With the 2016 Triple J Hack report on gender inequality in the music industry, the debate on the widely unrecognised disparity has only recently become national news. It is clear from this report, and many articles following after, that the Australian music industry is unequal in its representation of females and is considered wildly sexist by many in the industry themselves.
In the second Girls To The Front investigation by Triple J Hack, it was found that “Male artists are far more likely to be booked on a festival line-up or played on radio; receive the majority of national music grants, and staff in the industry and on public boards tend to be male dominated” (McCormack, 2016).
This report also shows, overwhelmingly, that women are underrepresented in almost every aspect of the music industry. Only 31% of public board members on peak music bodies of Australia are women, with indie record label manager positions being held by 23% of women (McCormack, 2016). Female acts are also marginalised when it comes to Australian music awards, with 34% of women being awarded ARIAs in 2016, and only 15% of women holding places in the ARIA Hall of Fame.
With female acts taking up considerably less places in the line ups of all Australian music festivals as well, many members of the industry are making it apparent that they want change.
Georgia, Kelly and Sarah from Melbourne band Camp Cope have described the barriers they’ve had to face early on in their career that their male counterparts have not. “People told us, ‘You should book small venues because you don’t want to have a big venue that’s half-filled’,” Georgia says, “But we sold out every tour. It’s just patronising” (McCormack, 2016). This is not an uncommon experience for Australian female artists, while many also face unrelentless comparisons to other women in the industry (Mack, 2016).
All of these facts culminate to effect the music industry as a whole, and the minds of young girls trying to find women to look up to. In a study by Dr Catherine Strong (lecturer in the music industry program at RMIT) and APRA AMCOS, it was shown that there are many complex and nuanced reasons as to why there is an apparent gender gap in the music industry.
However, public visibility of female performers is a major barrier to new artists joining the field. “Not having a role model, not having someone you can look up to and say ‘that could be me’ is one of the big factors that seems to be standing between women having aspirations in the first place” (Strong, 2016).
APRA AMCOS is taking major steps to rectify this disparity, making an announcement to commit to “doubling the intake of new female members in three years; introduced strict 40 per cent female participation measures in its programs, judging panels and performers at its events; announced a mentorship program for emerging artists, and has called on the rest of the industry to follow their lead and commit to gender parity” (McCormack, 2017).
APRA AMCOS has also announced that their music grants will have to show at least 40% female participation, and have also launched a mentorship program with female professional artists.
While APRA AMCOS has made changes to its ways to help counteract the inequality within the music industry, no government incentives have been made to help support young Australian female musicians. There are plenty of arts grants available for communities and collectives as well as some music based ones, but nearly all of these grants are not available in Queensland and they are not music based (Music Australia, 2017).
Government grants are important in this part of the industry, as there are many young female musicians living rurally in Queensland. It is much harder for artists in these areas to source equipment, education and receive performance opportunities, and government grants can be of great assistance to the young women struggling to make their mark in the music industry.
With the help of these grants, diversity of race and gender within the industry will increase significantly, and other young female artists nationwide will be further encouraged to pursue their passion in music.
While the government and large Australian music bodies must make gender equality a high priority in their workplace, it also comes down to the general public acknowledging this issue. Many men and women sit idly by every single day, refusing to recognise the injustices that we contribute to.
Hopefully, with the information provided here and the references that have been provided, another mind will be changed on the matter of gender inequality in the music industry.
PHOTO from Camp Cope Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pg/campcopemusic