As we’re all aware by now, I am writing music. It’s an incredibly slow process, but I’m working on it. But, what many may not know, is that music runs in my blood, and I’ve been exposed to the behind the scenes of music from a young age: my Pops is in a band called The Bordellos, and my brother in a band called Vukovar. I’ve seen their struggle and the problems they encounter, and the lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as TV makes it seem. There’s hard work and there’s grit.
WARNING: ahead are some strong opinions and possible SLIGHTLY controversial views (of course there are, it’s me, apparently most of my views are controversial). Proceed with care.
That’s one problem I have to begin with, and if you read the title of the blog, you’ll know what you’re getting in for. But, one issue I have is that people only see the glamorous side of it. They don’t see the early mornings, the vocal strain, the bleeding hands. They don’t see the struggle when companies steal your music and don’t credit you, as has happened to members of my family; they weren’t being paid royalties for music they’d been using for months. I won’t say the company or the person for legal reasons, but they don’t see the side of that. They don’t see the arguments, the late nights, and the fact people are still working while they make music, because they need to make a living. They see the stages, and the best moments: they don’t see the work it takes to make those moments happen and to get the recognition deserved.
As a woman who is looking into making music, I’m fully aware of the struggles I’ll face. With women in the industry, you have two major options: hyper-sexulise or downplay your femininity. Beauty and sex sells, and if you don’t have the sex cells to make your music sell, you’re out. Yes, there is an up rise of people giving the middle finger to this, and I inwardly cheer whenever I see this, but those are already made artists. People who can do that and know they have a fan base, and they have support. Yes, to a degree, this is both men and women, but a man can do whatever and be okay: they don’t have to go scantily clad, as it’s not expected of them. Women don’t have to either, but look at the culture and society we’re in, and you see that there is more pressure. Think of this example then: The Runaways. The youngest member was, what. 14/15, the oldest around 17? They were sexulised from an incredibly young age, and they had to be; it drew attention. Women in punk was already unusual, but unless sexualised, it would be rare for them to actually get GOOD publicity and not be booed out of a job. Yes, I know this was years ago, but the sick thing is it still happens today. If a woman wants to, then we all know I’m for that, go ahead and slay me, but a woman’s body shouldn’t be seen or used as a gimmick, and showing it off should be her choice, not forced upon her to sell music.
I’m aware that there is a certain look for each genre, and if you don’t fit that, you need to work twice as hard to make an impact and make a mark. Think of how many popular artists there are you aren’t identical and doing what is popular for that moment in time. Think, for example, the uproar about Halsey when she first started making music: a bisexual woman making music about both women and men, who cut her hair short, wore wigs occasionally, and who was unafraid, at least on the outside, to be herself. She had a big name, and she had masses of support: if a smaller, unrecognised artist did the same, would they not be dropped like a broken toy? This is with both men and women: an image that doesn’t fit has impact on every musician.
This might be contrversial, but bare with me. The fact that it’s rare that there is actual raw talent these days. Think about it: in a world of autotune, it can be very disappointing when you see someone live, and you could do a better job up there. Or, if it’s not musical talent, it’s the writing talent: most songs are written by 6+ people, which is fine. Song writing is difficult, I can understand why it takes that many people. But here’s a thought; what about the songs written by one person, and are just as good? What if this person has the ability to write alone AND sounds like an angel? They’re very rarely recognised or found. These days, raw talent is a rarity.
This leads on to my next point; talent shows. Yes, I love the X Factor and American Idol and that kind of thing; it’s a guilty pleasure kind of TV show. But here’s the thing: as soon as they see money signs, you’re in. Even if you’re TERRIBLE, if you will make money, you’re signed. I found out 7 of the finalists one year in the X Factor were all signed. Which is great, but then what’s the point of the TV show? Why not go looking on streets where there are incredibly buskers and sign them too? TV talent is saturating the music industry and making it look like a piece of piss to get into.
This one I’m guilty of too, so call me a hypocrite, but most of my music I do buy and pay for: illegal downloading. This is the main issue that there is in the industry, and we’re all guilty of it. With the money crisis going on, who can really blame us? But what we don’t realise or we forget is that it’s taking money out of the artists pockets, and it is their job too. You work and expect to get paid? Same for them. And we all do it, even other artists do it, but unless you’re major, then it’s difficult to make money from it, which is why you often see musicians going into acting or modelling or presenting or writing, fuck, even YouTube money is better than some artists get paid. Not all money goes to them: money for merch, money for touring, money for recording: it all adds up. Unless you’re big with a massive backing, which you often work your arse off to get to, then you will struggle.
There are a lot of problems in the industry. Yes, of course I had to bring the feminist side into it, because it is something that isn’t actually addressed much, and I feel as if it should be. I hope I brought up some points to make you think: I have updates on my own music coming soon, and sitting on them is killing me!
Stay safe and stay happy, Angels!