‘Be the person who pushes the buttons’
Emmy the Great, musician
Surround yourself with other women and don’t see them as competition, but rather as a network of strength and mutual support. Get your hands on as many tools as you can: be the person who pushes the buttons, be the person who plays the instrument. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn to do something (the internet helps). And if anyone ever makes you feel like you can’t do it, use that as incentive to work harder. You never have to compromise your personal space or boundaries to get work. If you feel uncomfortable about something, communicate it with your friends and peers.
‘Learn on the job’
Catherine Marks, music producer and mixing engineer
Get internships in recording studios and learn on the job – it’s about working with other producers and making yourself invaluable to a studio environment. We need more women doing that. It’s so exciting when there’s a female intern, assistant or engineer, because it does change the dynamic in the studio in a positive way. People are always going to come up against adversity: find the people who are encouraging and believe in you, because that will help you keep going.
It just takes one [woman] to get the ball rolling, and I feel like the ball is rolling now. But it will take time. There are programmes like the one run by Miloco, a studio management company, who run two-week internships. You get to work with some amazing producers in amazing studios. This industry is about building relationships, and that’s a really good place to start.
‘Make it the most normal thing’
Celia Archer and Fern Ford, members of The Big Moon
You can draw attention to [the fact that we’re an all-female band] if you want, but we decided from the start that we weren’t going to mention it. If we just continue to do what we want to do, and make it seem like the most normal thing, then people aren’t going to be surprised when they see us. – Fern
The best thing that we can do is be a band and not make our femaleness the main thing about our personality; we’re about our music, about our songs. – Celia
‘Be part of a supportive network’
Rachel Bisdee, senior director international, Def Jam, Island & Republic Records
My advice to women who want a music career is to chase what you love, set goals, take action, be brave, work hard and be part of a supportive network. There are many talented and accomplished women leaders in the industry today, who are strong role models for the next generation. Two of Universal Music’s labels in the UK have female presidents: Rebecca Allen at Decca, and Jo Charrington who is co-president at Capitol UK. The international organisations SheSaid.So and WomenInMusic.org are also working to advance equality in the music industry through the support and advancement of women.
‘Make diversity a priority’
Sadie Dupuis, musician
Go to the shows of the artists you want to see on these festival stages; support the booking agencies of artists that feature diverse rosters – these are the organisations that need to change first. Buy the publications that do features on diverse artists. As a musician, work with booking agencies that make diversity a priority.
‘Trust our own voices’
Emmy the Great
We need to remember to trust our own voices and those of other women, so it’s worth examining our own biases and breaking through conditioning that might tell us to value men’s voices over women’s. The PRS for Music Foundation and the Association of Independent Music (AIM) both do a lot of work spotlighting women in the British music industry through events, panels and the PRS’s Women Make Music fund. Many of the challenges facing women in the arts are economic – we need money to create; we need gatekeepers to give us money to create.
Having conversations like this, or larger-scale conversations like the AIM Women in Music conference, are essential. And we can always use our consumer power – for example, supporting festivals or line-ups that have gender parity. Remember that music is something that benefits from the creative input of all.