Local organizers connect women in Austin music industry

John Melendez

When UT alumna Tess Cagle and then-public relations senior Jenna Million resettled in Austin this past February, they wanted to connect with women photographers like themselves in the local music scene. What started as a one-time meet-up has now grown into a burgeoning network for women in the Austin music industry.

Womxn in Music ATX is a networking organization that hosts monthly happy hours and meet-ups to support women in the music industry and provide them with job opportunities. The group also distributes monthly newsletters about opportunities for women in music.

Co-founder Cagle said she never thought she’d be a community organizer, but after the first meet-up, attendees wanted to stay in touch and suggested creating a Facebook group.

“It was just an overwhelming response,” Cagle said. “We did happy hour at The Mohawk and 40 people came. This happened organically and, really, by accident.”

This past May, co-founder Million graduated from UT and moved outside the country. Cagle said she was faced with developing the organization without Million. She decided to bring in a small staff of members to help her manage the group.

“I just love (Womxn in Music ATX) so much and have seen so many relationships facilitated through it that we decided to take it more officially,” Cagle said.

The club now facilitates a private Facebook group with over 200 members and hosts its monthly meet-ups at the offices of Musx, an Austin-based music sharing app that partnered with the group. Cagle said at least 30 people attend the monthly happy hours, and more are
attending each time. She said teaching women in the industry how to get paid is most important.

“Music is one of those weird industries where it’s so passion-driven that a lot of times you feel like you shouldn’t be making money off it — but you should,” Cagle said. “You should be able to make a living and continue to live your life and have this be what you do without being in poverty.”

Group member Renee Dominguez attended a happy hour to meet new people while between internships. Along with getting various freelance photography gigs through connections made through the group, she said the casual meet-ups facilitate friendships and a comfortable environment for discussion.

“Being a part of organizations like Womxn in Music helps start that conversation on what we are doing as an industry and why we are struggling so much as women,” Dominguez said.

On Nov. 2, the group held its first public event, the Shiny & New Party. The event was a relaunch celebration of the organization’s name change from Ladies Music Club — ATX to Womxn in Music ATX.

Holley Wright, marketing manager for Womxn in Music ATX, said the name now includes an “x” to better reflect the group’s inclusivity toward non-traditional women-identifying people. She said making the event public helps increase the organization’s visibility as they seek to diversify themselves and continue growing.

“We’re doing this out of our own time, devotion and love for what we do,” Wright said. “It’ll be interesting to see where this goes and who else we bring in to help us out and partner with in the future.”