Women In The Studio National Accelerator 2021: An Interview With Lana Winterhalt

Kat Harlton

According to a recent study, women held only 2% of all producing positions across the 2020 Billboard Hot 100 songs. The same study found that the ratio of men to underrepresented women in producing was 180 to 1, and that women earned only 33 producing credits in six years (with only 9 going to women of colour).

First launched regionally in 2019 and expanded nationally in 2020, the Women in the Studio program offers women, gender fluid, non-binary and gender non-conforming participants a series of curated workshops, educational sessions, and networking opportunities with music industry leaders. Music Publishers Canada is committed to helping right the imbalance in the industry that exists for these producers, and supporting a creative community that will keep growing each year.

The Accelerator is designed to provide the cohort with opportunities for skills development and networking that they may otherwise be unable to access. Participants will gain valuable insights from mentors and industry experts for the duration of the program starting with virtual sessions in June through to January 2022. The program will focus on topics including technical skills, financial literacy, music business skills, and branding and will offer opportunities for creative collaborations. Each producer, as a condition of acceptance, has also agreed to explore volunteer opportunities in their own community.

We had the opportunity to chat with Lana Winterhalt a Women In The Studio 2021 participant about why this program is important, what she looks forward to learning, and the biggest challenge she’s faced in the industry thus far.

Kat: What does it mean to you, to have been chosen as a participant for the Women in the Studio National Accelerator 2021?

Lana: To me, this program is everything. For years I have wondered if there would ever truly be a place for me in the music industry, and this program gives me both the validation that I am skilled in this area and that there is a place for me. It’s so empowering to hear from other women producers about their journeys, successes and learning moments, as well as invaluable advice about how to own your abilities and navigate some of the gender issues so present in the production world. This program gives me the opportunity to see that this is actually a viable career and life path for me. Before this program I knew I wanted to produce, but didn’t know how I’d get there; this program is providing me with the actual tools, resources, and networking opportunities to make this a viable career option. It’s so exciting.

Kat: The program will focus on topics including technical skills, financial literacy, music business skills, and branding and will offer opportunities for creative collaborations. What are you most looking forward to learning?

Lana: I am most excited about learning the technical skills as well as the who’s-who and inside scoop on these industries I want to work in. It’s one thing to know how to produce music, but it’s another thing to understand the diverse industry and the people who make it up, and how to find your place within it. I have been so surprised and thankful to learn that there ARE more bad-ass women in these industries. It’s so encouraging to see that there are role models in the production industry that I can look up to and go to for encouragement or advice, and studios and spaces that respect the need for a diverse team of musicians and producers. 

Lana Winterhalt

Kat: What has been your biggest challenge thus far in the industry?

Lana: My biggest challenge in the industry has been the cliquey-ness of the boys’ club, and not a lot of open hearts or heads to teaching and helping others excel. I think there are many, many talented producers in Canada, and Manitoba specifically, but so often music production is something people get a huge ego about and become pretentious and exclusive rather than open and inviting. I have found it difficult to be taken seriously simply because I don’t have a specific type of equipment or am still learning a lot of engineering styles; rather than offer wisdom or advice, so many in the boy’s club have just simply written me off. I make good music, I produce good tracks, I have a great ear, shouldn’t that be enough? There seems to be a whole lot of industry just fueled by insecurity, and I don’t want any part of that. That can be a challenge in and of itself—If I don’t want to participate in your club, where else can I turn? The Women In The Studio program has shown me just how many spaces there actually are for me, and give me a larger perspective of where I can fit beyond the small, closed-minded spaces I have been familiar with.

Kat: In an industry where males are often given more opportunities, do you have any advice for producers-songwriters who identify as women, gender fluid, non-binary or gender non-conforming?

Lana: My main piece of advice would be: don’t try to focus on fitting into the boys’ club, focus on moving past them and giving them something to catch up to. I have learned it’s a waste of energy spending time trying to “be taken seriously”. The most important thing you can do is be confident in what you DO know, and humble about what you don’t. Every single music producer in the world is still learning, so those who act like they have it all figured out are really just stuck in their old ways. Sure, they may be extremely skilled at something, but if they belittle other musicians or up-and-coming producers, THEY are the ones who have a lot to learn. Always stay humble, stay devoted to what YOU are doing, and above all, focus on the music. Focus on making a really great track. Focus on connecting well with the artists you’re working with. My other piece of advice is: ask for help! If you see a producer you identify with on Instagram or in a workshop, reach out! Guaranteed, those of us in this program or other women in the industry know how hard it is to break into it and will be so open to provide any advice or resources!

To connect with Lana Winterhalt visit: www.lanawinterhalt.com

To learn more about the Women In The Studio program visit: https://www.musicpublisher.ca/women-in-the-studio-program

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