We’ve Only Just Begun founder and director Shauna Watson recently spoke to the Last Mixed Tape about the creation of their online directory of female and non-binary artists.
What was the catalyst that led to you and your team compiling the directory?
I’ve always thought there was a demand for something like the Directory to exist. A one-stop-shop where you can find new artists and exciting bands in your area. I’ve often heard people in the industry comment “we want to book more female fronted bands and acts but we don’t know where to find them” so the Directory is the perfect antidote to that.
Back in February of this year, Vick Bain published something similar to We’ve Only Just Begun Directory called The F List UK which inspired me to start working on the Irish version straight away. It was slightly de-railed by the pandemic but I’ve been working on it intensely since June. By that point we knew that We’ve Only Just Begun Festival couldn’t take place this year so I thought it was fitting to tie both projects in together and publish the Directory in lieu of the festival.
How was the directory compiled?
A lot of Googling! From the last 3 years of booking the festival, I already had my own list of about 200 female fronted recording artists in Ireland. It was a matter of researching any bands that I may have missed (which there turned out to be around 200 extra that I discovered!) and then researching their management, contact details, if they’re signed to a record label, if they’re a band or a duo etc. I had a handful of amazing helpers who also researched different categories like DJs and session musicians so that was a massive help. Then it was a matter of importing all that information into the Directory software hosted on the website.
During the making of this directory did anything strike you about the amount of artists or genres it was covering?
The genres represented on the Directory are really diverse. It covers everything from trad to pop, soul to electronic, there are so many great artists to choose from.
One feature of the Directory that I love is that each artist can include their location so if a booker or promoter in Galway is looking to book an act, they can immediately find artists nearby. During the week of the launch a journalist from Cork was doing a feature on the Directory and asked me if I knew of any female or non-binary identifying musicians from Cork so it was great to be able to literally say “You can find them through the Directory”. It’s useful to be able to quantify how many active artists there are in each area in Ireland, including the North of Ireland.
What do you want the artists involved in the directory to take away from using it?
The mission of the Directory at its core is to promote artists and give them a free platform to add a profile and showcase their music to any industry eyes checking out the site.
Based on artists’ feedback about the Directory so far, they think it’s a cool resource to be able to find other artists in their area, in a similar genre or even artists doing something totally different to them and being able to link up and collaborate. As there is a section for session musicians and musicians for hire, it’s an easy way for artists to also find new band members. It would be great to see some collaborations between musicians who discovered each other through the Directory.
How do you hope the industry interacts with the directory?
A booker from the biggest promotions company in Ireland tweeted around the launch of the Directory “Bookmark this site” so that’s exactly how I hope they interact with it – that they regularly visit the Directory to discover new artists, to find a contact for an artist they may already know about or to maybe find an artist in a particular area to book for a local show. I would also love it if record labels and managers used it as a tool to discover new artists, follow their journeys and approach them to build a relationship. It’s very easy for music fans and industry folk alike to check out an artist, listen to their music, follow their social media accounts and get in touch with them, all through the directory.
How do you think it will take shape in the coming months?
The most intense work of the project was actually building the website and importing the 600 musicians into the Directory so now that that’s completed we’re focusing on covering the business and tech side of the music industry. We’re already researching and collating information for female and non-binary identifying managers, bookers, sound engineers, lighting technicians, tour managers and producers. One of the defining aspects of the Directory is that each artist has access to their own individual profile so they can make sure all their information on the site is consistently up-to-date. We’re working on the Directory being positioned as the most comprehensive database to showcase women working in the music industry in Ireland.
We’ve Only Just Begun Directory is online now via weveonlyjustbegun.ie.