07 September 2010
Is a woman's work in the music/arts industry worth less, as a recent study uncovered? We ask three industry experts.
Managing Director & SVP, MySpace International
The size of the (income) disparity is shocking. The fact that there is one at all is a surprise to me. It has long been acknowledged the music industry is male-dominated. Upper management in major labels can be a bit of a boys club. Promoters, venues, are also quite male dominated with women invariably falling into PR for example. On top of this, more men seem to occupy upper management positions than women. This may explain a large portion of the difference in income.
Pay in the music industry when you’re starting out is meager, whether you’re a male or female. My personal experience centres more on seeing women finding it difficult break into the aforementioned boys club. There are no female heads of labels in Australia or the UK for example. Fifa Riccobono was one role model who ran Alberts for many years and managed to break that stereotype. Meryl Gross also ran ABC Music for many years. But there haven’t been many. There seem to be a lot of capable women just slightly below the level of the MD at labels — and they tend to stay there for a long time.
When I started at EMI, the pay was pretty low, even by graduate standards. The general sentiment was that working in the industry was somewhat glamorous therefore tended to attract a lot of people who were prepared to work for low pay. As you rose through the ranks it was quite a male dominated industry. I actually left the music industry because of this – I knew that I would have to be 40+ to realise my ambition so I left at 30 because I wasn’t prepared to wait and pay my ‘dues’.”
Executive Producer, ABC-TV’s Media Watch
I am surprised there is an income disparity. I can’t ever recall being paid less for doing the same work as a man in the days of the Electric Pandas (her ‘80s band). But then again, it was my band, my music and my company. So anyone who thought different would have got short shrift! The record companies were run by men, and it was no secret that these strong women did all the hard work and the blokes swanned around taking the credit.
Back then we had to work harder to get respect for our musicianship, and women were regarded more as decorations, and all that crap. But that’s definitely changed, because women have more than proved themselves in every aspect of the creative process. The reason women might get less income today is that as mothers and carers, they might have had to take time off from their music and art. I’ve never had children so I never faced that dilemma.
Anyway the dilemma musicians always face, especially if they are a support act, is if they’re going to get paid for the night — and that’s not a genre thing!”
There’s an argument to both sides. It can be a male orientated industry, you have to work around egos and masculinity. But financially I’ve never felt second to the guys. On my current tour with Monique Brumby, we do our own bookings, our own lugging and own publicity. No guys could do it better than us.
Basically, the more women come into the industry, the less it will become a gender thing. We’ll all do the same jobs, and essentially, if you screw up, the word gets around. Of course the financial thing is affected because some of us prefer to go off the road when we have babies rather than take them on the road.
Putting them through home schooling or always changing schools, creates issues for kids, as we’ve seen.
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