Music Victoria announced plans to establish an advisory panel dedicated to women in the Victorian music industry. The plan’s stated goals are to “address barriers” and “leverage opportunities”. Its formation is a response to an April 2015 survey involving 329 music industry figures, the results of which are available in Music Victoria’s Women in the Victorian Contemporary Music Industry report, published on 24 September.
The panel will consist of musicians, venue bookers, managers, curators, academics, lawyers, bureaucrats and youth workers, covering a variety of genres and backgrounds. Its prescribed tasks include reviewing the aforementioned survey and report; considering the issues facing women in Victoria’s contemporary music industry; providing authoritative advice to Music Victoria, the music industry and the community; and publishing findings and recommendations.
The report, which can be read in full here, found that survey results raised two major gender-specific issues, namely pay inequality, and sexual harassment and assault, and one non-gender specific issue: the community’s undervaluing of music.
The report states that, according to recent research, “the pay gap between women and men increased from 14.9% in May 2014 to 19.5% in May 2015 in the arts and recreation services industry, and is now higher than the average national pay gap of 17.9%.”
The survey’s results points to five reasons for the music industry’s pay gap: “lack of paid work opportunities; casualisation of the workforce; the gendered nature of caring responsibilities; access to opportunities; and the confidence gap.”
The serious problems of sexual harassment and assault were mentioned in several responses. The report argues that these comments are consistent with the “many experiences of sexual harassment and assault documented by the LISTEN initiative” and with research from La Trobe University, which found that “96.6% of respondents thought that unwanted sexual attention happened in licensed venues and 80.2% viewed unwanted sexual attention as being common in Melbourne’s pubs and clubs.”
Finally, numerous respondents cited the community’s undervaluing of music as a significant barrier to artistic development. Of the 62% respondents who identified their “primary role” within the music industry as “a musician or songwriter”, few described their music as a full-time occupation. Comments referring to this issue include:
“The lack of value of music in society, as a viable product that costs money to create by us, the makers. Hence music is free or very cheap to enjoy. Thus there are always financial barriers …”
“Low pay for gigs, which necessitates having another job. As a result, committing time to my craft, composing, promotion, marketing, being a band leader etc is difficult. (This is a common problem!).”
Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan said, “Diversity within the music industry benefits everyone. There’s are been too many barriers for women to enter and thrive in the music industry. We look forward to getting together with some of the best minds to develop some tangible solutions to reduce hurdles and increase opportunities.”