| 10 Jun 2023
ItÆs time for women empowerment in the music industry: Panel at The Exchange

MUMBAI: Social and cultural factors have had a big influence on how the music industry has worked in India for a very long time. Women did not and do not receive recognition as men do.

Has the situation changed now in the industry? The panelists present at The Exchange spoke on the current scenario for women in the music industry. The panel included Artist and Producer Sona Mohapatra, Red Light Management artist manager Lizzy Bowmen and electronic music producer DJ Pearl.

Sona Mohapatra said, “It is still a boys club, women have not been celebrated as yet. Women in music are not given status of artists as men are. Whereas men are called Ustads and Pandits, women don’t have a designation. Yes there is recognition, but things are not changing as fast as they should”.

In India, EDM and Electronic music is dominated by men. But now things are changing, women are taking on the stage. One name in the industry that comes to mind is DJ Pearl. She is known not only for introducing house music, but starting electronic music parties called Submerge with her husband. But this is a space where women as women are overlooked, undervalued and marginalised.

Pearl said, “I was accepted a lot easier as promoter than as an artist. Curators don’t entertain female DJs, not even the audience. I have seen people walk out because it is a female artist that is performing. There have been men artists who have refused to perform if they see women in the list. Things have changed, but yes, I had to work a lot harder than my male counterparts.”

There are many factors which need to be addressed, for example how female artists are projected in music videos. Women in the music industry are expected to be good looking, appealing, whereas artists like Adele, and in the India context, Usha Uthup break the rules.

Lizzy Bowman artist manager Red Light Management said , “Women need to use their position to highlight the problems in the industry. It is up to women working in the industry behind the scenes to really promote the artists. When there is a concert, critics don’t talk about a male artist, about what he wore, but a critic is quite likely to write about what a female artist wore.”

Speaking on the matter, singer and producer Sona Mohapatra said, “Yes, it has been always the case, women in the industry are supposed to look good, the stereotype needs to change where music has to be for listening.” But artists like Adele have been giving it a whole new definition.

So how can we fix the whole situation?

Lizzy Bowman adds, “Not many women are working in higher modules in business in the industry. There is a need for more women producers to take it as an actual career. There should be more initiative from women to take this line.”

There is change in the Industry, but it is slow and steady. The breakthrough is the internet, where opportunities for self-produced content for audiences are easy. SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Ok Listen are some of the platforms that give an opportunity to distribute the produced content. It will not be too long when we could see more women taking up the stage; maybe we could have a woman music producer winning a Grammy? The future looks hopeful.