London promoter works for gender equality in music

14 June, 2018

In 2016, a survey by PRS For Music revealed that women account for just 13% of the total number of writers, composers, and music publishers within the music industry. This number has since increased considerably and recent shifts within the wider societal mindset on the subject of gender equality have made for a promising outlook for the cause within the workplace and wider cultural frameworks. So, how do we ensure this progress continues?

In response to these survey results, a live music promotions company in London is working to encourage more females to enter the music industry with confidence. With a namesake that reflects the statistic, ’13 Percent Presents’ have established a clear goal to showcase female role models who can inspire and guide artists at the start of their creative journey and to send a positive message that woman and men can co-exist creatively without concern for gender disparity.

Viola Wyszynska, lead spokesperson for ‘13 Percent Presents’, explains her thoughts on why a change for women in the music industry is long overdue.

“13 Percent Presents is a no-brainer. It’s a simple concept based on facts and an honest desire for change. It was born out of my own ignorance. A conversation with my dear friend Brooke Sharkey lead us to the PRS website and there it was. I had no idea just 13% of a total number of writers, composers and music publishers are women. Surely it can’t be true! But it is.”

She continues. “As a woman and immigrant, I’m aware of many of the social battles women face on a daily basis. The fact hit me really hard that the music industry falls so far behind. I wanted to do something. So, it made perfect sense to me to create a music event to raise awareness of this dire situation.”

13 Percent’s debut live music showcase featured ‘Bloom’, an indie pop quintet featuring various alumni members from BIMM Brighton, including vocalist and guitarist Emily Cluley. Here, she reflects on her own experiences as a woman operating in the music industry.

“It feels like sometimes you have to work extra hard as a woman in music to be taken seriously. Like if I make a mistake setting up my guitar, or can’t work out how to use a new amp, I feel super conscious that people might think it’s because I’m a woman. It does feel like the industry has a lot of work to do in terms of giving women an equal footing.”

Her sentiments are mirrored by fellow bandmate Megan Clifton, who says:

“I experience inequality in how women are scrutinised more than men in independent music. Visually, it’s very hard to be a woman performing with an average build in music, you look around and they barely exist. Even in the super indie scenes, it’s very rare you see a woman above a size 10 performing outside the super DIY riot girl scenes (and thank God for them, it used to be even worse).”

She continues “We are also double scrutinised around our abilities, especially technical know-how and skill. This can make me defensive at shows.”

We’re certain Megan and Emily aren’t alone in their experience of a currently male-dominated industry. But, thanks in-part to Viola’s work, plus increased wider efforts from promotions companies – including efforts from BIMM students and festival programmers – female-orientated events and line-ups are becoming more commonplace, making it seem as though the industry is on the verge of a positive sea-change.

Johan Englund, Head of Music Production at BIMM London, has already voiced his support for ’13 Percent Presents’ on their website, and too has noticed an increase in female applications to the production course.

“I’ve seen an increase in girls doing production courses at our college and it’s clear that female artists being more visible with their tech use has helped a lot to encourage this. At a visually stunning event at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club organised by 13 Percent Presents, there were plenty of examples of female live performances using music technology, and the more this becomes visible, the better it is for the music industry as a whole and for us an all-inclusive educational institution.”

When asked what the music loving public should we do to ensure this positive progress towards gender equality in the industry continues, Viola had this to say.

“Well, we are all responsible for the future. We are all in it together. Take responsibility for your present actions and you will change your future. Talk openly about real issues, invest in the future, recognise the fallout between education and careers. But above all, work with others and celebrate equality as a benefit for all.”

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