Lauron Kehrer deposited Negotiating Lesbian Identities and Building Community: Goldenrod Music Distribution and Women’s Music on Humanities Commons 1 year ago
Of the sixty-plus companies that comprised the collective WILD (Women’s Independent Label Distribution), Goldenrod Music is the only one that remains and still specializes in women’s music. The company’s survival is contingent upon its ability to adapt to changing lesbian communities; it must both meet the communities’ needs and maintain continued support from them.
Goldenrod has been integral in building lesbian feminist communities on both a localized and national level, but these communities have changed since the company’s inception. As new generations of queer and feminist women are producing and consuming music, community members have disagreed about what women’s music is and whom it is for. This has sparked new conversations on how to define gender and lesbian and/or feminist communities, leading to a diversification of women’s music. For example, the emergence of lesbian rap artists reflects a generation of queer youth raised on hip-hop music, set apart from the folk music popular among lesbian communities in the 1970s. Additionally, the economic climate has become increasingly hostile to small businesses and Goldenrod is struggling with the proliferation of digital music formats. The number of Goldenrod employees has significantly decreased in the past decade as a result of this trend in music consumption, and they now rely heavily on volunteer support at major events throughout the year, such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. This thesis demonstrates through ethnographic examples Goldenrod’s symbiotic relationship with shifting lesbian feminist communities.