Women Tell Their Music Industry Horror Stories

For years (decades!) the music industry was exclusively and old boys’ club. That, thankfully, has changed in recent times–it’s sure better than it was in the 60s and 70s–but it can still be an awful place for women. Limited opportunities for advancement.  Pay inequality. Sexist comments and behaviour. Outright abuse. The Daily Beast has this profile.

On Monday, Pitchfork Senior Editor Jessica Hopper asked the Twitterverse: “Gals/other marginalized folks: what was your 1st brush (in music industry, journalism, scene) w/ idea that you didn’t ‘count’?” What followed were hundreds of responses, mostly detailing the tragic timeline of any chick who dares to like music, thus infringing on the safe spaces of country bros and alt-rock dudes.Hopper’s retweets tell a pretty predictable story: girl develops interest in a music scene, girl is endlessly scrutinized and told that her fandom is illegitimate/invalid, girl is mistaken for a groupie or a girlfriend, girl is harassed/groped/assaulted at shows.

Various tropes are repeated over and over again, like a riff you’ve heard too many times before: an aspiring bassist being told by a music teacher that bass is for boys, or a teenager being asked by her dubious males classmates to recite a band’s entire discography in order to prove her fan cred. The narrative gets even more disturbing and specific when you start charting the testimonials of women who pursued careers as musicians, sound engineers, executives, and journalists. The recurring message is that, for women, the music industry is a Banksy-designedChoose Your Own Adventure book, with each career path containing its own lady-specific land mines.

Rampant misogyny is the music industry’s worst kept secret.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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