The Music Industry and It's Best Friend, Sexism

Despite my passion for music, I doubt I could ever succeed in the music business. My reasons for this are very simple: I am overweight, I don’t wear makeup and I don’t keep up with current trends, and I wouldn’t change these things if I was told that I needed to in order to be marketable.

Sexism in the music industry can be seen in a lot of ways—lyrics that objectify women, women being seen as sluts if they sing about being promiscuous while men are seen as “just doing what guys do”, female musicians being held to higher standards of male musicians, etc. Amanda Palmer, for instance, is an artist who has faced the beast we call sexism with Roadrunner Records, the label she was signed to. When the video for her “Leeds United” video was being made, Roadrunner told her that they thought she looked too fat in the video and that they wanted to cut out shots of her belly so that the video would be more likeable. As she said on her blog, Amanda thought that she looked hot in the video, so she wouldn’t budge and change the video just because her record company thought that she couldn’t look “hot” if she looked a smidgen chubby.

The sexism in the music industry can also be seen in who is popular and who isn’t. Amanda Palmer has a lot less fans than, say, Katy Perry. While Miss Palmer has 18,993 fans on Facebook at the time of writing this article, Katy Perry easily trumps her with the 1,960,536 fans that she has. Amanda Palmer comfortably sings feminist-sounding lyrics that denounce such things as feeling like you need to have a significant other in order to be happy (in the song “Ampersand” she proudly proclaims, “I’m not gonna live my life on one side of an ampersand), Katy Perry sings things that are definitely far-off from being feminist, including her conclusion that women aren’t good if they’re attracted to other women (this is pretty obvious in “I Kissed a Girl” when she sings that “it’s not what good girls do”).

Now, I will admit that I do enjoy Katy Perry’s music sometimes. However, that doesn’t change how depressing it is that the music industry will do all they can to promote a musician who has lyrics that are demeaning to women, while a musician who has feminist lyrics is often given the shaft (Amanda Palmer’s record label has done more to be unsupportive of her than just what happened with the “Leeds United” video—for one example, they did very little to support her tour to promote her Who Killed Amanda Palmer album, which you can read about in old entries on her blog).

Is it because a woman is seen as threatening if she has feminist lyrics in her songs? Is it just easier to market a song that has sexist or misogynistic lyrics than it is to promote a song that doesn’t? Judging from the kind of music that is popular nowadays, it seems that these are the opinions of most people in the music industry. Also judging by the artists in mainstream music who seem to hold feminist opinions but do not publically identify as being feminists—Lily Allen, anyone?—you could come to the conclusion that, if their record labels do have these opinions about feminism, the artists simply don’t publically identify as feminists because their record labels recommend against it.

Readers, our lesson about the music industry today can be summed up easily with three words: It. Is. Dumb. Let’s hope the future of music shines a lot brighter than this.

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Robin S
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