SPARS Spotlights Women’s Audio Mission | Q&A with Terri Winston

SPARS recently sat down with Terri Winston, Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Audio Mission, to find out more about the organization. WAM is one of the participating groups along with AES, the Game Audio Network Guild (GANG) and Manhattan Producers Association (Manhat Pro), who are supplying mentors for SPARS Speed Mentoring, Ask SPARS Event at the upcoming AES Convention in San Fransisco, October 26-29, 2012.

WAM Logo

Terri WinstonTerri founded WAM in 2003 while she was a tenured Professor and Director of the Sound Recording Arts Program at City College of San Francisco from 2001-2011. Her love of music and the recording arts spans 25 years as a songwriter, composer, recording engineer, and producer. Winston was signed as a recording artist, engineer and producer by Polygram and BMG subsidiaries, and has shared the stage with such acts as P.J. Harvey, Pixies, Throwing Muses, Flaming Lips, Fugazi, Cake, and Third Eye Blind. She has collaborated with Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group and Greg Hawkes of The Cars and worked as a recording artist and producer for MainMan whose roster also included David Bowie, John Mellencamp, Lou Reed, & Iggy Pop. Winston has composed and produced theme music for KRON-TV’s “First Cut” series, Banana Republic and for various films that have shown on BRAVO’s Independent Film Channel, French Television’s Cine Cinemas and major festivals all over the world. She is a founding member of the seminal San Francisco band Her Majesty the Baby, a two-time National Lilith Fair Tour finalist, has received numerous awards including an ASCAP songwriting award, Boston Music Award and Bay Area Music Award nominations, is a voting member of the National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences and is active in the Producers and Engineers wing. Winston has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

Q. Terri, what is the mission of WAM?

A. WAM’s mission is to provide hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in music production and the recording arts. WAM believes that women’s mastery of music technology and inclusion in the production process will expand the vision and voice of media and popular culture.

WAM_1Q. When was the organization started and what factors caused the group to become established?

A. We were formed in 2003 and are coming up on our 10th year. I was running the Sound Recording Arts Program at City College of San Francisco. I was brought in because they wanted more women in the program at a time when there was 10% or less participation by women. In a couple of years I was able to increase participation to 47%, which was unheard of at the time. WAM was an out growth of those efforts to recruit more women. Since 2003 we have grown into an established organization with a recording studio and training facility in the Mission District of San Francisco, now reaching over 850 women this past year. Our programs also include Sound Channel,, which allows an additional on-line training outreach to not only our women, but to men, as well.

Q. What are some of the benefits of being a member?

A. Our members can participate in hands on training in our studio facility. We have regular monthly meetings, which are web-casted. Members receive free subscriptions to trade publications and discounts on text books and training materials. They also have access to our scholarship and job/internship boards to assist their careers. Manufacturers also offer equipment purchase discounts to our members.

WAM_2Q. What facilities do you have in the WAM headquarters?

A. We have an 800 square foot recording studio, which has been graciously outfitted and supported by generous manufacturers with state-of-the-art equipment. We have experienced engineers who work on recording projects that come in and also assist students with hands on training. We also have a training area where we have classes and host meetings.

Q. Your web site states you provide hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement. Can you share with us some details?

A. Hands on Training | We have classes and seminars for girls as well as adult female students. We do hands-on training on an ongoing basis at our location. We do once a week after-school seminars for middle school girls, usually on Tuesdays at our location and on Saturdays at Expanding Your Horizons events at colleges in the Bay area. We serve approximately 450 girls though these weekly seminars. As for adult training at our location, we offer two eight week courses, a Level I Core Curriculum and a Level II Intermediate Curriculum. We are working on an advanced package for future offerings. We also do Artist Development Seminars, geared to assisting artists with career oriented subjects like Music Business, Song/Demo Review and Recording and Live Sound Technology. These courses are not meant to replace college, but to provide a gateway to further study. These programs are the perfect way to introduce women to many of the technical areas of production. The classes are small so that we can give the proper attention to the participants.

WAM_6Career Counseling | Three times a year we hold a free seminar called, “How to break into the Industry,” which we also web-cast. I also travel to campuses giving the same lecture. Some of the subjects covered are, how do professionals act, how to approach a potential employer, where do you start looking for a position or internship, when should you start looking, that type of thing. The seminar takes a very realistic approach to jobs and the industry.

Job Placement | We have a job/internship board for members on our website. Employers can post jobs and other openings, which we pass on to our members. In addition to our job postings, we get calls from employers in the Bay Area and around the country, who want a direct referral, which we are always pleased to fulfill. Two recent placements have been to Electronic Arts and Cycling ‘74.

Q. What is Sound Channel? (

A. Sound Channel was created to meet the increased demand for our training, especially from members that were not located in the Bay Area, as well as men. SoundChannel reached over 6,500 students in 127 countries last year. The online training modules consist of animated, interactive e-textbooks that include audio examples, video demonstrations, DIY projects and quizzes so you can test your own progress. College-level content was created by award-winning college professors and seasoned industry professionals. The materials are also used by colleges across the country. One positive feature is a robust glossary and library that delves deep into the science and electronics of sound and audio gear. All of the material is self-paced, with unlimited access online 24/7. And best of all the courses are affordable.

WAM_7Q. Explain how the Job Board works?

A. As I mentioned earlier, employers can contact us via our website regarding jobs and other openings, which we pass on to our members. In addition to our job postings, we get calls from employers in the Bay Area and around the country, who want a direct referral. The Job/Intern Board, Scholarship Section and recording tips Discussion Forums are restricted to members.

Q . Do you have an internship program?

A. Our internship program is offered to the most outstanding of those women who have completed our programs or the equivalent. Many of our interns move quickly into paid positions mentoring and training the girls in our Girls on the Mic program.

Q. Do you have a blog and/or newsletter? How can one subscribe?

A. We do have a blog, as well as a news section, but our most up-to-date information can be found on our Facebook and Twitter sites. We have a very large social media presence with over 6,000 subscribers.

Q. Share some of the activities you have planned for this year’sAESConvention.

A. WAM Party | We are hosting the WAM Party at the AES Convention on Saturday, October 27th from6:00-8:30 PM at 111 Minna gallery.

Women in Live Concert Sound Panel | We are hosting the Women in Live Concert Sound Panel at the AES Convention on Sunday October 28th at 11:00 AM in the Moscone Center.

SPARS Speed Mentoring, Ask SPARS | We are working with SPARS, AES, the Game Audio Network Guild (GANG) and Manhattan Producers Association (Manhat Pro) to present SPARS well received Ask SPARS Mentoring session to be presented on Saturday, October 27th from 3:30 PM-5:30 PM at the Moscone Center.

What Kinds of Studios Are Built for Education Panel | I will be a panelist on the What Kinds of Studios Are Built for Education presentation to be presented at the convention on Sunday, October 28th from 1:30-3:30 PM.

Terri, thank you for sharing with our members and others today…

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