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.