Music Biz Besties is turning two (& survey)

Feel free to grab a coffee or glass of wine and settle in for this read because I have a lot to share.

This November, Music Biz Besties will be turning two! Sometimes it seems like I started the Facebook group yesterday and sometimes it feels like we really have been going strong for a couple years.

That said, I have a couple questions for you about what YOU want to see Music Biz Besties do and become as we move forward. I have some grand ideas and a big vision, but first I want to see if you're on board.

Music Biz Besties meetup at Katherine's house with guests April Kry and Katie Kaupp

Music Biz Besties meetup at Katherine's house with guests April Kry and Katie Kaupp

Let's back up real quick though to 2016 and the beginning of Music Biz Besties...

A little background on my personal and business life might help this all make sense. So, the spring of 2016 is when I started getting serious about taking on my own clients with the intention to eventually work full-time for myself. I was working in artist management with an amazing lady named Denise Stiff who supported me in every way possible. I moved into an empty office across the hall from her and started splitting my time between working for her and working for clients of my own. (I couldn't have asked for a better way to get my business started).

In July I switched from working as "Katherine Forbes" to going all in and naming my business / freelancing / side-hustle (whatever you want to call it) what was originally just the tagline of my blog, "Designing the Row," because it had caught on and friends had starting asking me how "Designing the Row" was going!

In August (still talking about 2016) my husband was diagnosed with cancer and went in for surgery two days later (he's been cancer-free since then). Come to find out, Denise had fallen at the gym and broken her shoulder that same day and didn’t tell me until she went in for surgery that next week! (Denise!!)

Then in September I was really working a lot more for myself sense Denise was taking her time to recover. I was also doing a lot of prep work as I was co-producer for the upcoming IBMA Awards Show later that month (with my friend Amy Reitnour of The Bluegrass Situation). Things were really picking up (and thankfully looking up for everyone’s health) and it was great! So what did Chris (my husband) and I decide to do? Sell our house and move! Let’s just add another really stressful thing to the list, right!?

I got the call from Chris right after I arrived in North Carolina for the Awards Show that we’d gotten an offer on our house! So as soon as I got home it was go time - time to start packing! And let me tell you, packing and moving while trying to start a business is no joke. When you’re starting a business, it takes up a lot time. And even when you’re not actually working, you’re thinking about working. At least that’s how it was - and still is - for me!

At the end of October we moved into our new house and a week later I went to Palm Springs, CA for a retreat called Designer Vaca (something I had registered for back in July when life was much calmer). It really couldn’t have come at a better time though. I’d been focusing SO much time and energy on getting new clients, working with those clients, thinking and working on growing my new business, and dealing with all the personal curve balls that were thrown in the mix too.

Designer Vaca gave me space to relax and unwind but to also channel my designer side for once (instead of only music all the time)... and it has probably been one of the best things that has happened for my career! Unlike most retreats or conferences, this “vaca” was all about spending time as a community. There were definitely some planned workshops and speakers, but for the most part it was all about getting together and hanging out with other designers (by the pool with margaritas in November I might add - amazing)!

Getting back home to Nashville from Palm Springs gave me a lot of “quiet” time to think (although my layover at the Vegas airport was not quiet by any means). On my final flight home I opened a Google doc and started brain dumping and that’s when the idea for Music Biz Besties was born!

You’ve probably heard me say before that I thought Music Biz Besties would be a small group of Nashville music industry women. The goal was to create a safe space online to encourage each other, ask questions, get/give advice, and to not feel so alone while freelancing… kinda like what I had just gotten in-person at Designer Vaca, but an online-community-music-industry version.

WELL… in less than a week, the Music Biz Besties Facebook group grew to over 300 members!

Some of the crew from the first Nashville Bestie Meetup at Chuy's in midtown

Some of the crew from the first Nashville Bestie Meetup at Chuy's in midtown

Quickly my ideas for what the group would be and become changed. It didn’t take long to notice that people from all over the world were joining the group. So I started collecting everyone’s information with the intention to launch a website directory so members could get in touch with others in their area or have a resource of “Besties” to reach out to when traveling to other cities or to refer to when looking to hire freelancers.

The Bestie Directory launched in January (now we’re into 2017) and a day later I decided to add a Job Forum element to the new website. The Job Forum instantly became a big hit (and still is the most popular part of the website)! That was also the month I hosted the first Nashville meetup and I can’t tell you how happy it made me that night to fill up a long table of Besties at Chuy’s.

And that’s how it all got started… what I was feeling and going through when I got the idea to start Music Biz Besties… how it took off immediately because others were craving the same safe space I was… and what I did to organically add resources and other elements to help members connect and grow their careers…

Since then I’ve started a Bestie Blog, paid Bestie Membership, monthly songwriter series, an Instagram presence, brought on a Community Coordinator, hosted workshop events, teamed up with organizations like the Music Business Association, Soundfly, and Women in Music, and have partnered with Bestie members to have Bestie Meetups in cities like London and New York.

And now? Now I’m ready to take Music Biz Besties to the next level… but I need to hear from you!

I have ideas. Lots of ideas. But this community isn’t for me, it’s for you, all of you! There’s no point in creating resources or events if you aren’t interested.

So what I want to know from you is: are you happy with keeping Music Biz Besties the way it is OR do you want to join me and be part of growing this community into something even bigger and stronger to not only represent young women in the industry but to also be an outlet to educate, connect, and encourage others?

Here's What we’ve got going on now…

  • Free Facebook group to connect young women in music from all over the world

  • Free monthly Nashville songwriter series to feature local singer-songwriters

  • Free Job Forum updated weekly

  • Free Bestie Directory to share contact information, connect with others, and be a place online to advertise your skills

  • Free Nashville meetups and networking events (with occasional meetups in other cities in 2017)

  • Free Bestie Blog access

  • Free Bestie Chat guest video interview series

  • Free Spotify playlist placement

  • Free webinar/workshop series

  • Paid Bestie Membership with new monthly resources and weekly accountability emails

It keeps me busy! That’s for sure. I’m lucky to have Tori Martin as a co-host on the songwriter series and Becca Bradley as the Community Coordinator to help me with the membership and blog… but operating like this, I’m investing more money into Music Biz Besties than it’s making... it's essentially powered by my business, Designing the Row.

A couple weeks ago I casually shared an idea with some Besties like, “one day I want Besties to…” and their reaction surprised me! In a great way! It really made me take a look at what I’ve got going on and question why I’m not taking action to get to that higher level I’m keeping locked up in my mind.

Want to hear my idea?

I told them that one day I’d love to fund a Music Biz Besties compilation album. To fund the recording, production, marketing, distribution, and all that goes along with releasing an album!

They were like, “woah!”

I just thought, well yeah!? In my mind I’m here to support you all in your music careers, and that’s a given! Why wouldn’t I do something like this!? But I’ve realized that right now Music Biz Besties is just a free Facebook group with lots of other free added perks. Obviously I knew that, but I haven’t given any of you any idea that I want it to be more! SO here I am… telling you my dreams for this community in hopes that you get excited about my vision too.

In my mind, here’s what Music Biz Besties could grow to be…

(But be prepared, some of these ideas are very long term ideas while others could be achieved in the next few months!)

Everything listed above in our current version of MBB would continue and we could start incorporating some of these new ideas to not only level-up as a community but to help further the careers of members individually as well.

  • Record and release an album of Bestie songwriters, making MBB a record label. The whole premise behind MBB is that we are stronger together! Of course artists need to release music on their own but why can’t MBB be a new and different way to help artists grow their audience, give funding to artists for releasing music, be the machine to handle marketing and promotion!? Plus, it just sounds FUN!

  • If MBB became a label, we would need employees! I don’t want to just post jobs in a forum, I want to CREATE jobs!

  • Along with jobs… there are a lot of artists in the group who need booking/management representation… and there are agents and managers in the group SO why not create a MBB Agency? We’re here to collaborate and support each other right? Working together in this capacity would take that to a whole new level.

  • I also want to grow the depth of the Job Forum by making contacts in HR departments to get exclusive access to job listings. More listings in more cities with more companies represented.

  • Host official MBB events in cities other than Nashville! Ever wonder what the top cities repped in the Facebook group are? Nashville, NYC, Los Angeles, London, Chicago, Austin, Toronto, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Denver.

  • MBB has a lot of college members and I frequently get asked “how do I get started in the music industry!?” I majored in piano performance and music technology myself and knew nothing about the industry or where to get started when I graduated which is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about helping others get started! After over 7 years of figuring it out on my own, I’ve put together a variety of workshops specifically for college students with the mission to help you get started before you graduate. It’s possible. I want to help show you that!

  • Give scholarships! Let’s be real… making money doesn’t exactly come easy in the music industry. I want Music Biz Besties to help with that! Whether that’s giving scholarships to college music students. Giving a scholarship to recent grads. Giving funding for Bestie hosted events. Giving scholarships to help fund records. Giving scholarships to help fund tours. Giving funding to help Bestie business startups. The giving possibilities are endless!

  • Host retreats! Similar to the Designer Vaca I told you about… how fun would an all-female music getaway be!?

  • Open a location on Music Row to serve as songwriter space, co-working space, MMB HQ, event space. Ok, I know this is a very long term goal but you better bet I already have it all planned out in my mind!

  • Giveaways: concert tickets, conference and event passes, music gear. I can giveaway things people give me for free but wouldn’t it be fun to have exclusive access to music events or to win a new guitar?

  • Assist with relocation and finding a place to live in Nashville! I currently delete any posts in the group about housing (sorry, the group has people based all over the world and I don’t want it to become the place to go to find Nashville roommates). BUT what if I could secure Music Biz Besties discounts at apartment complexes or host a “Welcome to Nashville” Meetup every quarter where you could come to find roommates, learn about the Nashville neighborhoods, and more?

  • Buy food / drink at songwriter series because what’s better than free food or an open bar?

Now that you’ve heard my bigger vision for Music Biz Besties, I’d LOVE (need) your input.

What resources are you currently taking advantage of?
Select as many as apply.
What ideas would you love to see come to life?
Select as many as you'd like!
Would you be willing to contribute financially?
Select ideas you could honestly get behind.
Leave your name/email here if you'd like me to reach out to have a conversation about getting more involved in Music Biz Besties!

Want to help Music Biz Besties get to the next level?

SHARE this post or invite your friends to the Facebook group... right now!

Get Music Biz Besties news, career inspiration, & event updates straight to your inbox!

Katherine Forbes | Nashville website designer

Katherine Forbes

Founder of Designing the Row and Creator of Music Biz Besties

A Music City girl obsessed with creating confidence in my clients through design, branding, marketing, and community. In today’s world, your visual branding and online presence will either make or break you. I’ve got my Diet Coke in hand and am ready to get started on your next project.

Want to keep reading? Girl, we got you covered!

Follow @musicbizbesties on Instagram