First off all, let’s get this over with: No, this isn’t a goodbye letter. It’s a look at how far we’ve come letter. It’s a letting go, moving on, and growing into something bigger, bolder, and louder letter.
It’s the end of She Shreds Magazine. But the beginning of She Shreds Media.
Together, over the last eight years, we’ve opened doors for new conversations that have demanded significant cultural shifts in the representation of musicians. She Shreds as an entity was formed to fill a gap, to bring together community in an effort to show each other that we were never actually alone. And maybe, more importantly, to remind each other what our potential has, is, and will always be.
She Shreds Magazine, our print publication, was formed in response to the lack of visibility in all of mainstream guitar media. We wanted to be an alternative option for opportunity and possibility, situated alongside mainstream guitar and music magazines that suggested the only way “in” was if:
A.) You were or wanted to be Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, or Slash
B.) You were a picture perfect, tall, thin, long-haired female who may or may not have known how to hold a guitar but definitely knew how to handle a penis (see below).
I don’t know about you, but I’m queer and Mexican American, and identify with C.) None of the above.
A lot of us became a product of this decades long exclusion and wrongful portrayal of women: Men objectified women, women became used to it, boys followed this culture, and girls either gave up or spent their lives trying to prove that they belonged.
→ How could we prove that we belonged without a sense of belonging?
→ How could we prove that we belonged without a history to show us?
→ How could we prove that we belonged without a community to support and mentor each other?
The fact is that it’s hard to belong when you don’t see yourself.
Imagine this: Just eight years ago this was normal. And nobody who had any capital investment could imagine that women were real life musicians with varied tastes, styles, backgrounds, and identities. No, Ernie Ball wasn’t making guitars with room for breasts and Fender wasn’t spending millions to tell us that we’ve been right all along.
Remember Daisy Guitars? Yeah, that was all we had then.
So naturally, in 2012, my extreme anger towards this lack of visibility, and my deep desire to prove the existence of my community to the world beyond culminated into She Shreds Magazine Issue #1. As I mentioned above, I originally wanted to create an alternative answer to the restrictive and exclusive idea of what being a guitar player looked like, and a publication was the only way I knew how to house and present that idea.
But it was more than just how we looked. Much, much more.
Almost immediately after attending the 2013 Winter NAMM, everything changed. It was there, at the biggest tradeshow of music products in the world, that I witnessed how disconnected the mainstream music industry was from, I don’t know, anyone who wasn’t a cis man. Our goal shifted to create a collective voice utilized to turn industry standards upside down. We thought that if we could distribute our world of Black, brown, LGBTQIA+ women and non binary voices alongside, or somehow within, mainstream music spaces, then maybe someone would see it and think, “Oh, that’s interesting, what’s this?” or “Oh, that’s fucked up, let’s do something about it.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
In 2015, a reader (or a member of our witchy cult—depends on where you stand) snapped a shot of our eighth issue alongside Guitar World’s bikini gear guide and, well, the guitar industry hasn’t been the same since. The next year, Bill Amstutz, VP and general manager of NewBay Media, owners of Guitar World, announced the end of the bikini gear guide, stating, “The number of women players is growing and we want to support them.”
That same year, Annie Clark released her signature guitar, collaboratively designed and released with Ernie Ball Music Man. Clark announced that she wanted to create a guitar that was ‘ergonomic*, lightweight, and sleek… *There is room for a breast. Or two.”
In 2017, Fender revealed research stating that “fifty percent of all buyers of new guitars in the last five years have been female.”
And then, in 2018, Fender dug deeper into that research and revealed that not only are women 50% of buyers of new guitars, but we’re also “50% of beginners and aspirational players.”
In eight years, She Shreds Magazine has published thousands of interviews, profiles, lessons, and articles that extend and challenge ideas of musicians, technique, and culture:
→ We have been the first and only publication dedicated to women guitarists and bassists, creating a safe space in the music industry when there wasn’t one.
→ Through in depth research we have proven women’s impact in music history beyond what was imaginable (a few favorites: “Women of Mariachi,” “50 Influential Guitarists Who Shaped the ’90s,” “50 Women Builders and Repairers in the Guitar Industry,” “100 Historic Black Women Guitarists and Bassists“).
→ We’ve created and led dialogue, provided solutions, opportunities, and actual visible change in the way that the industry and women/non binary/LGBTQIA+ communities engage with one another.
→ We have not only proven that we exist on a global level but have become the largest and fastest growing demographic in the guitar industry.
→ We are currently the only guitar outlet who’s readership is consistently approximately 50% women identifying and 50% men identifying (if any guitar media outlet out there can/wants to challenge this, please do).
Thanks to the incredible vision, drive, passion, dedication, and skill of our staff, contributors, volunteers, and fans, we have successfully achieved every goal that we set out to meet through the print medium. It’s time for us to let it go, support other women and non binary focused and run music publications flourishing around the world, and shift our energy into creating digital media, and in-person experiences focused on providing tools to ensure the permanency of our voices.
It’s an overwhelming assortment of feelings to know how many lives have been impacted and changed through picking up She Shreds Magazine. Receiving your endless letters of gratitude and to finally feel like a part of a larger music community has fulfilled the very reason for our existence. And while creating every issue of this magazine has been by far the hardest, most stressful, and most rewarding endeavor of my entire life, I’m excited to be putting that energy into what’s next.
In the meantime, you can pre-order Issue 20, the final iteration of She Shreds Magazine, to be released in June 2020. You can expect a whole lot of new, exciting, and possibly surprising changes and announcements in the following months.
And if you’re feeling especially sentimental, have a sweet She Shreds love story, or just want to say hi, why don’t you give us a call at (800) 664-9979 and leave a voicemail about it?
Moving forward, our mission is to educate, empower, and inspire musicians through unexplored musical and cultural landscapes. Our vision is to continuously refine, redefine, and reimagine the possibilities of how music connects us, ensuring an inclusive and accessible global music community 100% of the time.