Hello all ye fellow citizens of the world!
So much for ‘regular posts’ – hah! Welcome to my life. Did you know, this Sunday I was lucky enough to attend Stereosonic; a music festival that promotes itself as the largest EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival in Australia, which after the weekend I have come to admit just has to be true. The RNA Showgrounds were littered with empty Mid-Strength alcohol cans, catchy and well-engineered noise and thousand upon thousands of young people. There were a fair few more boys than girls attending the event… a fact that didn’t really bother a straight girl like me to any fundamental level. I found that the attitude towards women was generally extremely respectful and positive – a dude who walked past me carrying water gave me one of the bottles he was carrying (at $5 a bottle, mind you) just because I asked for it, and some other guy let me climb up on his shoulders for a bit so I could get good picture of the stage because I was comparatively so short. Nice, right? But it wasn’t the attitudes of the crowd that got me thinking… it was the lack of female artists that really got to me. It’s something that’s been nagging at me all though my studies of popular music too… Why is there such a lack of women in the music industry?
The only genre that has more women artists is pop – where the artists are expected to be the whole package: beautiful, thin, vein, talented, fashionable, unique, charismatic and of course, obsessed with their image. What message is this conveying about women and success and how the two correlate? That to be successful as a woman you must possess the absolute x factor and you must be more focused on your image than on the actual content of your success, such as the music? Even Lady Gaga who is known to be very involved with the process of the production of her music is more known for her quirky fashion sense than her quirky sound. Isn’t she supposed to be a musician? But she’s turned herself into so much more that… she’s a pop star: a modern demi-god, a celebrity. This category is heavily populateed by women… Beyonce, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Madonna, Christina Aguilera etc. etc. A place where the idea of women being perfect little slaves to men and slaves to society is not only encouraged, it’s rewarded with success. But what about what is considered ‘serious music’ for ‘real musicians’ – rock and EDM? These genres seem to lack female musicians who are just as capable of producing just as good music. Female artists in these categories are usually obscure and underpaid in comparison to their male counterparts. Why? Are they too preoccupied with making themselves look pretty to be concerned with serious music? Well, it’s how Gaga became famous.
There were absolutely no female headliners in Stereosonic… in fact, there were only two female performers, neither of whom I had even heard of before I got to the event. These were Lucy Love, for those who are into rap and grime, and the killer remixer Annie Mac. Funny story – my friend and I accidentally saw Lucy Love because of a glitch in the timetable… we thought we were watching Kaskade for 40 mins. We didn’t even realise until we were on the train after the event. Hah. This kinda proves my point that female artists are sort of like women in sport… you only really watch them because you have nothing better to do, because you’re a woman wanting to support other women or because you happened upon them by mistake. Even when you do get a female performer, the focus tends to be on their appearance above all else. Lucy Love had a crazy hair-do and outfit that I didn’t see on any male artist on the day. In fact, the organisers of the event, Totem Onelove Group, were more than willing to show sweaty, rather unattractive male music sensations dressed in t-shirt and jeans on close up television on the main stage. Would they ever let this happen for female DJs? Let’s see them actually put a woman on the stage for starters and find out. I gather the universal response is: probably not.
Paramore with Hayley Williams is arguable the only globally successful band in the genre of rock that has any female contribution… and even then she is the singer – the face of the group. The figure. The image. When she plays a guitar, she’s being sexy. Everyone says it needs to change, but what are you doing about it? How long is it going to take? Arguably the whole phenomenon of a global music industry has only existed for around 60 years. But the women’s liberation movement happened 50 years ago people! What’s happened? It’s even ‘uncool’ for men to appreciate pop music, the only genre of music dominated by female artists. If only women are allowed by current society to support women artists, doesn’t this limit the audience for these musicians? Is this why female musicians aren’t as popular, because it’s considered uncool for men to listen to them? Why aren’t women considered seriously when it comes to music? As a final note, if I ever start my own record company, I’m calling it ‘The Matriarchy’ and I’m only publishing acts with significant female input. Would you buy my records?