Where are the Women In Music?

How is the electronic music industry home to one of the most overt gender gaps? How could a genre be so progressive yet fall so far behind?

The number of female DJs and producers are limited. And the number of women taking on more technical roles like sound engineering, recording and management are even more rare.

Some people innocently suggest that maybe there just aren’t as many women interested in the industry. But I don’t believe that’s the explanation and neither do countless women worldwide.

This gender gap could be partially attributed to how the electronic music industry is immensely male dominated. Not only are legendary musicians who pioneered the genre male, but the biggest names in the industry today are also all male. Getting past feelings of inferiority and breaking into the gentleman’s club is hard for aspiring female artists. Other than pure intimidation, emerging women in the industry are also faced with sexualization and negative stereotypes.

Often women are not considered to have the technical abilities to produce nor to have the same drive to succeed. Even worse, Boiler Room, the widely recognized online music broadcasting platform recently had to hire comment moderators after an array of female performances were attacked with sexist comments. The inequality that women face in the music industry is undeniable.

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Via Twitter

The main element of the gender gap that first caught my attention was that I almost never see women on festival lineups or booked for clubs. Music Festivals are popping up everywhere and booming in popularity, yet according to Vice, women only represent 10% of performers at music festivals around the world. To me this percentage is shockingly small but I believe it. After 5 years of attending Ultra Music Festival Miami, I’ve only seen three female performances. All three of those female artists were vocalists.

I don’t necessarily blame the festivals for this clear inequality because I believe that sexism is systemic. Even among the musicians who’ve transcended the obstacles set before them by our patriarchal society, their gender still precedes their talent. They are female artists as opposed to simply artists.

Women are socially expected to make feminine music and electronic music often contrasts those ideas of femininity. I feel like the gender gap has to do with subtle elements of sexism. Women are more likely to be judged by their appearances. They are more likely to be overlooked in the industry’s sea of males. Women have a harder time being taken seriously. And finally, women are more likely to be underpaid. Hopefully times are changing. But meanwhile the gender gap in electronic music is a topic that needs attention.

For more listen to Sound Of Rome Radio: Where are all the Women?

To the Future of The Beat

I think a lot about the future. Maybe that intrigue with the future leaks into all corners of my life, including music.

Electronic music has peaked in popularity recently and it’s not falling down anytime soon. As time ticks and the clock twirls, this connection with the future and the electronic music becomes more evident than ever. From production to consumption, electronic music is influenced by this connection.

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Jeff Mills: Courtesy of technoszene.com

This idea of Futurism is something often subconsciously ingrained in electronically produced music but for many producers, it is an important aspect for their creative process. “Techno isn’t about dancing, it’s about the future,” Jeff Mills, Detroit Techno legend, comments to The Skinny. Mills often discusses how space, time and the future influence his music. While not all artists are so defined by this inspiration, I think it is deeply-rooted in every creative artist. 

 Technology connects a producer to their bank of sounds, the listeners ears to the mp3 on their computer, the sound waves from a speaker, and the way music is distributed. Technology is changing the music industry and the way music is made. But for electronic music, technology was the foundation for a whole new world of sounds. The new advances in music technology created electronic music. Technology is the vital bridge to electronic music. The two have a symbiotic relationship. As artists progress, new music technology is developed and as this new tech is utilized, new variations of electronic music are produced.

This reliance to technology for music production is an ode the changing of times. When producing digitally, the only limits an artist has are the limits of their own skill and creativity. After the exciting generation who was raised exploring the fairly new digital musical realm, there are high hopes for those to come. The newest generation of producers, with so many genre already explored, are more aware of the unlimited nature of their musical expression. 

Festivals around the world are beginning to commit to these sounds of the future and change is near.