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Women In Music Fest panelists celebrate women working in the industry

The second annual Women In Music Festival supported women in the many fields within the music industry on April 5–8 in Oakland.

Carmena Woodward, aka DJ Red Corvette, and Evangeline Elder started the festival in 2017 as a response to misogyny in the industry. This year they partnered with more organizations to bring more events and people, including a DJ workshop class and mimosa brunch.

The festival strives to “provide a platform where women can connect and celebrate across all genres, ages and ethnicities, all while encouraging more female participation, empowerment and entrepreneurship.”

The women in music in panel brought five eclectic panelists in the music industry: KQED Arts’ Music Editor Nastia Voynovskaya, Pandora’s Industry Relations and Artist Marketing Nicole Johnson, Pandora’s Senior Director of Artist Relations Gurj Bassi, SF Chapter of the Recording Academy’s President and Mastering Engineer Piper Payne, and Las Brujas Radio’s founder, curator DJ Namaste Shawty.

This year’s panel, held in the Pandora music offices in downtown Oakland, sold out their free tickets. Moderated by music writer and producer Ruth Gebreyesus, panelists discussed the different challenges associated with being women or women of color within their professions.

Nastia Voynovskaya told the audience to know their worth, and that working for free or exposure are her non-negotiables.

“One of my non-negotiables is I do not work for free unless its for a benefit or a good cause,” Voynovskaya said. “In the music industry and in any creative industry there’s people out there who want to ask you to do stuff for exposure, for the skill that is your professional trade.”

Nicole Johnson responded to the question, “For the folks who identify as women of color, what has been your experience in the music industry and what would be your advice for someone who is looking to enter into their field?”

“It’s challenging, especially as a Black woman in the music industry,” Johnson said. “I’ve really been a part of many conversations that I did not want to be a part of.”

“Is it really a party if there’s no girls there?” Namaste Shanty said. “Women make and create the vibe. It’s super important that there’s a space for women.”

Shawty also commented on how women and gender-nonconforming people find support in the music industry dominated by men.

“I’m not alone. I have my community,” Shawty said.