SWIM Masters, a Smart Women in Music Podcast

Elizabeth Dale

Smart Women in Music (SWIM) presents SWIM Masters, a biweekly podcast “dedicated to help connect, grow, and support women in the music products industry.”

Every two weeks, host/co-producer Natalie Morrison and editor/co-producer Stephanie Lamond present “shared experiences, stories, and secrets to music industry success” to audiences in the form of the SWIM Masters podcast. Each episode of this biweekly podcast features prominent female leaders and their insights for professional growth and industry success.

SWIM “supports women in the music products industry to develop their leadership aspirations and to broaden and deepen their leadership proficiencies.” Led by industry giants President and CEO of Gator Co., Crystal Morris; President and CEO of West Music, Robin Walenta; and Executive Vice President of Heid Music, DeDe Heid, SWIM provides networking, professional development, and mentoring opportunities for women in the music products industry.

To date there are 16 episodes of SWIM Masters with interviews from Becki Barabas (HARMAN International); Kit Culpepper (Martin Guitar); Suzanne D’Addario Brouder (D’Addario Foundation); Karen Dunn (KMD Productions); Dr. Jennifer Hall (executive coach, leadership trainer, and assessment author); DeDe Heid (Heid Music); Kristi Jacobsen (Alfred Music and Broken Glass Media); Elisa Janson Jones (Conn-Selmer Institute); Lisa Steele-MacDonald (Yamaha); Tiffany Miranda (Girls Make Beats); Crystal Morris (Gator Cases); Moya Nkruma (Fender); Laura Penrose (Nick Rail Music); Staci Swanson (In Tune Partners and Practicing Musician); Robin Walenta (West Music); and Laura B. Whitmore (The Women’s International Music Network and She Rocks Awards).

In addition to her work on SWIM Masters, Morrison is the PR Strategist for D’Addario and helps manage the strategy behind D’Addario's education program. Morrison reached out to Lamond at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with the idea of starting a podcast. She said, “Through the work SWIM does, in-person events could not happen due to the serious state of the pandemic, and I thought, what if we could host the conversations virtually?” Lamond, who also serves as Project Manager of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy and as a freelance recording engineer/audio editor, added, “I'd just stopped most of my in-studio music engineering with the first wave of COVID-19 shutdowns and had begun dipping my toes into remote podcast production, so I knew exactly where to start. I told Natalie, ‘Yes, this needs to exist, and you have to make this! And USE ME, I would love to be involved however I can be!’” Three months later, the first episode premiered, and the duo hasn’t looked back.

The podcast provides a direct link to SWIM’s mission, telling stories through first-hand accounts from female leadership throughout the industry. Lamond was fortunate enough to grow up in the music products industry, surrounded by accomplished women. However, she is determined to make that experience tangible for all women, saying, “With SWIM Masters, we’re attempting to recreate an experience of visibility for those who may not have had the same front-row seat to what is possible.” While the podcast may be targeted toward a female audience, it is not limited to women, Lamond continues, “Women have incredible access to and insight from industry leaders, and hopefully, will be inspired by the breadth of roles that exist for them. Men in our industry can get a window into the female music business experience and add to their toolkit to help them become better allies to women and other marginalized groups.”

On her experience hosting SWIM Masters, Morrison reflected, stating, “This has been an incredibly humbling experience. It has opened our eyes to some of the remarkable work the women in the industry are involved in. As a young woman in the industry, I feel I have an obligation to use my platform for other women and to help create the changes needed to open those doors to become leaders. It is an honor to use my voice to support, inspire, and promote female leadership in the industry.” While both Morrison and Lamond shared that selecting a favorite episode was a nearly impossible task, they highly suggest new listeners tune into both “Ep. 6: Becki Barabas” and “Ep. 9: Kit Culpepper”. The episode featuring HARMAN’s Barabas is a favorite for Morrison simply because of the feats it took to record. Morrison, who resides in New York City, was hit by a tropical storm that knocked out her power and internet for multiple days. Determined to record as scheduled, Morrison was hit with a bit of good fortune as her services were restored a mere 30-minutes before the recording session, only to have them drop out an hour after the episode wrapped. Lamond favors the episode featuring Martin Guitar’s Kit Culpepper. “Kit’s spirit, humor, and resilience meant I was always between cheering and laughing while editing her episode,” says Lamond. “Kit models the ‘surrender’ mentality that I try to live by. I think that if we all worked to let go of a few of our expectations and followed our passions and strengths, the world might be full of a lot more balance. Be like Kit, friends!”

Swim Masters Ep. 9 Clip

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Make sure to tune in for new episodes, available anywhere you can stream podcasts, including on Anchor by Spotify at https://anchor.fm/swimmasters/episodes/Welcome-to-SWIM-Masters-eduv6g

To learn more about Smart Women in Music, visit https://smartwomeninmusic.org/.