Women In Music In 2015 - How Far Have We Come?

30 Nov 2015

Credits: geralt@pixabay

What a year 2015 has been.  In the mist of big events for the industry, Apple Music launched, Adele releasing much-anticipated new music and streaming platforms biting the dust, it has sadly, been a year when we’ve seen that we work in an industry where sexism still very much exists.

It has been the year of these two words: ‘women’ and ‘music’.  There have been a number of troubling (and very public) statements made from male perspectives this year which have been hugely documented in the music press.  You know the ones, we’ve all heard and read about them.  They aren’t going to get any more column inches here, but suffice to say, women are more than capable of discovering new music, be that rock or any other genre that they might want to, and are well and truly, allowed to listen to.

Alongside astoundingly degrading comments such as these during 2015, there have been a worrying number of other cases of sexism highlighted across different sectors in the industry.  Let’s take live – the formation Girls Against is making a public stand against groping and other sexual assault that women face at gigs.  The response that Girls Against is getting shows the terrifying regularity that these incidents happen. The creation of the group is picking up a lot of support from media and bands, with bands going on to publicly raise awareness of incidents that they are sadly hearing of at their own shows. Take this example from Slaves who posted an incident of sexual harassment occurring at one of their gigs, stating that any male looking to make moves such as these were not welcome at their shows.

Raising awareness of issues such as this I think we all would agree is of huge importance – a live show is a place where music lovers congregate together, a place where boundaries are non-existent and definitely a place where everyone should feel safe while collectively enjoying music.

How about cases of misogyny?  Inspired by Jess Hooper’s tweet asking women for examples of when they have faced cases of being marginalised in the industry (which received a phenomenal number of replies, retweets and favourites) Lizzy Goodman wrote an article for Noisey looking at sexism in the music industry. Lizzy, included her own telling incident of being asked to leave a band’s dressing room as the band in question needed to get ready for an interview with NME. Lizzy herself just happened to be that reporter from NME. I’m sure any female executive you know in the industry can sadly provide you with a similar anecdote to that…

On top of issues such as these we also have to bare in mind a whole host of other concerns for women in the industry.  For example, the point that women are still a minority on panels at music industry events and that how in 2015, there can be so very few bands on festival line-ups including at least one female member.  How can female musicians still be so few and far between?

All of the above occurrences only emphasize the importance of why, even in, 2015 events such as Music Week’s Women in Music awards, awarding female executives who are making an impact in the industry today and AIM’s Women in Music event are vital.  They emphasise that womens’ roles and achievements need that extra amplification: they are a source of motivation and encouragement to other women in the industry, particularly younger females just starting out.

In a recent editorial for Music Week (16/11/2015), CEO of UK Music Jo Dipple: “Women work high on the slopes of the music industry. But there aren’t many holding Union Jacks at the summit”. These events provide a platform for female ‘flag-bearers’ and shows that women are able and are at, senior levels in the industry, although, yes, there is still a significant employment gap between the sexes in the industry.

2015 has been a hugely interesting year for the music industry, and who are the biggest selling musicians this year?  Two women: Taylor Swift and Adele. Adele who is currently obliterating every sales record in sight with ‘25’ and Taylor who is renowned for being incredibly hands-on across all of her business decisions. Remember that open letter she sent to Apple Music that had the entire Industry clapping her for standing up for all artists?  Let’s congratulate every man and woman who has worked and is working together on campaigns from for example, Adele and Taylor Swift and celebrate that they are breaking sales records and bringing issues that the industry faces to the headlines of mainstream media.

This isn’t a case of needing or wanting a female uprising in the industry, it’s a call to arms – simply for equality for all, across all sectors.  It’s a call to arms so that we don’t have to be faced with degrading, naive and sexist statements across the media.  It’s a call to arms against having to state what sex a person is ahead of their success.

Alison Lamb – Product Manager, SO Recordings

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