The Queensland Music Awards went down on Monday night and gosh was it epic!
When the nominations for the awards first dropped I was so stoked just to have been selected in both the regional and singer-songwriter categories. Despite not taking home an award, I felt incredibly lucky to hear my name read out with the likes of Amy Shark.
At last year’s QMAs, I took home two gongs from six nominations and I’m still pinching myself that I get to write and play music. To me, there is no greater gift. What made me doubly proud at the QMAs is that I was nominated among an almost even spread of male and female artists.
It’s an issue present every day but really rears its ugly head when award nominations and festival line-ups are announced. It’s become almost expected to see at least one festival line-up without a single woman. And it’s simply BS that there isn’t a strong talent pool of female artists and bands out there. There IS a healthy pipeline of female artists, just like me, chomping at the bit. It’s encouraging to see my home state leading the way on gender equality in the music scene and I was proud to stand among such deserving candidates. However, the Australian music industry can still be a bit off-key when it comes to gender diversity.
I truly believe women and girls are missing out because of a deep-seated culture that is afraid of changing the status quo to include female acts as headliners. Men and boys aren’t inherently better at playing instruments or writing music, and the commercial success of talents from Beyoncé to homegrowns like Alison Wonderland and Sia shows that female artists are ‘marketable’.
Despite this, the profitable fact seems to still be questioned…?!
Unfortunately, the sexism in the music scene goes beyond representation. It also looks like an unwelcoming and hostile environment for women and girls in general, and it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand. From around 12 years old, I started doing gigs around the local pub scene almost every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I did that pretty much through to the end of year 12.
I was often taken aback at the inappropriate comments, gestures and attitudes made by men. This behaviour was so common, that I became desensitised to how disgusting and inappropriate it was.
One night that sticks out to me was at a venue in Tassie. As we were getting ready for our performance, a dude came into the female toilets and really creeped on us. When he finally left, my friends were visibly shaken. At first, I admit that I was surprised by their reaction. Because I had seen and heard similar things almost every weekend (yes, really), I had stopped really processing just how bad each of these incidents are.
I realise now that feeling safe, whether it’s playing gigs or attending a festival, is so important because it determines if women feel welcome in the music industry. And what would make women feel more welcome than seeing themselves on line-ups, in the charts and ultimately on stage? This would also tell the guys that we bloody deserve our place on stage and in the crowd.
The Queensland music industry is really setting the standard for welcoming, encouraging and rewarding girls and women smashing through barriers in the music scene. So thank you to the legend agents, bookers, venues, festivals and punters who take women in music seriously.
More of that would be nice.
This piece was originally published on TheMusic.com.au