Updated: Aug 6, 2018
Just like most things, the music industry hasn’t always been too welcoming and inclusive when it comes to women.Female songwriters and musicians were essentially unheard of until the end of the 19th century, and even then, they were still pretty uncommon as publishing companies just weren’t interested. In 1880 a well renowned music critic published a book that claimed that “women lack[ed] the innate creativity to compose good music.” This claim didn’t appear to have much of an impact on the public’s perception though, as Carrie Jacobs-Bond, the first woman to ever sell a million copies of her work, had her first song officially published in 1887. It was at this point that the world of modern female musicians began to grow.
I’ve been (somewhat) involved in the industry for as long as I can remember, probably even before that. Granted, for the first 13 or so years of my life, I was just a consumer, it’s always been important to both myself, and my family. When my dad was young, he ran a lot of pubs that were live music venues, and he actually toured as a Roadie with Motorhead on the “Ace Of Spades” tour, and with The Ian Gillan Band, when he was just 16. My mum was never into that kind of music though, she was definitely more of a Blondie, and The Fall kind of person.
From the get go, I was being influenced by multiple genres that had different approaches to women. The more alternative scene was full of bands that were using women as selling points of their songs and videos, where as the more pop side was significantly more welcoming and had a lot of female musicians in the top 10. As I got older, I began singing (a lot) and started writing songs for myself. I definitely wasn’t a child prodigy, but I was trying! My oldest sister was a massive emo for a while and that influenced me a lot. Bands like Paramore and Evanescence became huge influences for me. Powerful women, powerful vocals and powerful lyrics struck a chord in me, and I was drawn further into the world of music
Throughout history, there has been movement after movement, with musicians of every race, gender, and sexuality making music about important things. In the early 1900’s, jazz was probably the most prominent genre at the time, and this was one of the first instances of female performers getting positive attention for their work. This era gave a huge amount of freedom to women, especially women of colour, as it allowed them to not only perform for the first time on an actual
platform, but they could write about whatever they wanted without having to
explain anything to anyone. At the end of the 60’s there was a wave of female
songwriters. It was a massive influx of badass ladies. Not only was the alternative scene being flooded with these wonderfully powerful women, the pop industry was too. During this time, songs were about politics, self-discovery and
The 70’s then gave us disco and hip-hop and then a bit later on, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, grunge was born. We were given handfuls of female musicians who were angry, sad and powerful. Women who wanted to change the world by riling up young people everywhere who were just as angry and potentially
powerful as they were. The grunge movement targeted social alienation and a strong desire for freedom which are both things that would have been so
incredibly present in the lives of women and young people all over the world.
Music is constantly changing and evolving. It’s always growing and splitting into new sub-genres with new movements each and every day. It only makes sense that this is an industry that’s never going to disappear completely, only ever step out of the limelight for a while every now and then. The world of music is a mirror image for what’s going on in the rest of the world, and it’s a wonderful thing. Music is becoming more welcoming, and more free-spirited and it honestly brings me so much joy. Music is so important to me, and I just cannot help but adore what it’s turning into.
To find out what it’s like to be a feamle musician I spoke to Helen, the frontwoman of Rythem Steet, a cover band from Northamptonshire.
How long have you been involved with the industry?
I would say around 9 years.
How has the industry changed for women whilst you’ve been involved?
I think women are far more respected now, and this shows by the amount of
successful female solo artists there are at the moment.
Where do you think the industry will go for women from now?
Things can only get better as long as they stay true to themselves.
Any powerful women you admire, and why?
Paloma Faith and Adele are the main 2 artists I admire, not only do they have great voices, but they have their own style and do not conform to the stereotype that is expected. I also admire my mum as a powerful woman. She bought up my sister and I by herself, whilst working multiple jobs. She passed away in 2007 and I miss her
dreadfully, I just hope she would be proud of me and what I’ve achieved.
WORDS BY CISSIE
PHOTOS BY MOLLIE YATES