By Calli Ferguson | August 30, 2022
If you love discovering music and the sort of live events you walk away from feeling as though you stumbled upon something truly special (and if you’re here, we’re assuming you do)…you’re gonna wanna check out Women That Rock. The music discovery and event production company started as an Instagram account–Or perhaps before that, it started as a need to support up-and-coming women in music. Today, it’s a place to discover and share artists and a home to live events that are all about creating magic centering female musicians.
the groovement down with Women That Rock founder, Andie Aronow, where she shared the story of what she’s created and the importance of creating spaces for marginalized genders in the music industry:
Can you start by telling us in your own words: What is Women That Rock?
Sure! So Women that Rock is a music discovery platform that’s dedicated to amplifying the voices of female-identifying artists. The platform exists in person through our live events: we’re essentially an event production company producing female-forward live music events like concerts, showcases, music parties, and festival events that all have female-identifying lineups. Everyone who’s on stage basically is a female or non-binary-identifying person.
The platform also exists in a digital form online through our website and social media where we do artists promotion and marketing. Wo do artists features across social media and work to amplify stories of female-identifying folks and gender nonconforming folks doing interesting things in music.
Beautiful. And what inspired you to create that?
Well, it’s funny, when I started Women That Rock, I didn’t set out to start a company. I set out to create an Instagram account and create a space for women to exist more loudly.
I’ve worked in music almost my whole life, certainly my whole adult life. I was doing some artist management, and I was also working for a recording studio doing A&R and some executive production. I was connecting with all of these artists and noticing that independent artists really needed help, support, visibility, and just amplification across the board. A lot of these artists were approaching me for business advice, or how to navigate a single release deal, or how to navigate their marketing…they just needed support.
I was toying with working in management, but I decided I wanted to help a lot of people in a smaller way [rather] than a couple of people in a bigger way. Not that what we do is small, just that I wanted to have a more macro impact. So I just decided to start this Instagram page. I came up with the name Women That Rock, and it was available, which was crazy.
It’s so perfect.
I grabbed the name and created a little temporary icon before we had our logo. I just sent messages out to all my female artists friends and was like, “Hey, I just started this page. Would you be cool if I featured you? And they were all like, “Um…a hundred million percent yes. What do you need? Let’s do it.” The response was so overwhelming. I was not really expecting the tidal wave of excitement and enthusiasm that I received. It just exploded with women wanting to be involved and wanting to be heard. Because the demand was so strong and the enthusiasm was so loud, it became really clear to me quickly that this was a need in the marketplace. And I worked to figure out how to fill that space.
It’s amazing how much that space is needed. Not just to make the music space inclusive but have spaces specifically for women and marginalized people. It totally makes sense that Women That Rock just resonates. As music lovers, we want spaces where we can find and support up-and-coming female artists specifically.
Yeah, I mean the other thing is that once we moved into the live space…it’s such a cool thing to create spaces where female artists don’t feel like they’re the minority. All of our events are events where everyone on the bill is a female-fronted act. And what I hear a lot from artists is that oftentimes there’s one woman on the bill. Maybe. Or one musician who’s female in the venue. And they’re often treated badly by sound people, or by venue staff, or they’re assumed to be the merch person, or they’re assumed to be the girlfriend of someone who’s helping carry something…
At our events, the women are the stars. So just by nature and by virtue of not being the only one in the room, there’s a relaxation that happens. There’s sort of a collective deep breath women can take when they’re performing at our shows and also attending our shows. It’s this feeling of: We’re not going to be treated in a marginalized way. We’re not going to be treated like shit. No one’s going to assume we’re just the merch girl.
It just creates a really beautiful energy. And it creates more space for the women to not be constantly trying to prove themselves, just existing.
So cool. And can you speak a little bit more to when you got the idea to start doing live events? What was the first one? And what was it like to see that come to life?
Yeah, so I started Women That Rock in October 2018 and by the New Year mark, I kind of made it a goal. There was enough online buzz, and it just seemed like a natural next step to bring it into a physical space. So I was kind of noodling around with: What would it be? What could we do?
I had met this artist, Petra Gerar, who’s become one of my best friends. She reached out to me and we had had a meeting about featuring her for Women That Rock. She approached me and was like, “I’m trying to pitch a bill to the Knitting Factory. And I’m in competition with three other people who are also pitching bills. And the venue is going to choose the one that they like the most. And I have this idea: What if we got Women That Rock involved in some way?” And I thought, This literally could not be more perfect. I had been wanting to do live events. And essentially, making it a Women That Rock show would give it an angle that makes it unique and different from the others. So we decided to team up and put together a bill of four or five amazing New York based local bands and pitched it as the inaugural Women That Rock show…And we got the slot!
Petra and I went hard on outreach, promotion, press, and sponsors. We ended up getting five sponsors on board. Everything from Chipotle to Bai Beverages, Bite Beauty, Guitar Center, and we just created this like… blowout party concert. We took over the Knitting Factory. We had free food, we had free drinks, we had a bakery that donated a custom Women That Rock cake.
It really was like a launch party. I didn’t really know it at the time, but that’s what it was. We had this beauty brand come in and give us two dedicated makeup artists to do the makeup for every artist who was going to perform. We had a guitar giveaway– Guitar Center gave us a guitar to do a raffle. And it was just a really special, really fun show. We sold out the venue. It was just a slam dunk. That was the start, and then when it was like, Okay, well I guess we’re just gonna do it again and again and again and again!
We did everything from stuff that was really small and intimate to larger things. Then I got into the South by Southwest circuit, and did our first South by Southwest event in 2019. So that’s how it started.
It sounds euphoric: watching that come to life before your eyes. We have so many online communities today, especially around music, and there’s something really special about bringing it in-person. You touched on what you want artists to feel at your shows. Is there anything specifically that you would want audiences to get out of a Women That Rock show?
I mean, I want them to walk away having discovered a new artist that they love and will then support, right? Because like that’s sort of the whole like movement. It’s like the pay-it-forward thing. So I want them to have discovered an artist they love and want to support.
I want them to have made a new friend and/or spent quality time with their friends. And I want them to feel a part of like…a magic. I want them to feel like this show is different from the other shows that they go to. I want it to feel like there’s a community, there’s an energy. And really it does sort of feel like a tangible ‘goodness’ that’s emanating around the space. People at our shows are laughing and dancing and crying and hugging. There’s…a little bit of magic in the air! I want people to walk away feeling like they had an unexpectedly great experience that they will take forward with them.
Well we’ll just let you know that we totally felt that leaving the Elsewhere show. That was special. And the artists had that effect where you were like: Oh my gosh, I want to tell everybody about them.
That’s so great to hear. Awesome.