Whitney Taber is a radio and media host, recording studio executive, and is the Los Angeles Chapter leader for Girls Make Beats, just to name a few.
We caught up with Whitney to learn about her start in music, how she’s navigating the COVID-19 challenges, and her best advice for aspiring executives.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Talk to us a little about you + your journey. How did you start out in music?
I am a biracial butterfly who grew up on a Native American Reservation in Neah Bay, Washington. I had always been drawn to creative fields but went for a more "secure" job and attended Edmonds Community College where I studied to become a nurse. I met a local DJ, fell in love, got married by 23, and moved to a Marine Corps base in Beaufort, South Carolina. A year later, I was trying to finalize a divorce and told my parents, wherever I got a job first between LA and Miami, that is where I would move.
I interviewed for a position in LA via Skype and landed the job as the Executive Assistant to Rihanna's Creative Director. I flew to SC, grabbed my Jetta (and whatever fit) & drove across the country to start working for the world’s biggest superstar.
In 2010 I took a part time job in the Client Service department for one of Billboard's top 25 Recording studios in the world, the iconic Record Plant, where I worked my way up to Vice President. I worked many other jobs: Radio and media host, bartending, catering, babysitting...honestly anything I needed to stay busy.
My passion and purpose collided when I became the Los Angeles Chapter Leader for NPO Girls Make Beats, where I help create opportunity, representation and change in the music industry, while also being an example of great things women can achieve with the right leadership to ensure the next generation of women and music will be heard, represented and respected.
We are HUGE fans of Girls Make Beats!! What has been the most rewarding from your work with GMB? How can people get involved?
Oh my goodness, I am the very proud Los Angeles Chapter leader for Girls Make Beats (GMB) which is a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization that empowers girls ages 5-17 through educational seminars, summer camps, industry panels, networking and mentorship to help expand the female presence of music producers, DJs and audio engineers.
We provide courses on industry leading hardware and software, serving as an outlet for girls to unite, collaborate and grow within the music industry.
"The most rewarding thing for me has been watching our girl’s confidence grow. We have girls building networks and learning how to work together.
I am just so excited to see how much further they will go with having that collaborative mentality - which is not the industry norm among women."
To get involved please visit the website www.girlsmakebeats.org we are always looking for volunteers, mentors, and donations.
How did your experiences in radio, hosting, casting, and studio management impact where you are today?
My experiences allowed me to expand my network. I was able to sharpen my people skills so I could become a better leader, which is a huge advantage in any field where you need to work with teams to complete a common goal.
I was also able to learn so many different aspects of the industry which I can now apply to any job or task I set out to conquer.
This is a very trying time - without artists fully being able to be back in the studio, and events not being able to go on as they were before, how has this affected you and what are you doing to stay focused and on track?
The current state of the world has affected me quite a bit, and like so many others, I am currently unemployed. I am usually attending many events so being quarantined has been a very big change.
To stay focused, I have been working on producing new content, radio shows, and finding creative ways for us to continue our focus and momentum with Girls Make Beats virtually.
Do you have any advice for those transitioning out of college and trying to get into the music industry at this point in time?
Just do what makes you feel good, there is no position or opportunity that is worth compromising your self respect. Also remember you have so much more to learn so be sure to ask for help, take notes, and listen. Use and check your LinkedIn more than your Instagram.
Think about your relationships and the way you treat people - EVERYONE! Not just the CEOs managers and artists, but also the interns and runners that you think you will never see again. They will soon be the head of A&R or the VP at the same time you are, so treat everyone you meet with respect. You will see them again and most likely will need [each other’s] help.
How do you decide what’s worth fighting for? Not only for yourself but for artists in the studio and your girls?
I use my intuition to help decide what is worth fighting for. If something or someone doesn't feel right, it usually isn't. Over time and through many failures you realize that everything always ends up working out - sometimes even better than you can imagine.
I don't play when it comes to my girls and the artists I work with. I try to offer advice, but like my mother did with me, in the end I let them make their own sound decisions while reassuring them that I am supportive and right there with any decision they make.
What’s a key piece of advice for someone looking to work in a recording studio? Radio?
Learn, unlearn, and relearn. Change is the only constant. Be flexible and humble and keep changing and moving along!!!
What is the biggest challenge for you at the moment?
My biggest challenge right now is choosing what I want to do next with my life.
"I know so many of us are all wondering what the world, our careers, and lives will look like after this pandemic ends.
I am a person who relies more on how I’m feeling - so my happiness really dictates my work output."
What would you say is the most crucial attribute for working in the music biz?
I would say perseverance and the ability to quickly adjust with change. There have been so many times I thought I knew what I wanted to do and then plans would quickly change.
Just go with the flow and have FUN. If we all wanted a serious job, we would have become doctors and lawyers.
Which artists are you excited for this year?
I am really excited for all of the women in hip hop and R&B. We have so many new female rappers in the game and they are all so different and unique.
"I love the rapper out of Atlanta, Mulatto. I have been watching her and her team grow over the past few years and am excited for the world to see her."
I was also able to be in the studio for a few of Brandy’s sessions, who is one of my favorite vocalists. She just released her first album in 7 years and is working with some amazing producers and writers. The world and the music game needs more love songs and music that makes women feel beautiful and loved!!
What do you want to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for making a change in the music industry especially when it comes to the way women are paid, treated, and respected. I also would like for people to remember me as a person who added value and happiness to any project and anyone I worked with.
Lastly, as a self proclaimed “Good Vibes Coach," can you leave us with some words of wisdom?
Remember to always put your energy into things that actually grow YOU. Too many people freely give their energy to negative thoughts, people and situations.
Smile and laugh everyday...even if it's at yourself! Wave at strangers, babies and old people cuz it feels good!