As a a songwriter, artist, music producer, and music business professional, you can’t put Jen Miller in a box. I’m happy to interview her about her project Girl Gang Music. Despite her different roles in the music business, she feels that “there’s a strong desire to put women into a box”. That’s partly why she started Girl Gang Music.
Jen, how did you become involved in the music industry?
I am a self-taught independent songwriter and music producer, originally from Columbus, Ohio. I started my career in college when I toured with a folk band across the U.S. and simultaneously got my degrees in Political Science/Psychology from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. I moved to DC after graduation to work in political communications, specifically speech-writing, and ended up doing that during the day, but learning the ropes of production and studio work at a studio in DC called House Studios. I’ve now produced songs for other artists as well as taken to doing my own music. You can see my formal bio here if you want any other details.
Can you describe Girl Gang Music?
Gang Music is a curated community and network of women and non-binary humans within the music industry. We are songwriters, artists, producers, journalists, photographers, managers, agents, instrumentalists, and innovators within the industry.
Girl Gang Music’s mission is to promote female inclusion in all aspects of the industry, to celebrate women who are already thriving in music, and, ultimately, to develop a pipeline for girls and young women to confidently get involved in music through mentorship and community.
I actually wrote more about this idea in depth here if you are interested.
Why did you start it?
The main thought behind the creation of GGM was that I’d be no where without people who help for no reason. And I want to convene more people who help others for no reason. This is a great place to do that.
What struggles do you encounter, as a woman in the music business?
In each of the roles I have (artist/producer/professional), I experienced unique challenges, from unprofessional interactions with men in the studio (them hitting on me while I am paid to be there, etc.) to the subtle way everyone hears my music and assumes I am “only singing” (when I have actually produced and written the whole cut).
How do/did you deal with it?
I find these struggles to be teaching moments. I want to push everyone around me, directly, to think about these assumptions we make about each other. If I think an exchange is out of bound, I dive into that discomfort with lightheartedness but also clarity, so a) the other person is aware of how it made me feel and b) so I can see if this person is someone I want to continue working with. Talking about it is everything. People cannot understand another person’s experience if it is not their own.
- Promote female inclusion in all aspects of the music industry;
- Connect women already killing it on the creative and business side of the music industry in all capacities;
- Celebrate and connect women and non-binary individuals already thriving in music (on the creative and business side of the music industry) in all capacities and;
- To develop a pipeline for girls and young women to confidently get involved in music through mentorship, community, and shared experience.
What advice you would give to other women in the music business?
My advice to women in the industry is to trust your gut.
You do not need to explain yourself if something “feels right” with your own song, and you shouldn’t be talked into doubting yourself. If your gut says, “make this”, listen. Right now. If your gut says, “I don’t feel safe with this person”, then by all means, trust it. You’re not crazy for trusting things you can’t always see, feel, hear, explain.
Your gut will guide you to a place of happiness and professional security, too.
Thank you for this great initiative and for your interview, Jen.