As we gear up to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to put the spotlight on some of the exciting initiatives actively working on changing the narrative and supporting women in music. In a post #MeToo era, initiatives led by women and men looking to shake things up and built a more inclusive and diverse music business are changing the narrative and the mind-sets, allowing for more and more female executives reaching higher levels of responsibility, artists and producers getting the traction they rightly deserve.
In this series of interviews, we’ve asked the ladies behind Women in Music, Keychange, Shesaid.so and Felin/MEWEM how the place and role of the women in the music industry – be it artists or executives – has changed in the past years and how they expect it to evolve. Discover Keychange‘s project for women in the music industry through this interview with Francine Gorman.
Francine Gorman is the Outreach Coordinator for the Keychange project, working towards a gender balanced music industry alongside more than 300 festivals and music organisations around the world, and counting. Alongside her activities with Keychange, Francine is the Project Manager of the Ja Ja Ja Nordic concert series on behalf of the Nordic Music Export, a consultant for streaming service Deezer, and a writer and music consultant based in London, England.
Keychange is an international campaign which invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging music festivals, orchestras, conservatoires, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, record labels and all music organisations to sign up to a 50:50 gender balance pledge by 2022. Keychange is led by Reeperbahn Festival, PRS Foundation and Musikcentrum Öst, supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, in partnership with Tallinn Music Week, Iceland Airwaves, BIME, Oslo World, Linecheck/Music Innovation Hub, Ireland Music Week, SACEM, Liverpool Sound City, Way Out West, Spring Break, MAMA, Mutek and Breakout West.
How was Keychange born and what is its objective?
Keychange is an international campaign which invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging music festivals, artists, orchestras, conservatoires, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, record labels and all music organisations to sign up to a 50:50 gender balance pledge by 2022.
The initiative was founded by PRS Foundation (UK), Reeperbahn Festival (Germany) and Musikcentrum Öst (Sweden), and began in 2017 as a European talent development programme for emerging artists and innovators. The 50:50 pledge was then proposed by Keychange’s festival partners who wanted to show they are serious in their commitment to gender equality, in addition to offering showcasing opportunities to under-represented talent.
Since then festivals and organisations from all over the world have signed up to the pledge making Keychange a movement for positive change, with more than 300 pledge signatories now in place around the world. In 2019, we also announced a new 4 year Keychange programme, funded by Creative Europe, which will see 74 participants recruited for our talent development programme each year in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
How has the place and role of the women in the music industry – be it artists or executives –changed in the past years? How do you expect it to evolve?
The conversation around the position of women and under-represented genders in the music industry has become increasingly vocal over the past few years, and especially during the time that the Keychange project has been active. There’s now much more awareness of the existing gender imbalance within all areas of the music industry – be that performers on a stage, members of an artist’s team, a venue’s technical staff, the compositions performed by orchestras, members of that orchestra, board members and company executives.
One of the many fantastic things about taking part in Keychange has been to see the energy and engagement from the wider music community in engaging with and highlighting this important conversation. From small collectives building gender-balance focussed initiatives together, to the 300+ festivals and organisations engaging daily with the Keychange pledge, under-represented genders have more support than ever before in claiming their rightful place in the music industry – with Keychange’s position being to guide, encourage and support all of our participants, signatories and collaborators as these conversations and actions take place.
What are the main challenges faced by the women in our industry and how could they be resolved?
One of the main challenges is under-representation of women in executive industry positions. Many of the major decision making roles in the industry are currently occupied by men, even though there is a wealth of talented, enormously experienced women that could and should be occupying such positions. A challenge that we’re confronting around this subject is to make the industry aware of the need to have all genders represented at all levels throughout the industry, and a resolution that we’ve proposed is for companies to apply the 50:50 Keychange pledge when recruiting new staff members. Another major challenge is encouraging festivals to book more women artists to perform across their stages, a topic that has been heavily highlighted as an area for change within the Keychange pledge, and an imbalance that we’re in constant conversation in order to address.
Can you share a specific success story of an executive/artist/company that you have been particularity excited/inspired by?
There are so many success stories from the Keychange participant programme – both in terms of business results and anecdotal stories of triumph and joy! Poppy Ajudha has been playlist numerous times on New Music Friday UK. After taking part in the Keychange programme Lynden Campbell set up an initiative called Crossfade, which aims to future-proof the business of branded audio-visual media through cross-industry meet ups. One of the German Innovator participants now manages one of the Icelandic Artist participants. Another Icelandic participant got promoted to a leadership role at Decca. Kat Frankie from Germany was nominated as Best Producer at Preis Fur Popkultur. UK participant Harriet Moss was promoted to MD of Manner McDade. There are too many successes to list.
What do you expect from your partnership with Midem?
We hope that we can facilitate your journey towards gender equality as a pledge signatory, and learn from the challenges that you face.
For the past 5 years, Midem has been working closely with Women in Music, Keychange, Shesaid.so and Felin/MEWEM, and many more associations across the world, to have the voices of the women of the music business heard – from its leading executives, to the new generation of professionals, as well as the artists, creators and technicians – through its conference programme, competitions, networking session and creative opportunities.