Hello friends, today I’m back with yet another meaty kind of post. I’ve definitely dived into broadening my scope of content from just music recommendations and playlists, and I’m hoping you’re enjoying the little expansion of my niche here on You Should Hear.
With that said, today’s post is going to be a bit of a follow up to my Festival Culture post, which I shared a couple of days ago. Some of you really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d share the second half of the report that I pulled it from, which focuses on the prevalent gender imbalance when it comes to the live music sector. For the sake of the context of the statistics making sense, I should let you know that I specifically focus on this imbalance within Australia, though touch really briefly on international statistics.
It’s no secret that, like with many industries around the world, the music industry does have a bit of a ‘boys-club’ when it comes to the representation of women, both in performing roles, as well as corporate positions and professional music industry roles. My old favourites, triplej Hack, have begun to take a yearly look at the numbers surrounding this topic, and while it’s evident there is some work being done to close the gap, margin of disparity is still huge, and in my opinion, it provides audiences with a slight misinterpretation of the music that’s truly out there.
First we can talk about radio. Of data collected over ten years, women make up only 28% of the most played songs amongst the top 100, within 58 countries. 28%. That number becomes even more absurd when you look at the number of young girls who study music throughout high school. I’m sure it’s the same globally, but while it’s pretty evenly spread, with 54% of the Year 12 students studying music in 2017 being female, visually, you really see the impact young girls have on performing arts within primary, secondary and even tertiary education, however once it reaches the serious ‘work force’, of those listing themselves as ‘music professional’, only 29% are women. The idea that men are just more interested in pursuing musical careers is a no-go when you consider the amount of young girls seriously studying music and investing in a ‘professional music’ education, so how do we go from an almost even balance scaled to only 29% in the work force?
This is where all of that ^^^ kind of clicks. Within the music industry, like many many industries, men are making the calls. Of all public board members within peak music bodies in Australia, all the women combined make up only 35% of the roles. While there seems to be something being doing about this gender imbalance on the front, I don’t know if it’s made it’s way into the boardroom as much as it ought to have, since that number hasn’t changed since 2016, and that was only an increase by 5% from 2015.
Now, festival lineups? That’s where I get particularly riled up. We’ll start with the most atrocious of them all. In 2015, at Listen Out, still a relatively new festival, though that’s a shit excuse, only 9% of their entire lineup were females. 9%. I mean, they’ve definitely worked to address that considering that percentage rose to 37%, the second highest of the five music festivals researched, but that’s still a pretty poor number. Laneway Festival records the highest percentage of women present in their lineup, with 44%.
Last year, boutique (kinda) festival, Days Like This festival came under fire in it’s debut, with hold on, no women at all on their lineup. It wasn’t a huge festival by any means, like I mentioned, kind of a boutique festival, but surely out of 38 acts there’s room for at least 1 woman? But to be honest, even that’s a pretty poor effort, as was evident with the backlash to the Spilt Milk festival, where my girl Vera Blue was the single female act of a lineup of 49 artists.
It’s definitely an international issue too. Of 100 acts at the Reading and Leeds festival, only 9 were girls, and 2 of them were headliners. 9 out of 100. Below are also some of my favourite pictures to ever exist, that really drives this point home. It’s all well and good to through statistics at you, but it’s completely different when you see it.
Crazy, as heck. And so, so, so stupid.
Notably, this years Grammy awards came under rightful fire, considering Lorde, who was nominated for Album of The Year, the only female in the category, wasn’t asked to perform.
The huge issue I see with this, is the imbalance between how many girls are so invested in music, and want to be a part of the music industry, and the music industry they are presented with. As a young woman who’s investing a lot of my future in the hope that I can someday hopefully work in the music industry, it’s daunting. When the role models of young women, as well as young coloured women, are so sparse, and when those who are present have to work twice as hard to get there, it constructs an image that shows an industry that highly favours men, however equal we may be in regards to our talents.
The way young men and women are socialised controls the way they go about constructing their view of the world, and what it means to be, in this case, a young woman. Without a role model, without being able to see another young female artist on stage at a music festival or a strong group of women sitting in high power positions within the industry, the likelihood of young girls even attempting to pursue a career in the music industry diminishes.