This is the first in an occasional series leading up to this year’s Contemporary Music Roundtable conference, where Music Australia will host a session on Wed 2 August focused on strengthening representation of women in the Australian music industry.
When triple j ran the Hottest 100 in 2015, only 21% of acts were women, despite them comprising 48% of voters. In September that year, Music Victoria published its Women in the Victorian Contemporary Music Industry discussion paper, which found that “women are underrepresented in many spheres, from festival lineups, radio play and award nominations to conference panels, industry organisation boards and other decision making roles.”
Here, we offer a round-up of key initiatives, both formal and informal, around the nation that are supporting, facilitating and promoting Australian women in music. This installment covers Victoria and New South Wales. The other states, as well as national and Cross-state initiatives, will follow in subsequent articles.
Please note: this is intended as an overview, rather than a comprehensive summary. If you know of an important initiative we’ve missed, don’t hesitate to let us know and we will endeavour to include it in part two.
Music Victoria, the state’s peak industry body for music, has taken numerous actions at policy level. These include:
- the Women’s Music Industry Advisory Panel, a 20-strong organisation established to “consider issues of women in Victoria’s contemporary music industry and community”
- the Gender Diversity Policy, which includes a commitment to ensuring participation of 40% women and 40% men across all across Music Victoria activities
- representation on the Sexual Harassment and Assault in Licensed Policy Taskforce
- the inclusion of a chapter on sexual harassment in the Best Practice Guidelines for Music Venues
Within the sector are:
- LISTEN, a feminist collective established to encourage more equal participation in the music industry.
- OneonOne, a website created by Sarah Hamilton and Vader Fame from Ditto Music & Joanna Cameron from AIR, publishing weekly profiles on women in the music industry.
In addition, there are major events and festivals in Victoria dedicated to women-only line-ups. Among them are:
- The Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival, which takes place every December and lines local artists up alongside international ones.
- Electric Lady, an all-girl electric show to debut in Melbourne and Sydney in June and July 2017
Meanwhile, at grass roots level, community music groups and gatherings provide women, from beginners to experienced musicians, with opportunities for participation, education, mentoring and performance. Some of them are:
- Willin Women, an a cappella choir open to all women that rehearses weekly in Williamstown
- Sound Works Women’s Choir, an audition-based choir in Brunswick led by singer Merrian Wickham
- All Girls Jam, a bi-monthly open mic and jam session held in Carlton
- Play Like A Girl, a monthly jam session and safe space held in Collingwood
NEW SOUTH WALES
Music New South Wales, the state’s peak industry body for music, runs Women in Electronic Music, a year-round program comprising panel discussions, showcases, master classes and an industry round table, which, in 2016, saw satellite events in Melbourne as part of Face the Music.
Like Victoria, New South Wales hosts a variety of women-only events and festivals, including:
- The Sydney Women’s International Festival, which has been held annually since 2012, with the support of the City of Sydney
- Sad Grrrls Club, which is a collective, tour promoter, two-day festival and independent record label
- Women at the Front, a panel discussion to take place in June 2017 as part of Spotify’s new talks series held during Vivid 2017
- Earopund Festival, which showcases women and transgender musicians, and was held for the first time in 2016
- Music Love – a website to mobilise, champion and celebrate Australian women in music, founded by Sydney-based artist Julie Kerr.
- Music Love presented a music industry panel discussion ‘Pathway to Platform: Making It in the Music Industry’ at Vivid 2017.
Just a few of community music groups in New South Wales that facilitate and nurture women in music include:
the Northern Beaches Chorus, a 70-strong, women-only choir based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches
- Hummingsong, a network of women’s community choirs open to singers of all levels based in Sydney and surrounds with more than 300 members
We’ll add to this list in our next edition, and publish a resource guide with links to these and other activities. Contributions and information welcome!