We Need More Women In The Music Industry
by Ilaria Mangiardi
“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
This is what stands out on the International Women’s Day website and this is what should stand out on everyone’s agenda. 8th March – a day to celebrate women, their achievements and their immeasurable potential, and a reminder that women should be celebrated every day. We are a force of nature.
So, since this year’s theme for IWD is #ChooseToChallenge, I thought – why not challenge the music industry to find ways to attract more women?
Music is a universal language, a code for everyone and anyone – so, even if we’re slowly but steadily getting there, why are women still a minority? And how can women themselves support and encourage other women to enter this world?
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🎧 listen to the songs that make us feel bold, entitled and empowered
🦸🏾♀️ read our thoughts on the current state of women in the music industry
💪🏽 get inspired on what the music industry can do today to attract more women
⏩ Our ultimate goal? To spark a much-needed conversation so that the industry can continue to move forward with male, female, queer, gender-fluid human beings working together as equals. We Massive women choose to challenge – and you?
▶ Listen to our PLAYLIST whilst reading this article.
Senior Account Manager and Research Strategist, MassiveMusic London
▶ ‘Algorhythm’ by Childish Gambino 💪🏽
Although we have come a long way, women are unfortunately still grossly under-represented in our industry, and this is evident across every facet of our work.
How can we make small changes to this? Take time out of your day to promote the work of your female colleagues, friends, family, acquaintances – whether that be new music, visual art, design, film or otherwise. Don’t be afraid to speak out if you feel gender bias is affecting you or someone you work with.
But also, encourage your female friends, colleagues, family to apply for ‘that perfect role’ even if it feels out of reach because you never know what particular skills or experience an employer might be seeking. And, finally, look out for and support your fellow gnarly female colleagues and friends in the creative industry – although slowly changing, the creative industry is still very much a man’s world and we need to celebrate and elevate one another!
Senior Account and Project Manager, MassiveMusic London
▶ ‘Different Drum’ by Stone Poneys & Linda Rondstadt 💪🏽
It will be far easier to make true equality standard practice if the whole industry works together to achieve it. Regardless of gender, role or seniority, we’ll only find a good balance if everyone is looking for it and trying to make it happen.
Nowadays, there are more women present in the music industry than ever before but, unfortunately, they still aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. We are on the right path towards more equal opportunities but it’s a long way to go.
When it comes to the live environment, one logical step forward is to move towards gender-balanced line-ups. Keychange, a pioneering key force in the industry, has taken steps to encourage music organisations to join the pledge of a 50:50 gender split by 2022. To achieve inclusivity in the music industry, it is crucial to consistently support initiatives that take action, offer training, mentoring and consultation.
When women see more female artists being booked, it leads to an increase in women pursuing a career in music, and a more equal world for musicians.
In the theme of this year’s Women’s Day, although I don’t think we should be limited to just a day, I choose to challenge you to believe in all your abilities, to trust in the fact that you are part of one of the most incredible, supportive, strong and brave groups of people on this earth. Our female energy comes in so many beautiful forms and it is about time that we stand together and continue to show the world what we are made of.
In the words of Stevie Nicks:
“Well, I see you doing what I try to do for me
With the words from a poet and a voice from a choir
And a melody, and nothing else mattered
Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song, sounds like she’s singing”
This track always gets me super pumped, makes me feel invincible and empowered by sadness. That famous guitar riff that progresses through C, D and E-minor is just an instant elevating mantra. The song itself is about death, but it manages to uplift you, the spirit of the white-winged dove rising up.
Business Development Manager/Senior Producer, MassiveMusic Los Angeles
▶ ‘Girl on Fire’ by Alicia Keys 💪🏽
I would love to see more female producers in the world of music. No woman has yet won the ‘Producer of the Year, Non-Classical’ Grammy, and only a handful of some of my favorite trailblazers like Janet Jackson, Paula Cole, Lauryn Hill, and Linda Perry have ever even been nominated. I am hopeful that a victory is right around the corner and some fabulous women will become the bright and shining example of what can be achieved in this industry.
The film industry was shaken up when #metoo started trending in 2017. Similar to the film industry, misbehaviour in the music industry against women has long been normalised through distorted standards and even encouraged under the excuse of ‘rock & roll’.
Over the last years, we are finally seeing a change in the general attitude of both men and women towards boundary-pushing behaviour. People are being more compassionate with female artists, fans and industry professionals who are no longer afraid to speak up against sexism and power abuse in the music industry – however painful it might be to see your music icons fall from their pedestals.
To me, ‘Motion Sickness’ embodies this powerful message. It’s a brutally honest and vulnerable masterpiece where you can feel Phoebe Bridgers writing off her past through the lyrics of this track. Her sophomore album ‘Punisher’ has been my biggest inspiration of 2020. Her sex and gender do not seem to limit her in any way and she’s, figuratively speaking, more of a man than many people will ever be!
Senior Creative Copywriter & Content Manager, MassiveMusic Amsterdam
▶ ‘Fuck With Myself’ by BANKS 💪🏽
Women are done playing small, and patriarchy is not good for men either. We all need to shake things off and, while we can think of a massive revolution, we can also start from our own garden – the way we speak to ourselves and each other, the suspension of judgement when another woman does something that we wouldn’t have done, the self-compassion to not feel guilty if we fail.
We can’t expect that society will change if we are not kind to ourselves to start with. The world knows how incredibly powerful women are – we need to remind them more often by speaking up even when our voice shakes, by standing up for what we believe in even when we’re the only ones who think differently. We are entitled. Let’s roar without being afraid of what the world would say. Are we too loud? We have a voice and it can be loud if we want it to.
Although the music industry is currently dominated by men, I do genuinely feel that women are starting to question this norm. I believe this is the first step to the start of a new era, and that we must continue to question these societal structures rather than just accept them as ‘the way things are’. We need to continue to bring each other up and this can be done in so many ways such as sharing your friend’s newest release, referring them for a job, and just connecting with other women in the industry so we can share our ideas and experiences.
There are so many platforms for this as well, some of my favorite are the Facebooks groups: GBTRS Music Industry Networking Group (GBTRS stands for Girls Behind the Rock Show) and Music Biz Besties. We are all better together!
I hope that there will be soon more women standing up so they can be the role model the other women need. Let’s share all our knowledge and inspire other women to work in the music industry!
I feel that this is not only restricted to the music industry but the creative industry as a whole. Even discussing it as a fellow BBC (British-Born Chinese), I feel entitled to be in this industry and by no means was it easy for me to get to where I am today. I feel extremely lucky and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of my family, partner and his family at the time. I was able to search for a creative job without working – a luxury not everyone can afford.
I would happily share my knowledge with other fellow females. We need to start the inspiration at seed level – so we’re talking about inspiring the hopes of our future, the children. The restriction and the feeling of being ‘less than’ starts when we are children. They need to be inspired at a young age and encouraged.
There are so many amazing, powerful and talented women in the music industry (and I’m incredibly lucky to work with some of them on a daily basis). Their voices, creative ideas, thoughts and concerns should be heard as much as those of men. I choose to challenge the music industry and applaud women’s work and achievements, shining a spotlight on their impressive work, thoughts and ideas. Whether it’s on stage, in the media or at the workplace, let there be women and let them speak out loud! And for all the superwomen out there, don’t forget to empower yourself as well, don’t undermine your achievements, appreciate your hard work, speak out and don’t let anyone shut you down.
‘Put Your Records On’ by Corinne Bailey Rae reminds me to let go a bit, to let the music guide me. And my advice would be just that for women in the music industry. Music is a universal language, and that everyone can relate to no matter who they are. Trust in that and believe that it will guide you.
While I contemplated including a track from the late icons SOPHIE or Wendy O. Williams, Nails’ ‘Tyrant’ edged ahead because it makes me feel indignant and unstoppable in under 45 seconds.
The music and audio industry as a whole has a long way to go when it comes to inclusivity. I am beyond thrilled to be a part of a company that champions the women on the team in a way that feels like it’s innate.
Phuong Boi Nguyen
Phuong Boi Nguyen
One of the reasons there aren’t enough women in music is because there aren’t enough role models yet. So if you’re a woman in music, please put yourself out there. Give young girls the representation and inspiration they need to pursue a career in music.
Most of my daily meetings see me as the overwhelming minority in the room. Take today, for example – me and 9 guys brainstorming all things music and sound for a global international brand.
I hold my own for sure, I love the different viewpoints, the way men look at the world and work, and I am learning so much from being part of a male-dominated pack. However, sometimes, I wobble, my emotions get the better of me, the critic on my left-hand shoulder speaks up, a feeling of not wanting to have to always bring my ‘inner dude’ to the table takes over, and I feel the need to retreat.
When this happens I look to music to reboot my confidence and reset my focus. I throw on my headphones, turn the volume up way too loud, and go in for some empowerment therapy. A recurring go-to is ‘Shake It Out’ by Florence + the Machine. The song was written about shaking off the hard and difficult emotional journeys that come with mental health issues. It also speaks to the times when you keep repeating certain patterns of behavior and the moments when you want to cut out that part of you and restart yourself.
4 mins and 40 secs later I’m healed, feeling bold, and ready to get back into the game. Florence is a fantastic wing woman, and I am ever grateful for her wise words!
As more of an active listener than a musician, I can see that there’s still a huge difference between men and women in the industry. The thing that strikes me most is how girls usually perform as vocalists, guitarists or pianists, but rarely as drummers, bass or electric guitarists or trumpeters.
I feel this starts at childhood, with all the misconceptions such as ‘girls are supposed to do ballet’. It’s like society is subtly asking little girls to – literally – play small. So, as a girl who started playing soccer in the first generation all-girls teams at a young age, I’d say to all my friends who are having kids: let your girls try every instrument possible without influencing them so they’re empowered to choose for themselves.
On a basic level, representation and visibility is everything! Being vocal and proud to be in the field is a powerful way to show other women that they can be part of the industry also. If women see other women in positions of power or in the industry at all, it’s much easier to envision ourselves being a part of it and rising up. Of course, sharing job opportunities and encouraging each other is vital!
I will use Björk’s words from one of her 1994 interviews: “Men can be silly, fat, funny, intelligent, hardcore, sensual, philosophical, but with women, they always have to be feminine. I think this is bullshit. I just like to see women who can be characters, and can be themselves.”
Happy International Women's Day
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