What it’s like to be a woman in the music industry

Di Grace Cusini


Taylor Swift, one of the biggest pop stars of all time, once said “There’s a different vocabulary for men and women in the music industry. For example, a man does something, it’s ‘strategic’; a woman does the same thing, it’s ‘calculated’, a man is allowed to ‘react’; a woman can only ‘over-react.'” 

Swift’s been working in the industry for fifteen years and she knows it like the back of her hand. In past years she had been used and manipulated by lots of men (Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, and so many more) who made her stronger. Now she’s an incredible and independent songwriter well aware of her power. Since 2018 Taylor is trying to use that power to stand up for all those women who can’t do it themselves, especially in the music industry. On 20 January 2020 Swift released the fourth single of her seventh studio album, The Man. In this song she points out what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry. She stresses how much more a woman has to work, compared to a man, to get to the same point. Taylor explained the creative process behind this song in her documentary called Miss Americana, available on Netflix.

Although Taylor is doing a lot for women in the industry, she’s not the only one.

In May 2019 Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, more known as Halsey, released a new single called Nightmare. The song quickly became a femminist anthem, because of its power, meaning and anger for our messed up society, which is well explained in the music video where the singer co-starred with Cara Delevigne. The line “I’ve been polite, but I won’t be caught dead/ Letting a man tell me what I should do in my bed” was noted as a “barbed assault on patriarchal expectation” by Billboard and “a necessary gesture of rage and empowerment” by Rolling Stone. Halsey’s been using her voice for a long time, she believes that things can change just if we want them to change. She uses her rage to reach the people’s heart and deliver them an hopeful message. The 26-year-old singer has always been fighting against every kind of abuse and during her speech in a Women’s march she read a self-written poem called “a story like mine”, which was very personal and emotional.

There are a lot of other women in the industry who really care about this topic, from Beyoncé to Ariana Grande, from Dua Lipa to Miley Cyrus. Little Mix’s “woman’s world” is one of the best songs ever written about women. The song is about a young woman who understands for the first time how hard it is to be a woman in a world like ours. Little Mix themselves have often been sexualized by their label, just because of money. Their company also forced them to use their femininity to seduce important men who could’ve made the difference for their music and they struggled a lot to get where they wanted to be without doing those things.

Women now rule the music industry and are constantly breaking records already set by men. 

In the last few years, to point out the strength of the women in the industry, Billboard, Rolling Stones and the like started creating female charts, in addition to the normal ones. Billboard has also made up an event called “Women in music” where the most important women of the music industry are awarded every year. 

Although now few male artists are changing the history of music as much as women are, it’s unlikely to see female producers.The revolution against patriarchate in the music industry, started with the female singers, needs to expand also in the world of music production.