We’ve been talking about the lack of women represantation when it comes to different cultural disciplines, such as movies or literature, and music is no less. Sure there are many singers who are women and, in that sense, we could agree that music is one of the disciplines where there’s more female representation. But it’s still not enough. Not on the music itself but when it comes to stages, do we see many women up there? How are those women? What image are they giving?
We can start by looking at the top selling musicians of 2016. What I’ve been saying may sound confusing as we are looking at this Idolator article, because the artist on the top is, precisely, a woman. Adele was undoubtedly the artist of the year with an album that had already come out on 2015. Yet on the top 15 of the best selling albums, only three solo women artists made the cut, being the other two Beyoncé and Rihanna, and only two more of the top artists contained any women (the Hamilton Original Cast and Pentatonix). As for this very moment, we can only find Rihanna on the top 10 artists, according to Billboard. So, we can see that the only women that reach high on the charts are artists that have already had a pretty remarkable career and have succeeded before. In other words, there are no new acts that stand out.
But as I was researching to write this article I noticed the lack of women in groups or bands not only on the top charts but in the whole of them. Only two girl groups have noticeably reached high on the charts: Fifth Harmony and Little Mix. Both groups have been in the music business for a few years now and owe their success to teenage girls that look up to them, maybe aspiring to get to their position in the future. But as I see it, there are not many bands whose members are all female and actually play instruments. Many times, if there are women members they usually end up being the singers. This might not mean anything in particular and it can actually have valid reasons, such as their good voices or music skills.
To illustrate this, I’ve taken the line up of one of the most famous and mainstream music festivals around the world for the past few years: Coachella music festival. Even though Lady Gaga is one of the musicians that are heading the show, we can clearly see how men take over the majority of the festival stages. It’s ironic though, how, despite being the majority of the line up men, the audience of this festival remains mostly female. This is not something that only happens with Coachella, we can see this in many of the most famous festivals or even in plain concerts.
On the other hand, let’s look at a local music festival. One of the most popular ones in Barcelona is the Primavera Sound. Since there aren’t groups or solo artists that are heading the line up as much as they did at Coachella, we can see a bit more of variety. From the nine top artists, three of them are either women or one of its members is a woman. This is the case of Grace Jones and Solange, being solo artists, and The XX with Romy Madley Croft as their main vocalist and guitar player.
This does not represent the whole music industry, but we focused on the one hand on the most sold artists and, on the other hand, on some famous festivals that represent a great part of this discipline’s industry. However, we need to consider that this may change if we look at different music genres or different country’s charts. Anyway, as we’ve mentioned in other posts, especially young people are influenced by what they constantly see, so this lack of women representation on stages can only help perpetuate the roles that have been established for many years. We still have a long way to go to change this and, despite it’s not an easy job, it’s one that needs to be done.