This letter is in regards to the Rockrgrl Music Conference journal written by Kate Darling [December 15]. In her account of the conference, Ms. Darling (who in her day job is the marketing director for corporate behemoth SFX) mentions how "pissed off" she is when she hears the phrase "women in music." She continues to rant, picking the event apart, and alleging that she attended the conference with trepidation and against her will and better judgment.
"When I signed up to go I hoped for the best," she writes in her Reader article, "but harbored secret reservations that the concept would somehow be diluted by self-congratulatory discussions of Lilith Fair or the subtle but deadly influence of sponsoring corporations eager to harvest yet another niche market."
Quite a 180 from our own experience with your writer. On September 12, two months prior to the conference, we received a very enthusiastic E-mail from Ms. Darling asking if she could participate on a panel and listing her various music industry credentials. At no time did she disclose that she was also participating as a journalist.
"As a woman who has worked in a male-dominated industry for my entire career," she said, "it's exciting to see this [conference] come into existence. One way or another, I'm going to try my damnedest to get there, but if there are ways that I can help then please don't hesitate to contact me. I truly feel that I have a contribution to make, and I'd love to hear from you."
On the basis of her introduction and solid corporate background, I personally invited Ms. Darling to be on a panel at the Rockrgrl Music Conference called "Your Music Is a Business." She did indeed speak on that panel. Her correspondence with me is a stark contrast to the mean-spirited and hostile tone she takes in her Reader recap of the event, in which Darling distances herself from the event and portrays herself as an impartial bystander who was somehow coerced into coming. For dramatic effect, she intentionally neglects any mention of her own self-solicited participation as a panelist, which of course would render the majority of her cynical observations worthless.
After the conference Darling E-mailed me again. "I cannot congratulate you enough for all your hard work and your remarkable contributions to the community of women in music," she said--using her least favorite catchphrase. "RMC was an amazing experience and I'm very glad that I attended. Thank you for your efforts and assistance in getting me to Seattle."
Certainly none of those sentiments were found in Darling's story.
This was our first conference and I realize that criticism comes with the territory. But Darling's Jeckyll and Hyde opinions seem to be dictated by what she thinks people want to hear. For her to pass herself off as a hapless victim who came to the conference begrudgingly is dishonest, hypocritical, and extremely offensive to us and your readers. We find her lack of disclosure on both sides highly unethical and feel that you and your readers should know the truth. Obviously Ms. Darling has some issues telling the truth.
Carla A. DeSantis
Publisher/Editor in Chief
ROCKRGRL Music Conference 2000
Kate Darling replies:
My agreement with Carla DeSantis was an exchange of panel participation for a conference badge, with no other explicit or implied conditions. I indicated my intention to submit a piece to the Reader when I asked DeSantis for an E-mail interview after the conference, which she granted. Furthermore, contrary to the implication here, I paid for my own transportation to the conference and my own accommodations. It's unfortunate that DeSantis feels compelled to discredit the very sort of dialogue the Rockrgrl conference purported to encourage.