Shelby Chargin: Founder of GBTRS
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from?
My name is Shelby Chargin and I’m from a little bit of everywhere. I was born in the Bay Area, grew up in Ohio and lived in Arizona for four years before moving to LA… needless to say I have America’s weirdest accent. I run a nonprofit for the benefit of young women and gender nonconforming people in music called Girls Behind The Rock Show.
What caused you to start Girls Behind The Rock Show?
I love this question. It was originally a podcast and I was interviewing women working in the rock and arts scenes and when it didn’t get re-upped and I had a pretty poor and intense experience at the company I was working for, I realized that there wasn’t many resources for girls to be properly educated in a way about the music industry that often times sacrificed a lot of their own opinions and beliefs. I would watch the women who I looked up to go for interviews and be treated really poorly or be put in positions they hated, and I wanted to help. So, I launched a nonprofit that would not just create opportunity but community amongst women taking those first steps in the industry.
How does someone get involved? Tell us where to find you!
You can find us online at girlsbtrs.com and all of our socials are @girlsbtrs. We have a facebook group that’s grown to almost 7K people now and you can request entry from our page if you’re interested in working in music.
What is the best part of GBTRS? Why?
Oh, this is the toughest question. GOSH. I don’t know, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. I have a “strategist” mindset, as I like to call it so I am constantly saying “okay, what’s next?” and my friends and team get so mad at me because they go “Shelby, enjoy the wins.” And for the past few months, I’ve really been trying to do that. I think part of that made me realize that every time a person gets a gig, or a job or tells us we’ve created a space to help them grow, I get so excited. I lose myself in those moments really easily because helping these young people is so important. I think the beautiful thing about what we’re doing is creating open conversation allows for people - especially marginalized people - to feel as though there’s space to make mistakes that doesn’t reflect badly on marginalized groups as a whole. There’s a space to ask “dumb” questions and honestly, I’m glad there is. Everyone starts somewhere and if the industry we’re easy, everyone would do it. So it helps to have a place to be open and navigate the space you’re in.
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry?
I’ve had a lot of mentors in a lot of ways. I think Breesays from Buzznet and now Live Nation was truly my first mentor. Kate Cordova over at ASCAP was my saving grace when it came to navigating my first year in LA and now it’s mostly my friends -- some who you all have interviewed. All of these people really helped teach me how to not give up and to keep pushing. The thing about mentorship for me is that I like to think anyone you work with has the ability to teach you something, so I try to soak in as much as possible from those who may be less experienced than me along with those more experienced. I think I’ve learned the most by listening to my friends and taking in their struggles and understanding them and trying to apply the ethos to GBTRS. I also learn a lot from my own staff. We’re young but they really teach me on a daily basis how to be a better leader.
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry?
Definitely. I have a horrific case of imposter syndrome. I constantly feel like I’m never supposed to be in the rooms I’m in. I get this idea in my head that I’m just not *there* yet and that’s been a constant for me. I have to remind myself that I’m working towards something bigger. Trusting my instincts is something I’ve always felt the need to do. A lot of times I toe the line of my morality and getting ahead with GBTRS but I’ve stuck to my guns thus far, and it’s proven to pay off tenfold.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry?
Honestly, don’t take no for an answer. Know your boundaries of course, and know when to be respectful, but also know your worth. There’s nothing you can’t do, you just have to be willing to put in the work to do so. And trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. You have to own your own voice. No matter how crappy the situation, there is always something to learn, even if it’s what not to do. If you ever feel you’ve stopped learning, that’s when you start giving up.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)?
I watch anime a lot to wind down - currently watching One Punch Man. I reread the Harry Potter series once a year and challenge myself to read at least 2-3 new books a year. I go down KPOP youtube holes since the content is so pure. I go on sunset hikes and try to workout. I made a rule for myself a few months ago that I had to take an hour for myself each day to “waste time” and just reconnect. It’s helped a lot. Oh and I write poetry. I’m truly honestly a huge nerd. You can find me in most fandoms online.
What does a typical day working on GBTRS look like for you?
That’s always different. We’re not quite fully funded yet so I always have a full-time job on top of GBTRS so usually my days start around 6:30/7am (I try to go to the gym but…) and I catch up on emails and such. I go to work, and use my lunch breaks to have phone meetings work on new programs, events, platforms, etc and when I get home I’m usually on the phone with one of my exec team Jess, Madeline, or Paula about something we’re working on that goes until around 8 or 9 my time. It’s ever-changing, but I love that about it.
Who is your all-time favorite artist?
I’ll give you top 6.
*Nsync - forever.
Fall Out Boy
Will Smith (Big Willie Style esp)
What is something you can't live without?
My stuffed animal Rolie, I’ve had him since I was 1 years old.
Go-to Karaoke song?
Without Me - Eminem or Like a Prayer by Madonna
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee - Vanilla Lattes to be exact
Can I name a cartoon character? Because it’s definitely Vegeta and Goku.
First concert you went to?
*Nsync at the fairgrounds in San Jose in like 1998 when I was 4 or 5. They played a day and a night show and my parents took me and my two sisters to both. I ran away from my family twice, convinced I could meet JT.
What’s something that you always have on you?
My phone, for sure.
What do you have in store for the future of GBTRS?
So many things. GBTRS is taking a really interesting direction over the next year and I’m really excited to see it pan out. We’re focusing more on the fundraising and education component along with making it accessible to everyone who isn’t a CIS male so it’s going to be really neat to expand in the direction of directly involving ourselves with more communities.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that GBTRS will be a fully-funded nonprofit and we will officially be launching our end goal educational project. Unfortunately, I can’t say what it is, but I’m really excited to see it come to fruition.
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years?
I’d really like to see more inclusion of people in general. I think there’s a huge movement to hire women, but I’d also like to see the older generation embrace the creativity that has come along with technology and people having this constant communication that connects us all over the world. I'd really like to see some justice for women in the industry and to see those out who don’t believe in change or inclusion.
What are you most proud of?
Anyone we’ve ever helped. I know that’s cheesy - but, if GBTRS were to implode tomorrow and I could still say we helped some people start their career and feel emboldened to be successful in this industry, I’d be happy.
Lastly, what saying do you live by?
“Okay, what’s next?” - It sounds like a lot of pressure, but knowing there’s always something I can do to help, something I can be better at keeps me motivated.
Follow GBTRS here.