Equality is still some way off…

Eel Pie Records’ Leah Ash ponders gender imbalances in the music industry…

In terms of our progression towards an equal society, we are doing incredibly well, with women involved in pretty much every area of culture and society. And on the face of it, the music industry doesn’t seem like a very discriminatory place; if anything, women have probably been favoured, you might think. 

I thought these things too, until the other day, I saw a shocking statistic: apparently, in the world of music, 20% of musicians are women and only 3% of music producers are women. With an estimated figure of 60,000 music producers worldwide, roughly 1,800 of them aren’t men. And yes, you’d possibly be right in saying this has little influence over our world, it’s about the representation of the musicians themselves, not the people behind the scenes who produce it. Most people wouldn’t be able to name a single music producer, let alone specifically a woman. (And if only 3% of women are fulfilling these jobs, where does that leave gender non-conforming people?) 

I could go into more detail on the reasons why it’s a tougher industry for women, or where queer and non-binary musicians fit into music production and management, but these are debates for another time. For now, let me educate you on some amazing ‘non-male’ producers and managers who’ve worked wonders in their industry: Sylvia Massy, who shaped The Red Hot Chilli Peppers; Linda Perry, nominated for a 2019 Grammy for
her production work; and Ester Dean with
her amazing work for Florence And The
Machine.

And, just to inspire you further, here are a few of my playlist favourites you might want to get to know too.

  • Crawlers – I Can’t Drive
  • Lexie Carroll – Familiar Stranger
  • Goat Girl – P.T.S.Tea
  • Kae Tempest – Grace
  • King Princess – 1950
  • Cavetown – Lemon Boy
  • Dodie – Rainbow
  • Mykki Blanco – Loner 
  • Tash Sultana – Pretty Lady
  • Girl In Red – Serotonin

Happily there’s room for everyone in this world (but there’s always room for improvement too).

Phil Penman and Kevin Jones are the owners of Eel Pie Records.

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