She Is The Music, the nonprofit founded in 2018 with the goal of increasing the number of women working in the music industry, kicked off 2020 in March with a songwriting camp hosted by Cyndi Lauper. Then COVID-19 hit and decimated the job market, making SITM’s mission all the more challenging — and forcing executive director Michelle Arkuski to shift strategy. She spoke to Billboard about the organization’s evolving approach and the obstacles it’s still confronting.
How has She Is the Music pivoted to serve its community during the pandemic?
I’m most proud of our first virtual mentorship program over the summer, called Connect Together. We had artists like Syd, Big Freedia and Mickey Guyton paired with [mentees] from Guatemala, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia. We also did our first virtual songwriting camp in partnership with RCA Records and Unknown Music Publishing, in 12 different time zones over a span of four days. We had Shakira, Flo Milli, Normani — it was incredible. We received text messages from writers saying, “Never would we have had the chance to work together if we didn’t do something virtually.”