Gender Equality In The Indie Music Industry.
Gender inequality is an issue in the world, and the music industry is no different. Though, at first glance, it may not seem so. There are so many female names that have become synonymous with success. There are many women here that make the industry proud.
Women are also becoming more organized. They are heading some awesome interest groups that wish to advance the awareness, opportunities, equality, diversity, cultural aspects and heritage of women in the musical arts through education, recognition, support and empowerment. Some of these groups play an active role in cultivating the next generation of female leaders. Women have set out mentoring one-on-one in work time as well as leisure time because they see it important for other women to understand and realise their power.
Yet all is not well. In the U.K, for example, working women are more inclined to have a superior qualification as compared to their male colleagues. However, nearly 50% of them earn lesser than men at the same positions with most of them being more qualified. Moreover, even though there are more women in the indie business population than men in working age, 61% of music professionals in the U.K. are male. In sectors such as promotion, management and live music, that number rises to 70%. Except for the salaries, the United States is unlikely to be that different.
A man dismissing a woman as not being equal is indeed common in the business. And it often goes well beyond that. Inappropriate behaviour in corporate settings abound. A female artist even reported being touched ‘in a wrong way’ during a meeting but her label asked her to shut up. It is difficult to imagine this happening as easily in another industry. Added is the fact that, often, the private lives of many men in the business are far from exemplary.
The uneven distribution of the genders is partly to blame on long work hours that force women to make a choice between work and family life. Nowhere is this more evident, it seems than in the field of music production and engineering. In Nashville, Tennessee, fewer than 5% of all professional producers and engineers are women and, overall, only six females have ever been nominated for best producer at the Brits and Grammys combined; none have won the prize. Entrenched attitudes don’t help.
Chris Brown has been afforded pardon after pardon despite serious physical assault charges on his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna. Another female artist filed a case against a famous person in the industry, alleging him of raping and abusing her. She also accused Sony of knowingly concealing his actions. If true, the industry should examine how far it can it go tapering over the allegedly egregious behaviour of its cash cows. Its time we realised that music is an art, a passion, a way to life for a musician, an indie artist or anyone supporting an artist in achieving his/her goals. The individual’s gender should not matter in deciding how talented he/she is, or how much hard work an individual has or is willing to put into making a career. Change in this regard has come outside of the United States. The activist group GetUp, for example, endorsed the banning of Chris Brown from performing in Australia, a message that is unequivocal in its condemnation of domestic violence, especially because the instance of violence took place six years ago. Brown will now be forced to appeal to the Commonwealth government in order to perform shows that have already been scheduled. Meanwhile, there is much work to be done in the U.S. in order to bring a better gender balance to the workplace. Some issues transcend the music business.
Overall, it is the behaviour of individuals that will change things for the better and any initiative or interest group that can get this across, such as the Women in Music organization, deserves the support of the entire music community. Men could learn by listening to women’s concerns, as women do with men. This seems obvious, but it is often forgotten. The best relationships are the ones based on genuine interdependence between men and women, in personal life, as well as in professional life. Even if the gender was to be ignored in the professional, we would want a world where genuine interdependence among colleagues forms a balanced, professionally beneficial relationship for everyone involved!
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