The Move Towards Gender Equality in the Music Industry – Can it be Done?

When you look at the charts, you’d be forgiven for believing that gender inequality really isn’t an issue in the music industry. When you see the likes of Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Nikki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Adele, Rihanna etc it can be easy to make the argument that women get a fair enough representation. The list of successful Pop stars is endless, yet, do these female artists actually represent for women? Or are they just operating under a patriarchal agenda? You only have to look at the music videos and their choice of outfits at award ceremonies for the answer to that question.

Behind every female vocalist, there are quite likely to be hundreds of people behind them, getting them to where they are, producing the music, marketing the music, writing the songs, running the labels, merchandising, videography, tour management, event bookings… to name a few.

In this year’s list of the ‘Power 100’ as published by Billboard which lists the representative leaders of live, tech management and recording only 17% of the names on the list were female.

Gender inequality is an issue for female artists all over the world which was documented by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. They conducted their study in 2017 after looking into the lack of diversity in Hollywood, the findings leave little room for argument.

The Statistics of Gender Inequality:

  • 2% of artists are male whilst only 16.8% were female.
  • Of the 2767 songwriters surveyed, only 12.3% were female.
  • Of the 651 producers surveyed, only 2% were female.
  • Of the 899 musicians who were nominated to receive a Grammy award between 2013 and 2018 only 9.3% were female.

The board behind the study are committed to ensuring that there is better representation of minorities within the music industry after they have found the number of female artists is in decline. 2017 was a six year low for representation of female artists, so what is there to be done?

Gaining Balance
The first step will be to transform the view of the music industry and not allow it to carry on under the pretence that it a boy’s club. Currently, as men hold most of the top jobs in the industry women are facing gender bias and having to work even harder than their male counterparts to get noticed. It will take some brave women to step up to the plate and prove that women are just as capable as the men competing for the roles. The more women there are taking on these roles the more support and mentoring there will be for more women in the future to join the industry.

The second step will be to encourage new generations of women to explore roles in relation to music composition and engineering. Dispelling the myth that a woman’s only place is the stage. There is so much beyond what the average listener and music consumer actually sees and hears. Yet, not a lot of people get to find out just how much work goes into recording, production and live event management. It’s all kept fairly cloak and dagger and behind the scenes.

Lysandra Woods from Third Side Music in LA suggested that the best way for a woman to get a good chance of scoring their dream role as an industry member is to search for entry-level positions and mentorships within companies. Whilst starting off as a dogsbody is nobodies’ idea of fun, in the music industry you have to be prepared to prove yourself. No one is going to want to take your word for it. It’s a steep learning curve, but the only way is up from there. It is interesting to note that one of the key skills for working in the industry is relationship skills. Given that women generally possess better communication skills than men, it should be a given that there are more women in the industry.

By now, you’ve probably realised that for any changes to happen when it comes to which names appear on the album charts and stages changes must first be made to the industry members along with the general perception of who can be a music artist.

From a young age, women are discouraged to join a band or pick up their guitar, and they would have a safer bet if they used online betting casinos the odds of winning on slot games like Enchanted Prince and Starburst would definitely be more in their favour than being able to join a band. Maybe they would even have more chance of a success if they took a leaf from that slot game and tried to find a Prince Charming instead of going it alone.

Whilst we may have a decent handful of successful Pop artists, within other genres the gender imbalance gets even more discouraging to aspiring artists. Especially within the Hip Hop industry, as female rappers are still seen as a novelty. Sure, you’ve got your urban icons such as Missy Elliot and Nikki Minaj, but when you compare that to the amount of male urban artists out there, their names are nothing but a drop in the ocean. Over in the UK one of the major Urban Grime festivals went under fire for introducing a new ‘female-only’ stage instead of allowing female artists take slots on the main bill. Women aren’t asking for special treatment, they are asking for their work to be respected based on the quality and not depending on what they look like or to be there to tick diversity boxes.

Often the first hurdle a girl will face when contemplating becoming a musician is when they walk into a music shop to purchase their first instrument. Often music stores are owned, ran and staffed by male members of staff. There have been countless reports of women walking into music stores only for them to be asked if they are shopping for their boyfriends. Once they establish that they are in fact shopping for themselves, they’re often then met with the assumption that they know very little about the instrument they are looking at. But every musician has to start somewhere. Male musicians are no exception to that rule. Sure, girls can purchase a guitar online and lose out on that special moment when they’re finally handed their guitars. Sure, they can learn by watching YouTube videos instead of seeking out a guitar tutor (yes, guitar tutors are predominantly male too) but this still means that female artists are operating in the same oppressive spaces. Even when women shop for records in the record store they are faced with pretentious staff.

So, it’s clear that each small change and each small step made by women will help to ensure we see more female representation across the music industry as a whole.

ESports – the multi million pound industry that shows no sign of slowing down

When some of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs become involved, it’s a sure sign that there is money to be made. Soccer’s voracious appetite for money is legendary and when it comes to exploiting market segments, few sporting organisations are better than soccer clubs.

Paris St Germain, Santos, Manchester City, West Ham United, Ajax, Besiktas and Schalke are just some of the clubs involved. When leagues begin partnerships, it’s a sign of more investment to come.

City signed their first eSports player others are ahead of that curve. For the clubs, it’s all about brand exposure. Tara Warren, executive director of communications at West Ham, explained that digital and tech are the club’s priorities as far as brand awareness is concerned. eSports and the professional game enjoy a symbiotic relationship.

So too do other sports and the burgeoning eSports, which is of little surprise when the market is estimated by some analysts to be worth $1bn in 2018. Global sport finance specialists, Deloitte, offers more caution, predicting significant – but smaller – growth, a point with which the Financial Times agrees.

It’s clear that some areas of eSports are more established than others. While the winners of the Interactive FIFA World Cup receive £20,000, the winning team at the International Dota 2 Championships get £6.7m. To put it into context, the winner of the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon 2017 will walk away with a cheque for £2.2m. According to the BBC, the total prize money won globally in 2016 was a staggering $93.3m.

Premier League involvement may see the FIFA money increase; 600m players worldwide mean that each year’s new version of the game pulls in more money than the previous edition.

And if you’re still not convinced eSports is the real deal, consider this. An ESL Gaming initiative, in co-operation with NADA and working toward WADA recognition, is to outlaw the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) which blight other sports. eSports has arrived.

Taking Advantage Of The Tools To Hand

All this from humble beginnings when groups of players met at conventions for multi-player tournaments. Now, most online bookmakers offer a full market on events, while Betway Sports made the headlines last year when they became lead sponsor of Ninjas in Pyjamas, one of the world’s most famous eSports teams.

Despite the money involved, there’s still a perception in the wider world, that eSports is a fad, a new toy whose novelty will soon wear off. Nothing could be further from the truth; eSports will evolve in the same way other professional sports did.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the UK bought into American football. Since then, it has grown through a path of two steps forward, one back. Now more popular than ever, the Super Bowl is becoming an ‘event’ in its own right in these green and pleasant lands.

eSports is unlikely to follow a similar trajectory. It’s very nature puts it front and centre of the technological world we live in today. Any advancements are likely to pull eSports along with them, giving it an immediate advantage on those which went before.

There’s little sign of the growth stalling. It may slow down in coming years but with studios producing games deliberately designed for the eSports, as well as the domestic markets, the signs are that there is much more to come.

Perhaps the biggest danger is the internal perception. With prize money commanding staggering sums, there is bound to be a schism at some point. Those who want the ‘purity’ of their eSports retained will reach a point where the mainstream popularity is too much for them. A bit like fans of a band who after years of working the club circuit make it big but some resent their ‘precious’ being popular.

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Unlimited

That won’t matter much in the overall scheme of things. As eSports gains in popularity and the additions outweigh the churn of players, there is no problem. BI Intelligence reported that 300m people “tune in” to eSports today, with projects of 500m by 2020. With that kind of reach, the cliff edge seems some way off.

It’s important to remember that as an industry, professional eSports is less than a decade old. Amateur level occupies the same level as Comicon, where the participants are viewed as obsessives. Professionalism confers a different status and in a young industry, there are still plenty of revenue streams to exploit.

Indeed, there are more games to exploit. The genres may be well defined but the games themselves are limited by technology and human imagination. So long as the studios come up with original ideas, as well as iterations of games which capture the imagination of the players, there is a market for eSports.

Why Blockchain Technology is Causing an Industry Revolution​

If you listen to the tech experts, then we’re in the middle of a blockchain revolution. The technology behind the often misunderstood currency, Bitcoin, blockchain is currently being adopted by a variety of industries.

Without delving too deep into its specifics, blockchain is basically a way of validating transactions without the need for human authorisation. Each time a Bitcoin payment is sent a specific address, it needs to be verified by a network of computers. Once the payment is verified, its details are stored in a block of valid transactions and this block is then uploaded to the network of the computer holding the blockchain.

Breaking Down the Blockchain

Essentially, a blockchain is a record of every Bitcoin transaction, in much the same way a bank uses a ledger to track payments across accounts. However, because this system is updated every 10 minutes and stored on network of computers, it means that each transaction is highly secure.

Although somewhat complex for the general public to really appreciate, the tech experts in the banking world, healthcare profession and security industry are all starting to use this technology to enhance their services. Indeed, according to a recent report by the Financial Times, blockchain looks set to “disrupt” the way the fund industry currently operates.

With blockchain gaining in popularity, many experts, including the Digital Current Group’s Barry Silbert, have suggested that this revolution could help to make Bitcoin a mainstream product. Back when the cryptocurrency first went live in 2009, many insiders believed it would become the currency of choice for the masses within a few years.

Unfortunately, those predictions were a tad optimistic as Bitcoin is still seen as an “alternative” option rather than “the” option for those spending money online. However, that’s not to say you can’t do some “mainstream” things with Bitcoin. Indeed, when you consider that British Airways, a company that made $1.2 billion (£850 million) in profit in 2015, now accepts Bitcoin payments, it’s clear the currency is gaining credibility.

Bitcoin Already Has Base Online

In fact, it’s not only the aviation industry that’s starting to realise the value of Bitcoin payments. iGaming, otherwise known as online gambling, is a $41 billion (£28 billion) industry that’s starting to see more Bitcoin-based sites spring up. VegasCasino, a Vegas Royal S.A., platform now offers an array of Bitcoin only betting options.

Inside the VegasCasino sportsbook, customers can place bets from as little as 0.10 mBTC on everything from football and Euro 2016, to the NBA playoffs and the Olympics. Similarly, the site also offers slots, table games and ever virtual lotteries; all of which are powered by Bitcoin alone.

Beyond the iGaming industry, Dell, the computer manufacturer, brokered a deal with Bitcoin walled Coinbase in 2015 which allowed cryptocurrency customers to get a discount on Alienware PCs. Similarly, Overstock.com began offering discounted prices on everything from watches to bed linen after it started accepting Bitcoin payments in 2014.

Are We on the Cusp of Technological Shift?

In a nutshell, what we’re currently seeing is a shift in the way transactions of all shapes and sizes are processed online. As we can see, Bitcoin is already thriving in a variety of industries and it’s this popularity that has helped blockchain technology move into the mainstream.

Whether or not this will in turn bring people’s attention back around to Bitcoin remains to be seen, but what is clear is that people are willing to accept new forms of technology and that should mean we’ll be seeing a myriad of innovations in the coming months and years.

 

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