The music industry can be a tricky place for many.
With the stress of writing good music, building and maintaining a certain image, earning money and using social media to connect and broaden an audience amongst many other time-consuming jobs and activities it seems like artists already have a ton on their plate.
Add into that the pressure to get along with and work co-operatively with a team of people who may or may not have the same creative desires and ambitions you do and it’s no wonder that many artists are stressed and need to take a break from the industry.
On top of all that there’s still a massive elephant in the room.
Inequality in the music industry is no secret, however, many people fail to realise just how big a difference it’s having for some artists.
In particular women in the music industry are feeling the weight of inequality.
Earlier this year, Triple J’s ‘By The Numbers Report’ found that female artists and all female groups only make a measly 28% of the most played songs on radio across 58 Australian stations.
They also found that despite women clearly being under played and less popular in the music industry there are more females than males choosing to study music in their final year of high school.
The report also discovered that females are underrepresented on the public boards of music organisations in Australia with only 35% of members female across the multiple organisations investigated.
However, the massive underrepresentation and treatment of women in the music industry is not only an Australian problem.
Out of the 899 people nominated in the six most recent Grammy Awards, not even 10% of the nominees were female and when asked about the gender gap by Variety, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said:
“[Women] need to step up.”
Many female artists around the world are working hard in the music industry and have spoken out about the clear underrepresentation and treatment of females with artists such as Madonna, Charli XCX, Camp Cope and Lady Gaga speaking out about their experiences in what Gaga describes as “a f****n’ boys club”.
Lead singer Sarah Jones of Melbourne based band SarahJ explained to me that she’s aware of the industry’s dark side, however, she herself has never experienced it.
“We have been lucky, as a female fronted band, I can confidently say that I am the front-woman and have been for as long as we’ve been a band. Since I was able to learn so much about the industry and how nasty it can get, I have always had a barrier up. We have never experienced any harassment and I think that is due to how headstrong I represent the band,” Jones said in regards to being a female in the industry and performing in front of different crowds.
For Jones staying true to herself and being surrounded by supportive people is what has helped her to get through difficult situations in the industry so far.
“There have been difficult times when you walk into a studio, not knowing anything about the producer and as a job you are there to record something. They try to mould you in a certain way, but because I am so sure as to what I want and who I am, I’ve been very firm with them and they’ve luckily respected that,” she said.
Jones was always interested in music during her high school years and in 2015 she met a woman who would help change her life.
“Late 2015, I met a woman Susie Ahern who is a professional singer and mentor in Australia (tours with John Farnham, Anthony Callea, Jessica Mauboy, Kylie Minogue and many other well-known artists) and I took her on as my vocal technician and mentor. With her professionalism she was able to see the potential [in me], she inspired me to do workshops and programs that gave me opportunities to network with industry professionals and understand the difficulties of being a woman in the music industry,” Jones said.
Jones believes that when you love something as much as she loves music you are willing to take on any difficulties and work for something that you know is worth it. For her the music industry is worth it and whatever challenges she may face in the future she believes she will be able to work through.
Jones and her band are lucky to not have experienced the inequality in the music industry as yet and there are many other female artists and female fronted bands who have not and may not ever experience it first hand.
However, for those who have experienced and will experience the inequality in the industry whether they be female or not because it’s not just females who are underrepresented, it’s important for them to know they’re not alone and for other people to know the impact it’s having and the statistics around it.
If more people speak up about inequality in the industry and share their experiences then maybe one day the music industry will finally hit all the right notes for equality.