It’s the same almost every time. Hours before the show is about to start, I’m hanging around the stage door. The tour bus has verified that the artist is just behind the wall in front of me, and I’m in good company. Sometimes it’s a couple of people, sometimes it’s a swarm.
I pull out my phone, scroll through emails and screenshot them ready. With a deep breath I approach the yellow coat wearing security guy, and reel off the correct information as though I’m in an exam. Doubtful, my phone is always checked, an eye often rolled. All before I’m let in to do my job.
As a music journalist, I’m often mistaken for a groupie or an eager fan. Whether this is because of my age (I’ve been doing this since I was sixteen, and am currently twenty), or my gender, or both, I’ve noticed that the touring set up is a bit of a man’s world. A successful tour manager, Meg Macrae, noted on an arena tour she’d count 8 women working alongside 60+ men.
On several occasions, I’ve been laughed at by security, “the fans are getting braver!” I’ve been shouted at on approach, “he’ll come out after the gig – maybe!” My AAA pass has been triple checked as if I were a fraudster, and I’ve been left waiting outside way past the time set for me to do my job. A job that I am proud to say that I do well, and am constantly working hard at to achieve more in.
It would seem that I’m not alone, as Marie Claire magazine explored.
Even though there are more women in the population in working age, according to Women In Music (2015) 61% of music professionals in the UK are males. In promotion, management and live music, that number rises to 70%.
Women who choose to work in music often face prejudices. In 2010, 47% of women in music earned under ~£10,000 a year, compared with 35% of men, and Impakter suggest that the gap has barely changed.
However, this doesn’t mean that women who work within the music industries aren’t achieving great things. They aren’t groupies or girlfriends, either. These are powerful women. Heads, CEOs and Presidents at the music industries’ biggest companies, across different departments and genres, women are at the heart.
Allison Kaye ensured that Justin Bieber’s worldwide Purpose tour ran smoothly whilst seven months pregnant. Wendy Goldstein picked out chart-toppers for The Weeknd and DNCE. Cara Lewis founded her own management company; working with Chance The Rapper, Eminem and Pitbull. These women are just a few from Billboard’s 2016 Most Powerful.
Assumptions shouldn’t be made about your ability because of your gender. Assumptions shouldn’t be made about who you are, and what you’re doing. Not only are women making waves in the charts, but it is women who are helping them to get there, and with the male artists too.
Above all, women deserve to be taken seriously in their work. To do this, women have to be allowed the opportunities to show what they’re capable of, have their work honored and achievements celebrated, being allowed to feel comfortable and happy working in environments where they belong. Women in music have things to say, and they need to be listened to.