by Jessica Pace

Breaking barriers in music technology: spotlight on Beats By Girlz

Beats By Girlz

The music industry is known for having barriers to entry: technological, gender, and opportunity are just a few of them. Beats By Girlz is an organization whose mission is to break those barriers for women and gender-expansive people. With more than 40 chapters worldwide, BBG provides tools, resources, education, and community to people of all age ranges around the globe so they can open the door to technology parity and justice in the music industry.

We spoke with BBG founder Erin Barra, chapter leader Tuna Pase from Beats By Girlz Barcelona, and chapter leader Beril Sarıaltun from Beats By Girlz Turkey to discuss the great work they are doing.

For a limited time, you can support Beats By Girlz through our Music Essentials Bundle. Get everything you need to produce a song from start to finish, including PLAYBOX and DUETS to create your music, REPLIKA XT and iZotope Neoverb for effects, bx_console N for mixing, and iZotope Ozone Elements for mastering.


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The mission of empowerment

Beats By Girlz is all about helping people see themselves in music and technology. “We want people to be able to visualize themselves doing whatever it is they’re passionate about, and to let them know that they’re included in spaces where they’ve historically been excluded, which are technology spaces, leadership spaces, music production spaces, engineering spaces,” says Erin Barra, founder and executive director of Beats By Girlz.

“Music and technology are the keys that we’re using to unlock people’s doors in their minds to say, ‘Okay, you know, this is for me. I can do these things,’ and whether somebody ends up being a software engineer or a music producer, these are all fulfillments of the mission. At its core, BBG is about empowerment through the tools of technology and music, which are so important to our social, emotional well-being, but also important for the jobs of the future.”

Beats By Girlz was founded in 2013 by Erin, and its origins stemmed from Erin’s experiences as a music producer and entrepreneur from 2008-2013.

“[Back then] It was very clear to me that people who had access to the technology were the powerful people in the music industry, the people that were making money, that were able to make music. And so it became clear to me early on in my career that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to understand and know how the technology worked. I also just couldn’t afford to pay somebody to make my music. So a lot of it was just out of necessity, and wanting to accomplish my goals.”

“I didn’t really think about gender until I started noticing that people were talking about me in that frame. I would be hired by a tech company to do representation, because I was one of so few people that represented that part of their market. I didn’t mean to be a woman, and I just meant to be in the field. But then, all of a sudden I was like, ‘oh, I’m a woman in this field,’ and I would like to start thinking about that… I was being hired by a lot of other women to help them do what I was already doing, you know, like performing on stage with electronics, producing music, using hardware and software and in different capacities. It was shocking how impactful it was right from the beginning. And so I knew there was something there. I knew that there was a huge community of people that wanted to be heard, seen, and empowered. And you know, it really speaks to some of my core values. And that’s how Beats By Girlz was born.”

Education, community, and industry create meaningful spaces

Since 2013 the Beats By Girlz organization has grown to more than 40 chapters worldwide and now focuses on three main pillars: education, community, and industry.

“Even culturally, things in Malawi look different than they do in Los Angeles. Each chapter looks different in terms of the application of the idea, but there is this consistency of who we are as a community and what it is we’re trying to accomplish,” says Erin.

“In certain chapters, that might look like educational offerings: learning how to produce, learning how to DJ, learning how to mix, because that’s really where those people are. In other communities like Los Angeles where there’s a ton of adults, artists, and people who need access to opportunities, networking is a huge part of that community, which is very different than ‘how do I use Ableton?’”

In Beats By Girlz Barcelona, chapter leader Tuna Pase and her team have implemented a few programs that are geared towards education and community development.

“Since the beginning of the chapter, we have done Introduction to Music Production courses with Ableton,” says Tuna. “This year I started a program called “Play & Learn” which is for the people who want to learn while they play. It is really fun and very formative. We also do events like the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’ where we are preparing a project to be staged that day in our neighborhood.”

Tuna also says it’s important to foster the environment of support and trust as seen in the Barcelona chapter. “Most important of all, we try to create a ‘self trust’ ambience which is very important for girls and non-binary people. Women always have a tendency of believing that they are not good with technology and have trust issues when using it. As I also teach mixed gender classes in other institutions and I see that men have no issue around this matter, we should break this down!”

Beats By Girlz chapter in Madrid, Spain
Beats By Girlz chapter in Madrid, Spain

What success look like at Beats By Girlz

Success can mean a variety of outcomes at BBG, and there’s a lot of it across the globe.

“Success from youth programming can mean continuing in their education—maybe they go to a college program. We’ve had many students go to Berklee, Drexel, NYU, and Arizona State University to study music production or just music more broadly. Some of them are even starting chapters in their own colleges,” says Erin.

One of these success stories is from Kallee Bernish-Good, a BBG Columbus member and Drexel University student studying Recording Arts and Music Production as well as Film and Television Production.

“Beats By Girlz has changed my life for the better in so many ways,” says Kallee. “As a young, queer woman, the music industry presents a lot of challenges; whether it be the lack of queer and female representation or the overabundance of casual misogyny and homophobia. In high school, Beats By Girlz provided a safe environment for me to explore my passion for music production and technology. Beats By Girlz has made me feel seen, accepted, and inspired. Because of Beats By Girlz, I continue to pursue music production professionally.”

Kallee Bernish-Good producing music
Kallee Bernish-Good producing music

Along with attending Drexel University, Kallee is also interning for Paragon Records in Dublin, Ireland. She makes and releases music under the moniker KALLEE B GOOD. Her dream is to produce other artists and score films for television.

“Beats By Girlz made me feel like I could pursue a career in music production, despite the rest of the world telling me it would be impossible. I am so grateful to be a part of BBG and the incredible community of female, trans, and non-binary artists I’ve met along the way.”

The community members on the adult side have gone on to do incredible things as well. “Two BBG members are now professional playback engineers, and many of the adult members have gone on to be Ableton Certified Trainers,” says Erin. “We have had success especially with our writing and production camps. We have writers and producers that have written and produced a track for Kimbra, which is going to be released. And we’re doing another camp with an artist called Madame Gandhi as well. We’ve had people write and produce for different brands, for commercials, and TV.”

Beats By Girlz chapter in Boston, MA
Beats By Girlz chapter in Boston, MA

Success can also mean true passion, enjoyment, and creativity that is experienced in Beats By Girlz programs. “What impresses me most in our workshops and training are the musicians who reveal their hearts and creativity every time despite their financial means,” says Beril Sarıaltun from BBG Turkey. “I am proud of every musician who has participated in our classes. I know there’s a hidden gem in each one of them, and what we see in our classes really proves it. I believe that even more success is upon us.”

The future of Beats By Girlz

Beats By Girlz is continuing to grow every day with great opportunities for women and gender-expansive people. A few of them include a new songwriting and production camp happening this November that is open to all women and gender-expansive participants, an AES event later this year, as well as chapter events and performances happening each month across the globe.

At BBG Turkey, members recently produced an album as part of a “My City, My Voice” project that enables women and gender-expansive people to look at the city they live in through music. BBG traveled from Istanbul to Izmir, then from Diyarbakır to Gaziantep to help people produce their music. You can listen to the album on your preferred platform.

“It’s all about, ‘How are we going to create an actual opportunity for somebody so that they can put it on their resume so that it actually changes the trajectory of their career?’” says Erin.

Beats By Girlz also does many events with their sponsors. “We’re very lucky and grateful to be associated with brands like Native Instruments. This is a huge deal for us, we love what you guys are doing.”

You can help with the future of Beats By Girlz by getting the Music Essentials Bundle from Native Instruments whose proceeds are going to BBG, including PLAYBOX and DUETS to create your music, REPLIKA XT and iZotope Neoverb for effects, bx_console N for mixing, and Ozone Elements for mastering. You can also support directly through Paypal, Patreon, or by buying merchandise.


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