July 22nd 2006 marked the 3rd annual Battle of the GoGirls at Trophy’s Bar & Grill in Austin. The Battle of the GoGirls is a battle of the bands contest offering cash, prizes, and glory to female and female-fronted solo acts and bands. The 2006 finalists hailed from Austin, Portland, New York City, Los Angeles, and even Cincinnati, the hometown of Pike, this year’s big winners.GoGirls Music is a dynamic organization that seeks to promote and empower women in music, focusing specifically on independent musicians. Founded in 1996 by Madalyn Sklar of Houston, GoGirls has grown into a nationwide network of female musicians that hosts annual events such as the GoGirls Music Festival, which takes place in a number of cities across the country. Austin, musical capitol that it is, plays host to two of the organization’s biggest annual events, the Invasion of the GoGirls at SXSW and the Battle of the GoGirls, as well as being one of the yearly anchors of the GoGirls Music Fest.
The idea for GoGirls was initially born out of Madalyn’s frustration at being a female guitarist in Texas who was continually ignored in guitar shops and music stores. She launched a website to try to network with other female musicians to find out if they were experiencing similar challenges. It seems she tapped into a wellspring of interest and energy, as the GoGirls website now boasts a directory of over 4,000 members. These days Madalyn appears as a guest speaker at many major music conferences, and GoGirls sponsors showcases at an ever-increasing number of festivals, providing valuable opportunities for its members.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that I am a member of GoGirls, and have personally benefited from GoGirls’ efforts, including last year’s GoGirls Music Fest and this year’s Invasion of the GoGirls events in Austin, as well as Madalyn’s consulting services through IndieMusicCoach.com. I have felt the power of the GoGirls, so much so that I was inspired to write this article. More than anything, I believe that GoGirls not only empowers indie musicians to take control of their careers, it successfully fosters a positive and supportive community of musicians, which is a rarity in today’s music business.
I caught up with Madalyn and Georgia Moncrief, GoGirls’ Artist Relations director, as well as several other GoGirls die-hards on 6th Street before the Battle of the GoGirls, as they were preparing to get the GoGirls logo tattooed onto themselves (did I mention these ladies are hard-core?). I later shot Madalyn a few interview questions and this is what she had to say:
MR – Although you and the GoGirls organization are based in Houston, Austin seems to be the GoGirls headquarters for events and performances. Why is that?
MS – I think it’s because Austin is such a great music town. There are so many cool venues and everything is close together. We have always been well received there. And I love that!
MR – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the music business since founding GoGirls?
MS – The most important thing I’ve learned about the music business is it’s a relationship business. It’s about who you know and who they know. People talk so it’s best to not burn bridges with anyone in the business. It’s a small circle.
MR – Has your vision for what you want GoGirls to achieve changed with the organization’s growth and success over the years?
MS – Well my vision has always been to promote, support and empower women in music. It’s a constant thing for me. As we grow I’m always aware why we are doing this, what our purpose is. I don’t ever want to stray from that.
MR – GoGirls has grown from a one-woman operation into a nationally-recognized cornerstone for women in music, and yet it’s all volunteer-run – what inspires you to keep going?
MS – I’m constantly inspired by the people I help. I get emails all the time from women who are happy to find our community. They thank me for doing what I do. Also from our members who pat me on the back. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
MR – You’ve just launched GoGirlsRecords – how does it work and why did you decide to add a record label component to the organization?
MS – It’s set up as a digital download store where people can check out music from our growing GoGirls roster. What makes it unique are the downloadable files. You can listen to each song three times for free then you are prompted to purchase it if you like it. It’s try before you buy! We felt it was time to have music available through our web site.
MR- In addition to GoGirlsMusic and GoGirls Records, you also provide consulting services to musicians through IndieMusicCoach.com – what’s the most valuable advice you give to aspiring musicians?
MS – I think the most valuable advice I give out to aspiring musicians is to not be afraid to ask for what you want. And to get out there and try things because you will never know what you can accomplish until you just do it!
GoGirls will be hosting the 7th annual GoGirls Music Fest on Thursday, October 26th at Rutamaya World Headquarters in Austin. This will be a benefit show to raise money for CaringBridge, a nonprofit that provides free Web hosting to help families and friends stay connected during health crises and other significant life events. GoGirls will be back again in March for the Invasion of the GoGirls at SXSW, which last year included 7 different unofficial showcase opportunities around South Austin, and included performances by Sarah Bettens (formerly of K’s Choice), Melissa Ferrick, and Rachael Sage, along with many, many others. If you are a female musician and would like to be a part of this amazing musical community, be sure to visit www.gogirlsmusic.com.
Article Submission for Austin Daze
August 30, 2006