Who Runs the Music World? Not Enough Girls (Guest Column)

Monique Chavez founded Her Music Club to advocate for increased presence of women in the industry.

HER Music Club
Shirley Halperin

As the daughter of a music industry lifer, I first noticed the music business was a boys club at a very young age. My father, Charles Chavez, had been in radio for years, and later went into management, representing Pitbull, MAGIC! and Ally Brooke. Over the years, he would introduce me to women executives and I would instantly obsess over them. How did they get to the position they’re in? Do they not have the same struggles as me? Am I the only one feeling shut out?

When I moved to Los Angeles from Texas, I was afraid the music scene wouldn’t be inclusive. Judging from what I saw and experienced growing up, this was my reality. Not only am I woman, but I’m a woman of color. I tried to stay optimistic and told myself maybe it has changed. Maybe if I take my own road, and not my father’s road, I’ll meet women like me.

Unfortunately, L.A. became a lonely place for me. The rooms I walked into felt noticeably unbalanced; the men outnumbered the women exponentially. Within the small community of women in the industry, it felt competitive, as if there couldn’t be multiple women with success. Why can’t we all be good at our jobs? Why can’t we all support each other? Wouldn’t that make for a better space?

After living in L.A. for seven years, I finally met a few girls in the industry that I connected with. One of them being Kate Loesch, an unapologetically fierce A&R at Capitol Records. I’ll never forget the drive home from a certain dinner, where we left all our feelings about the industry on the table. I walked into the restaurant at what felt like my lowest point and I walked out an entirely different person. I was inspired. I was empowered. It was exactly what I needed in that moment. I finally felt like it wasn’t just me and I wanted every woman in the industry to feel that.

A month later, Her Music Club was born.

Her Music Club is a space for women in music, from interns to executives, to come together, share experiences and connect. I want to support upcoming female artists and give them a platform where they can perform for WOMEN in the industry. I want to create the community I didn’t have growing up, so that other women in music don’t have to feel alone. Mostly, I want women to leave feeling empowered.

Since our start in April, we have had three successful events. We were fortunate enough to receive attention and support from Jacqueline Saturn, President of Caroline/Harvest, who wanted to help as much as she could. Kate asked her to speak at our last event on Dec. 11 and what she did for us was next level. Not only did Jacqueline deliver a killer speech, she also booked artists to perform and invited her staff to join us. We are forever grateful for her willingness to help bring together women, and for sharing one of my new favorite quotes of all time, “The music industry needs to be more like a hug!” Ain’t that the truth?

One of the most beautiful things about a Her Music Club event is the more even split of men and women in the room. The gathering represents what we want to see in the industry — in studios, guitar shops and conference room meetings. When you come to our event, we want you to take away hope. We strive for a space where we genuinely support one another. A community like this makes the inevitable hard days a little easier for women. Being that we live in the era of #MeToo and the Times Up movement, this is just the beginning. Equality is not a trend. We will continue to speak up and elevate each other, so please do your part and continue to include women in the conversation!