I recently had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Tara Low. She is the creative Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Guitar Girl Magazine– the ezine that showcases and inspires female guitarists from around the world. Low started Guitar Girl Magazine in 2012 to give a voice to female musicians. Her dedication to shining a spotlight on women and girl guitarists has made Guitar Girl Magazine one of the most popular sites for female guitarists and their fans. Read our interview to learn more about her amazing success story!
Q: Hello! Please tell us about yourself and your magazine company.
A: I’ve been around the arts almost my whole life. When I was six, I started dance and later became part of a jazz dance troupe that traveled throughout the Southeast. In school, I was in orchestra and played violin and cello. When I got married and had children, my focus changed to raising a family. I wanted my children to have the same experience I had, so I got them involved in music from a very young age.
My husband plays guitar, a little bass, and drums, so our house has always been full of musical instruments. It just became natural for our children to gravitate towards these instruments. They began taking music lessons when in elementary school and continued throughout high school and college, performing in jazz band and marching band, and having their own garage bands. One child even went to college on a full music scholarship and taught after college. We were always the “go to” house for their friends! You know, band practice!! Our neighbors weren’t too happy, but I was always supportive of their musical endeavors. I spent years following them around from venue to venue throughout Southern California.
In 2009, my husband’s guitar teacher invited us to NAMM, which is like a candy store for musicians! It’s a huge convention for the music industry held twice a year – the winter show is the “BIG ONE” and is held in Anaheim, CA and the smaller summer show takes place in Nashville, TN. Every major musical manufacturer throughout the world is there and retailers and music industry executives attend to see the “latest and greatest” music gear.
We were hooked. We became a dealer with some of the guitar and accessories manufacturers and sold our goods at the music instructor’s shop; we also opened an online store. It was then, that Guitar It Up for Girls was born! We sold guitars, straps, strings, accessories, and jewelry for female musicians. Along with the shop, we had a blog where we featured up-and-coming female guitar and bass players and posted music and gear news.
The response to the featured artists and blog section was overwhelming and the feedback we received from our female customers was that they did not feel like they got the respect they deserved as musicians; they felt intimidated in front of all-guy musicians. It occurred to me that female guitar players needed a forum where they could get proper attention and respect, and where they could get up to speed on the latest equipment and learn from other female artists. That was my “ah ha!” moment and that’s when I decided to separate the two and in early 2012, launched Guitar Girl Magazine.
Q: What inspired you to start Guitar Girl Magazine?
A: The feedback I received from our customers and featured artists all had a common theme. As I mentioned, the majority felt uncomfortable at the big-box stores based on the lack of respect they were given by the sales people. They weren’t there to buy a guitar for their boyfriend or husband – they were there for themselves and they wanted to be treated like a player. They also felt that females weren’t treated the same in the music industry. You’ve probably seen the guitar calendars with scantily clad women that are obviously models and not guitar players, and heard comments like “you’re good for a girl.” The guitar industry was a male dominated industry and the magazines focused mainly on them. You noticed I said “was”? Things are changing!
Women want to be respected. They want exposure. So, I became the platform for them. It’s all about encouraging, empowering, and promoting these talented ladies.
Q: Why is it so important to tell the stories of women musicians?
A: The guitar industry has been a male dominated industry for years. There have always been great female guitar players, it’s just they weren’t given the same exposure as the guys. I’m not saying they were completely ignored, but their exposure just wasn’t the same. Today, there are some great organizations out there that are empowering female musicians, and women in general. Social media is making a huge impact as well. For example, look at YouTube. There are so many female guitar players and young girls on there that can really play! I mean, just look at the girl tribute bands to male acts from the ‘60s through the ‘80s. They play and sing those hits note by note and sometimes sound better than the originals! While not a Beatles tribute band, one that jumps to mind is The MonaLisa Twins and their salute to the Beatles. They have it down from the great Beatles leads and riffs to the three-part harmony on vocals!
I think it’s important for the next generation of female musicians to know there are many great female role models out there for them to look up to, and to know that you too can do it!
Q: What is the most challenging aspect about running your company?
A: One of my biggest challenges so far is trying to keep up with all the music news and interview requests. That’s a good problem! Also, finding good, quality writers. I have several that are my regular contributors and I couldn’t survive without them. Another major challenge has been technology. My site has been hacked twice this year, so I’m taking extra steps to back up data and am having the site monitored by a cybersecurity company. One other challenge is mastering social media to grow our presence exponentially, a costly and challenging endeavor to say the least, but we are making great progress and we are growing and expanding every day!
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your company?
A: It’s so fulfilling when I get emails from readers thanking me for being a voice for female artists or from women who send pictures of themselves with their gear while performing on stage. I had a customer several years ago who bought guitars and gear for his two young daughters and to this day he still emails me photos of them and it’s great to see how they’ve progressed and grown. That makes me feel good!
Q: Any expert tips for “guitar girls” out there?
A: From listening to the artists we’ve interviewed who have been there, the thing I hear most often is “believe in yourself.” Be determined, perfect your craft, have thick skin, and don’t take no for an answer. It’s all about finding something that has meaning in your life.
Q: Please share your future goals. We’d love to know!
A: Oh my, there are so many great things on the horizon for 2018 for Guitar Girl Magazine! Digital publications, podcasts, contests, and a Guitar Girl of the Year, can’t wait for that one!