The music industry has never had a clean slate. From Motown strikes in the 50’s and the struggle to hear colored people on the radio, to now the abuse of women that is silently coming back to haunt producers. Lord knows how the struggle for equality in the music business is very much still a battle faced today. However, my main curiosity lies within the abuse of women in the industry. After hearing about how Lady Gaga and Ke$ha (two of my most favorite and respected artists) were abused and sexuality assaulted by their producers, I took online to seek out the erasure and to understand why abuse is so silent in the industry. It’s not surprising that Ke$ha and Gaga have a HUGE effect in the pop music genre- they are practically always played on the radio and teenagers around the world know their lyrics. What is interesting is what really happened behind the hits. When Ke$ha finally came forth and admitted that Dr. Luke had been abusing her for years, it really struck home to me. As an inspiring music producer and music major currently, the lack of female respect in the industry is something that I am going to have to combat for the rest of my life.
The main question is how has the advancement of technology made this erasure better or worse? To answer this, I believe that technology has made the erasure in the music industry (when referring to women’s equality) has made a positive and negative effect. For instance, I feel like Ke$ha couldn’t voice what was truly going on and all the abuse she went through because she was under SO many contracts that probably had people run her social media accounts and her online identity. I am sure there is a contract between Luke and Ke$ha that made him control her so she truly could not have a voice. Now that the contract is broken, Ke$ha has her online voice back and she is firing back at him and her social media presence was something that turned heads and truly made an impact on spreading the awareness of her abuse. The way her and Gaga teamed together online and stuck together was incredible. Technology helped Ke$ha made her voice be heard. Along with Gaga, many other high end celebrities with a huge following also commented on the abuse in the industry with Ke$ha having her back. A hashtag was used by many celebrities and basically her case blew up. So many high profile people (not to mention with millions of followers) used their social media weather it was their instagram of twitter to make her case be heard. Many producers also backed up and touched on this case that seemed to be in favor of Ke$ha. With all this social media buzz, her case was well followed and Ke$ha got her respect back.
You asked us in class “Who gets the blame?” and I believe that the women who aren’t treated fairly in these situations get the blame. It is rare that the producer gets the blame. Usually people blame the artist, which is why Ke$ha’s case is so interesting because many people automatically took her side.
Jessica Hopper, a women in the industry, explained, “Most every woman working in music can match each other’s stories pound for pound, the ways our work and opinions don’t belong, don’t matter…To be working 60 or 70-hour weeks and still be the butt of your male peer’s blowjob joke—you think you’ve proven yourself, so you can just be…Imagine what music would be like if we didn’t make young women jump through such demeaning hoops to show they belong here.”
There are so many other physical and emotional abusive stories that have gone on behind the scenes, however it is almost always pushed aside due to how there is a lack of equality in the music scene. Not to mention women make less than men, usually women have to work their way up in the industry by first be receptionists, and if lucky and given the chance, maybe they can work their way up and get ideas on the table.
This is all good information, however I want to go further and deeper into understanding why these things happen and why there is a lack of equally in this field. Since being a producer has always been my dream, I have been told by many professors that it is hard in the first place, but also because i am a female it could be very likely impossible. I am trying to understand why the music industry is such a male heavy field to begin with. With so many fantastic women artists and performers, how is it that men STILL dominate the field? I dug deeper and found out that so many record labels are owned to males and basically male dominated because it has been passed down that way since the beginning of it all I suppose. Sort of like how all presidents of the USA have been male (shoutout Hill for trying) I think that is sort of how the music industry is. There are so many female lyric artists and singers, however there are hardly any mangers and women truly in charge of the full operation. The question is- how do we switch these rolls? How do we let women get in charge?
Gender inequality in the music industry is certainly a big issue (hint hint erasure), therefore I decided to find some stats to prove this is a huge problem. Creative & Cultural Skills report that the gender divide across all music industry related jobs is 67.8% male to 32.2% female. AIM’s 2012 membership survey revealed that only 15% of label members are majority-owned by women. Statistics consistently show that women in music earn less than their male counterparts. Although things are slowly improving, many male’s who entered the industry around the same time as women have moved into managerial and senior level roles while women have stayed in the same job or have quit. The gender gap and the sexism, abuse, and inequality is certainly visible in the music industry. The question is: how do we fix this?