A PROBLEM – Where are all the women at?
Dearest Tonemiller, bare with us for a minute as we get a little dry. In January of 2020 the USC Annenberg Inclusive Initiative published a rapport on inclusion in American popular music from 2012 – 2019. For artists the ratio of men to women was 3.6:1 in 2019. For producers it stood at 37:1 and of these women only 8 out of 1093 were of color. Only 12.5% of the working songwriters are women and less than 1% of 800 popular songs have only female writers. You get the point: according to their study it is as we all expected: women are still underrepresented in the music industry (shocker). Why is this and how can we change it? To help us answer these questions we have invited music founder and CEO of the radio and podcast “Women of Substance”: Bree Noble.
A SOLVER – Introducing Bree Noble
Bree greets us in our meeting room on the 9th floor where the sun always shines and they serve cold drinks and fresh sandwiches all day (just kidding, it was Zoom of course…) For some reason our Tonemama hearts are beating a little extra… afterall, she was featured in Forbes magazine under the title “The Power of Podcasting to fight the Patriarchy”.
Bree Noble lived a double life for many years: at night she was a singer/songwriter and during the day she could be found working within finance for a big shot opera company. One day a lightbulb went on over Noble’s head and she realized she should treat her own artist career as a small business: “I had all these business skills, yet I’d never thought about actually using them to forward my music career!”
She quit her job and spent the next seven years touring and working as a singer/songwriter. (Woop woop! We LOVE when the story starts out with someone quitting their boring and serious job to follow a passion in the arts!)
“As I was touring I connected with a lot of other female artists and I loved what they were doing and I was like ‘oh my gosh these people have amazing music why am I not hearing it anywhere?’ And so I decided to create a platform for female artists to get their music out there and I called it Women of Substance.”
She initially just did it for herself as a hobby, but then it started catching on, and she realized there was something to this. Within five years she had built a substantial community with thousands of female artists on her mailing list as well as hosting a successful podcast (they currently have over a thousand episodes).
A SOLUTION – All female music platforms
Why is it important to promote women?
“It was important to promote women in music when I first started out because I don’t think they were getting the promotional opportunities they should have. Some people think it’s counterproductive to have a separated platform just for women, but the end goal is to get more of this music out in the mainstream and see that women are equally represented on any playlist or radio channel and I felt that in order to do that I had to create a platform that only highlighted women.”
Why is music a male dominated field to begin with?
Bree tells us as an apropos that she was listening to an old episode of a radio show from 1978 where a band was being interviewed. They had a female guitar and bass player who spoke about the consistent public belief that they didn’t play their own instruments, but rather to a track (a female guitar and bass player…how outrageous, 1970’s!) Just forty-two years ago this was a reality and that like most other fields, the inherent patriarchal structuring takes time to undo..
How do we make the next generation different?
“Luckily there are alot of organizations like Soundgirls and Women’s Audio Mission that are focusing on educating girls from an early age that this is a field they can enter into. It starts with that, they need to have role models. I think that if we can raise up women through these all-female platforms we will eventually create equality.”
Noble goes on by saying that you can also insist on being equal at certain events and tells us about when she hosted her first profitable musician summit in 2018 their goal was that at least half the speakers were women.
“If we set goals like that for certain events, these talented women are going to get known out there and again – we will create equality.”
What’s the advice for women who feel they are being held back in their careers because of their genitals?
“The first advice I would give is to always get involved in a community, that is why I have a community on Facebook that is free, I also have a paid community called the Female Musician Academy, but the free one is really about providing a safe place where women can talk about these issues.”
She goes on to say that some people feel they’re alone in being discriminated against, and that talking to and hearing about other people who have been through similar experiences help them feel more empowered to fight against it.