Madalyn Sklar ~ GoGirlsMusic.com
Last year, I discovered the GoGirlsMusic.com Twitter chat #ggchat. Those chats are hosted by the fabulous Madalyn Sklar. From my very first chat, I met many amazing musicians. Some of those musicians became Amused Now featured artists and guest bloggers. I credit Madalyn with expanding the Amused Now universe, so I asked her to be a featured artist too.
Madalyn founded the wildly successful GoGirlsMusic.com in 1996, and today her organization is stronger than ever. Back in late 1995, “I was married to a techy guy who enlightened me about this new thing, internet and dot-com, and I was completely hooked. What a great place to connect with other people. At the time, I was a guitar player, and I thought maybe I could meet other musicians, especially other female guitar players. ”
At the time, Madalyn was really frustrated with the treatment she received at guitar shops near her home in Houston, TX. She wondered, “Is this because I’m a woman? Is it because I live in the South?” Madalyn wanted to talk to other female guitar players and find out if they have similar experiences. She thought she could use the internet to find other guitarists around the country to talk with, which sparked the idea to start GoGirlsMusic.
Madalyn Sklar was learning web design, so she started building the first site from scratch. “Back in 1995-96, we didn’t have these HTML programs that do all the heavy lifting for you. You had to type code off the top of your head into Notepad. I thought it would be a neat way to learn web development and meet other female musicians, and, gosh, here we are 18 years later: The oldest and largest online community of indie women in music. A lot of inspiration and empowering goes on in the community.”
To put this into perspective, Madalyn Sklar founded GoGirlsMusic before Facebook, before Twitter, before message boards and forums. “What’s so cool is that I developed a social network, before we even knew what a social network was. It’s so interesting when you look back. In the early days, it was just email. You had a static page and you could direct people to an email address. In the first 2 years, it was just emailing back-and-forth. I would take information from people and post it on the website.”
The turning point for GoGirlsMusic was in 1998, “We got hooked up with Yahoo! Groups, an amazing place that was like a message board. I set it up and directed everybody to this group. When you sent out an email, it would go to everybody that signed up. People would post ‘I’m touring across the country and I’m looking venues to contact and acts to open for while I’m on tour.’ I had people report back to me and tell me they put together a national tour and a lot of it was done through your group.”
The community grows and stays relevant, because Madalyn Sklar works hard to stay relevant. “I read a lot of blogs. I read lots of newsletters. When everybody is sleeping at 2 o’clock in the morning, I’m usually up learning how to use the newest coolest app or reading articles about the newest social network. I’m always eager to learn how to keep things moving along and how to stay ahead of the curve.”
GoGirlsMusic.com offers an elite membership program, which Madalyn started in 2002. She waited before offering a program where she charged money, because “I was hearing people getting disgruntled with some of the other groups, saying ‘they don’t do anything for me.’ I’m such a people pleaser, I didn’t want anybody saying anything about me like that. I like to over deliver in everything I do. In 2002, I only charged $35 a year. Here we are in 2014, and I’ve never raised the price. All the members of GoGirls Elite have the ability to submit to any of our showcase events around the world. We have private Facebook groups, Skype chats, Google+ Hangouts and all kinds of events that are specifically for our members.”
Men can join GoGirls Elite too. The only requirement to join GoGirls Elite is to have one female member in the group.
Madalyn Sklar also offers one-on-one indie music business consulting. “With GoGirlsMusic, I help members as a whole. More and more people started coming to me and asking, ‘Can you just help me with this problem or this issue?’ I started getting all this need for one-on-one help, so I decided to start putting myself out there as a music business coach. I officially launched that part of my business in 2004.” For those interested in Madalyn’s business coaching services, go to MadalynSklar.com.
Madalyn loves one-on-one coaching. “Musicians are so creative, but a lot of musicians are not very business savvy. They need help with the mindset of treating your music as a business. I counsel them to treat this as a business: go setup a business checking account at your bank and go get a PO Box. Many times, just by doing this, the artist reports back to me, ‘Wow! I’m starting to get better paying gigs. I’m starting to feel better about business.’ It’s because they’re changing their mindset. It’s really cool watching artists take flight with that.”
Of course, I met Madalyn Sklar and her GoGirls on the Twitter #ggchat, which is every Thursday at 6 pm PT / 9 pm ET. Madalyn had to add a daytime #ggchat, because people overseas in Europe were saying, “Hey! What about us?” In January, Madalyn added a daytime chat, which is at noon PT / 3 pm ET.
Madalyn Sklar started #ggchat three years ago. She runs the chats every Thursday, holidays included. “I meet great people on there: musicians and music business professionals. It’s for everybody in the music business, not just the women. We have so many guys come on that don’t have girls in their band, and I’m totally cool with that.”
#ggchat is the largest musicians’ Twitter chat. There are no other chats like it. “It’s amazing to get on Twitter and be able to reach so many people. I encourage everybody to at least come on and say, ‘Hi.’ We are such a warm, welcoming bunch that if you just introduce yourself, you’re going to get some instant friends and get all these people following you on Twitter. It’s such a wonderful feeling to get that instant connection by participating.”
I agree. #ggchat is wonderful. Madalyn Sklar is wonderful. Join us!
Watch the video interview on the Amused Now YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/wLXqIuKSPUk
Amused Now Featured Artist Series