Breaking Barriers 

by Shayne Holzman

There’s something special about being able to work in the music industry. Musicians have the creative license to express themselves in ways that are universal. The more universal you are in your art, in your personality, and in your life, the more positive the outcome will be. 

The California Music Hall Of Fame makes a difference in the lives of many diverse individuals in the equally diverse and highly individualized field of music. Within this organization, headed by a team of experienced and caring music industry professionals, there is a program catering towards women in music striving to dismantle the barriers often women experience in the music industry and helping them fight for gender equality. Some of the events that will help women in the music industry include, workshops, conferences, and panel discussions.

It takes one person to make a difference in another’s life. Vanessa Silberman has and still continues to make a difference in the creative journey. Silberman is a DIY kind of musician working on the business as well as the artistic side of music. Before branching out into the music industry, she describes her journey as a music student. “I moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to start my band and go to music school for a very brief amount of time. During my time at school we were able to get internships and because of that I was so motivated and got as many internships as possible. My first job in the music business was doing viral marketing for epitaph records (Bad Religion, Nofx, The Offspring), before I was 21.

As an exceptional role model for other artists, she knows what it’s like to have struggled as an artist. She uses her struggles as fuel to help herself and others grow in the music industry. In doing so, she reaches others souls and in turn, fans have told her that her music has helped them shape their own situations in a positive way.

“I’ve played Vans Warped Tour. I used to dream of that when I was young. I couldn’t even have imagined being able to do that. I’ve also been able to work with so many artists that I grew up listening to/looked up to on the recording side. I’m so grateful for that.”

Even when confidence empowers, reality can still rule in shades of struggle. Vanessa describes some of the challenges she has faced as a woman. “I’m not sure that my challenges have necessarily come from being a woman ...more of just challenges of being a person as an artist or a person in the business, like a learning thing or kind of making the best moves in decisions for building. There have been times where I’ve had to make decisions to move on from other situations to help my growth or just make a move & jump in. I found a lot of these challenges to happen on tour when involving other people. For the challenge to even start to tour in the beginning where people thought I was basically homeless. No! I was touring playing 150 -200 shows a year kind of thing so it’s not like I was just couch surf. I was always living on the road and moving and doing so much work. It was so hard to figure out how to balance everything.”

Throughout Silberman’s career, people have told her to work on one thing, but she has always felt a push and pull to wear many hats in the industry and not just pride herself, in doing well at one thing. ” I think the biggest barrier had been overcoming/believing what other people would tell me. Like just believing in myself and trusting my gut that I could do all these things or to just go for it. I had many people tell me that I had to pick just one route, one thing or one direction and I felt pulled toward doing all these different things in the business as well as touring and being an artist.”

When you look at what Silberman has done and achieved, as a national touring artist playing 150-200 shows a year, writing and recording her own songs and managing her own record label, A Diamond Heart Production, you start to see that women can change the barriers and make a difference in their lives as well as others. You begin to realize that we are all a team in the industry. Everyone knows someone personally who has been through challenges, our individual stories are all connected.

Vanessa is a great example of this. She says, “I do it all & have shown that you can tour and make a living at it. A lot of people have personally written me and told me that I inspired them to keep going with their music or to start something and to me that’s so fulfilling and amazing so I think I have impacted people that way.”

In this new wave, you must pave your own way and make your journey the best it can possibly be, whatever it may be. One by one, we can make a difference in our character and our lives by breaking down barriers and becoming our own narrators.