As a homage to International Women’s Day we have chatted with some of the influential Women in our Music Cities!
Introduce yourself and your company…
Hello, we are Bristol Women in Music (BWiM), a non-profit organisation set up in 2015 to celebrate and encourage women in their careers in music. We are also behind Sound Industry, a brand new music conference in Bristol on 30th March. We hope it will be a springboard for debate and new ideas around subjects we think don’t get enough attention in the music business. Sound Industry is open to all genders and has a focus on issues of musical diversity, equality, and wellbeing.
How well do you think women are represented in the music industry?
The experience of the majority of us at BWIM is that the industry is a male heavy working environment and there are some fairly stark statistics to back this up – results released from UK Music task force earlier this year showed that women make up 59% of entry-level business roles within the music industry but only 30% of senior executives. Women make up more than half of the workforce aged 25 to 34 but only 33% of those between 45 and 64.
What’s exciting is that these stats and other similar findings have had a fair amount of attention recently and seem to be a real talking point in the industry at the moment – something that we’re all aware needs to happen if we are going to see change.
But whilst we’re making progress behind the scenes, on stage it’s another story. In particular, the Reading and Leeds line-up announcement was thoroughly depressing this year. After all the furore about their lack of female voices and musicians on their 2015 billing, 2017 seems to show absolutely no improvement at all. There’s work to be done.
There seems to have been an increase in ‘women in music’ themed events and ‘female fronted’ gigs. Do you see this as a positive or negative? Why?
There has indeed been an increase in female specific events which some may argue only segregates us further from the activities of our male counterparts. However there has been a growing unhappiness and downright anger amongst female identifying peoples at the lack of representation they see for themselves in music. The fact is that a point needs to be made if we are to move closer to equality. Female-only events are not a long-term solution but they are a positive step in the right direction, helping to highlight the issue with those who may not have realised that there was a problem.
What are you (Bristol Women in Music/Sound Industry) doing to support women in the industry?
Since the inception of the collective 18 months ago, we have gradually started to create a network for females in Bristol and beyond and provide opportunities that perhaps were not there before. An example of this is our Mix Night series; an initiative we have developed for females to come and learn DJ skills alongside peers and mentors in a welcoming and safe environment. We are now on our 4th semester of the course and the response has been amazing. As well as new supportive friendships and relationships being formed, many of our ‘DJ graduates’ have gone on to get regular gig and radio bookings in Bristol and beyond. It’s thrilling to see the Mix Nights course bearing genuine results, helping women take their first steps on a musical path that has been ridiculously male dominated for so long.
Our next big project of course is our Sound Industry conference, taking place at Colston Hall on March 30th. During a day of debates, conversations, and workshops we want to talk openly and honestly about some of the barriers and challenges that females may come up against within the industry. And off the back of this we will continue to strive to provide a discussion space and platform for women in the city and beyond to continue these conversations.