What if we could game the system in our favor? What if we systematically create so much demand that we are not only not ignored, but we take our power back and switch priorities for the long-haul?
What follows is a series of posts to help navigate a sometimes uninviting industry. Each post will build on the one before it, but also stand alone as individual thoughts. Discussion is encouraged.
Female musicians, songwriters, producers, composers, and industry professionals face an uphill battle from the moment they take their first step toward their goals. I. Could. Fill. This. Blog. with data to back it up, too. But you already know the challenges that lay ahead, so let’s skip to the part where we start solving problems.
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow’s suggestion that women are not creating great work is just not true - but our ideas are often highjacked by men and used as their own. Just this week I found that a Cleveland band who has seen far more success than me, put out a record that included two songs titled very similar to mine. One is exactly the same. Coincidence? Could be. But given our proximity in the scene, it’s likely that at minimum, my song made its way into their subconscious. Similarly, a friend of mine once texted along the lines of “I wrote this great chorus melody for a song but then I realized it is your melody for 'I Want You'.” To his credit, he offered praise and didn’t go any further with using the melody. Creativity is often about borrowing ideas, but the waters become muddied when there is a long history of men getting credit for a woman’s idea. A-bro-priation, if you will.
So what can you do? Be loud about your contributions. Ask your male counterparts to be loud about your contributions, too. When I share that I wrote a particular song, I make sure to mention that I wrote all of the music, as well as the lyrics because women are too often assumed to be the lyric writer only. And I make sure to share just how much of the final version of a song I tracked myself, at my home studio. This feels like bragging the first few times you do it, but I promise it is not. It has become vital to my identity that I rightfully claim my own work.
Being loud about your contributions doesn’t necessarily mean you’re screaming. Both a visual artist and musician, Jenna Fournier of Nights does a great job sharing her skills and creations on her Instagram account, at barely above a whisper. Whether your confidence shows up as modest or arrogant, do what is natural for you. Create social media content that celebrates your songwriting process. Be authentic but never shy. There is more than enough room for all of us to thrive.