Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Changing The Music Industry Status Quo With Girl Power

In preparation of my upcoming Fiero Flair event, Girl Power: Women Working in the Music Industry, spearheaded by co-founder and former personal manager Kerry Fiero, I embarked upon weeks of research to investigate the lack of women who work behind the scenes (e.g., professional/executive) in the music industry.
What did I find? A lack of (statistical) information.
Motivated by the same curiosity, East Coast publicity guru, Ariel Hyatt, independently conducted a similar search on her own and was led to the same conclusion: despite some modest gains, the number of women behind the scenes is still disproportionate.
Lack of diversity is not synonymous with lack of commitment to diversity; however, if the presence of women and minorities is lacking, it means that their is a status quo in place that needs to be examined, and disrupted. Commitment (or lack thereof) to diversifying one's workforce will be reflected in the end result.
The music "industry" is ill-defined, does not have a conventional structure, and is characterized by unorthodox business practices, but it's a multi-billion dollar business with many people who serve different functions, and play different roles. We could say that too many of the professional/executive roles are occupied by men, but that would diminish their efforts - not a good thing when trying to establish a meritocracy. What we can, and should say, is that not enough women occupy professional/executive roles - that forces us to re-evaluate the efforts, and the metrics, used in establishing a meritocracy.
As I stated in a previous posting, the hardest thing about being a woman, may be dealing with men who don't respect women. Female artists can testify to this more readily.
Nicki Minaj did. Nicki is referred to as many things, but stupid is not one of them. Sure, she is radical, outspoken, brash if not abrasive, and prone to bouts of immaturity, but once you get past (or rather look past) her remaining growth barriers, she is a woman with balls and vision.

She sees the big picture and she knows how to play the game. I found Nicki on YouTube speaking on why women have to be assertive and how women are perceived differently. You can view it here.
Though few organizations address the unique challenges of  women working in the music industry, ASCAP tackled the subject at this year's Expo, at which Ledisi and Jill Scott weighed in on the business of succeeding as a woman, and Tina Davis, former music exec and current manager of singer Chris Brown, exposed the sexual dynamics that undermine male/female industry relations. See below.
Searching the Internet about women working in the music industry was as disappointing as the situation itself. There's an opportunity, and a call to action, in this space which was confirmed in a short documentary on the struggle for respect that female musicians face. It essentially revealed that women...
  • Feel a lack of credibility
  • Encounter dismissive attitudes from men
  • Have to work harder to be respected
  • View the documentary here
That's in front of the scenes, which may be obvious to some. But less obvious are the positions where droves of students now pay in excess of $60,000 thousand dollars to vocational colleges to receive training as producers and audio engineers and still don't end-up in these positions. According to an article in the Nashville Scent, women account for less than 5% of producers and engineers.

Needless to say, there is much to be discussed and done in the way of equality and opportunity. Awareness is the first step. This blog posting is designed to plant those seeds. Our seminar, Girl Power: Women Working In The Music Industry, will further the discussion with an all female panel that is abundantly qualified to offer strategies and solutions that will threaten the status quo.

Seminar and registration information can be found here.

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