Women have been doing amazing things since the beginning of time. We’re strong, we’re resilient, and we’re pretty damn cool. Without us the world would end, quite literally. Considering just how bloody brilliant we are, you’d think we’d be taking over everywhere and everything, but unfortunately in the music industry, and in most of the entertainment industry, we are hugely underrepresented. And it’s not just under- representation we have to deal with – the music industry has historically been rife with sexism, lack of opportunity for women, unfair pay, exploitation, and you could even make a solid case for the idea that the actual history of the music industry is patriarchal. These problems aren’t just ones faced by the artists themselves – those behind the scenes are also underrepresented and they also often have experienced some form of sexism themselves, and problems like sexual assault can span from the artists to the fans.
Chloe Little by Orla Toland – Bassist in Inheaven
The statistics when it comes to gender diversity in the music industry are pretty grim to be honest. Despite pop music seeming like the most female-led genre, a study of the 2012-2017 Billboard Hot 100 chart for each year found that of 1,239 artists, 22.4% were women. 90% of Grammy nominees in the past 6 years have been male. Behind the scenes things are even worse – female producers in the study the study were found to make up only 2% of 651 producers. If this is what the situation is in pop music, the genre which seems to be the most inclusive of women, then it’s hard to even begin to imagine the situation is like in even more male-dominated genres such as rock. Music festival line-ups are also problematic; half of festival attendees are female, and yet the demographics of those on stage does not represent this at all. Coachella’s 2016 line-up had 168 male acts and only 60 female ones, and for the 10 US festivals HuffPost looked at, only 12% of the acts were female. Promoters will argue that the line-ups aren’t picked on sexist grounds but that is just too big of a disparity to excuse. Even our language when we speak about certain genres is loaded – why do we feel the need to specify, especially in genres like rock and punk, that it’s a ‘female’ or ‘female-fronted’ band? Why do we assume naturally that bands are male?
Laura Hayden by Izzie Sheir, Lead Vocalist in Anteros
The phrase ‘pale, male and stale’ seems to quite nicely sum up a lot of those who hold the power in the music industry, as well as in most entertainment industries. Part of the problem is that the music industry can sometimes be complacent because it’s seen as fairly liberal. We cannot think we are the liberal elite – there are problems here, just like there are problems with gender parity in other sectors. That’s why it is so important to champion the brilliant women involved in the music scene, on stage and behind it. The change is coming – women are beginning to champion each other more and more, and they’re being taken more seriously now than 20 years ago. Events like the Women in Music networking event at Rescue Rooms are trying to facilitate positive through inspiring women, starting an important discussion on the change we need to see, and through education of women and men alike. Creating networks of women who support each-other another is also something that shouldn’t be underestimated – together we can do anything! Looking at company statistics when hiring and making sure that there is a diverse team is also important – the more people see women in positions like the manager, or the sound engineer, or the lighting tech, the less likely people are to assume that the girl in the group is the ‘girlfriend’ or the ‘groupie’. Finally, labels and publishers investing in the development of female artists from a younger age is needed – if all promoters care about when choosing a festival line-up is ‘who’s going to make the most money’, then we need to invest in female artists so they would also make as much money as their male counterparts.
Ellie Rowsell by Izzie Sheir, Lead Vocalist in Wolf Alice
There are some amazing queens who are absolutely nailing it right now/nailed it in the past in Nottingham (and beyond), and they could do it all in heels. So here’s to the Joan Jett’s of the world, the Pat Benatar’s, the Stevie Nicks’, the Aretha Franklin’s – keep rocking, you queens
Words by Lily Pektova
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