By Kaya Williams and Jenni Todd
In a small-but-crowded basement at the Spotify Boston offices on Wednesday night in Somerville, music played not from an app but from three live musicians — all female and all selected from a juried contest organized by Women in Music.
Brought about by a collaboration between the Boston divisions of Women in Music and Spotify, the Women in Music Boston Showcase offered local talent and industry networking opportunities.
And for performer Corinne Savage, the frontwoman of Boston-based and Berklee-bred synth-soul band luhx., the showcase also offered a sense of encouragement.
Savage received the link to the application in a message her friend sent to over 100 people in the Berklee College of Music community. Receiving that link was an “empowering moment,” she said.
Considering that the event was oriented around the female music community, Savage said she was appreciative of the community and potential to make connections with the audience.
Savage recognized that the three men that join her to form luhx. are an exceptionally open-minded group, calling herself “lucky.”
“But there [have] absolutely been moments when I’ve been in a room full of men and felt smaller or felt like my opinion wasn’t being heard,” she said.
Jazzmyn RED, a hip-hop and soul artist based out of the Taunton-Brockton area, echoed the sentiment that her choices and opinions aren’t always accepted in an industry with limiting ideals for female artists.
“I feel like women are expected to be a certain way and look a certain way and talk about certain things,” Jazzmyn RED said of standards in the hip-hop industry.
Particularly within the genre, being a woman is “difficult,” she said. The showcase offered her the chance to perform and network, which she felt would be beneficial in advancing her career and that of potential collaborators.
“The more women become unified musically … [the more] we’ll be able to break through not only our own genres but transition into other ones that we might not have thought of before,” JazzmynRED said.
As artists expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to interact and network at the showcase, event organizers and organization representatives felt that the showcase was serving its intended purpose.
Lisa Finelli, communications committee leader for Women in Music Boston, noted that Women in Music Boston wanted to provide artists with the connections that would allow them to grow — and that Spotify Boston’s strong name would “help artists get exposure.”
Finelli said she felt that the showcase provided a unique and interactive environment in which artists and other industry professionals could meet.
“All of these people are meeting and interacting that would never have met before,” Finelli said. “It’s like watching all the sparks start.”
Those connections could also help artists develop collaborations, which Finelli said were “important.”
“Queens support queens; we’ve got to stick together,” Finelli said of female artist collaborations, adding that working together has value “no matter who you are.”
Lindsey Lerner, 24, of Providence, Rhode Island, said she attended the event after learning of the organization on social media. At a music conference in France earlier this year, she became friends with president of Women in Music Jessica Sobhraj, who convinced her to become a member.
It was also at that conference that Lerner, who serves as creative director and tour manager for rapper George Watsky, noticed the gender gap in the music industry outside of her “Providence bubble,” which she said lacked a connection to the larger music industry.
“It really blew my mind,” Lerner said of the roughly 80 percent male population she witnessed at the conference. She added that she realized the “problem” — a lack of gender diversity and representation — needs to be addressed.
“We need to work on that,” she said.
One way to do so, Lerner suggested, would be to offer more opportunities for networking and collaboration among women in the music industry.
Lerner said, “Through events like this, we can work together to close the gap.”