I am asking this question because I recently saw some comments made by singer/songwriter Laura Mvula. She has claimed that the music industry is sexist in a recent interview, this can be read here. I have read through the article and picked out some key comments that Laura made, and I have developed an opinion on each of those comments.
The first comment that struck me was “Laura Mvula has labelled the music industry “sexist” because of the lack of female headliners at festivals.” Okay, this statement is slightly true, there are more male headliners at big festivals than there are female and I do admit that this is unfair. For example, there has only been one female headliner confirmed at this years Glastonbury Festival, this being Adele, whereas there has been two male headline acts announced already.
However, there are still many female performers, it’s not as though the Glastonbury organisers have made this a male only event, not to mention that you don’t really need to headline Glastonbury to prove that you’re a huge star, especially if you already have millions of loyal fans. Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine) stepped in to headline last years festival after Foo Fighters pulled out at the last minute, if the industry truly was “sexist” surely, they’d’ve chosen another male act to take Foo Fighters place? it’s not as though there isn’t plenty to choose from.
Another thing Mvula used to back up her sexism argument was the “amount of men that work behind the scenes in the music business”. I can pull this argument apart straight away, simply by dropping a link to an article I found on Billboard with not 20, not 30 but FIFTY women who are high up in the music industry, from agents, to managers, to producers, they were all women. To this end, I fail to understand how Laura’s statement about lack of women behind the scenes holds any weight. (The article can be found HERE)
From personal experience, I work with more female artists than I do male these days, I am in 1 all male band which is a Pink Floyd tribute, all of the other singers I work with are female, and they are doing very well for themselves, so again, how is Laura’s argument even getting any attention or agreement?
To further my counter argument, the latest winner of X Factor was female (Louisa Johnson) obviously, X Factor is not deemed a “serious” contest, but it still has millions of viewers every year and Louisa did end up performing at Capital’s SummerTime Ball, twice. The head producer of the show, is male. It’s not really that sexist is it? If it were, Louisa wouldn’t’ve won and before we get people saying that it’s down to public vote, we all know the show is rigged, (not taking any of Louisa’s glory away from her of course) but if Simon Cowell was sexist or the industry was sexist at all, a male winner would’ve been chosen, regardless of “public vote”.
Mvula also claimed that she felt “isolated and misunderstood” due to the apparent lack of females. How? In my opinion, your gender really doesn’t matter, all musicians, producers, agents, managers, label heads are in the same boat, doing the same job, regardless of gender. I don’t see what’s to be misunderstand.
Personally I believe that Laura Mvula is blowing the whole situation out of proportion. If the music industry really was sexist, anti-women or whatever she wants to call it, then the likes of Adele and Taylor Swift and Florence Welch wouldn’t even be signed, let alone have their songs be number one in charts around the world.
Let me be clear, I am not saying for one second that there wasn’t a time in which female recording artists were oppressed and abused. The scandal between Kesha, Sony and Dr Luke is a prime example of this happening and trust me, I found the whole situation and the way Sony acted as a label, disgusting. However, this wasn’t a case of sexim, it was an act of sexual abuse upon an innocent young woman that was brushed under the carpet by a label of people whose job it was to protect their artist. For those of you that don’t know what happened in this incident, you can read a detailed timeline of events HERE and you can read my article on the incident HERE
To wrap this up, I really do think Laura should think about how she words things. The fact that I could rip apart her argument with some research and a presentation of facts and sources shows how little weight her argument holds. I did end my argument on a statement sort of supporting what she was saying, but as I said, what happened between Kesha and the opposing parties was not sexism, it was abuse. There is a very stark difference between the two.
I understand why Mvula said what she said, she was just trying to stick up for her gender. Maybe next time she should bring forward a far more watertight argument, so it doesn’t get torn apart by an 18 year old music blogger from Essex.