In light of International Women's Day, I wanted to write about a topic that I'm becoming more and more passionate about, this is the lack of women and sexism that those few women face in the music industry. Sadly I continually feel that I am surrounded by inequalities that do not work in my favour. It leaves me frustrated and angry that this is considered normal. Therefore I have decided to express myself and my thoughts in pretty much the only way I know how, by writing about it.
I shall begin with what prompted my anger to write and this was the Grammy Awards held on the 28th January 2018.
In this Grammy Awards there were 84 categories in which a woman could have won. In every category there are at least 5 nominations. Of course there are artists who are nominated for more than one Grammy, Bruno Mars is the classic example, who was nominated for 6 Grammys and won all 6. With 84 categories, there was the potential for 420 different female artists to be nominated and within that many, many more as songwriters/engineers/mixers etc.
Unfortunately, and despite revolutionary movements like #TIMESUP, ’Me Too’ and near every woman at the grammys wearing a white rose, only one female artist won. This artist was Alessia Cara who, since the Grammys, has had to put out a statement nearly apologising for her win as she received so much retaliation. Her album ‘Know it all’ came out in 2015, not exactly a Best New Artist.
Then we get to SZA. She was the most nominated female artist this year with 5 nominations. She lost every single one.
Then we get to the category of Best Pop Solo Performance in which Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga and P!nk were all nominated. But of course the one other nominee wins and of course the other nominee is Ed Sheeran. A white man.
Then we get to Lorde. Lorde was the only female nominated for Best Album of the Year with ‘Melodrama,’ which is probably one of my favourite albums ever. Not only did she not win but she was the only artist in the Best Album category not to be asked to perform. There are rumours that she was asked to perform a Tom Petty cover and not her own music, which she turned down.
Then we get to Record of the Year. In this category, not a single woman was nominated. Not even as a songwriter. Not even as a producer. Not as an engineer, mixer or mastering. Every male nominated for Album of the Year received a nomination for Record of the Year but the only female, Lorde, did not. Green Light, Perfect Places or Liability (just a few of the singles off her album) were not nominated for Best Record. It should also be said that Lorde was the only artist to have a female work as part of their team, Laura Sisk, as an enginner/mixer.
Sadly sexism is not limited to those at the top of the music industry. As I have said in my previous blogposts (I wrote a post about ‘Girls I Rate and why it’s so important) within my own music career, I and many other of my female contemporaries face sexism all the time.
In terms of playing live, I have talked about feeling threatened when walking back from gigs as it is usually so late at night and if I was ever playing in a pub, my music would be an easy way for creepy old men to start awkward conversation with me. This has, to some extent, improved. I believe this is because I now play with a male guitarist who is, of course, with me during the gig and fortunately lives in the same area as me and so gets the same train home with me. But there is still the issue with promoters who are in a position of power, they are paying you and you’re playing for them. Therefore, some think they're entitled to treat you however they see fit.
Another example of inequality within the music industry is within Sound Engineering/Mixing. I have been learning a lot more in this area and went to a little studio help session. I was the only woman in the room of about 7 and if I didn’t already feel like the odd one out, this man, who was supposed to be a professional, addressed the whole room but looked at me and stated ‘the questions that the guys are asking are getting quite complicated so don’t be afraid to leave if you want to.’ I understood everything that ‘the guys’ were asking, they were not difficult questions. I have already done quite a bit of sound engineering and technology, just because I am a girl does not mean I don’t know what fucking reverb is.
What I've been noticing in general is the imbalance of men and women within the music industry. I understand that this has always been there. The men have always been the instrumentalists, the drummers, the guitarists and women have always been the singers. Hopefully this is changing and there will be equality between men and women, not only in the music industry but globally.
Women are not less talented musicians than men and if any man thinks that women need to, in the words of Grammys president Neil Portnow, 'step it up,' then they shouldn't be allowed to have any role within the music industry in 2018.
If you don't know by now, I have a song called 'Midnight Car Ride' and driving with my music blasting is something I really, really love to do. So, I thought I would create a driving themed playlist for all your summer evening car rides. If you have your windows down, music up loud, put your arm out the window and perhaps put on this playlist.
Oh and if you're feeling like a total babe, follow my page on Spotify x
I love High School Musical.
I’m not ashamed and don’t try to hide it. I know the lyrics to songs like 'Work it Out' and 'All in this Together' better than I know my own lyrics and when I was 14 I made a dance routine to 'Bet on It' with one of my best friends. I’m not even embarrassed to say that we still know most of the moves and throwback to it frequently. Even last Friday, I was out with my friends and they played ‘All in this Together’ in the club. Oh yes. Me plus alcohol plus knowing the dance moves to the finale of the first film - come get it boys!!!
When I was younger and East High became the school that I would beg my parents to let me attend (yes I know, I know, it's not real. Cry me a fucking river), all I wanted in the world was to be Gabriella. She was perfect. She was beautiful. She was academic. She was sweet. She had the boy that I had a serious crush on in the palm of her hand and they were perfect together. I mean, he bought her a necklace with the letter ’T’ on it and you don’t get much more ‘goals’ than that. When the obsession begun, I would always try singing Gabriella’s song ‘When there was me and you’ from the first film and it well and truly crushed me that I couldn’t hit the notes the same way she did.
Now being a good few years older and - hang on to your hats, take deep breaths and maybe sit down as this may be distressing for some - Sharpay has become the ultimate focus of my envy instead. Woah.
One of my main goals of generally being a human is doing what I love and what makes me happy. This is why I put everything I have into my music career. Writing songs and creating music is an indulgence and a pure pursuit of happiness for me. I know what I want and I will do everything I can to get there. Sharpay is, minus the arrogance and bravado, the same and this is why I wish I had chosen her as a role model rather than Gabriella. I may have realised that it is okay to be confident and go for what you want a lot earlier. Sharpay is completely and totally herself without caring what anyone else thinks, I wish I was more Sharpay when I was younger as I desperately wanted other peoples’ approval, their opinion was everything. Now, albeit not entirely to Sharpay's credit, I just don’t give a shit.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to despise Sharpay. I mean, it did not sit well with my 9 year old self that she was constantly trying to prevent my boy Troy from being happy with his dream girl. How dare she? Fucking outrageous. It used to genuinely cause me discomfort when she would interfere with his relationship and prevent G + T from being happy. But now I can only admire her for her determination and persistence. She knew what she wanted, she was confident and worked her hardest.
While High School Musical may seem trivial, I guess the message from this post is clear. Be Sharpay.
Hiya, me again.
In all honesty I was really struggling with what to write about as a blog post. Not just in terms of what would be interesting for you to read but also for me to write. This was until I went to an event a couple of weeks ago organised by 'Girls I Rate.' Founded by Carla Marie Williams, (she co-wrote Beyonce’s ’Freedom,’ which may give you an idea of just how cool this woman is,) the organisation champions women in the creative industries and ‘aims to create a new platform for the next generation of girls and women coming through.’ The event was a #GETHEARD weekender in which artists were asked to submit their songs for a panel - made up of industry heavyweights like singer/songwriters Lily Allen and Tanya Lacey, Alec Boateng from Atlantic Records, Anne Christensen from Island Records and Jade Richardson from ATM Artists - to listen to and review. I sent in my song ‘Midnight Car Ride’ and was consequently asked to go to the event.
Held at the PRS HQ in London, I arrived and got in line to sign up. I feel I should say that while this could have been a competitive and intimidating atmosphere, the reality it was the opposite. Every girl was so supportive and genuinely wanted the best everyone. This environment was one in which women weren’t there to tear each other down in order to make themselves feel better, it felt like a community wanting to encourage one another.
We then all filed into a room where we each took a seat. The panel then announced the names of the girls whose tracks they had decided to play. One by one the chosen girl would go and sit with the panel. We’d hear about 2 minutes of their track and then the panel would review it.
A fact that I still cannot quite comprehend, my song ‘Midnight Car Ride’ was selected and I was called up to sit with the panel. Truth be told I was nervous, sweating and I could hear my heartbeat louder than my actual song being played on the speakers, I have also never tried so hard to play it cool in all my existence.
Despite my anxieties, the panel was lovely, they were encouraging and it seemed they genuinely liked my song. Lily told me I had a really sweet voice, Alec told me it was wicked and Carla told me that I had a very international sound. I’m still in shock and can assure you I will never stop dropping the names I met from this event. Thank you again to the panel, thank you, thank you.
However, what I really want to get across is just how important events and organisations like Girls I Rate are. I have only just begun my career in the music industry and already I cannot ignore the fact that my gender is desperately outnumbered and that being a girl has already affected my career.
For example, when I was younger and playing open mics. I was so scared to go home on the train alone late at night that I would force my dad to come with me. He would pretend to be a punter at the bar and then make sure I got home okay. This fear is widespread amongst women but as a gigging musician, I experience this fear more often than other women. I am much more likely to be walking home alone at night and this is where being a girl puts you at a disadvantage in the music industry. I feel I cannot stay until the end of a gig and watch the other acts perform because I’m so scared of the journey returning home, yes this is rude and disrespectful towards the other musicians. However, the risk of those musicians thinking ill of me is desperately outweighed by the risk of walking home any later. Gigging is not just a question of security, because at the gig itself, the ratio of men to women is staggeringly out of proportion. I am usually one of two girls or more likely the only girl on the bill at a gig. Also, nearly all of my music/musician friends are male.
I have only ever come across one female producer and sound engineer (this is the producer I work with, Indi Brodley from IndiB Productions,) until the #GETHEARD weekender. Indi is a veteran in being the only woman in the room and she more than held her own as one of five women out of the 25 on her music production course at university. Even now at a gig, she finds musicians are truly shocked or simply don’t believe that she is their sound engineer.
The realities of the gender inequality in the music industry was furthered after a conversation with my dad (who used to be a songwriter for a record label, back in the 80s) he stunned me by saying that when the label went out looking for female artists, they were only interested in what they looked like. By contrast, for male artists, the focus was on what they sounded like. I guess I have experienced my own version of this. As a young girl who sings, this makes me a horrifically easy target. Especially when you’re in a environment such as a pub or a club. I am always a target for older men to chat up and in all honesty completely creep me out. The amount of times I have had men pretend they work for record labels or a management company just to chat me up and get my number is ridiculous. It’s not flattering. It’s just creepy. My most memorable experience of this was when I was 17, I was playing a festival and had a relatively young guy come up to me and say he was a scout for new talent for a really big record label (that I won’t name.) I got so excited, rung my parents thinking I was going to get signed and that I had managed to open a door for my music career. I was wrong. He wasn’t. He just wanted was my number. I don’t think I need to explain the rest.
From my very first demos to when I was signed to my first record label, the environment that I’ve worked in has been completely male. Now, if anyone presents an opportunity (… and it’s always men) such as working in a studio together. I automatically assume that his intentions are not that of working together to make music. For example, I am currently working with a fantastic producer, but when he first invited me to his studio, I made sure that friends and family nearby knew his address in case I wanted to escape and was uncomfortable. Now don’t get me wrong this producer is amazing and a truly lovely guy but still, I prepared for the worst.
This is why we need more women in the music industry. Girls I Rate is essential because women are so outnumbered, we absolutely must support each other and work together to make this industry more equal. We are just as talented. We are just as hard working. This is not a post to hate on men in the industry, absolutely not. This is a post purely to shed light on an issue that needs more attention. Men can be taken seriously in the industry without trying and I’m sick of it.
This is why we need more women in the industry. This is why Girls I Rate is so important.
Dear Lily Allen and Carla Marie Williams, sorry if I seemed distant and perhaps a bit rude when you were speaking to me. I was simply trying to play it cool and do my best not to hyperventilate.
I guess we haven't actually had a proper introduction. My name is Lucy Mair. I'm 19. I do music.
I have a few songs out which you can find on this website and pretty much every social media outlet that I have. Please have a listen. Cool.
The Mair is actually Welsh and therefore pronounced Mi-ya, but no worries if you pronounce it wrong as even I do most of the time.
I should also introduce you to my website, this is where you can find everything about me and my music with the addition of far too many photos of my face. Enjoy.
This blog is for people to find out more about me, my music and for people to just generally ask questions. Also for me to keep you updated on what I'm doing with extra photos and videos.
I will try and keep this interesting I promise, hope you like the music:)
Lots of love,