In an industry where Adele and Lady Gaga are at the helm, it could be hard to believe there is a dangerous gender imbalance at play. Scratch beneath the surface of the music industry however, and some shocking statistics slap you in the face. Take DHP Family, operator of local venues Rock City and The Bodega, who have reported the balance of male and female applications for positions to be as extreme as ten to one. The music industry is dominated by males across multiple functions, from management to production, and a lack of open discussion has exacerbated the issue.
Enter Women In Music (WIM), a Nottingham-based platform established to challenge this lack of diversity by encouraging positive action. Building on their inaugural event back in March, WIM took to the stage at Rescue Rooms this Wednesday with a series of panel discussions and interviews, with all proceeds being donated to Equation.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, kicked off with a welcome chat before chairing the first panel of four women making waves with their own companies. Hailing from diverse corners of the industry, the panel comprised of Sarah Cole (Director of SC Productions), Sofia Ilyas (Founder of Float PR), Rachel Menzies (Director of Hookline TV) and Jess Partridge (Founder and Editor of London in Stereo Magazine). They led a spirited and inspiring exploration of female entrepreneurship in the music industry; you could almost hear the halcyon vocals of Stevie Nicks telling you to “Go Your Own Way” in the background. Yet all four panellists remained refreshingly honest when chatting through the highlights and pitfalls of setting up their businesses. A shared characteristic was a definite lack of ego, with a genuine openness to collaborate in its place.
Next up, BBC Arts Reporter Geeta Pendse sat down with Mansfield-born singer songwriter Georgie, a talented performer forging a real success in the industry. Despite being signed to Columbia Records and regularly touring with the likes of Jake Bugg and Blossoms, Georgie came across as disarming and down to earth. “You never find a toilet seat down – ever,” she told us when asked about her experience on the road, citing regular occasions of being the sole girl in a team of twenty or more men. And while she acknowledged that plenty of men in the industry are supportive of women, there was a definite recognition of gender inequality: “You have to earn your stripes a lot more as a woman,” she revealed.
A further panel discussion followed, chaired by DHP Marketing Manager Anwyn Williams. Laura Pearson (Entertainment Manager at Nottingham Trent Students Union), Jackie P (Radio presenter at Kemet FM) and Danielle Sorsby (former Venue Manager at The Bodega), came together to talk authenticity and building experience in the industry. A real passion for the Nottingham music scene underpinned this chat, with Jackie P remarking that “venues are closing down in London, yet here we’re opening new ones”. Indeed, all four women cited the music scene as a core reason for them remaining in the city, complete with its strong community and opportunities for progression.
What shone through the entire event was a demonstration of strength. In a male-dominated sector, these women have passionately pursued their ambitions. And the more that platforms like WIM are able support women in shouting about their successes, the better. Then perhaps, in Nottingham at least, those scales may start to balance out.
Women in Music took place at Rescue Rooms on Wednesday 10 October