Cover Photo by Jason LaVeris 2016
We’ve seen it time after time. Male artists, directors, and songwriters always dominate the charts and take over every position in the music industry. Female artists have struggled in numerous situations such as fighting over music rights, changing their looks, and being discredited. From a listener’s perspective, the music is everything, but behind the scenes is where things can get messy. Recently, there have been issues in pop culture that deal with the long-standing challenges of breaking the gender gap.
To start off, Taylor Swift’s movement into rerecording her previous music is something that no artist would ever want or have to do. Taylor left Big Machine Records, her old label, in search of making her own label and company. Unfortunately, music executive Scooter Braun purchased the masters of her previous Big Machine albums in 2019, having control of where they go, what they make, etc. He also was allowed to control if these songs were performed or put in any broadcasts. Speaking out, Swift addressed she was unaware he was going to be buying her music and was frustrated at the lack of respect and communication. In order to make a statement and get the rights back, Swift has been recording her old music and releasing it again for the fans. In a post being transparent, Taylor wrote “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up…. neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans”. Swift has mentioned before the issue of young artists singing contracts, which they are not fully aware of, especially girls. It took a lot for her to get to where she is now since she had to constantly deal with pushback. Her song “The Man” addresses all of it and proves a point we can all take note of.
Billie Eilish, even though she is younger, has been dealing with a different problem; objectification and judgment about her body. For far too long, fans, especially men, constantly comment about her fashion choice of baggy clothes. For a long period of time, there was a disturbing amount of press having to do with Eilish’s body. This past year at the Met Gala, Billie sent the internet into a frenzy with her Marilyn Monroe-inspired dress. It was more revealing than her usual look, making social media turn into a conversation about how we are looking at female artists and their bodies. You can listen to her take on the look and why she wore it in a Vogue video she did at the time of the gala. She comments "I used to love big dresses as a kid...it's body image that tore that apart". The sad truth is that this is an everyday occurrence. Misogyny is rooted in the songs we listen to and the music we consume.
In recent times, we have seen more and more female artists breaking records, advocating, and of course making amazing music. Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Beyonce, the list could go on. In order to chip away at the internalized masculinity in the music industry, it is important to support female artists, both big and small. Purchasing, streaming, and downloading songs for women by women is a great way to start. You can listen to Spotify’s playlist called “Created by Women” here, which highlights songs produced, performed, and written by women.