of your career. Don't ever assume that things are getting done for you on the business side. Stay in the loop and hold weekly meetings with management to make sure of what is getting accomplished. All musicians need to stay in control of their own careers.

Stephanie Budge, Cadette

Don't feel intimated if you are just starting out. I think girls/women are scared when they don't completely know what they are doing. But hey, we all have to start somewhere! Just get out there and play and don't be afraid to play a wrong note once in awhile.

Heather Dea Jennings

As a college-educated musician, I received a lot of advice. I would say to any young musician, regardless of their gender that they study music from various angles, really get to know, intimately, a large amount of scores and recordings from all parts of the world. I would also say to compose, even if at a rudimentary level. I prefer not to give gender-specific advice, instead focusing on getting more women into higher-level music programs, and changing men-driven music hierarchies.

Susan Slesinger

I would tell a woman just starting out to be the best she can be, to minimise gender issues, and to try to ignore sexism while finding her own voice. I would also tell her to find a good mentor male or female.

Shunda K, Yo! Majesty

"Noone ever taught me sh#* is dis game. Andso, I dont depend on anyone to do anything for me. I jus go get it cause everything is possible.

You dont have to change who you are or fake it to make it. Keep it real to ya'self and get your own relationship wit God. You'll be surprised what a relationship with Him would help you to accomplish and acheive. There's nothin in dis world like da knowledge and wisdom of da Lord. He's nothing like we've been taught He was coming up in religion, which was created to control us, da people, and keep us in dis box of control.

Da industry is a beast and I refuse to be a victim. Knowledge is power, so learn all you can every chance you get about da various aspects of da industry. Talent is only a percentage of what you need to be successful in da business.

We all should be prospering in good health, loving each other in peace and harmony, andso everyone has a part to play and since music is da universal language, we as musicians, should take its power more serious."

Melissa Beattie. Band name: True Womanhood

"I would suggest to other women that they practice as much as they can. Women can be just as technically proficient as men; women can write great songs. Don't dumb yourself down because you think fans will like you more.

Down the road, I would encourage women to make sure they are financially stable before they decide to pursue music full-time. I worked a full-time, salary job and was able to save a good amount of money. I am about to leave my job to tour. I am in a position where I can do this for a few months and feel secure. Never rely on a man's bank account. "

Nicole Kern, Balmorhea

Orchestra teachers and my parents encouraged me to stick with the cello. There was never really a time that I was consciously trying to "break into" the biz. It happened pretty organically- I made friends with Alex Dupree and said that I was interested in playing in his band. I had been playing with him for about a year when I was asked to join Balmorhea, which was already signed to Western Vinyl.

Mama Doni Band

"I have been following my heart and my instincts along the way. Anyone who I speak to has told me to keep doing what I am doing.

For anyone starting out I would say: Even if you think nobody cares, or if you feel like you are all alone, if it feels right deep down inside, if you feel like this music is your truth, then keep doing it!!!


Photo of Samantha Stephenson, The Gypsy Nomads

Samantha Stephenson, The Gypsy Nomads

"I see music as a creative endeavor. I danced, I studied sculpture, I paint. Music is part of all of this. The best advice I got was from my sculpture teacher in college. I asked him, ""how do you know if you're supposed to do this?"" he replied ""you do it only if you can not, not do it""... it took me 8 years to understand that statement.

What advice would I give to a woman starting out? Be true to yourself, do your creative work everyday, know that nothing happens overnight and if you just do it instead of thinking about doing it you will end up in the most amazing places that can surprise you, inspire you, and guide you along the path you were meant to be on."

Photo of June Millington

June Millington

"Valuable advice given to me: don't listen to what anyone else says about your music, especially in the studio. Don't turn while recording and ask people not directly involved, ""what do you think?"" You may as well stand on a street corner asking that, and do it forever. Follow your own instincts, make your own decisions. To that I would add, never stop. Don't give up, never give up while you are following and connecting with your passion. And find a few girlfriends to hang and confide with!"

Photo of Vassy


"I figured most things on my own....but got good advise on many things along the way.

I always tell my female friends who want to be taken seriously to not over expose their bodies in the studios to play down sexuality untill up on the stage or in a position of control and power.....Its all in the mannerism how you deliver yourself. Never come across needing a mans help.....always hold your own and true genuine people will come to you to help if they see true talent. And help you for your artistry not for other reasons ;-)"

Photo of Madeline Gallo

Madeline Gallo

My band had three women and two men at the end, and I thought it was very helpful to have other women in the band. We talked about feminism and music and commiserated at times, and it was nice to be able to let off steam. A couple times, we've gotten together with more of the women in our music community, who are more involved, in more bands, and it is great to talk about music and our role in the community with them. There's less pressure, like you don't have to prove anything to hang out with them, and there's a camaraderie that comes with being a minority group within a sub-culture. I would advise other women to create friendships with other women musicians, and to try to have a band with at least one other woman. I think there may be less pressure if you're not the only woman in the band, and it also makes it seem more normal to have women in bands. Also, it's really important not to change how you act or who you are to fit in more with men musicians. If you want to look good on stage, you should go for it, wear something interesting, be engaging - you don't have to be another shoe-gazer who purposely looks like he doesn't care what he looks like. It's silly, and it shouldn't have any bearing on the quality of your music. I think it's always more interesting to watch performers who really put on a show, and if part of that is being feminine, so be it - it's not a cop out, or trying to up the sex appeal, it's just a woman doing what she loves to do.

Aurore Ounjian. Mean Creek

"No. Rock out with your vagina out. "

Miss Murgatroid

"hmmm...well, the best advice i ever held onto was to be myself, and let my art and music reflect that. i would give the same to any woman starting out. that and - DON'T BE AFRAID TO BE WEIRD. it worked for me.

xxx alicia rose aka miss murgatroid ajr@aliciajrosephotography.com"

Nicole Chamberlain

"The problem with a fall back is that you will fall back". For years I tried to support my music habit as a graphic designer, and then I realized I was only a graphic designer because I was too afraid to try and support myself through music. Once I put my music career as my main career I found I was able to support myself and I am alot happier for it. A steady paycheck may be a sane decision but it doesn't always equate happiness.

Heather Edwards

I have received a lot of good advice from many different people over the years. Basically you have to have a thick skin, don't give up, keep practicing, keep listening to what the latest music is, expand your horizons, don't let technology get you down/overwhelm you, ask for help when you need it, you can't do everything perfectly by yourself so delegate.....the list goes on and on.

Photo of Leandra Peak, Neal & Leandra

Leandra Peak, Neal & Leandra

Well, someone early on told us to keep a mailing list of fans. That has been critical - otherwise you can't reach people who enjoy your music. I'd tell a woman musician just starting out to decide what she really wants out of her music career and then keep working at it daily. And to try and keep whole. It's a tough business, so are most!

Nive Nielsen

it´s more fun than you can imagine!

Photo of Bettye LaVette

Bettye LaVette

My manager Jim Lewis gave me ALL of my advice about making it in the music industry. He told me to learn my craft and be prepared to work as opposed to chase being a star. Work hard and learn your craft. And surround yourself with people with steady incomes.

Heather Perkins

"No one piece of advice stands out, but then I am making my own niche and making that work, rather than ""making it.""

Advice I would give is strictly the old cliches - be true to yourself, follow your dreams, don't let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. As long as you have a passion and something to say, you will find a way."

Faith Fusillo, ISIS

"I am more on the business side of things these days and am partner in a talent management company (we manage the Estate of Bo Diddley), so I get asked for advice all the time.

The advice today is the same as it was 35 years ago: always be true to yourself. play what you believe in and believe in what you play. Hopefully, then, your regrets will be few..."

Jimena Villalobos/ Bring That Shit. A hardcore punk band

No and I personally wouldn't I've hat advice because I do not desire it, however I would tell them that they better be sure that music is what drive them be ause if not it is really a waste of time.

Debbie Cunningham

Yes, a teacher once told me you have to make your own gigs. You have to go out and perform anywhere they will let you. Then decide where you want to perform and pursue those venues. When you can't find a venue to plug into, create your own event. Volunteer to play at a fundraiser or start a fund-raising event that you can be a part of as an entertainer. It's one way to get yourself out there and heard.

Photo of Janis Ian

Janis Ian

"Ellie Greenwich, 1967: “Kid, this business is about hard work, and don’t you ever forget it. It’s about getting your period, having cramps that are killing you, then walking onstage to do the show anyhow – and never letting the crowd know it. If you don’t have the guts for that, don’t even start.” Odetta, 1967: ""Never forget - they work for YOU. You do not work for them."" Stella Adler, 1984: ""Trust your talent."" The X-Files: ""Trust no one."""

Photo of Eternia


Yes. Have a Thick-Skin (don't take everything so personal.... actually NOTHING is EVER personal). LET GO and LET GOD (i am not married to the result, but I do my due diligence w/ the process) :-D

Photo of Eve Sicular

Eve Sicular

The guys and the other women in my current bands (formed in 1994 and 1998 respectively) have given me lots of great advice. One important thing is to be diligent but not let the publicity chores overtake one's musical creative practice. I'm one of the most self-taught members of my bands -- which include women who graduated Eastman, Juilliard, and Manhattan Schools of Music, as well as several men from various world & 'downtown' music backgrounds. I like to stay away from big attitudes. My education at Harvard included only one course in the music department; but I played in bands and musical theater shows every semester. So my experience is in playing and learning and keeping my ears open. I wish I had found more compatible teachers earlier in life, but my bandmates are all amazing people whom I learn from. I also compose and arrange, and am fortunate to be able to bring my creative efforts to be played and recorded by these amazing ensembles. I am grateful that we play a combination of public performance and private events, it keeps things fresh. And we have had our music licensed numerous times simply by having people in production find our recordings. Often it seems the best thing is to follow my intuition and passion, as cliche as that may sound.

Emily Jane White

Stay true to yourself and learn to say "no." It's also helpful to be part of a community of supportive female musicians who have cultivated a consciousness around the trials of being a woman in music.

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Raina Rose

"i would say that music is the most important and rewarding and most difficult thing i have done in my life so far. The blessings it has brought me and the lessons it has afforded me are absolutely priceless. Quit your job! Believe in the fact that the music and art you make can in fact make the world a more perfect place. thank you for asking these questions and I'd love to talk more about this kind of thing. Feel free to get a hold of me xoxo raina rose 503 380-4547 raina@rainarose.com"

Corrie Harrigan, Kitten Forever

"When I first started playing music in the suburbs, there were no other women there doing the same thing to point me in any direction. I had to make it up as I went along, and I think that that's some of the best advice I could give to any lady, woman, or girl looking to start a band. Don't worry about it and just say Fuck It. Do whatever you want because what's important is just that you are DOING IT and don't let anyone's reactions or negativity get you down.""Making your way in the music industry"" is not nearly as important as making sure you are able to do something that you love. If you love to play music, then play it. Organize shows with your friends and record albums on cassette players and distribute them yourself. We can make our own music industries for ourselves instead of figuring out how the ""correct"" way to function within an already fucked system is. I had to look to women from past movements to influence me and get me going. The best thing I ever read as a 15 year old girl was Kathleen Hanna's ""Riot Grrrl Manifesto"". It changed my life so I guess that's my concrete advice, read that. And listen to Patti Smith.


Saskia Lane, The Lascivious Biddies

Follow your heart and the rest will come.

Canie Ritchson

"Yes. A musician who worked with one a popular singer told me that I will need to expose my body to make it out there (not a valuable advice to me but am sure is valuable to others. :-).

For a woman musician coming in, I would say that, she has to be herself, focused, and determined, and give all her best in singing. One ""okay"" singer can make it compared to a ""good singer"" who never tried to try her best!"

Genevieve Patterson, Paper Bird

Surround yourself with people who challenge you as much as they support you. If you respect people that contradict you, it will be a catalyst for growth.

Laura Larson, Cadette and Kitten Forever

"The best advice I've gotten was in the form of a (literal) slap in the face. The first time I ever recorded vocals separately from the music tracks, I was so afraid of my own voice that I was working myself into a real bad place; I had tons of anxiety about it and couldn't do it. A friend (Corrie Harrigan, now the drummer in Kitten Forever) grabbed me by the shoulders and gave me a pretty serious smack- no words were said but I instantly got it- chill out, you have this power in you, this is something you know you can do and do well. Don't question it, seize this, it's yours. Advice I would give- Don't be afraid to bust it out as hard and real as you can. Be passionate and sincere about what you are creating. Don't hold yourself to a lower standard because it's what's expected. Support other female musicians; don't play into that ""girl versus girl""/ingrained hostility/jealousy garbage. Love yourself first and always, duh. "

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Claudia Schmidt

My friend Bryan Bowers said, 'remember, no matter how far they build you up, that's how far they'll have to tear you down later". So. .take your work seriously, but don't take yourself seriously. Maintain a sense of humor. And I think of the words mentioned in West With the Night (words of wisdom from her dad, I recall) "Work and hope, but never hope more than you work."

Photo of Poni Silver, The Ettes

Poni Silver, The Ettes

"Don't sell your publishing and don't choke your sticks (two seperate people and incidents).

And for woman musicians just starting out in this industry I say, make up your own rules because there aren't any. "

Jane Vincent, Abiku and Morgaine

"The most important thing is to involve yourself in every aspect of your music. Know how to book shows if you want to play shows. Know your gear. Learn your history. Men get away with a lot more, and have to know a lot less. Most people who are worth dealing with you will respect your knowledge. On the flipside, it's not important to have a ton of technical skill and knowledge at playing music, especially starting out. Most teen boys who start bands don't know how to play, and it doesn't stop them. You have to learn by doing. Its easy to figure out what sounds good to you, and that will sound good to other people too, and they'll like it whether or not you have mad chops."

Natalja Mari, Minimum Of None (MINIM)

Allow yourself to be beautiful. Allow yourself to make beautiful sounds. It doesn't matter how well you're known, as long as there are a few who become inspired by your presence. It's all about passing the torch.

Sarah Shannon, The Not-Its!

Sit down and write. Sit down and practice. There is only so much you can control while navigating the industry. Make music that you love and the rest will follow.

Jane Herships

"Be honest. Don't compromise your integrity and what you are trying to say.

A don't assume there is no way to make money. "

Jolie Holland

"Nobody's ever given me any good advice--I've mostly just watched people make egregious mistakes, and then I've tried to avoid them.

I don't give advice in a general way. Advice is so specific to each person, and I only give advice if asked specifically. This is about as general as I can get--I'd say get a good copy of the I-Ching and learn how to use it, also, always do your best to surround yourself with people you can trust. "

Dot Allison


I'd say... Know your own mind, listen to your gut.. Keep your boundaries and stay true to yourself .... and keeping those boundaries in my book entails not being creatively or personally railroaded in any sense that diminishes you or makes you feel uncomfortable... Female experience in art is equally important and I believe essential to keeping balance in our world.. I think we need that and so do men!"

Cherish Alexander, Bella Bazarria

"i would say write what you feel. sing what you feel. be who you are, no matter what anyone tries to tell you to sing or play. the female musicians, i respect the most, were the ones that took the road less-traveled, when everyone said it was the wrong path.



"No. I wish they had. Although i dont think I would have heard them.

Listen more than you speak. Although it may seem like it's all about you (interviews, radio, singing and recording YOUR songs), it really isn't. Not even a little. It's about building relationships. Do that, and you'll have a future. Record deals, bands, money, etc come and go. Friendships last forever.

More than likely, you wont get rich and famous, even if you have a record deal. So invest your money, keep your publishing and own your masters. They may be your retirement fund.

It's a journey, not a destination. Whether or not you enjoy it all is up to you! It's alot more fun if you find something positive about every show, every fan, every day! If you make music for fun and friendship, you'll be spreading your joy and love with everyone! And that's a much better feeling than doing it for the money or fame. Trust me. I KNOW!"

Maia Sharp

My folks saw I was serious about music right away and enrolled me in music theory classes when I was 14. Being able to walk into any musical setting and speak in chord changes, bar numbers, etc saves so much time and tends to eliminate any worries that the girl is just a chick singer. My advise is to study music in its entirety, not just listening and playing but also transcribing and writing your own charts. When you can tell the keyboard player he just played a 9th you didn't ask for, nobody will mess with you.

Liz Fullerton. Dutch

For both those questions my answer would be confidence. It is a strange bird that can surpass even talent, and I'm not talking about the outward expression of it, EGO, but the inward one of staying true and grounded in your own style and way about you. You know who you are, so get after it.

Photo of Karolyn Troupe, Venice is Sinking

Karolyn Troupe, Venice is Sinking

Don't stop. Just don't stop.

Photo of Renee LoBue

Renee LoBue

No one ever gave me valuable advice about making music. I had to learn the valuable lesson that you make music because you love it, and if you don't love it, don't do it, because it's the making of music (which, to me is always the purest part being in a band) that will always bring you back to, well, making music.

Miss Jack Davey, J*DaVeY.

someone once told me to always stick my guns. i'd say the same. always assert yourself. always show them who you really are. never let em see you sweat.

Nicole Simone

It all come down to making the kind of music you want to make. Create the music that makes your heart beat, that plays in your dreams. I always tell myself that my music may not be for everyone, but that's OK. You can't make everyone happy.

Lana Mir

"My parents give me the best advice, which is to strive to do what I love and not what I have to. It's good to be where music is. Cities like New York, London, LA are musical capitals of the world and living there and being surrounded by musicians creates more opportunity,inspiration and drive. Always practicing and always playing music."

Niva Chow, Dearly Beloved

"i think the best words i got were - ""just don't give a fuck""

that's what i'd like to pass on. believe in what you do and the rest will follow."

Megan Jacobs

"yaah the people who work in the music industry told me to RUN far away from this biz - ha ha - but there's some truth to that joke.

some people told me to go after my dreams and that I got what it takes to make it.

I feel the most important thing to remember when going after your musical dreams... You have to always keep doing the work, you must be persistant, patient and always keep it real. Art for the sake of art. Art to make people feel. When your intentions are around making the best song you can and not worried about who's gonna buy it....or how it's gonna sell....you can keep it real.


Diana Darby

The most valuable advice I got was to find my own voice/sound and to experiment. Also, to not be afraid to take chances and make mistakes on stage. Advice I would give: study the greats that came before you and read great literature...and observe the world around you. Great song and story ideas come from the faces you see on the streets/subways and the lives you eavesdrop upon when eating out at a restaurant. Lastly, keep a notepad by your bed and write down songs that come to you in the middle of the night....you think you'll remember them in the morning, but you won't!

Kimme, Suxxcess Records

"yes/ I would say to women musicians embrace yourself and what makes your music unique and connect with listener/crowd. Don't lose sight on your passion. "

Blake Hazard, The Submarines

"I've had some good advice along the way, though most of it really wasn't specifically about being a woman. One of my favorites is: vague relationships yield vague results. That's a big one in music! But, most of the women I've been lucky to know in this industry are self-assured and very talented people, and I don't think that they've been as focused on their womanhood as they've been on their musicianship. I don't mean to suggest that we should ignore our womanhood--on the contrary, I think it should be celebrated at all times! But I would never want to go back to the era of ""Women in Rock,"" which seemed to create a fad or a ghetto out of a population that's been in music all along -- the ladies!! I think I'd give the same advice to a girl starting out in music that I'd give to a boy, which is to keep learning and never assume you've got it figured out. Some people dig in to notions about what you can and can't do in the business and then wonder how they suddenly became irrelevant.The business changes so much that all you can do is keep making music you love and stay honest with yourself."

Photo of Jesse Sposato, Holy Hail

Jesse Sposato, Holy Hail

Hmm, not that I can think of? There must have been something along the way. Some advice that I really love in general is to think of your life like a movie and ask yourself what the character who plays you would do in certain situations. Or choose a character from a book you really love and when faced with tough decisions, ask yourself what would that person do and then follow that advice. That was kind of a tangent, huh? Advice, let's see...it takes at least twice as long to get really good at what you play. Patience is key when learning an instrument, but it totally pays off in the end.

Karen Waltuch, The Roulette Sisters

Nobody gives anybody advice in NYC. We're all so desperate for the gigs, it's dog eat dog.

Photo of Ellen Rowe, Ellen Rowe Quartet and Ellen Rowe Trio

Ellen Rowe, Ellen Rowe Quartet and Ellen Rowe Trio

Women musicians just need to be the very best musicians they can be, like everyone else. They shouldn't worry about being categorized as "feminine" or "masculine" in their approaches; they just need to play from their hearts and the truth of that will reach people.

Photo of Samantha Maloney

Samantha Maloney

Just play because you love it. Not because you want to make money or become a rockstar. If you are good enough, and driven enough, surround yourself with better musicians than yourself, and have a little luck on your side to boot, then you will have a chance in this crazy business!

Alison, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

"No. Normally I'd give the same advice to anyone - don't be a jerk and don't sweat it if things don't go exactly your way. Be nice to the sound guy."

Melodie Bryant

"HA! I WISH! I've done it all on my own, and I've been successful, but I have had the support of a terrifically talented friend.

Be strategic. Ally yourself with a mentor (male or female) who can really help bring you along."

Maria Tiscia

Yes, I was given advice at an early age. It was ... know the exact melody, honor the composer, work hard, etc. I feel that there is no better training than live performance. I resent shows like American Idol making fun of hotel and wedding musicians. This is where artists gain experience. I'm willing to bet that every musician in the band on American Idol worked hotels, clubs and weddings at one time or another.

Kathryn Doherty-Chapman, Acres of Diamonds, Kitten Disaster

I am not in the music industry and i have no intention of getting into it. music is a hobby for me, so my advice would be to stay out of the music industry unless you don't want to make any money.

Nancy Falkow

"Just be good at what you do. Practice your instruments til your fingers bleed.

Find good sounding boards that will give you constructive criticism if you're a songwriter, not just someone who tells you everything is great.

Listen to music and your mother."

Patti Rothberg

"Patti Smith told me to keep on truckin. I'd tell any young woman the same"

Lorraine McGurt, American Speedway

No one ever really gave me advice, however my mother supported me in my musical endeavors. The advice I would give to a woman starting out would be -do what you love and never think that you have to compromise. You can have a family and still play, you can have a career outside of music and still play... it doesn't have to be an "either/or" decision. Most of all play because it makes you HAPPY.

Veronica; Loafass

"Some older female musicians I've met have been very supportive. My advice to a woman just starting out is don't date anyone in your band- it's never good. Also demand equal say in any band decision- it's your music too."



Champagne to your real friends, real pain to your shame friends.

(Thank you , Tom Waits.)"

Sara Radle. I am in Walking Sleep, and also perform and release records under my own name.

The advice I would give to a woman musician just starting out i the same I would give to any musician just starting out, regardless of gender - stick with it. I know that sounds so simple, but it's a competitive industry that can wear you down if you let it. As long as you stay focused and true to your vision, and are enthusiastic about it, that enthusiasm will be contagious. The more you do this, the more you learn from experience. The most valuable thing I've come to learn through my experience has been to be supportive of other musicians. When you create a solid community of peers, great things can happen!

Photo of Ada Rovatti

Ada Rovatti

Yes. Practice a lot, work on your own material and learn as much a you can in the business, learn some computer/software (music) and anything that can help you becoming a more prepared musician.

Submitted Anonymously

The most important thing to keep in mind is perseverance! Believe in yourself and do (write, compose) what you and only you want to do.

Tim Yehezkely, The Postmarks

I tend to do the opposite of any advice people me, so I'm probably not the one to ask! Or maybe that's the answer, that you have to trust your own gut and intuition, and find your own path. My advice would be, it's not all about talent. You need talent but you also need luck, to be in the right place at the right time, and to find the right people to work with. So maybe I would wish them lots of good luck instead of my advice!

Photo of Christine Smith, Marah

Christine Smith, Marah

Yes, a little. The advice I'd give to a woman musician (or any musician!) just starting out is...be strong, stay focused, be gracious, be kind, and have dignity. Be professional, be reliable, be on time. Do your homework. Be prepared. Be inventive. Set short term and long term goals, but be open to letting the river carry you where it may. Follow your heart. Don't be too trusting. Don't gossip. Be classy. Assert yourself when necessary. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time...there is so much to learn about the craft and the business from everyone and anyone you work with and encounter. Be cool. Be healthy. Look good. Have fun. And...honing your craft as a musician is a lifelong process...don't ever stop learning and exploring.

Rhonda Laurie

Play with the best musicians you possibly can and that will raise you up. Confidence is key.

Holly Saucy

Be good at what you do. Or don't bother . And it's 10% talent and 90% the relationships you make. So that bridge you burn could be one you have to cross, don't make Any enemies they will show up with out any prompting. And don't do anything you can't live with in the pursuit of fame.

Photo of Pam Fleming, Fearless Dreamer

Pam Fleming, Fearless Dreamer

"My advice: Stay with it if you feel music is your calling. Be prepared, listen, and always keep learning. You can learn from all kinds of musicians- what TO Do and also what NOT To Do! Don't compromise your integrity. Learn the art of negotiating. Say something meaningful with your musical voice."

Lily White

I got some really stupid advice along the way, and so, I hesitate to give any stupid advice out of my own. However, I would say this: Stay true to the music, be original, have a great time! If it starts being no fun--get out. Recently, I have been focusing less on music and more on creative writing. I have a story being published in Brevity in January, 2011.

Photo of Paula Kimper

Paula Kimper

If there is anything else you can do, do it. If not, work your butt off, hold onto your dreams and find your voice.

Laura Kahle

practice hard and expect the best for yourself. Dreams are attainable.

Photo of Amy Domingues, Garland of Hours

Amy Domingues, Garland of Hours

"Speaking of mentors, I would not have started writing my own music if Jenny Toomey had not pushed me to do it! At the time, I was playing with her band Tsunami and also working on her solo stuff. Why don't you write your own record?, she said. And I saw her example and didn't see why not. I had gone to college for classical cello, I had been playing in many different bands playing many different types of music, it was finally time.

I would tell any young (or older!) woman starting out in the music world to seek out any opportunity to play your music, whether it seems worth it or not. Forge relationships with real people, and be suspicious of anyone who you get a funny feeling about. It helps to keep up with people who come to see you play. Start an e-mail list or website so people can be up to date on your shows. In these days, you have to be your own PR and website person as well as a musician. You have to wear many hats. Also, the most important: NEVER DOUBT YOURSELF! This can be hard. And you may get bad reviews and snarky comments once in a while but keep reminding yourself that this is your music and it is sacred. I've found that the self-confidence thing among women musicians is a big difference between the guys I've worked with in music. But this is also the case accross the board, not just in music fields. "

Katie Morrison, band name Betty Iron Thumbs

No one ever gave me any outright advice that was worth anything - and much of it I ignored (the whole, you should quit rock n roll and go back to classical thing.) But there are tidbits I have picked up along the way. I would tell a woman musician starting out to focus on her craft and focus less on the image.

Submitted Anonymously

I'm not sure if anyone ever gave me GOOD advice. I would advise a young woman (or man) starting out, to believe in what they are doing, and to internalize only the advice of a trusted teacher or mentor, and let all the rest go. I would explain that not everyone who gives you advice actually has your best interests at heart. Beware especially of those who say "I'm only telling you this for your own good!"

Photo of Aisha Burns, Balmorhea

Aisha Burns, Balmorhea

I never received any advice in particular. I sort of fell into this path more so than I deliberately sought it out. But to a woman musician just beginning in this industry, I would just emphasize how important it is to be confident. Don't let yourself be intimidated.

Camille Escobedo. BERETTA76

"I was given the advice of just to always be prepared for anything at any time. When you're starting out play anywhere to anyone - never turn down a gig. And as a songwriter you have to be willing to fight for your choices, for what you truly believe will work.

As far as my advice for a woman just starting out?

Write good material and they will come. That having a point of view and making sure to stand your ground is really REALLY important. Also, take advantage of the network of musicians around you and ask questions. If you don’t already, go to shows, go to shows, go to shows and get to know the players. Most importantly be confident and completely FEARLESS.

I was recently interviewed for the Rock and Roll Report. If you would like to know more about my views on women in rock you can find them here: http://rockandrollreport.com/women-who-rock-the-triple-r-girl-for-october-is-camille-escobedo-of-beretta76/"

Virginia Mayhew

"no. Practice hard and get out there."

Karen Correa, Demander

I've gotten the best advice from friends and there are some quotes that I return to for inspiration. Most of them aren't even music-specific, they're just ideas that resonate. I think whether you're an artist, architect, novelist, musician, inventor, philosopher or what-have-you there are things you have to work through to keep yourself committed to creating things. It takes a lot of bravery and, sometimes, delusional positivity.

Melissa Ferrick

"Many people. My lyric writing teacher at Berklee College, Pat Pattison, was critical in my ability to believe in myself and my gift. Jodi Goodman (at the time a young promoter in Boston) connected me to Morrissey which essentially launched my career.. They gave me a chance and LISTENED to me. Ahmet Ertigen at Atlantic was kind and complemented my songwriting in a conference room filled with executives. Val Azoli at Atlantic pulled down a map of the US and said, “Where are you selling records? In the Northeast. I will write you checks to tour there until you think you can’t tour anymore, and then you WILL tour more.” MANY other songwriters who I have opened for from John Gorka squeezing my neck saying “keep going kid, you're good” to John Hiatt smiling in the wings during my opening set to more recently Ani DiFranco telling me I “killed it tonight”. Every small encounter of praise and encouragement to keep going.. Every bar tender who said they had never heard me before and they loved it.. Every record I have given away for free to the sound men who challenged me.. Every one of them has inspired and pushed me to keep making music. The advice I would give would be to never doubt what you know you are good at. Always trust your inner most instincts. Always believe that YOU know what’s best for your music. I would advise any young musician to be versed in the business of music and to work with people they love first not necessarily people they think can “get” some THING. Things break.. Things gets lost.. Things fills holes. I think the job of the artist is to fill their own holes with songs and in return we get the pleasure of helping the listener realize and fill in their own."

Katherine FitzGibbon

You can do anything your heart desires. Just be prepared to assert yourself, know what you want, and have to prove to each new person or organization how competent and creative you are.

Ingrid Jensen. The Ingrid Jensen quartet

"I never had the drive to become a big star figure, like my hometown superstar and former role model Diana Krall did, so the industry was and is something that exists on another level for me. I dislike much of what it does to people's impression of success and moreover, how that success idea gets in the way of of artistic freedom, honesty and all out strong music. My mentors were (and are) all adventurous people whose advice I took from their integrity filled projects and honest characterizations of themselves that they portrayed passionately through their music. To all younger players, especially the female ones, I advise getting a good teacher that can help them play their instrument well. Invest thousands of hours into listening, transcribing and playing with everyone possible (both peers and players at higher levels) and make sure you really love music. You have to love it enough to get over the many highs and lows that the long road of self-discovery had laid out for all of us."

Stephanie Flati, The Lopez

We aren't really about "making our way" in the music industry. Everyone in our band is totally in it for fun only - and that's what we do. We always have a blast playing shows, meeting and hearing other bands.

Clare Cooper

I would say to learn as much as possible about the mechanics of making music and using equipment, and to be as good as they can be. Also to stay true to themselves and not let anyone discourage them.

Audrey Silver

One of my mentors is Sheila Jordan. She has always been incredibly generous with all of her students. I've tried to follow her example and be as helpful as possible to other singers. It's a much more pleasant way to navigate the music world.

Lena Dhayni, The Lightning Bugs.

i would say: have fun! be honest. pay attention to what you like and what you don't like about songs, musicians, and performers, and let those things influence you. always remember: the two kims, kim deal and kim gordon, made a life out of rock n roll, and didn't have to compromise their integrity!

Geri Smith

Network network network. Join NARAS. Make good recordings and distribute them as widely as possible. Try your best to get some of your music licensed. And don't tell WXPN if you are from the Philadelphia area, you will get shoved into the local bin and not get played. I know several local artists like myself who are good enough to play in the best rooms in NYC but can't get airplay in thier home town. It is very frustrating.

Noelle R. Nordstrom

I would say be strong in yourself and make sure to explore and question everyone you come across because I find too many young female singers don't care about the flaws of the idols they look up to. They take what one person says as gospel and refuse to develop their own minds. EXPLORE your own opinions, ladies!!

White Widow

watch your back! (kidding). Well actually I did get that advice on many occasions. I would say the most valuable advice I've gotten is to stay true to your self and your music.

Alejandra Deheza, School of Seven Bells

"Oh yes. BP Fallon told me to never carry anything in my back pockets, because it ""looks shit""

- I'd say that's some pretty solid advice, don't you think? I mean, I haven't forgotten it :)"

Natalia D.

A career as a classical singer is more or less a string of temp jobs with different opera companies. If you're looking for a life of ease and instant fame and fortune, look elsewhere. Its a lot of hard work and takes many years of training to perfect. You need to master not only your vocal production through rigorous training, but the diction of the languages that you will be singing and you will need to develop an understanding of music theory. The process is very rewarding as you watch your personal progress, but it can be very stressful and seem quite hopeless at times. But overnight success stories do come after decades of quiet hard work and the payout can be huge. One great advantage that classical singers have over other singers is that as your reputation builds over time, and your career can stretch well into your 50's and 60's, and even when you've retired from the stage your career can shift to teaching and masterclasses for the next generation.

Photo of Jenny Hill, Easy Star All-Stars

Jenny Hill, Easy Star All-Stars

I had much valuable advice from my saxophone teachers (all men) who mentored me. Find a good mentor when you are just learning how to play, and follow their advice.

Sarah Bernat

"different things work for different people. i've heard just about all the advice there is, but i keep just doing what works for me. i'd like to be making more music, but college loans are a real bitch. my advice to anyone who has a dream they want to follow is just figure out a way to do it. i started out with nothing but a four track recorder and some instructions on how to build a contact mic. before that there was a piano somewhere in my life. just gather what you know, start experimenting, and keep a practice regimen. eventually you might really surprise yourself with what you're able to pull off. oh, and don't be afraid to work with other people! "

Shab Bashiri, The Constellations

"I've defintely recieved some advice. Everyone has their two cents to put in. I haven't been fortunate enough yet to come into contact with many other female artists that have been succesful. I met a young girl last night in High Wycombe, UK, who asked if she could sing a few bars for me. Of course I said yes and she blew me away. She sang a verse of a John Legend song and it was beautiful. I told her then, just keep singing. I think that advice is universal, whether it's men or women. It's very easy to get discouraged in this industry. Most people would just as soon have you quit and work in an office somewhere, and you can never give into that. If you believe in something, go out and get it. End of story. "

Photo of Emily Rodgers

Emily Rodgers

I've been told to be more confident and to not read my reviews, to write a new song every time I'm tempted to read a review (good or bad).

Mary Chun

"No, but I wish someone had! Practice, persevere, develop a strategic plan and keep growing your skills and artistry."

Nicole Binion

I have had great opportunity, but I believe it's because I have learned to stay true to myself, and try not to become what I thought people were wanting me to be

Psalm One

I've been given alot of good guidance, and also alot of room to make my own mistakes. I would tell a woman musician just starting out to have a hand in each and every decision that is going to affect your career, and be confident in yourself.

Photo of Shanna Carlson

Shanna Carlson

I think the best advice is to know what you want and hear inside, practice till you can communicate that to other musicians, don't back down from YOU...be yourself. But, if you don't fit where you are, start your own music...solo, or group. Be convinced in your own heart that you are presenting what comes from deep inside.

Submitted Anonymously

"I went to music business program in college and one of the most important thing they taught me was Networking in this business.

The advise I can give to woman musician are: - Stick to your passion -Have an unreasonal dream, dare to think about it -Be patient , success may take longer that you hope for -Practice, be great at what you do, keep expanding and exploring yourself as a musician and human being -Networking, online and offline, let people know what you can offer -Don't play free shows unless there are other valuable things (not just for fun) you can get out of it (such as promotion/publicity, etc.) Many musicians don't get enough pay for their hardwork, and partly is due to the musicians who play free shows or very cheaply paid shows are messing up the market for the rest of musicians who are trying to make a living by doing music. -Know your market/audience (there isn't really good or bad music, only the one receives it enjoys it or not) -Get a partner or form a team to support you


Cat Martino

"Recently a good friend has been sending me texts. They always arrive during some late-nite writing attempt, just when I think it's time to pack up and get a ""real job"". I save them, they say, ""Don't waste your time or unique genius"". Another says, ""F-U-N is number one on the priority to creating magic!"".

I would and have said to young women (I have taught and mentored many), Just Go for it! Have fun! Don't get in your own way! You have everything you need to be a unique talent. Practice, learn, be curious, write, write, write.

I especially tell them to learn about the business side early on, because that is empowering, and I am still catching up.

I also tell them to learn another skill at a young age that is good flexible work when not touring (I would love to have web design or music/video editing skillz, that would help for pick up work. Bartending hours stink and get a singer sick to often). Being financially stable and independent is key and some clear and even tough advice at a young age in that direction would have been sweet. Who knows, maybe someone said it and I didn't listen;).

It's too late for me now. Music is the only thing I can really do right or want to do. I am also good at doing other things, but it's challenging to keep another consistent job going when yr head heart and heels are in music."

Ginny Owens

I was given a few pieces of great advice along the way; I sure wish I had given them more consideration. Based on my journey, here are the things I'd say to a young woman starting out: Before you embark on a career, make sure you know yourself and your art very well; otherwise these things will be defined for you. In order to survive this business, you must possess equal parts humility and confidence; don't sign a 360 deal with a company who doesn't have 360 capabilities; never underestimate the power of a song.

Suni Paz

I received a good advice: remember that you are the one that has the microphone and can speak and sing through it. That means LOTS OF POWER. Sing/speak about what you want and what you don't like and praise anyone that deserves it.

Photo of Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers

I remember my teacher, Ms.DeLay telling me how important it was to be nice and thankful to everybody involved in the concert production. From the stagehand to the presenter and collaborating musicians. We are all in this together producing something that hopefully moves people to come back and enjoy their time in the hall. This I think was great advice for me. It makes you respect everybody's work there and helps elevate the spirit of what you are doing and saying through your music, which everybody can feel.

Photo of Sondra Radvanovsky

Sondra Radvanovsky

My old voice teacher once told me that to be a female singer you have to be ther VERY best in your speciality, such as a Verdi Soprano...be ther very best...and it stuck with me. Average is not enough as a woman. My advice to the younger generation would be to find your OWN voice, figurativley and literally. Find what makes you special and stick with it becasue if you hate singing something, the audience will know it and feel it too.

Rachael Rine of Cockpit

"I have gotten amazing amounts of valuable advice over the years. Probably the most constructive was from Abe Laboriel Sr. who said ""half your audience is deaf and half your audience is blind"". As entertainers it is our job to entertain. People don't watch you play with their eyes closed.

Producer and record label executive Ron Fair once said to me ""I've helped give you thick skin, it's good, you're gonna need it"". Boy was he right. You can't be too sensitive. Not everyone will love what you're doing. If you play from the heart with confidence, that's all that matters.

My advice specifically directed at women seeking a career as a musician is this. A gimmick can only bypass hard work to a certain degree. Don't strive to be ""good for a girl"". Work on being a good musician across the board and you might have a good shot. "

Linda Lou - Cockpit

"I could have used some good advice. I haven't been given much. But I have learned this. Be aware of the stereo types and the preconceived notions others will carry... but don't feed into them. Celebrate yourself and your own sense of sexuality (if that's part of who you are)... but don't ever play a part in your own self exploitation. Pursue what you love even when it's hard. Extraordinary lives rarely come easily."

Photo of Allison Iraheta

Allison Iraheta

Being on the show American Idol and getting judged every week, all I received was valuable advice for my career in the music industry. The one that always stuck out for me was "Be true to yourself," which I still carry on. This is something I would tell anyone trying to make it in the music industry.

Rose Cousins

"- don't sign anything too fast - work hard at getting better at your craft...writing, playing, singing -carve time out for the creative and be responsible in the financial, but some risk is necessary"

Photo of Allison Scola

Allison Scola

Approach your life holistically. Everything you do--day-job, music, family--is a reflection of you as an artist. You are an artist in your day job and you are an artist in the rehearsal studio. It's all connected. Do everything with love and joy, and the rest will follow.

Submitted Anonymously

Let go. Just play.

Elizabeth Brown

Don't just try to conform by promoting yourself in standard ways! There are too many musicians for the dwindling amounts of rts funding. Think about what you individually have to offer musically, what your passion is, and create ways to make the best music you can.

Anat Fort

i have been given many valuable advices trying to make my may in the music industry, and had i not been given them i probably wouldn't have been where i am today (I consider it a pretty nice place). my advice for women musicians just starting out would be to forget they are women. and not to worry-they will be reminded of it enough not to REALLY forget it. so to devote their time, if they are serious about what they do, to the MUSIC and not to any nonsense around it. and also to not forget that nobody will do their work for them (and I am not just talking about the music itself, but about promoting, marketing and distributing their music) and that this aspect of it could even be fun (even if you think you hate doing it and don't know how). and last but not least-we almost never feel ready for things but they happen when we are, so to make sure we are always trying to meet a deadline we set for ourselves, so we can help them happen.

Photo of Christine Brewer

Christine Brewer

I had so many wonderful mentors in my life ... my mother was probably the first and the best. She was a singer, not of classical and opera music like me, but she told me to always sing with my heart and let myself be vulnerable. I didn't quite totally get that until she became ill with ALS and I watched her young spirit start to die. She was still singing until it was physically impossible for her, and she always sang with gusto and spirit. She took risks and after her death at age 62, I at age 42, finally got what she was always talking about.I also had the opportunity to meet and work with the great Wagnerian soprano Birgit Nilsson. We worked together when I was in my 30's and just getting my feet wet in the business. My mom and I went to Germany and I worked with Birgit every day for several weeks. Birgit and I remained friends and she continued to mentor me until her death just a few years ago. And now I give master classes when I am on the road and quite often meet young women who have budding dramatic voices. I give them the advice that I had early on when my voice was still developing. I tell them to be patient and not to push their voices into the big repertoire too soon. Quite often when this happens the young voices are finished before the age of 40. I try to encourage them to take it a bit more slowly so that they will be singing into their 50's and 60's.

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Patty Larkin

I would tell them to write and record as much as possible, to get their own small studio setup and learn about tone and sound and some of the technology. Then I would tell them to go deeper. Then I would tell them to enjoy the moment.

Stephanie Schneiderman

"I would say the same advice to anyone, female or male.

Surround yourself with musicians that are better than you. Be sincere and be persistent.


Nedra Johnson

Learn your craft. There is always room for improvement. Play with people that are better than you as much as you can. Ask questions. Put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable and honest in your music. That's where your greatest strength is... and the music, is more important than your fears!

Marilyn Crispell

The best advice I ever heard was to follow my heart and not give up, not be discouraged by setbacks or failures, and that's the advice I would give to anyone starting out today.

Photo of Danielle de Niese

Danielle de Niese

I would say to any woman who asked me for advice regarding "being a woman" in the business, "don't "be a woman"- just be the artist that you are, and give your all always." There's no point starting out your career with hang-ups about having to fight harder because you're a woman, and focusing on it could distract you. No one ever said you have to be a man to order to dare to dream, so be daring and dream big!

Photo of Anji Bee of Lovespirals

Anji Bee of Lovespirals

From my perspective, the most important thing is to develop a strong internet presence that includes quality audio, video, and photos. The more professional you come across, the more likely people are to take you seriously. I personally wouldn't rely on gimmicks to get attention, but that seems to be working out for Lady Gaga, so who am I to say anything against it?

Vienna Teng

I've always tried to make music as a human being first. I am a woman, an Asian-American, a heterosexual, college-educated, classically trained, raised upper-middle class, an ex-software engineer, and so on. These identities inform the music I make, but they don't define it. The victory of feminism (and other equality movements) is that someone like me can move in the world without qualifiers. It's something I'm incredibly grateful for. So if I were to give advice, it'd apply to men as well as women: Be good at what you do. Be fair to the people you work with. Know your own worth; don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Know others' worth too; learn from people you admire. Ask them to be your mentors. Know your priorities. Yes, a lot of a life in music is luck. Yes, you'll have to work hard, maybe for a long time. But remember the bigger picture: what do you want out of your life, your finite years? What's most important to you; why is it important to you? If creating music fulfills that completely for you, and it'd be worth it to you to labor in obscurity for years or ride the rollercoaster of big breaks and heartbreaks, go for it. If you can't imagine doing anything else, if it's the only thing that really makes you come alive, go for it. But if there are other things important to you, make room for them.

Kate Simko

I was with my grandmother at a Turkish bath in Budapest and mentioned that I had been DJ'ing on the radio for a couple years. We're very close and she was shocked I'd never mentioned it. A lady in the pool overheard our conversation and said "Don't Hide Your Light Under a Bushel!" to me. I never forgot that. Definitely stay modest and don't make music for your ego. But that comment taught me that it's important to share your art with the world, not hide it.

Grace Potter; Grace Potter And The Nocturnals

Taj Mahal told my guitarist Scott a very cool thing one night when we were on tour with him. We'd had a so-so show, the crowd wasn't that into it and Taj said "That's why they call it fishin! If you got 'em every time, they'd call it catchin." As for the woman thing, there are plenty of advantages and disadvantages to being a woman in rock &roll, but the thing I've found to matter much more than all of that is weather you've got the stomach for it. You've either got it or you don't. Gender only gets in the way if you let it. Don't act like you're oppressed and you won't be.

Lynne Hanson

Yes ... to create the best art that I possibly can, to always be looking to improve my craft, and to know that I will always care the most about seeing my career advance. I'd give the same advice to a woman musician who was just starting out.

Emily Arin Snider (I perform under the name Emily Arin)

I once played a couple songs for Pete Luboff at a conference, wanting to know if he thought I should aim to be a songwriter for other artists, or be a performing songwriter. He encouraged me to perform my own music--and recommended that I learn to crave the stage. That line, "crave the stage," has stuck with me and has helped me come out of my shell a lot more. Whereas I used to shy away from performing, I'm now deriving some pleasure from it. So, budding fellow woman musician...."Crave the stage!" And, I would also say, be patient while practicing the craft. It's amazing how putting in the time really allows for growth and surprises.

Mary Lorson and the Soubrettes

Unfortunately, I didn't get tons of great advice when I really could have used it. So here are my own hard-earned pearls, and frankly, I'd give same advice to a man as to a woman who wants to make a life in the music industry: Write, play, and sing. Do your best work, and do not abuse yourself in the process of bringing it to the world. Be honest with yourself and your collaborators about what's working and what's not, and never rush the process. Enjoy yourself but save some money, and when opportunity knocks, answer the door--it will likely be your one real chance.

Pamela Marshall, Spindrift Music Company

Promote yourself and talk about your work. Let people know what you do. But don't be pushy. Be helpful and cooperative and be someone people want to work with.

Lydia Fortune

Build a strong sense of self; don't personalize discouragement. Learn to recognize and distinguish between a 'put down' and 'critical' feedback. Learn about the business first (internet, reading, etc.), have the motivation for improving skills, and know the audience you want to reach.

Mary Jennings

It may sound cliched but I was told to be the best me I can. Don't try to follow trends because you will always be a step behind. Just do what you do and eventually the trend will catch up to you.

Maranda Mae of The Texas Duet

No. If you love what you do, you keep doing it and don't ever let anyone bring or put you down. Keep Playin' Ladies!!

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