I think we need to take a moment to discuss the struggles of being a female in the music industry. Whether you’re a concert photographer, journalist, musician yourself, band manager, tour manager, etc. Whether you are aspiring to one day reach the goal of having a career in those fields, or you already do have a career in one of those fields, I think it’s safe to say if you identify as a female, we all experience the same shit. For the sake of my rant, I’m going to talk about being an aspiring music journalist, because that’s what I am, but feel free to tell me your experiences.
All my life I have dreamt of being a music journalist because I am a creative person that lacks musical talent. I’ve tried the guitar, I’ve tried to sing, I write songs here and there, but I am very self-aware that it’s not good, or at least not good enough to try to pursue a career as a musician. Despite my inability to actually create music of my own, I’ve still held on tightly to the fascination the craft. I love to know the “why’s” of music, I love learning how a song came about, and what inspired the artist to do one thing over another way. Whenever I think of meeting my favourite musician, I don’t dream of telling them that I fancy them, I dream of learning how their magnificent brain works, I want to know the so-called-trivial details of what goes on in a recording studio, that’s what drives me to write about music.
Last year, when I realized that I didn’t have to necessarily work for a big music magazine in order to set sail in my quest of finding out about the “who/what/where/ and why’s” of music, I started my own blog. This blog. I turned the focus of my writing to music, the more I wrote about my favourite bands, the more courage I gained to get into contact with musicians and their teams. I started off big, I was emailing everyone, I was using my old contacts and I was learning a lot.
I was learning that being a female in the rock music industry, is like being a doll in a glass case. People will look at you, approach you, even talk to you, but you are nothing other than an object for them to look at when bored. All the attention you receive is solely based on your looks, nothing else matters.
Sometimes I blame myself for using social media as my networking leverage, because the communicative exchange on both ends is almost always very shallow. Why do you follow someone? Because you thought their pictures were attractive. Why did you message them? Because you like what you saw, blah blah blah. All very superficial, however, social media is also an easier way to get in contact with someone you normally wouldn’t be able to. For example, bands and their teams.
So, yeah, it can be a shallow exchange at first, but when I tell you that I want to communicate with you for a professional matter, that’s when the “superficiality” of it all should drop. It would drop if it was a male to male exchange, but when a girl messages a guy that you want to get to know them more, even if you say if it’s for an article and you ask strictly music related questions, the dude still sees it as a subtle flirtation.
BECAUSE MUSICIAN MEN CANNOT ACCEPT THE FACT THAT A GIRL IS NOT SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO THEM.
“Sliding into DMs” is what I do, I see someone who I take a professional interest in and I introduce myself to them. I always say something along the lines of “hey! I just listened to your music, I really dig it and would love to write an article on you. Would you be down to answer some questions?” you know? Nothing like “hey you’re hot, I am inviting you to talk me down and then flirt with me as if I didn’t just try to invite you into a professional conversation”.
I’ve always been very aware that people, especially entertainers, are nothing like the person they portray publicly. As mentioned a million times before, my own ex-boyfriend, beloved by many, was NOTHING like his public image, so before you think I’m some naive child that is running to their blog, crying that a musician turned out to be an asshole, this isn’t about that. This is about how the second you tell a musician that you think they’re talented and want to write an article praising it, it’s like injecting an asshole serum into them and they turn into this monster.
Nor am I mad that musicians and their managers turn my request for an interview down, because that’s fine. Whatever, you’re too cool to communicate with small blogs, that’s ok. This is about the power trip a dude gets the second a female praise them. They turn into this untouchable god who thinks the female, whether it be a journalist or a photographer, is begging them to suck their dick.
No, Frank, I didn’t ask to sleep with you, I asked to interview you.
THOSE ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.
NOT EVERY FEMALE THAT APPROACHES IS YOU WANTS TO FUCK YOU.
We get it, Frank, you have a lot of requests from people wanting to do that, but that is not what I and a lot of females working in this industry are trying to do. SO STOP MAKING THIS SO COMPLICATED.
Groupies are one thing, I love groupies, I respect groupies, hell I was a groupie and you can read all about that but when I “slide into your DMs” and ask to collaborate with you, I am not asking to be a groupie. I would fucking clarify it from the get-go, because I have nothing to hide. Most groupies have nothing to hide, females working in the rock music industry are not trying to sleep with you, they aRE TRYING TO DO THEIR JOB JUST LIKE YOU.
This blog post isn’t even about musicians and their personal lives, because frankly, I could care less what a musician does in their personal time. Most of them are on drugs and engaging in reckless activity and sleeping with every single person that blinks aggressively at them, so when I ask a musician for an interview or when I think of wanting to interview an artist, it isn’t to ask who they’ve dated or hooked up with, or how drunk they got the previous evening. I am about the music, I only care about the music, that is it.
But for some reason, no matter how many times I say “i like your music” , ” i think your music is cool” it translates to “wow you’re so cool, please ask me for nudes in the middle of this conversation about your song”. How? Why? Beats me!
My dream of becoming a music journalist is constantly curb-stomped solely because male musicians and male band managers look at me as a joke. At first, I thought it was because I was a really small blog because the entertainment industry is all about exclusivity and who knows who, so I said “fine, I’ll start small and work my way up”. It didn’t bother me that I had to start with local musicians, in fact, I was excited to collaborate with small bands and artists because I thought that meant meeting more humble personalities and people who are excited about their current path.
BOY WAS I WROOOOOONG.
First lesson I learned is that it doesn’t matter if a male-musician has 20 fans or 2 million, the second they have an increase in status and “power”, their sense of entitlement blows out of proportion.I know that I am a smaller blog and that I don’t have a big publishing company waiting for me to finish articles in time for print, but my time is valuable too. I try to set myself deadlines, I try to put a lot of research and thought into my questions.
And, again, I don’t care about being rejected, it’s when a band or a musician, takes the time to talk to me for a few days, even have the audacity to flirt with me and then when I approach the idea of an inteview, for them to either leave me on read or actually have the audacity to say “how many followers does your blog have?”
Like, excuse me???? My followers didn’t seem to matter when you asked me for my snapchat and then proceeded to send me ‘just got out of the shower ;)’
I don’t care that you have thousands of girls lusting over you, I don’t care that you perform to hundreds of people every night, you were once a struggling musician, or a struggling manager, struggling writer, YOU WERE STRUGGLING TOO. You were once doing whatever is in your power to get one person to give you a chance, so why is that you can’t be understanding and help out those are just doing the same?
Why can’t people understand that women want to work in the industry for the love of music, as much as men do? Why do they always think there is some ulterior motive?
The second lesson I’ve learned is that male managers are truly as bad, if not worse than the musician themselves. This goes back to my teenage years, I learned this when I was underage and attending shows, I’ve had 40-year-old managers suggest some crude things to me, and offered it in exchange to meet the band, and now as an adult, it’s gotten even worse.
A specific example that comes to mind, that actually makes me so angry, happened a few months ago. I contacted a manager of a successful British rock group, and boy did this take a nasty turn. I messaged the manager, asking for advice. I didn’t even ask to contact the band, I didn’t ask for a ticket to the show, I didn’t ask for anything other than advice. I remember the message because I remember thinking “this is casual, what could go wrong?”. It said something along the lines, “hey man, congrats on all your success with (insert band name)! I saw on your profile that you’re fairly young, and I think it’s so cool that you’ve been able to take (insert band name) so far in such a small amount of time. Do you have any tips for getting started in the industry?”…. Something like that, but you get the gist of it all.
He read it but didn’t reply, which annoyed me but I didn’t think much of it. That was until a few days after reading my message, I get a notification that he liked a whole bunch of my old selfies, including some of my old bikini/beach pictures. That, honestly, sums up a typical day of trying to book interviews. If a band agrees, they like my selfies, it’s always based off looks.
Pervertedness aside, another issue that I constantly have to deal with is that men, whether they are in the industry or not, think that women who like rock music don’t actually like the music or don’t know jack-shit about the music, and are only speaking to you about certain bands to impress them.
Oh, yeah, Brad, please tell me how “cool led zeppelin shirt” is a code for “I want you to ask me out every 5 seconds”.
So, not only, are we being judged on if we’re “hot enough” to interview them, it doesn’t even matter how well prepared you would be to conduct an interview, because they don’t actually care about what you have to say.
Whether it be musicians or just men who are fans of rock music, I find that I have to defend if I really like a band or not to a man on a daily basis. If I wear a band tee to the mall, the coffee shop, etc, I always get asked “oh you like (insert band name)? what was their best album?”, expecting me to not be able to reply.
Well, fuck you Joe, I can probably list their entire discography in alphabetic and chronological order.
I’m just tired ok? I am tired of the rock music community, being filled with such wankers. I shouldn’t have to worry for my safety when talking to bands, I shouldn’t have to feel like my best selfies are out to promote my love of rock music, and I shouldn’t be talked down because I am a girl asking about your music.
The number of times I’ve read that a female concert photographer has been harassed and singled out because of how she dressed or looked is so infuriating! I shouldn’t have to read comments that a female interviewer “sooooo wanted his dick” because she laughed at his dumb-fucking-joke. I am sick of it.
It’s 2018, women love rock music. Women probably know more about rock music than men. Women should be allowed to have opinions on the music, not just how the male musician looks. When a woman approaches a male manager, it shouldn’t automatically be assumed it’s to ask about how they can hook up with the musician.
I could also go on a whole other rant about how you can think a musician is hot, and still be allowed to have a professional opinion on them, but that’s for another time. I just wanted to get these thoughts off my chest, before I exploded.
I hope people understand that this isn’t a “I hate all male musicians” post because I obviously don’t. Most of my favorite musicians are men, I’ve dated male musicians, I respect a lot of them, I have even met a small amount of lovely male musicians who have been nothing but respectful and polite, but its such a small amount.
This also isn’t to say that being flirtatious is a sin, or that there isn’t a chance that a musician and journalist start talking music and things hit off, but there are a time and a place.
Men, when I ask to talk to you about your music, don’t power trip and think you can be all “winky emoji”‘s and think that I’m frothing over the thought of you. Chances are that I’m not, nor is a lot of other females trying to work with you.
THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY.
To my fellow female music journalists, female concert photographers, female tour managers, etc. I respect the fuck out of you, I stand with you, and I get how exhausting it is. Keep your chin up, one day we’ll get the respect we deserve.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org