Can Women Complain Anymore? The Tricky Terrain of Post-Digital Discrimination

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The most successful musical artist on Kickstarter is, of course, a woman: Amanda Palmer.

And the reason is that Kickstarter doesn’t care about the gender of the campaign owner, just like every other digital platform out there today (Spotify, Soundcloud,  Twitter, iTunes, Pandora, Deezer, et. al.)

Instead, it’s the exact opposite: Amanda Palmer, just like every other artist, has cultivated her post-major label audience using these platforms, on her own terms and her own rules, where the question of gender isn’t even a question.

Which raises this question:

Just how much discrimination do women face in a post-digital music industry, one in which male gatekeepers have less power than ever before?  And more importantly, are women focusing on issues that are less relevant than ever before, while missing opportunities that are now bigger than ever?

Definitely not according to MEOWcon, a women-focused conference kicking off in Austin today (head over to  MEOW, which stands for ‘Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women,’ is a group that explores issues of gender bias in the music industry and finds a very serious, very real threat in 2013.  “No, it’s not your imagination!” MEOWcon declares.  “Gender bias in music is a threat to our ability to support ourselves as musicians.”

Look no further than Exhibit A, a breakdown of the fairly serious tilt towards male performers and executives shared by MEOW.  Some of these stats were mentioned earlier by Charlotte Church, who pointed to rampant discrimination and bias throughout her recent career (stats compiled for the conference by Jean Synodinos and Sydney Clark).

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19 Responses

  1. Me

    When has anyone ever considered Entertainment Weekly’s top 100 albums to be even slightly relevant?

  2. Later Broham

    Was it absolutely necessary to use an NSFW picture of Amanda Palmer to illustrate the point? Oh wait, that is your point.

    • BurlyGrrl

      Completely agree: why go with this picture as your headline, when the story is the stats below… oh, wait: you wanted open arms and bare titties alongside your journalism. Because we wouldn’t read it otherwise? Got it.

  3. Jam

    We are not in a POST Digital industry. I beginning to wonder if you guys are starting to make this up to see how stupid people are.

  4. hippydog

    ” MEOW, which stands for ‘Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women,’ ”

    ok, i just wanna say.. MEOW.. that is some kinda genius acronym right there.. 🙂

  5. A Disappointed Man

    Do you realize that putting a topless picture of Amanda Palmer shows how much gender bias DMN has? Would you ever use a lurid picture of a man in any of your stories?

    Also, the headline “Can women complain” is very demeaning. YOU don’t determine if people have the right or justification to complain because it is not YOUR experience. And using the word “complain” undermines the seriousness of gender issues being discussed. Its not a frivolous complaint, it is a systematic societal issue.

    Let’s focus on being understanding, open minded and most of all humble about issues that we don’t understand.

    A man

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Just to answer your question:

      “Would you ever use a lurid picture of a man in any of your stories?”

      Well, first off I don’t consider that ‘lurid’, it’s the beautiful human body (get used to it). But if you’re asking if we’d show a guy semi-clothed or naked, the answer is yes, we would, and yes, we have (on multiple occasions).

      The question I’m asking is really simple: does gender bias and exclusion in the music industry really apply online, in the digital era? And if so, who are these gatekeeping boogeymen we keep talking about?

      I’m not so naive to think it’s a black and white issue, but perhaps our notions of gender bias have become outdated. That’s the point and directed questioning of this piece.

      • A Disappointed Man

        Its about context. If you are telling me that you put a picture of topless women in the context of an article about gender equality was meant to drive a specific point home, then I apologize. Do you mind elaborating on your rationale?

        Please recognize that some people could easily miss that given the headline of the article.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          This piece is less about points I’m trying to make, and more about questions I’m trying to raise. So take what you will from that photo (and title).

      • Anonymous Complainer

        If they are outdated then you should be able to name tons of successful female bands – female engineers – female guitarists – female producers – female drummers – female record executives – female keyboard players – that are household names like the male bands you revere. Fact: No all-female band that writes and plays all their own instruments has had a #1 hit song since The Go-Go’s in 1982. So if you think Miley and Beyonce have conquered this issue – then you are not paying very close attention.

  6. Locke

    I find that these charts can be very irrelevant and misleading.
    What does it matter how many female to male musicians there are in the music industry? If females are more educated, like the chart says, then they know that being a musician is the worst way to make money in the music industry. Charts on charts will tell you where the dollar goes. NOT to the musician. More to the label and services than to the musician. Why chastise women for making a good decision? If I were smarter I would have accepted the scholarship to be a business major instead of a music major.

    The rock and roll hall of fame was established during a time of male dominance, most of the musicians in the hall were accepted during that discriminatory time, perhaps a percentage YEAR BY YEAR would provide a much more accurate insight.

    I also hadn’t realized that Coachella was the fulcrum between being successful or not. What does the percentage of men to women suggest? It leads to one thing, that there were more male musicians than female musicians, AT COACHELLA. Coachella is not a model reflection of the music industry. Perhaps if the data were from a much larger sample source, such as all music festivals in a large state or even the country, it would be more credible to form an opinion, rather than sampling one festival. Maybe Im wrong, someone (possibly me) will have to find a music festival with more female than male performers.

    Here’s my quick insight to female musicians first steps in the music industry: Playing in a high school/college band.

    When you start a band, and you want to make it, to most people that might mean doing a local tour of the state, let people know you’re out there. Especially if you’re on a budget. Are females comfortable with doing a basic DIY tour? Living out of a suitcase, having a car breakdown on you, being out late at night in towns you are familiar with. These are things that males are more comfortable with, I am fine with not showering for a week. I can walk around most towns at night and be undisturbed. I have no problem carrying my instruments and luggage a few blocks if something happens.

    I won’t generalize and say every female is uncomfortable with tour, it wouldn’t be true, there are some awesome hardcore women who can deal with those pressures and stresses. I had a friend with an experience where they brought the female singer on tour with them. She couldn’t help with equipment. She needed to shower every night. She was not comfortable with driving at night, or being left alone with the car at night. She really wasn’t too great at easing the touring process. It wasn’t that her attitude was bad, she was skinny, pretty, not the strongest, and was the least likely to help if the car broke down or ran out of gas.

    That in mind, how then, is a female expected to make it in the industry? Starting DIY with a low budget band isn’t really an option. Is it possible these gender associations stem from our old fashioned male dominated society? Or does it strike too many heart chords for some teenage punks to ask you if your daughter can travel to far unfamiliar towns, be out late at night (possibly by themselves for any given amount of time), sleeping in places you don’t know, all this while the back of your mind says “If something happens, any emergency, I can’t come save my daughter. Its up to this group of guys”.
    My Dad had no problem letting me tour. He knows I can run a couple miles no problem, Im capable of watching out for myself, I can fix common car issues, and oh yea, I (as a male) have a much smaller probability of a creep trying to rape me.

    If one of the first steps towards the music industry is inaccessible to females, how can we determine that the rest of the music industry is gender or sex biased?

    (PS- My tour example was based on a SEX-bias, not a GENDER-bias. SEX is what biological equipment you have, GENDER is who you associate with. Does anyone know if these numbers are SEX or GENDER generated? Does anyone know if that would matter? The possibilities can go on)

    • Another Anonymous

      I’ve known men who act just like the female singer that your friend worked with. I also know plenty of women (myself included) who are willing and able to schlep gear. Being thin and pretty shouldn’t have excused the woman that you mentioned from being a team player, but your friend and the rest of the band chose to put up with it.

  7. Anonymous

    All these comments and nobody noticed she has hair underneath the armpits? Gross.

  8. Anonymous Complainer

    lots of anonymous complainers complaining about complaining.

    Got it.

  9. Anonymous

    There is still clearly gender discrimination in the music industry as there is in just about every other profession out there. This is not complaining, it’s fact. And sadly, certain folks just get it wrong every time. Just as Digital Music News demonstrated by posting a picture of a naked Amanda Palmer. Nice work, guys.

  10. Logic

    Did all you haters realize that Amanda was willingly bare chested in public……arms out with a smile on herface? She doesn’t seem to have a problem with it…..but you do? Talk about hypocrisy…..I thought women wanted to be equal and have equal right? Going bare chested is having equal rights. You hatershave no fucking logic. This article is about female discrimination, which you supposedly think is wrong, but are the first to complain when she liberates herself willingly by showing bare chested equality. Equality cherry picking hypocrites.