#PressForProgress: part three

This is our final instalment marking International Women’s Day’s #PressForProgress campaign.

We’ve engaged with women across the industry for the three-part series and heard some brilliant ideas on how we can change up the business for the better.

Here, MOBO Awards founder and chief executive Kanya King MBE, Catherine Manners and Harriet Moss from Manners McDade Publishing, songwriter and artist PAWWS and hitmaker Caron Geary (aka FERAL is KINKY) share their thoughts on an industry in flux…

Huge thanks to everyone who took part. You can read all three articles here.

Kanya King MBE (pictured above), founder, MOBOs
@KanyaKing / @MOBOAwards

Where do you think the music industry is at right now in terms of gender equality?
I believe the music industry is at a turning point. We are now talking about the issue, which can only be positive. The main thing now is to act on it. We need to see more females in senior music roles both on and off stage, in technical roles, at labels, at venues. To make that happen, we need to create an environment in which women can not only progress but where they will also feel comfortable, valued and supported.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressForProgress – what is the most pressing issue you would like the industry to address?
One of the main issues we would like to see the industry address is the pipeline of talent. We noticed last year that there were far fewer female acts eligible for our annual list of nominees compared to men. For example, only four female acts released albums in the judging period, with only one getting a top five position. We did however ensure that we had a high level of female representation on stage performing, as guest presenters and host as well as media influencers taking over our social media channels.

And, finally, how do you think we can make positive change in the area you have identified?
Many studies have shown that creative output is higher when you have a diverse mix of individuals working together. We would therefore like to see more opportunities and roles available for women and those from diverse backgrounds. MOBO is constantly looking at ways we can elevate, motivate and celebrate talent. Whether it is through our MOBO UnSung competition, our MOBO Help Musicians Fund, LTC MOBO Fellowships or even our workforce, we want to inspire and support exceptional talent

nina whiteman composerNina Whiteman, composer, singer
@NinaWhiteman

Where do you think the music industry is at right now in terms of gender equality?
There has been a lot of progress in the last few years concerning awareness of gender inequalities, and many positive changes have been made. I particularly welcome the recent announcement from the PRS Foundation that a number of festivals internationally are making a commitment to gender-balanced programming.

We shouldn’t be complacent, though, since there are many more festivals that could still join this initiative. In my field (contemporary classical/experimental music performance and composition), many ensembles are making visible efforts to commission and programme a more balanced representation of genders. Again, there are others who could follow suit: composers, performers, and audience members ought to be raising questions publicly about concerts/performances/festivals that feature no or little music by women.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressForProgress – what is the most pressing issue you would like the industry to address?
From my perspective, there are still areas of the industry where there is substantial gender imbalance. Looking at the websites of publishers and of record labels active in contemporary classical/experimental music, it’s immediately evident that women are underrepresented in these areas.

And, finally, how do you think we can make positive change in the area you have identified?
Publishers, record labels, ensembles and festivals all need to be more proactive in identifying women with extraordinary creative voices. There are many of them who are currently not heard or promoted in more visible contexts. I would also argue that the classical/experimental industry ought to be seeking new names to place on their platforms, otherwise we find the same rather limited snapshot of (excellent) composers ‘photocopied’ everywhere. This is about research and engagement with a more representative cross-section of music creators. The end result will be a much more diverse offer for audiences that injects fantastic energy into the field.

manners mcdadeHarriet Moss (right) and Catherine Manners (left), Manners McDade Publishing
@MannersMcDade / @HarrietMoss

Where do you think the music industry is at right now in terms of gender equality?
Harriet: The music industry has a long way to go in terms of gender equality, just as it does in society: at board tables, in offices, on stage. But there are so many promising and inspiring initiatives out there working towards a common goal of becoming the best possible inclusive industry we can be – seek them out, support them, look at your own circle/network/office/team and challenge those around you to be inclusive of, not just all genders, but people of all backgrounds – the creativity (and ultimately the art) will thrive in that environment!

Catherine: I’m so inspired by the next generation of women in music. Groups like shesaid.so are facing this issue head on and offering amazing networking and support opportunities throughout the industry.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressForProgress – what is the most pressing issue you would like the industry to address?
Catherine: I’d just love to have an open conversation about maternity and paternity leave. Women have an amazing ability to organise their time and I’d love employers and the state to be more flexible to enable each employed and self-employed person to find the right solution for them.

And, finally, how do you think we can make positive change in the area you have identified?
Harriet: On mentorship and role models – I think we need to continue to make the most of the brilliant women working right across the industry and show them to be the inspiring role models that they are. To both support them to stick with it and continue their climb to the top of the chain; as well as having them inspire future generations of young women entering the industry, mentoring the future leaders of the industry. Working on the she.grows mentorship scheme with shesaid.so has been a really inspiring and rewarding experience thus far: peer to peer mentorship and senior to junior mentorship can work wonders for confidence, networking and empowerment.

PawwsPAWWS, songwriter, artist
@PawwsLucy 

Where do you think the music industry is at right now in terms of gender equality?
Ten years ago, I felt outnumbered as a female when I was touring and working in the music industry. In recent years that is becoming less noticeable as I am surrounded more and more by inspirational women, either in the studio, at shows or at the labels. It is very encouraging to see that side of things heading in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressForProgress – what is the most pressing issue you would like the industry to address?
While there are many amazing women in higher roles at the labels and in publishing already, it would be good to see more women heading up companies within the industry. If you take a look at last year’s Billboard 100 power list, there is approximately one woman to every 10 men.

And, finally, how do you think we can make positive change in the area you have identified?
Celebrating women who are already succeeding in the industry is a great way of encouraging the next generation of girls who want to work in music. It shows there are roles out there for them. I can see this happening already and it’s really positive, but there’s always room for more!

caron geary mc kinky

Caron Geary (aka FERAL is KINKY), songwriter, artist, producer, DJ
@FERALisKINKY

Where do you think the music industry is at right now in terms of gender equality?
My experience is there is a huge amount of disparity. Traditions haven’t been broken, men are still in the majority in terms of record label owners, A&Rs, managers and agents. There hasn’t been a huge shift since the sixties and seventies. My last two collaborations were on major labels. Despite decades in the industry and several hit records in the UK and internationally, it’s still a complete battle to be treated in the same way as my male counterparts – even when they’ve chosen to use my lyrics and melody, and it’s not a collaboration I’ve courted.

The moves aren’t always obvious, but after years of experience and placing clauses in the contracts to try and prevent inequality, it still happens. It’s protective, financial and still misogynist.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressForProgress – what is the most pressing issue you would like the industry to address?
Well, I think the press could help more than they do. One of the most pressing issues is equality and visibility. Female producers aren’t discussed widely and when they are discussed it’s in terms of weird anomalies: ‘here’s a bunch of woman who produce’. We need to educate young people from nursery age into realising music is no more a male domain than cooking, hair, make-up or designing women’s clothes. Lyrics, melody and rhythm aren’t governed by gender. Men don’t own the basis of music, but they still own and control the record companies, and woman are still seen as a marketing tool by the industry. Ageism for women more than men is still prevalent. Who gets the roughest treatment Madonna or Mick?

We’re still governed by the stereotypes as the music industry clings to archaic measures surrounding control and making money. They’re office workers not artists or musicians – what do they really know about creativity and success when they live off other peoples’?

And, finally, how do you think we can make positive change in the area you have identified?
Restructuring the industry and making gender and race obsolete. Place women in positions of ownership and power on a level with men.