"My Gibson guitar family who pushed for me to release two signature guitars over the past couple of years." - Emily Wolfe

Posted: May 10, 2024
I try not to focus on it, but it does get difficult when I feel like I cannot physically, mentally, or emotionally work any harder than I am.

Photo credit: Jackie Lee

Diversity and inclusion are two words that you don’t hear often outside of corporate America. However, it does exist even within the music industry. Maybe even more often. Some complaints do not get reported due to fear of repercussion. It is easier to set up rules and regulations for corporate America because they are enforceable. It is common for most corporate businesses to have an HR department or rules that govern the work environment. What are diversity and inclusion? 

Diversity and inclusion are a company’s mission, strategies, and practices to support a diverse workplace and leverage the effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage. Companies that create diverse and inclusive work environments are more adaptable, creative, and become magnets that “attract top talent”. 

Wow, that was a mouthful. Now, think of the application in the music industry. How does this apply? Well, your first thought might be, how it is geared toward the agencies and organizations that represent “talent”. Which would be correct. It does apply to them. However, there is a bigger picture and one that is often overlooked. Think about how the application fits the individual artist, songwriters, and musicians. When you think about it, remember the words that define diversity and inclusion. ADAPTIVE, SUPPORT, AND BIAS. Can you picture how those words would impact you, as you work within the confines of the music industry? 

How often do you think about “entitlement”? Are there certain practices that prohibit you from receiving support, in an environment that is unbiased? Do you even care? Some may think that if I am getting paid, that is all that matters. Really? When do we start putting less value on ourselves as human beings, just for the price of admission? 

There is a disconnect between the music industry and talent. Both sides are not seeing eye to eye. The agencies that represent the talent often find themselves in a difficult spot. The bias and lack of support often find their way into the pocket of those trying to make a living. The talent has less in their pocket to take care of themselves and their family. This is not because the talent doesn’t have 1. The following 2. Singing ability 3. Draw 4. Other. 

The solution for both sides is to bring in the two words that often govern create a conducive work environment. Diversity and Inclusion need to exist in every facet of the music industry. Regardless of the reasoning, talent should be respected. The talent should receive more support in an unbiased environment. Will diversity and inclusion represent a problem that doesn’t exist or the remedy for issues that have gone unresolved? 

Our guest, Emily Wolfe is experienced and well versed with the under lying current within the music industry.


Emily Wolfe asserts her talent as a dynamic vocalist, sharp songwriter, and an accomplished guitarist and producer. She delivers a brand of rock ‘n’ roll that’s raw and relevant, anchored by emotionally charged lyrics and a powerhouse stage presence. This young and impassioned artist has amassed millions of streams and garnered widespread acclaim from The Wall Street Journal, MTV, Guitar Player, PASTE, American Songwriter as well as her hometown paper, the Austin-American Statesman, and many others. Recognized as a force on the instrument, Emily has collaborated with Epiphone/Gibson Guitars on two signature Sheraton models which is a rarity for an artist that isn't yet selling out stadiums. 

From global issues, national problems, and interpersonal relationships, it’s a big middle finger to everything. The album is something I needed to do for myself. I’m proud of it. This is the most connected I’ve ever felt to a body of work.”


Guitar Thrills: Hello Emily, it is a privilege to speak with you today regarding an important topic. It may come as a shocker to musicians or artists, that this problem exists. Maybe, they are aware of its existence, but can’t relate to it as diversity and inclusion. Let’s break it down into terms everyone can relate to. 

Guitar Thrills: How long have you been an artist in the music industry? 

Emily: I’ve played music my whole life, but I’ve been doing it professionally for 12 years.

Guitar Thrills: Would you say that you have the support you need from the music industry? What has been your experience? 

Emily: That’s a tough question to answer. In certain aspects of my career, I feel incredibly supported. I do have die-hard fans who come to every show, buy merch, and do all the things any artist could ever want from a fan. I also have a booking agent who grinds it out for me, as well as my Gibson guitar family who pushed for me to release two signature guitars over the past couple of years. My wife has been by my side building this thing since the beginning and she does more than she should. I’m eternally grateful to those who have supported me. In that regard I feel supported, but from the business side I have always felt very much written off as not successful enough to pay attention to. It’s quite a mental battle I deal with. Money trumps talent in the music industry, and for an artist like me who’s built their career from the ground up without lucrative connections right out of the gate, it’s been incredibly difficult. Today the big wigs don’t take chances on artists with their guts. They look at data – do you have enough streaming numbers, do you sell enough tickets, do you sell records, can you make other people money? Those are the questions that haunt artists, especially me. I love playing music too much to quit, but some days I do wonder if it’s worth it because I’m constantly met with these questions to take my career to the next level. The only thing I know to do is to just keep pushing and hope that talent and authenticity get recognized one day.

Guitar Thrills: I have worked within many facets of the music industry and have seen the pitfalls and the shortcomings of those that represent it. Oftentimes, it is unfair, and no one is being held accountable. Have you personally experienced biased practices as an artist? If so, can you specify? 

Emily: Absolutely. I’ve been booked for festivals and taken off the lineup because someone owed someone a favor, and another band or artist took my place. I’ve been overlooked quite a bit. I try not to focus on it, but it does get difficult when I feel like I cannot physically, mentally, or emotionally work any harder than I am.

Guitar Thrills: You have worked within the music industry for a very long time. Some would say that you haven’t realized your full potential as an artist. I personally believe that you should have gotten much further with your talent than many others have. Do you see it as a lack of support or a matter of timing? 

Emily: It’s quite frustrating and tough to talk about. It’s an anxiety I hold in my body like no other. I can’t work any harder than I do now, or I’ll break into pieces. I think I haven’t quite found the right support on streaming playlisting, social media or a personal champion who pushes my music the way an artist dream of. I work hard, I’ve been sober for 9 years, I do whatever I can. However, it takes that one champion to push things over the edge. I’m not sure that person has come into my life yet. I view it as trying to find a puzzle piece, but I have no idea what that puzzle piece looks like.

Guitar Thrills: No doubt, this is a topic that is sensitive in nature. However, it is a topic that needs to be addressed. Changes need to be made. Guidelines and rules need to be implemented. Pay needs to be increased. It comes down to respect for the value that each artist brings when they perform. There should be a minimum that any artist should receive. What do you think?

Emily: 100%. Touring is almost always a financial loss for me. I do it because I love it and to keep active. It does get incredibly hard, but venues don’t pay artists like they should, partially because ticket sales are low for everyone across the board. It’s tough to get people out these days in a post-covid world. I understand that too. I love being home, but from an artist’s perspective, our careers do suffer if people don’t support live music. Also, a lot of venues take cuts of merch, which is a huge financial killer and doesn’t make sense from a business perspective. If I pay to make my own merch, the venues should take that into account and subtract the costs of every t-shirt or vinyl from their cut. Casinos and big venues tend to squeeze what they can out of artists. I’d love to see this change.

Guitar Thrills: I really do appreciate your candid and honest responses. As I mentioned, this isn’t a topic that you read about daily. However, it is one that many artists are concerned about. They just don’t talk about it. 

Guitar Thrills: While I still have you for this interview. I want to talk about what is happening now. What are you accomplishing in the music industry? 

Emily: I just finished a European/ UK month-long tour supporting the Gaslight Anthem, I sang on a newly released version of their song “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts”, I have two signature guitars on the market for sale world-wide, I’m on national tours with a couple of festivals in the books. I just released a single along with a mini documentary following the making of my latest album, The Blowback. There are a ton of positives going on for me right now – I just must choose to recognize them and focus on those.

Guitar Thrills: What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?

Emily: I would say producing my own record and being 100% happy with the way it turned out artistically.

Guitar Thrills: Tells us about the brands that you use while performing? What makes them unique, and how do they contribute to the success of your sound?

Emily: Epiphone – they make workhorse guitars that are incredibly dependable. I play aggressively and the quality of those guitars let me get out my emotion without worrying if I’m going to break them. I love the Cali76 compressor by Origin Effects, I use a ton of Earthquaker devices pedals and MXR pedals.

Guitar Thrills: We want to know about upcoming releases and what we can anticipate?

Emily: I just released a single called Kill The Love that I’m really proud of, and in a couple of months I am releasing a song called Anywhere USA, as well as a live from London album before I return to Europe to headline.

Guitar Thrills: It has been awesome talking with you. We look forward to speaking with you soon. Please keep us up to date with your music career. Thank you.

Emily: Thanks so much for having me and bringing this topic to light. It’s tough out here for artists, but art is what makes life interesting. If we can’t share our art with the world because of lack of support, I’m not sure life will be as fulfilling for most people. You are talking about this is incredibly important – thank you.


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