Since 2012, the Small Business Administration has celebrated National Women’s Small Business Month. As a woman-owned small business ourselves, Center Stage Music Center would like to take a moment to briefly highlight our own inception and mission, along with other women-owned businesses in the music industry.
Nearly 13 million of the 33.2 million small businesses in the United States are owned by women; 50 percent of women-owned small businesses are owned by women of color. Employing almost 10 million people nationally, these businesses are an important part of American society, supporting local communities and economies on the daily.
Despite being a historically male-dominated field, there is also a long history of women-owned businesses in the music industry. For example, in 1979, Syliva Robinson co-founded Sugar Hill Records and produced the song that introduced hip hop music to a wider audience, “Rapper’s Delight.” Women in the business world have contributed throughout history to facilitate the creation of some of your favorite genres of music, through the helming of small record labels, the invention of sound technology, and the printing and sale of vinyls across the United States and globe.
For women in the music industry, owning their own business has been crucial to the proper execution of their creative visions. “[Owning this business] allow[ed] me to be creative daily, and to not be confined by things such as rules and politics. I have a blank canvas in front of me every day and am able to create a new painting,” Center Stage’s Owner and Director, Veronica, has said.
In particular, Center Stage Music Center was founded in 2011 by the then-26 year old Veronica’s desire to “provide a place where students would feel comfortable learning Bach as well as Guns ‘n Roses…to help raise a generation of well-rounded musicians, and give anyone an opportunity to have music in their lives.” Passionate about music education, Center Stage continues to facilitate music lessons to almost 800 students, in-studio at our Westbury and Massapequa Park locations, virtually, and domestically at students’ homes. Our Assistant Director, Angela, has said “music is a lifestyle and we want our students to be introduced and immersed in the music culture.” And Center Stage continues to do just that.
Today, several woman-owned small record labels also continue to showcase entrepreneurial women in the music industry, who connect with their local communities on various projects. For example, independent Cafe Rooster Records is owned by Sally Jaye Smithwick, and fosters a roster of Americana, Rock N’ Roll, and Punk artists. Suzi Analogue founded Never Normal Records, which focuses on “building something that is culturally connected, and building a new history for electronic music” (as quoted in i-D). Furthermore, the record label APOCALIPIS was founded by Riobamba, and has worked on music education partnerships with The Loisaida Center, Abrons Arts Center, Sonic Arts for All, and the Brooklyn juvenile detention center.
In New York specifically, women-owned record stores, such as Vinyl Fantasy Records and Comics and Record Archive, continue to keep vinyl alive. In Houston, Texas, Serious Sounds, Etc. was founded in 1991 by the then-25 Marketta R. Rodriguez, who sought to rectify the absence of record shops in her community. In Phoenix, Arizona, Stinkweeks was founded in 1987 by the then-19 year old Kimber Lanning, who has since focused on fostering the development of other small businesses in the local area.
This month, we encourage students and families to read more about the history of women in the music business/industry here: (HER)story of Women in the Vinyl Industry.
Additionally, please continue to support your local women-owned small businesses through your patronage of Center Stage and other such amazing local spots!! (Don't forget to VOTE FOR US for Best of Long Island!) Perhaps take the time this month to imagine what your ideal small business would look like. It all starts with a dream!