Madalyn Sklar founded GoGirls back in 1996, “when the internet was new,” as she says. The organization, billed as a resource for promoting women in music, started with a humble, yet meaningful, goal. Says Sklar, “I thought it would really be cool to start a community where female musicians could come together and not feel so alone in the music business.”
Envisioned as a resource to facilitate connections among independent women musicians, GoGirls really took off in 1998, with the advent of Yahoo chat rooms. Since then, the organization has consistently been at the forefront of developments in media and technology. Sklar, a self-described “techie in the music business,” joined Twitter at the beginning and founded a weekly music business chat with the tag #ggchat two and a half years ago. (The chat happens twice every Thursday at 3pm and 9pm EST.) Though it was originally meant to cater to up-and-coming women artists, the chat regularly attracts a wide-ranging group of musicians and industry professionals—in part because, to Sklar’s knowledge, it is the only Twitter chat of its kind. “Nobody else is doing a music business chat. It just blows me away.”
True to form, GoGirls will be one of the first to broadcast their South By Southwest showcase on Concert Window. The unofficial showcase, called “Invasion of the GoGirls!” is in its 14th year. (Naturally, Sklar was one of the first concert promoters to present a showcase outside of the sanctioned festival lineup; today, these myriad “unofficial” showcases are a hallmark of South By Southwest.) 44 independent women musicians and female-fronted bands will take the stage at Austin Java over the course of three days, from March 13 to 15. Viewers at home can pay as little as a dollar to tune in.
The selection process for the GoGirls South By Southwest showcase was open to all GoGirls Elite members, who pay $35 a year for access to GoGirls showcase opportunities and various networking tools. The only criteria for making it into the showcase, says Sklar, was that the musicians be good—relative fame or success were not a factor.
Though GoGirls members tend to skew towards the singer-songwriter persuasion, the showcase features some notable exceptions. Dallas-based hip hop and spoken word artist ShySpeaks, who boasts a husky, silver-tongued flow, will perform at noon on Sat. March 15. The Dollyrots, a pop-punk band from Los Angeles with a devoted following and a wicked sense of humor, will play a stripped-down acoustic set at 3 p.m. on Sat. March 15. Trumpet Grrrl, a New York City-based vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, will play trumpet and keyboard--simultaneously--during her set at 7:30 p.m. on Fri. March 14.
The GoGirls South By Southwest showcase has been broadcast online in previous years, but Sklar switched over to Concert Window because it does not feature disruptive pop-up ads like similar services. “I’m so excited about using Concert Window, that I’m also launching a new GoGirls webcast series. I’m calling it GoGirls Live,” she says. If Sklar’s track record is any indication, everyone else will soon follow suit.