Update the song of women and music

A female student edits audio on her laptop. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

It is easy to think of strong female artists like Beyonce and Kesha. While they may be the face of music, the numbers representing women behind the scenes in the music industry are blurry, to say the least.

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism published a study last year showing the disparity of women in the music industry. Of the 651 producers in the study, 13 were female. In the study, of the total 2,676 songwriters credited, an overwhelming 87.7 per cent were male. That leaves 12.3 per cent of songwriters in the study, female.

There need to be more women in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the music industry. A more diverse representation of women, beyond the polished pop star music lovers are so used to seeing, can only help to influence the industry in a positive light.

By creating a support network, women can encourage each other and break up this male-dominated industry.

“I have had the experience of being talked down to, and I do believe just like any industry in this world, maybe women have to prove themselves a little bit more,” says Vanessa Markov, band manager of cleopatrick.

70 per cent of the music industry is male-dominated, according to a statistic from Women in Music (WIM). WIM is a global non-profit organization, and one of their goals is to advance equality in the music industry.

Markov says she never let being a woman hinder her. She never used it as an excuse.

“Don’t use anything as an excuse to fail,” she says.

The ambition of success must come from the person, but as a woman it can be daunting to be the only one. This is why a support network is needed.

Andrea Braithwaite, a senior lecturer of gender media studies at UOIT, says there is disparity of gender in many industries.

“Often, in pretty much every industry, whether it’s music or banking, it’s because it is easier to reproduce privilege when you are already privileged than it is to reproduce those patterns,” she says.

Men occupy 62.4 per cent of senior management positions at six of the largest banks in Canada, according to the Canadian Bankers Association.

If women are in the industry, they are more likely to support and hire other women, Braithwaite says, which creates a support network.

“A solid mentorship system, can help women in these unfriendly places, sort of find support and navigate their way through,” Braithwaite says.

Mentorship is not only beneficial to the mentee, but also the mentor. According to Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania, mentorship improves productivity, engagement and retention.

Some fresh and female perspective in the music industry couldn’t hurt, especially if it means there won’t be a repeat of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”.