Meet The Women Dominating In The Colorado Music Industry

March 15, 2021

Throughout March, Indie 102.3 has been celebrating women identifying people in music on air, both in the local music scene and around the world. You're getting a deeper dive into the familiar artists you already know and love, as well as new acts we think you need to know. Also this month, you're discovering some of the amazing women of the Colorado music scene with the Local 303

What about the women on the other side of the mic? Who are the promoters, engineers, and photographers?

We reached out to four local women in our music community, across different fields - Kim Baxter, Sound Engineer at Hi Dive (among many things), Christine Sanley, AAA Radio Promoter with Co-Sign, Christian Hee, Senior Marketing Manager with Z2 Entertainment, and Nikki Rae, photographer and General Manager of Do303.

Read more about just a few of the amazing women in the local music scene, and check out the ridiculously fire playlist below!

Kim Baxter

Kim Baxter
Photo: James Jonesy Wilcox
What do you do in the music industry:
Live sound for about 6 years, starting at Hi-Dive. Drums since around ‘06. 

Why does representation matter?
It matters because it affects if and how we are seen and talked about.  It can give us more authority over the discourse about ourselves, and it sets an example for others, whether it’s young people or our peers in the music community or otherwise.  

How can folks support women in the music industry? 
Treat us the same.  Hire us because we’re good for the job.  Get to a point where we are sound engineers and musicians, not female sound engineers or female musicians. Other than that, support us the same way you would support anyone in this industry:  come to shows (when it is safe), buy music and other merch, and spread the word about artists you like. 

Tell us an empowering moment for you:
When I was new to sound, a few really kind and optimistic people hired me, and were patient and supportive while I figured out how to do my job.  When I have questions there are people I can always reach out to for advice and education.  People have been willing to help me make progress, which continues to give me self-confidence, and excitement for my job.  

Is there a Colorado artist you’d like to spotlight that our listeners might enjoy?
Down Time.  Their music is dreamy and smart, and they are fantastic people. 

5 of your favorite new/all time/anything songs, any genre:
Aretha Franklin - I Say a Little Prayer
Kendrick Lamar - Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
Bob Dylan - Oh, Sister
Jimi Hendrix - Bold As Love
Down Time - Waiting

Christine Sanley

Christine Sanley
Courtesy of guest
What do you do in the music industry:
I am the Director of AAA Radio Promotion at co-sign, an independent artist development agency that specializes in radio promotion, licensing and brand strategy. In this role, I work with AAA stations across the country, working on getting records added to rotation, setting up sessions and interviews, features, etc. Basically, I get to talk about music all day every day and have the distinct pleasure of working with some INCREDIBLE musicians whom I adore.

I’ve always been driven by music, and when I discovered my college radio station at Saint Louis University, I knew that’s what I wanted to be involved in. After DJing on air, music directing at my college station (KSLU), and interning at a community station (KDHX), I hopped to the other side of the mic and phone to work in promotion. I started with college radio promo, and have now been focused on the AAA format for almost a decade now.

Why does representation matter?
This is ESPECIALLY important in the radio sphere. This medium has forever been dominated by men, from the hosts presenting the music, to the artists that are being played. To this day, it’s an uphill battle that we are continuing to fight. I was speaking with some other women in radio just the other day, and one thing that was brought up … if you played an hour of only women's voices on the radio, it would sound like a specialty show. If you played an hour of only men’s voices on the radio it would sound like … radio. And we as listeners are then conditioned to believe that is OKAY. When it very much is not. Gender parity is so incredibly important. An aspiring musician should be able to hear folks that sound and look like them, and see folks like themselves being supported and uplifted by radio. A station should sound like the community it is serving.

How can folks support women in the music industry?
Oh wowza, where do I begin … Women supporting each other is paramount. We need to uplift each other, celebrate our victories, join together to face challenges and help create safe spaces to discuss all of these occasions, and everything in between. And for everyone … pay attention! Be informed. Ask the hard questions. Demand better of your companies, organizations, etc. This spans from representation to pay gaps, and this burden cannot and should not always fall on the shoulders of women themselves. We need allies to be a big part of the conversation.

Tell us an empowering moment for you:
A truly empowering moment was at a conference in 2019, when I was asked to speak on a panel with some inspiring women — Cheryl Waters (KEXP), Talia Schlanger (World Cafe, CBC), Adia Victoria (musician), Shannon Kurlander (Terrorbird) — about the unique challenges we face in the industry as women. We were able to share our experiences and perspective with the AAA radio world, and through this spark continued conversations about inclusion, gender parity, and how we can work TOGETHER to make improvements. The response from men and women alike that attended the panel was overwhelming, and gave us a lot of hope for the moves we can make in the years to come (goddess willing). 

Is there a Colorado artist you’d like to spotlight that our listeners might enjoy?
Well, thanks to Indie 102.3, I was introduced to POWERHOUSE Britney Jane. I’m currently hooked on her single “What If” and can’t wait to hear more.

5 of your favorite new/all time/anything songs, any genre:
Flock of Dimes - “Two”
Valerie June - “Call Me A Fool” feat. Carla Thomas
Arlo Parks - “Hurt”
Bomba Estereo - “Deja”
Hand Habits - “4th of July"

Christian Hee

Christian Hee
Courtesy of guest
What do you do in the music industry:
As Senior Marketing Manager of Z2 Entertainment (Boulder Theater, Fox Theatre, Aggie Theatre), my job is to encourage folks to see live music! Eight years ago, in my senior year at CU Boulder and in need of internship credit, I got my first taste of the music industry as a publicity intern for boutique music management company United Interests. I had no idea it would lead me to a full-time career in sharing music with people. Shout out to my very first supervisor, Annie Rix, for sparking this passion!

Why does representation matter?
More women, more people of color, more LGBTQ+ folks in powerful positions in the music industry will broaden our perspectives and allow us to provide better products, services, and experiences for our customers and clients. More importantly, an increase of representation will result in less violence, harassment, and microaggressions toward folks who have traditionally been deemed inferior or unfamiliar–not just in our industry, but in life.

How can folks support women in the music industry?

Hire, book, and recommend more female-identifying folks! For every man at the top of any list you have, do your research and find a woman to accompany him. To start, look up your favorite male musicians on Spotify and see who else pops up under similar artists. This has been one of my favorite ways to discover more music from women of color, lately.

Tell us an empowering moment for you:
Giving my dad a tour of the famous tunnel before Elephant Revival's second headlining Red Rocks show, back when I was their publicist and marketing manager. I even made an on-stage appearance that night! I really just spun an aerialist duo at the start of their routine, and I was so nervous to be in front of so many people that I awkwardly ran off the stage as fast as I could.

Is there a Colorado artist you’d like to spotlight that our listeners might enjoy?
My current Colorado favorite is Ramakhandra. How many bands do you know that feature the harp?! We had them open for EOTO at the Fox last year, before the pandemic. I'm looking forward to the day the Fox reopens and we can have them back for a headlining show!

5 of your favorite new/all time/anything songs, any genre:
"snakes x elephants" by Fana Hues
"Toxicity" by SASAMI
"...baby one more time" by The Marías
"Ex E Ex" by LYZZA
"Find Your Way Home" by Octo Octa

Nikki Rae

What do you do in the music industry (please expand on how and when you got started)
I am a Denver-based photographer, primarily known for my live music and event work. Regardless of what I shoot, I am always looking for the same thing - the connection between people. 

In 2013, I attended my first UMS and was blown away by the talent and how supportive the scene felt - artists hyping each other, playing in each other’s sets, etc. and I knew I wanted to be part of that. The next year, despite having a crappy camera and no music experience, I was accepted to the team and I was hooked (a huge thank you to Hans Watson, who took that chance on me and literally changed my life). By 2016, I was helping to run the photo teams for UMS and Sofar Denver, as well as shooting for National Western, and I’m so lucky to still work with all three of those organizations today. 

For the past year and a half, I’ve also had the privilege of running Do303, where we get to help connect people with all of the best things to do, businesses and local talent to support, and causes they should care about in Denver.

Why does representation matter?
It’s so painfully simple - if no one looks like you, you don’t picture yourself in that space, and if no one with your values, concerns, or experiences has a seat at the table, those things go unconsidered and unanswered. It’s not just allocating a seat on the board or checking a box on the diversity form - actually embracing other ways of being successful, allowing for different management styles, and getting real honest about where our weaknesses lie as individuals and businesses are how we enact real change.

How can folks support women in the music industry?
Seek out, mentor, and develop talent. Hire us, promote us, recommend us. Ask us what we need, and ask what we can bring to the table. Pay us what we’re worth. 

Tell us an empowering moment for you (work-related or not):
6 years ago, I left a very successful, more traditional career to reinvent myself. I hit this crossroads, and I realized if I didn’t take a chance now, I probably never would. I took a year off and traveled solo, celebrating Holi in India, paragliding in Nepal, island hopping through Croatia, falling in love in Bosnia, touring with a musician friend in Germany. I came home, drowned my imposter syndrome, and got serious about starting a photography business. I lucked into this role at Do303 that lets me bring together my passion for music and community in a new way. 

TL;DR: It’s healthy to shed your skin every now and again and try new things. You might find that you’ve accidentally created the perfect life for yourself.

Is there a Colorado artist you’d like to spotlight that our listeners might enjoy?
I was just in the studio with Megan Burtt last week as she worked on a new album (stay tuned - it’s good stuff!). She’s someone who has always impressed me. She’s an incredible singer, songwriter, and performer in her own right, and I think she really shines when collaborating with others - she’s got this great knack for being able to adapt her voice to match anyone’s style and when she produces or teaches, she has this wonderful ability to pull out the best in other musicians.
 
5 of your favorite new/all time/anything songs, any genre (please list Artist & Title):
Is there a more perfect time to shine a spotlight on more of our talented Colorado women?
Megan Burtt, “Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” 
Brianna Straut, “Steady as She Goes”
The Still Tide, “Keep It”
YaSi, “Guilty”
Heavy Diamond Ring, “Wild Things”

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