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  • Mathieu Parent

A Force to be Reckoned with: Women in Music!

Throughout this past year learning about the music business and its industry, I witnessed many artists supporting different causes and organizations. I’ve always been aware of that fact and I always wondered what I would want to support and what I believed in. I also realized that although there are so many women in music, whether they are singers, musicians, producers, engineers, managers, CEO’s, roadies, photographers or in any position - there are still so many that aren’t getting the recognition, respect, opportunities they deserve and so much more.

Change comes from starting something small, keeping up with it and getting others to bring their ideas and their power to the change. The entertainment business has been in the public’s spotlight for the #metoo movement, equal pay, and many more issues surrounding women and minorities in the workplace. These problems are so much more than wearing black or a flower at an award show. It’s showing initiative to talk about what is wrong. It’s putting into action what needs to be improved, and it's calling out the uncalled for.

A lot of people might think that disrespect and sexual assault only happen in higher paying jobs or higher positions, but they also occur on a smaller scale. The amount of local venues that have held shows where some inappropriate actions have been made are more than a person should even think about. It starts small. I think that with that being said, the local community and artists themselves who are touring and playing do need to call out those actions. They also need to let the fans know that that kind of behaviour is unacceptable and if anything happens, to not be afraid to call out and seek for help. With many venues in our city being 18 and older, I think it's reassuring for the new comers to feel safe in those crowds so that the music community will keep growing in a healthy way.

I love seeing female artists succeed, in any part of the industry and in any type of art. I think its important to support each other’s work and passions so that we can all benefit from other's inspirations, new connections and self-confidence. When I began interviewing artists, I thought ‘what can I ask them about women in music?’, ‘how can I benefit from what they see and know about the music industry?’. Formulating only one question is very difficult because there are so many aspects that can be addressed when speaking about women in the music business. I also wondered what I would do with the information, with the answers that artists and fellow creatives would give me…I decided to write this article and have you read the responses from band members, photographers, concert promoters, tour managers and many others. All the quotes included are empowering, intelligent and totally inspiring in their own way. We have to lift one another up, encourage the youth and not leave anyone astray. I hope that this article will make you reflect on how things are perceived, how things are thought about, and how we can improve this community. I want this article to make you want to take action and at the very least, make you want to support women in music and give them equal opportunities.

The question that has been asked goes as follows:

What can people from the music industry do for women to be treated equally and how can we make people more aware that women in the industry are just as capable as anyone else?

In all honesty, I don’t think about them any differently, so that’s just a weird thing to me. - There’s girls who shred way harder than any of us. - Alex in QTY is a better guitar player than me and Jake put together! - We’re just aware that there’s no separation, if you’re a creative person, you’re a creative person, and that’s sick! -We’ve toured with so many girl bands and girls in bands and we just don’t see a difference. - I think it’s a thing with musicians in keeping up that kind of ideal, that it shouldn’t be a big thing, and I mean, obviously upstairs there’s a lot of fucked up shit that happens. I think it’s a greater problem with the industry as a whole more so than the music aspect. Doesn’t change that there are some bands out there that are super shitty and misogynistic. - We’ve never been treated any lesser-than, because we’re all a bunch of straight white dudes, so it’s hard for us to have that perspective. - Our perspective is basically that everyone shreds. - Yeah like if you make cool shit, you make cool shit, who gives a fuck! - Jason and Jake, HUNNY

As women in music we need to focus on eliminating competition and realize that the barriers that we sometimes build between all of us are encouraged and largely implemented by the patriarchy. It's really not in our nature to self-divide, and it's not in our best interest anyway because we're already oppressed in most industries. We now follow a patriarchal and capitalist script as a way to go about forging a path to success in the music industry because we feel like that's the only option. We need to make and follow our own rules. That might mean starting our own magazines or bands or labels or management companies. In any case we need to team up, teach and guide each other, rather than dividing ourselves, because we're smart enough to do it. - Carter Howe, photographer

I mean, there’s a lot and its hard to put into words. I was actually having this conversation earlier and its kinda like, in a way being asked about being a women in music that means that I’m not talking about my music and the stuff I’ve been doing before, you know like men don’t get asked what its like being a man in the industry, they just get to talk about their artistic process and their influences and what went into the record and stuff like that. But also, its good to talk about it because change needs to happen, I think its just a shift in attitude and it's really hard to pin point how that will happen, I think there’s stuff that’s been going on that’s good, there’s a lot more funds supporting women and the talk has definitely made people more aware that and there are loads of amazing female artists in bands rising up at the moment and I think that’s what will make the change, its women putting out music, like making really good music and putting it out there and I think that is happening. I’m hoping if we carry on in this way we will see a big shift in the next 5 years, it's such a strong topic at the moment but its hard to define exactly what has to change. - Marika Hackman, musician/singer/songwriter

The first thing that comes to mind to me is production. There are so few women producers and as a women in music the thing that was a big game changer for me was learning how to produce. Learning the language of production just to be able to communicate with, if only to communicate with the men producers I was working with and tell them exactly what I wanted. I think, you know now that everyone has Garage Band on their Macs or its very easy to just get Ableton, Pro Tools or whatever and the age of producers is getting really young, all studios are home studios. I really feel like girls should be encouraged to learn production and know that it's not just for guys. I think that would be really impactful if just as many young girls started to learn how to make beats as young boys. - Allie X, singer-songwriter

Marika Hackman by Morgan Winston shot for Honey Punch Mag

For industry professionals, especially in the touring/live realm of the music industry, practice what you preach; if you want more women around, then make it so. Don't preach about equal rights for women and then go on to have an entirely, strictly male team. I can assure you that there are a bunch of women that have the same, if not more, experience than most of the men on your team. Give everyone a truly equal chance to show you what they've got, and don't undermine someone's talents just because of their gender. - Erin Haney, tour manager

Just doing the kind of thing that we’re doing, like starting bands. - It's not a thing, it just shouldn’t be a thing, we’re just a band. I just think people should embrace that mentality and it's not just in music either, its everywhere. We need to prove ourselves and it sucks. - I say the more space women take up, the less of a stigma there will be. The more bands and musicians that use their voice as women then the better it is for us all. - There’s always gonna be people like nay-sayers who are gonna be keep doing it, like we’re not like ‘oh my god we’re women playing guitars right now!’, we’re just playing music and having a good time like whatever. - It's not a statement, do what you want! - We have these in ear monitors but we could hear the crowd last night and someone said “Oh I wasn’t expecting that when they walked out on stage” and we heard that as we’re playing. - You know what though, you do hear it less and less. That was one of the first times I’ve ever heard that. Most people that I talk to when we’re doing merch and stuff at the end of the show haven’t ever talked about gender. They haven’t in a while, they used to all the time. I think that’s because there’s more females playing and its less of a ‘weird’ thing. - Thank you Alvvays, thank you Feist, thank you Emily, St-Vincent, thank you for making our lives easier and more fun! - Jordan, Kylie, Eliza & Leandra, The Beaches

I think a lot of it comes down to overcoming sexism at large which we are very far from, but what i’ve found is that a lot of the dialogue surrounding better treatment of women, trans, non binary, queer, and racialized folks in music is done by and amongst these people themselves. I bring up issues to people about their behaviour and micro aggressions time and time again and yet i don’t see much conversation happening amongst the people who exhibit those behaviours. For that reason i think there needs to be a lot more talk happening amongst groups of men rather than the oppressed groups putting in all of the labor to teach. Men need to be taking on the responsibility of educating themselves and coming up with ideas on how they can improve music culture rather than continuously waiting for their problematic behaviour to be called out.

I think a lot of this also pertains to how we can ensure women are viewed as capable. So much of the industry is riddled with longstanding micro aggressions like little comments about female ability or asking a woman in a band if she’s the girlfriend of one of the members that these behaviours go unnoticed and unchallenged. These little comments have a huge impact on continuing the cycle so i think it’s a huge step to even just point out how harmful the small statements are. As for women, show no remorse or hesitation in getting the treatment and opportunities you deserve. it’s exhausting but you deserve to be here and be heard. as much as men will try to take up space from you, or make you feel like you don’t belong, fight back harder because you have a lot more to offer! - Kaitlyn Daley, production manager at Blue Skies Turn Black

I think one of the key steps towards gender equality in the music industry is for women to look after each other. Too often do I see bands with females hiring male crew. Although I do think it’s important to hire the best person for the job, successful women making a place for other women in the music industry is something that I think would make a huge difference. One of the things that we as women can do is speak up for ourselves. Many of the opportunities I have received come from asking and putting myself out there. If you have a talent or skill, don’t be afraid to talk about it! You never know when something awesome may arise. Also, never forget a good attitude. Positivity and kindness is something that goes a long way. - Sophia Ragomo, photographer

Alisa Ramirez of The Aces by Gabriella Hughes

I feel like our job as female artists is to be ourselves. That's what's going to instil change. I think the most valuable thing you can do as a woman is to be yourself fearlessly and unabashedly. Show up constantly, be persistent, and never let anyone stop you from creating. Be honest and authentic in your work and trust yourself. Go with your gut on everything. I also read a great piece of advice the other day, from Issa Rae I think. She said to focus on networking with people at the same level as you, focus on creating and meeting people who have the same hunger and drive you do, rather than trying to get meetings with people eight steps ahead of you. No one meeting will make or break your career. Don’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you, you have to put in the work yourself. - Caity Krone, singer-songwriter

I think it would be beneficial for any music related organization (label, press company, publication, etc) to start showing off the ladies that are on their team more! There’s endless ways to show praise to these amazing ladies, from making appreciation posts online, to women lead events. I feel that highlighting the women and the work they do would not only show that women really can do the same job a man can do, but it would be that extra boost of confidence to the young aspiring female who’s trying to find her way into the music scene. - Emma Watts, Co-founder/ photographer and photo editor of Honey Punch Mag

I think for us its just by leading by example. We’ve been really lucky that in our band we haven't encountered too much bullshit, like not too much people but we’re still all girls in a very alternative rock dominated world. I think you have to demand that space and respect, like “I’m here and I am good” You have to show up, put the work in and just do it. A lot of the time we’ll show up to a venue and there’s these pre-conceived ideas that like ‘oh, can these girls really be that good?’ and it's so ridiculous, but we just get on the stage and own it. Afterwards you change everyones mind. Its just women supporting women and bringing up each other. We always encourage other women to get into music, like we’re here and there are a lot of dope females in music and whenever there’s other girls, we always help each other, like we’re here for you! No young girl should be afraid to get into music. The more there is of us, the less we can be ignored, it's a force to be reckoned with. - Cristal, Katie, McKenna Petty & Alisa, The Aces

I think that for me and for a lot of others in the music industry, what’s important is for us women to stand together and support each other. Because there are fewer women in the industry, sometimes it becomes this competition of who’s getting the most attention. There’s this insecurity because it has been male dominated, it has made us women feel more insecure in this industry which fucking sucks, but therefore it so important that we stand together as sisters. Don’t get me wrong, competition is good and there will always be competition but it has to be a positive competition. It is a tough industry and I will say, I am feeling optimistic because there’s so much focus on these things in the creative businesses at the moment. There’s more and more awareness of the people in power and the unbalance of the environments but I think its just so great to see this unity movement happening between women. - , singer-songwriter


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