Cassandra Kubinski sits on the board of Women in Music as the Chair of Membership. She is also an accomplished artist, songwriter, and actress. We sat down with Cassandra to learn about her history and hear her advice for advancing as a Woman in Music.
Success is such a personal concept – we all see and define it differently. How did you personally define your success?
I think the definition of success often changes for each of us. Have you ever experienced the feeling of reaching a goal and then immediately thinking "OK, what's next?!" I know I'm guilty of that! Overall, I define success as doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, to the best of your ability and satisfaction. I think success is not just accomplishing goals or targets, but enjoying the process along the way and at the end of it, feeling that you've been enhanced while also having the chance to enhance others with your success. It's getting to the point where you really, truly get that you and you alone choose your happiness and you are allowed to be successful in whatever way you desire. I relish success in groups - it's best when shared!
What advice would you give women who want to enter your side of the industry - What are your top three tips?
1. Just do it. I hear people very often saying they WANT to be an artist or writer but don't know how to get started. If you sing, you're a singer. If you write, you're a writer. You don’t need anyone to help you open your mouth and sing, or pick up a pen or computer and write. The most successful artists and writers just DO it, every day, whether the magic is flowing or not. Make up your mind to just start with whatever you have wherever you are and BE an artist because you said so.
2. Get educated. There are countless writing and performance groups, coaches, teachers, seminars, conferences, books, youtube videos etc. for anything you want to do like improving your range, booking your own tour, or writing better songs. Google is amazing - use it! Want to fast track your learning? Tell everyone you meet what you're up to and what you feel you need to learn. You'll be amazed by the connections, wisdom, and advice they have (even if you think they're not "qualified" to give you advice).
3. Take other people's opinions of your music with a grain of salt. It is very, very good to solicit those opinions and better to pay attention if there are trends in people's responses to your music. However, it's all just subjective opinion. Only your heart can tell you if you're doing the right thing and making the right music for you.
How have the personal and professional experiences in your life contributed to your success today?
The personal and professional experiences in my life started contributing to my success at a very young age.I have my parents to thank for exposing me to so many performances, concerts, broadway-style shows, music, and movies. These were the art forms that inspired me to become an artist. I was a professional music theatre actress by age 12 and that early start gave me a professional approach that definitely served me when I transitioned into songwriting and solo performing in my early 20’s. Every experience shapes you - it's impossible to quantify the effect of each!
Can you share with us some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Some of the challenges I've faced as a singer/songwriter include, but are not limited to: Rejection (and self rejection), trying very hard for something and still not getting it, envy/jealousy, laziness, getting in my own way, assuming others were out to take advantage of me, actually getting taken advantage of, being expected to perform for free, sexism and inappropriate advances from men in the industry, balancing a fulfilling personal and family life with full dedication to my music and career...the list goes on. Honestly, most of the challenges when you really break them down start from within. When I've dealt with whatever my own resistances were, there were always breakthroughs beyond the challenges.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
The most valuable lesson I've learned is to be kind. Be kind to that "baby band" who is opening for you. In a couple of years, you might be opening for them! People DO know when you're being judgmental, rude, dismissive, or higher-than-thou, even if you think you're hiding it well. They will remember it and will not be interested in working with you, which might sting if you decide that you want to work with them. So, it really pays to be kind. However, it’s important to note that “kindness” does NOT mean being a pushover, allowing others to get whatever they want at your expense, or sticking around that rude, haughty executive or rockstar because maybe they'll sign you. I've had numerous incidents where I met someone I thought I'd never work with, to whom I could have been rude, who came through and helped out or offered opportunities down the line.
What do you think is the most pressing issue women in the music industry face?
The most pressing issue women in the music industry face is negativity and fear. This applies to all of us, not just women. People love to get caught up in the tide of "the industry is dying", "no one can make money anymore", etc. and artists and business folks alike blame their lack of innovation and creativity on "the rules", "that's just not how it's done", "that's not the way the industry is going". People are afraid to innovate, speak up, and use their creativity for fear of losing whatever stature or position they have. To me, that just cultivates further mediocrity and lowers standards for music and professionals in our industry. Use your creativity, speak up, do the work. Everything worth doing takes real, lasting, committed effort.
Who inspires you, and why?
Sara Bareilles (just read her book, go get it!), Ingrid Michaelson, Rachel Platten, Sia, Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Gavin Degraw, Billy Joel, Jason Mraz, The Goo Goo Dolls, 10,000 Maniacs...so many artists whose words and music have had a profound impact on my heart and life. My parents and sisters inspire me every time I see them, which I wish was more often. My boyfriend is an espresso shot of inspiration and motivation. My team inspires me with their creativity, dedication, and fun.
What do you look forward to accomplishing in the next year?
I look forward to the coming year at SunChild Entertainment as we're launching my 5th studio project, an EP called ONWARD this Fall. I'm looking forward to discovering how those songs land with our audience, building bigger and stronger communities of fans and friends around the music, and hearing the songs on radio and in TV, film, and ad placements. I'm looking forward to continuing to perform with amazing artists and organizations, traveling to awesome places to perform, and using my music to contribute positively to personal and social changes.