Gender Disparity in the Australian Music Industry

Why we need to stop dwelling on the problem and inspire confidence and perseverance to fix it

Ruby J is a Sydney-based DJ producer and singer-song- writer, who has been running her business in in the music industry for years. She is keen on sharing her experiences of working in the Australian industry.

As a budding producer/DJ and singer, I have felt discouraged from the second I stepped into the music industry. Semester 2 of Year 1 of my Contemporary Music degree at the Conservatorium, I was asked to write an essay about gender inequality and given a paper “Skipping a Beat: Assessing The State of Gender Equality In The Australian Music Industry” published by Sydney University’s Associate Professor Rae Cooper which was riddled with alarming statistics outlining how women are underrepresented in the music industry.

I wrote 2,500 words about the problem and layered it with numbers- only one in five registered APRA AM- COS song writers are women, less than 5% of producers in Australia are women and so on. As a newbie to this competitive and cut-throat world, I was frightened off by these numbers. This is where our problem lies. Young enthusiastic musicians of any gender are often told how low their rates of success are. Faced with judgement from family and friends that they are pursuing such a risky career with no certainty of a job or stable income, they can often be scared away from what can be an amazing career path filled with passion and enjoyment.

Female musicians are then bombarded with extremely disheartening figures that lead them to believe their chances of success are far lower than they already thought. That’s enough to frighten even the most ambitious away. I believe this is why less women pursue music as a career, particularly behind the scenes in jobs such as sound engineering and production. 50% of all music students are female so there is absolutely no lack of talent to go around. In order to help bring the statistics up to where they should be, we need to stop talking about the problem and start working harder to fix it before it’s too late and bright musicians stop following their dreams.

It is unfair that young musicians are thrown these issues with no solution in sight. It is time that artists are encouraged and supported in any way possible so that they have every chance of succeeding and being able to share their music with the world. Artists should push to display perseverance and determination, to ensure that they stick with it through the hard times. With the right nurturing and support in place, as well as some self-confidence, these statistics should fix themselves and the music industry will naturally become more inclusive and equal to all.

Through my short time in the industry, I have been fortunate enough to connect with some inspiring and empowering established musicians who have guided me into positive thinking and a willingness to ignore the odds. I wrote and produced my first single myself and felt proud to share it to the world even if it’s not the most perfect work. I am so grateful that I have amazing support around me that allows me to pursue my passion fearlessly. I learned persistence trying to book my first DJ gig when I was constantly pushed aside until I kicked up enough fuss to finally get a set. I learnt the challenges of working with others when know-it-all ‘experts’ tried to take over my own projects because they seem to know better. I am determined and I always speak up for myself, which we need more people to do.

We have to support each other and make sure that we stick up for ourselves and others wherever we can. When the going gets tough, know that great things will happen for you if you stick with it and power through. It’s up to this generation to be brave and persevere to make the music industry a better place. Buy those tickets, download that track, anything you can to help your fellow artists. Self-confidence and self-empowerment is the way forwards. You are gifted, you are talented, trust yourself and it will bring success.

Find Ruby J tracks on Soundcloud ruby-j-106711841 and Instagram @rubyjmusic

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