The music industry is a breeding ground for sexism. While the pandemic has contributed to the emergence of an unprecedented movement of unbridled expression among victims of gender-based and sexual harassment on the ground, women still face many obstacles to make their mark in the industry. .
As March is National Women’s Month, Midia Research has studied the place of women in the music industry. And it’s clear that this can be a difficult area for many. Some 81% of the 401 women surveyed by the institute believe that it is more difficult for female artists to be recognized than their male counterparts. Even more troubling: nine out of 10 respondents say the music industry treats its professionals differently based on their gender.
Several factors contribute to this persistent dynamic of inequalities. Among them, the many cases of gender-based and sexual violence that have plagued the profession for many years. In 2020, the MusicToo collective collected more than 300 testimonies highlighting the forms of abuse suffered by women in the music industry. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as 67% of women working in the music industry (artists or professionals) in the United States say they have been sexually harassed at least once, according to a study by 2018 from the Music Industry Research Association. .
The hypersexualization of artists, ageism, the festive atmosphere and the precariousness of the profession are all factors that can make the music industry particularly hostile to women. More than 80% of professionals surveyed by Midia Research agree that women must “be beautiful (appearance, image, visual performance) and sound good” to break into business.
“People were suspicious of a pretty woman who made music on her own, with a vision. They couldn’t handle me. It was like, “It’s not true that you can put on lipstick and make music,” said Russian DJ Nina Kraviz, who has experienced sexism firsthand. The Guardian in 2018.
Fight gender stereotypes
Another major concern for women in music is their age. Many express concerns about growing old, regardless of their age.
“The music industry wants female artists to be young, partly a symptom of the industry’s obsession with youth, but also for women to succeed before they decide to take on the role of mother,” the Midia Research report said.
Women can struggle to break out of these gender stereotypes, especially in some very “masculine” branches of the music industry. Two-thirds of respondents feel particularly excluded from music composition and production.
More and more women in the sector are creating collectives to push the industry to review its functioning and it could work. A third of survey participants (35%) believe that mentoring and coaching could encourage more women to pursue a career in music, as would structural and legislative changes. Quotas were also cited by 29% of respondents as a solution.
Several music festivals have taken this route and are now ensuring that parity is respected in their programming. But there is still a long way to go before such levels of parity can be achieved across the industry. J.B.
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