The Struggles of Women in the EDM Industry
A Look At What Happens In The Spotlight and Behind The Scenes
It’s a well known fact that it’s not easy being a woman in the music industry, or the entire entertainment industry for that matter, but a woman in the EDM industry? It’s difficulty at an entirely new level. In an industry predominantly run by men who sometimes think it’s okay to act with their dicks instead of their brains, as well as certain DJ’s who use women’s anatomy and derogatory female verbiage as song titles, it’s no mystery as to why women are subjected to such a high degree of inequality in the industry.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, female singer, songwriter and producer Grimes said, “I don’t think there are few female producers because women aren’t interested. It’s difficult for women to get in. It’s a pretty hostile environment.” When asked to comment in relation to pop star Kesha’s recent legal woes, Grimes shared that multiple male producers have also tried to blackmail her into having sex by claiming they won’t finish the track unless she goes back to their hotel room. The truth behind what Grimes shares is widely responsible for the disparity of female to male ratio of producers and DJs in the industry. If making it as an artist in today’s over saturated market wasn’t already difficult enough, being a female can almost guarantee you even more problems and obstacles as you try to pursue your goals and dreams.
Her comment was in regards to the lawsuit Kesha filed against producer Dr. Luke, who has a recording contract with the pop singer. The lawsuit claimsthat Dr. Luke sexually, emotionally, physically and mentally abused Kesha to the point where she nearly lost her life. Although given the circumstances, the singer has been ordered by the judge to continue her recording contract with Luke and her label, Sony. In the case of Kesha, it goes to show that even being a household name in music such as herself, does not safeguard a woman from harassment and in this case, abuse to an extreme level.
When asked their opinion on why there aren’t more women in the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, Krewella stated, “The electronic music industry can be daunting for women. If more women are willing to take big risks and be unafraid of the ridicule, double standards, and any other setbacks or troubles, we will (hopefully) slowly start to see more women releasing electronic music, playing shows and festivals, and thus ending up on the Top 100.”
Last month, Tigerlily took a stand for herself when alleging a sex crime was committed when her snapchat was hacked. The emoji and scribbles applied to a video were removed exposing her naked body and published on the internet. Why was this done? What was the motive behind trying to humiliate her? Whatever the case may have been, Tigerlily’s statement after all was said and done, is one to ponder on.
Although we’re well aware of the sexist challenges women face in the spotlight, it goes without saying that it occurs just as much behind the scenes, if not more. At a recent EDM industry conference during a panel on dance music journalism, there were nine men in the panel and not one single woman. I repeat, NINE men and NO women. Is there a shortage of females in dance music journalism? Obviously. Although, enough of a shortage to justify a panel of all males? Highly doubtful. I can think of multiple women in dance music journalism that could have been great contributors on that panel instead of the sausage fest it turned out to be.
Earlier this year, multiple women called out a music publicist who had apparently been sexually abusive on numerous occasions. Best Coast’s Bethany Cosantino took the opportunity to fully outline her experience and bring to light the struggles many of her peers had been facing.
Just about every woman I know in the industry has experienced this sexist behavior to some degree. For instance, a colleague of mine was simply trying to make a business connection with the CFO of a large events company, only for him to invite her to his hotel room that night to “chat” within hours after initially meeting. Or when one of my friends lost a career changing opportunity because she rejected the advances of a certain headlining DJs manager, and the case of another friend who is a dancer and many artists she performs with assume they’ll be getting in her pants after the show.
So, why don’t more women just speak up about these issues? For the same exact reason that I’m not exposing more names here: retaliation. The music industry is a shark tank; a survival of the fittest. Speak out against a powerful man or artist in the industry, and most likely his industry entourage clad dressed in all black will falsify your claims. That’s if he doesn’t sue you, because you know, defamation.
Although it may sometimes feel as though the industry is stuck in the 1960’s and acting out episodes of Mad Men, awareness is being brought to the subject, slowly but surely. Thankfully DJs such as Kennedy Jones are bringing light to the issue. Jones recently joined female DJ Dani Deahl for a four hour Periscope discussion on gender inequality in the industry. At Tomorrowworld 2015, Jones pulled an on stage stunt to bring attention to female DJs & Producers. He made it a point to mention that he wasn’t only addressing the fans, but everyone in the music industry as well.
I can only hope that more artist will continue to follow in Jones’s footstep and voice their opinions on the misogynistic nature of the industry, that’s of course if they’re not the douchebags themselves, perpetrators of the issues I have just outlined. As we’ve come to find, it only takes one big name DJ to start a trend, whether it be positive or negative.
When asked what it’s like to be a woman in the industry, Amanda Re, founder of Women of EDM, said it best.
“Being a woman in EDM is exhilarating and fascinating. It’s that feeling of fireworks exploding and champagne bottles popping as your favorite tracks play, sending a chill through your body. All of my dreams, memories and passions are directly related to being a woman forever chasing a dance music addiction. It lead me to the role I play now as Editor In Chief of Women of EDM, although the sweet title and flashy website doesn’t shield me from the scandal that comes with being a female in the scene. I personally feel women will always have to have their guard up, because even the men in “committed” relationships will put you in check. Shit gets real when sex is leverage for items of desire. Artists on the top ten lists have propositioned me, as have highly respected men in the industry. It’s one of the cons I’ve experienced as a women in edm. If I feel pressured, I have no problem voicing my piece of mind because it is important to make sure my presence as a women is respected at all times. For the many reasons I share and keep to myself, I love being a women in edm.”
– Amanda Re of WomenofEDM.com