Color of Music Collective was started to amplify the voices of people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals working in the music industry. Created by Mia Van Allen and Carla Hendershot, their goal is to change the lack of representation for these groups in music by uniting their communities - to do this, they’ll be providing free, virtual panels once a week. In this guest post, the Color of Music Collective team shares how the collective came about, some personal stories, their next event and how to get involved.
Carla Hendershot, Co-Founder
Mia and I met when we both interned at Jeff McClusky & Associates and Eventric as social media coordinators in the Summer of 2018. Mia originally hails from Chicago and I am from outside of Detroit, Michigan. I sought out an internship opportunity, being a first-generation college graduate, and not having any previous connections in the music industry. Mia and I had a great time working at Eventric and became quick friends, we were even referred to as ‘the Event-ful duo.’ Since then we have yet to live in the same place at the same time again, although I am trying to recruit her to Nashville. We have kept in contact and have helped each other grow in the industry.
We have always felt that helping others, even those who are just starting in the industry, benefits our growth. We don’t believe in seeing our peers as pure competitors. Building each other up has always opened up more doors for us than holding our cards close to heart. We wanted to start this collective to share this perspective with others on a larger scale. Mia being a person of color and me being a member of the LGBTQ+ community thought we could help overcome some of the under-representation that our communities face by banding together.
Something I wanted to achieve from this panel, and that I have heard echoed in our panelists and from our audience, is the ability to see someone like me leading our industry. Simply seeing someone who I relate to in a powerful position in the music business makes me feel like I can do that too, one day.
Mia Van Allen, Co-Founder
Throughout the beginning of quarantine, I would attend at least two virtual panels a week hosted by other organizations. I really enjoyed them, but would find the topics a bit too broad and I wished there were more people of color and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community in attendance. As a woman of color working in the music industry, I’ve only ever been the only person of color in every work environment throughout my college career. It wasn’t until I started networking on my own, I was able to finally meet people who not only looked like but held senior positions that I hope to have when I get older in the music business. I found it truly inspiring, which is why I wanted LGBTQ+ and POC to be the focus of this collective. I want other people to know there are people who belong to their communities who work in this industry and that they will always look after each other.
Carla and I wanted to keep it fun and light with a different theme to the panel each week. We hope to attract people from all different backgrounds to join us and hopefully give us some ideas of what specifically they want to hear from us. We’re so excited that the organization keeps growing and more people would like to volunteer with us. It really makes our day when more people believe in our same mission.
Emily G. Yankana, Contributor
When Mia came to talk about the idea of forming a collective to amplify POC and LGBTQ+ voices in the music industry I was truly ecstatic. We spent quite some time brainstorming ideas to title the collective and eventually it was decided that it would be called “Color of Music Collective” as it encompasses creating a space for individuals in the music industry to discuss the importance of having representation from the artist level to promotional side to the management side.
I am honored to play a part in this collective in helping to drive our social media efforts and increase our promotional capacity.
Mia has been a longtime friend of mine since college and I knew that working together, alongside Carla would be a game-changer as we are all passionate about lifting up voices in our own communities that look and identify as we do.
We had been preparing for this series for over a month before our first panel. While we’ve had our challenges it has been very rewarding to see the impact we’ve been able to make so far. We’ve started our very own website, learned the ins and outs to hosting a virtual webinar, launched our promotional efforts via social media, brainstormed topics, and spent countless reaching out to our industry contacts to get this ball rolling.
Given the current economic state and the remote environment spurred by the pandemic, It was important for us to keep our panels free and accessible as possible, as we want to create an inclusive environment for us all to learn. Attendees can expect weekly panels from Color of Music Collective centered on topics that should be brought to light more in the music industry featuring panelists who identify as LGBTQ+ or people of color.
The sheer amount of supportive messages from viewers and industry executives who are willing to speak to us has been overwhelming. The work we have put in has been challenging, and our first panel made it all worth it.
To stay tuned on all future virtual events, be sure to sign up for their newsletter and check out their website https://www.colorofmusiccollective.com/ and give them a follow on Instagram @colorofmusiccollective! Their next event will be on Monday, June 15th at 7PM EST on "The Rise in Latin Music and Culture in the U.S, register here.
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