Inside The Industry — Women That Rock Founder Andie Aronow: Doing What It Takes To Succeed In Business

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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 15 – Spring 2021 – Electrified!

Passionate about the music industry, Andie Aronow has taken the skills and knowledge that she has developed over the last decade working in the music industry and her entrepreneurial drive to create an organization dedicated to promoting women in music. Aronow fills us in on her background and what it takes to navigate and make it in the industry.

You started your career in music when you were just eight years old. Has working full time in music always been what you wanted to pursue?

Absolutely! Though the area of focus in music has changed tremendously. As a kid, I started my musical career as a professional voiceover artist/jingle singer. I envisioned myself pursuing a long-term career as a singer and recording artist. That said, as I got older, I found myself wanting to perform less and instead becoming more and more interested in the business of music. As a freshman at USC in Los Angeles, I discovered that the Thornton School of Music had a Music Industry major, and it felt like a lightbulb went off. I started studying music business there and ultimately transferred into NYU Tisch’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, where I really started to hone in on my interests and skills. But it became absolutely clear to me by the middle of college that working full-time in music and pursuing a career journey in the music business was my path!

Can you tell us a little about your work on the GRAMMY U program at The Recording Academy (TRA)?

While I was a student at the Clive Davis Institute, my mentor Lauren Davis recommended me for a job with The Recording Academy—they were looking for a new GRAMMY U rep. I jumped at the opportunity, of course, and worked for that full year (while I was a college sophomore) for The Recording Academy’s New York chapter. TRA has chapters all across the country, and their GRAMMY U program is guided by a network of ‘reps’ from all of the national chapters. GRAMMY U is essentially a collegiate-level membership program that allows young aspiring musicians and music entrepreneurs to become student members of The Recording Academy and offers a host of incredible events, networking opportunities, and other cool perks. I was responsible for all GRAMMY U member recruitment (which meant doing a ton of tabling and outreach at various universities in the tri-state area) and helping to plan cool music and music-industry events for our GRAMMY U members to attend—concerts, panel Q&A’s, private soundcheck experiences (we did one during my time with Taylor Swift!), seminars, etc. It was a very cool and challenging experience, and I became a part of the NY Recording Academy chapter’s staff family, which was one of the very best parts for me!

Did your time heading up that program help you realize your passion for entrepreneurship, or has it always been an interest of yours?

I would say that I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurship bug. I’ve always had really big dreams, and I actually think my time at the Clive Davis Institute was what helped empower those dreams and make me feel that striking out on my own to create something amazing and impactful might really be possible. After graduating and working for a number of companies and learning the industry ropes, I started to really have the itch to work more for myself and create something of my own.

Between your 2011 graduation and your 2018 founding of the organization Women That Rock, you worked primarily in music marketing. What were some of the tools you learned during that time that helped you in founding Women That Rock?

Well, first and foremost, I learned about relationship-building in the music industry and the importance of strong connections and building strong relationships. During my time working at TouchTunes (a very cool digital jukebox network), I really developed a knowledge of social media and digital marketing (everything from how to manage posts to optimizing visuals to creating engaging and message-driven copy). I learned how to work with major labels and their release priorities, I learned tools in how to effectively communicate with graphic designers—I even got some live event production experience there, as I got to work onsite at a number of festival events (TouchTunes’ annual pop-up event at CMA Fest in Nashville, for example). Post-TouchTunes, I did some music supervision for TV, A&R, and executive production work with a recording studio. During that chapter, I learned the tools of communicating effectively with artists and producers about musical direction, optimizing music for advertising, and relationship building with bands and emerging artists!

As mentioned, you founded the music discovery platform Women That Rock in 2018. Where did you find the inspiration for that venture?

Right before I started Women That Rock, I was working with a recording studio in NYC doing some A&R/artist outreach and executive creative production work, and I started to develop a network of emerging musician friends. Knowing about my background in the business, these artists started coming to me for advice about all kinds of career-related things—how to navigate a single release contract with a small label, how to strategize around an upcoming album release, branding, and marketing advice, etc. Many of these artists were womxn, and I saw how hard these indie artists work and how tough it is to break into the industry. Women That Rock started off as just an Instagram page for spotlighting up-and-coming womxn musicians, and the inspiration came from two things: first, my desire to launch something on my own, and second, my desire to help support these amazing emerging womxn artists trying to get their music and their voices out there.

Can you tell us about the mission of Women That Rock?

Absolutely! Women That Rock is a music curation and discovery company dedicated to amplifying the voices of the best-rising womxn in music. Through femme-focused live and virtual music events, Women That Rock connects artists, fans, and brands and creates safe spaces for womxn on stage. Women That Rock also supports and spotlights rising womxn artists through dedicated features on its digital promotion platform, building community and promoting gender equality in the music industry. WTR also celebrates diversity, representing womxn artists of all musical genres, locations, ages, nationalities, and skillsets, and prioritizes the amplification of BIPOC and LGBTQ+/GNC voices.

In addition to your position as the founder of Women That Rock, you’re also an adjunct instructor at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute (CDI) of Recorded Music. What do you enjoy most about teaching?

First, I’ll say that I never envisioned myself being a college professor! It’s honestly been one of the most incredible surprises that’s happened during my career thus far and an ENORMOUS gift. I absolutely love working with young aspiring music moguls and emerging artists. The student talent at CDI is mind-blowing, and to be honest, the students inspire me constantly in my own work and my own goals. What I enjoy most about teaching is, in a way, what I also enjoy most about my work with WTR—supporting the dreams and careers of young emerging talent. Helping students to learn new things and put those skills into practice right before my eyes is unbelievably rewarding, as is sitting down with a young artist and mentoring them on how to take their art and their career to the next level. I also LOVE being back at my alma mater and re-connected in such a profound way with the CDI community, which really does feel like my family.

Do you have plans to go full-time with one role or the other in the future, or are you happy with your current balance between the two?
Currently, I’m loving doing both! Who knows where the career journey will take me, but as of now, I’m fully committed to both roles. And frankly, I feel that one role supports the other and vice versa—my work at CDI supports and informs my work as founder of WTR, and my work with WTR supports and informs what I bring to the table as a professor at CDI!

What advice do you have for young women that are hoping to get involved with music and entrepreneurship as careers?
This is a HUGE question, of course, and I could go on forever! That said, here are a few key advice nuggets:
1. FIND A MENTOR – find someone a few (or many) steps ahead of you that’s doing what you want to be doing in the industry (either as an artist or as a businessperson) and learn from them! Outreach and build one or more relationships with people you can look to for advice, inspiration, and mentorship. Having someone to learn from is key, and if you’re great, that person will likely start to help you or advocate for you as you demonstrate your reliability, candor, and talents!
2. ASK – otherwise known as, “Don’t be afraid to ask!” So many of the opportunities and successes I’ve achieved have been a result of my boldness in going for it and asking for what I want. Once, I found a company I was super interested in and grew the courage to write a thoughtful email to someone in a position of power at that company (who I completely didn’t know) via LinkedIn, and it landed me not only a meeting with her but ultimately a role with the company! If you have an idea or something you want or need, go for it, and ask!
3. LEARN by DOING – whatever it is that you want to do in the music industry, START DOING IT! If you want to be an artist manager, find a young indie artist whose talent you believe in and who needs help, and start to help them! Work on your management skills and make them your first client! If you want to put on live music events, put on a live event! Tap into your community and your networks and figure out how to make it happen! Start DOING the work rather than waiting for the “right” or “perfect” job to come along.