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opinion Opinion March 20, 2023

What More Does the Music Industry Need to Do to Elevate Women?

What More Does the Music Industry Need to Do to Elevate Women?

In 2023, One Of One – the organisation and charity that strives to uplift, elevate and platform the voices and wonderful work of female and gender non-conforming people in the Australian music industry – celebrates eight years.

Their work in this time has seen the organisation grow from small community gatherings in Naarm/Melbourne, to a fully fleshed out movement that has encompassed events celebrating the industry-wide achievements of women and gender non-conforming people around the country.

While they are proud of their work to date, One of One would also like to acknowledge that there is more to be done, more conversations to be had, and more listening needs to take place. One of One is a platform for voices to be heard, and must continue to ensure that there is diversity and constant review and change within their operations. They want to promote and partner with other organisations that are doing great work, and collaborate with others.

While there is progress that has been made with regards to the industry stepping up to the plate; offering safer and more positive spaces to allow thriving, there is always room for improvement and work to be done.

One of One wants to continue to ask the questions and provide a platform for a diverse range of women and GNC people to share their stories, experiences and opinions, and invites anyone to nominate another or themselves to be spotlighted and share their story and have their voice heard.

Ahead of the 2023 roll out One Of One events – this year, a national tour of industry breakfasts – we have connected with some of the many respected industry names who close to One Of One’s heart, to get their insights into the current climate for women and gender non-conforming people in Australian music, and what they’d love to see change in years to come.

Alethea Beetson – Blak Social

Why is it important to have events to celebrate women and GNC people in your state at the moment?

AB: I live and work on Jagera, Yuggera and Turrbal country in Meanjin/so-called Brisbane where there is a long history of honouring all members of our community. Most of the work I do in this space is centred around celebrating First Nations women, Gender-Nonconforming and those whose identities are not defined by colonial constructs of gender. These members of my community have been the most supportive of all the work I do and I would not be here without them. Although there is a push for equality in this space I am not seeing that same energy for Blak women and Gender-Nonconforming people so it is important to ensure these voices are put to the front and celebrated.

How is the community of women and GNC people currently in your state? 

AB: We are still being left out of conversations and not being given the resources we need to run our own initiatives in the music industry (and more broadly).

White feminism narratives still drive so many of the conversations around gender equality within the music industry and as such do not serve my community, and that is exactly as it is designed. But Blak women and Gender-Nonconforming people operate from a place of sovereignty; and refuse to be defined by the colony – and we celebrate that in our communities each and every day.

What is the one thing you’d change about the music industry to help continue to improve conditions for women and GNC people in the industry?

AB: The music industry operates within and for the colony. It was designed to exclude certain people over others. I believe in working towards different models that look after everyone on this continent. Many of these models have existed on these lands for thousands of years. These models also protect the importance of song in a way that the music industry does not.

Is there anything in particular you are advocating for at the moment or very passionate about right now?

AB: Platformining, celebrating and handing over resources to Indigenous music. And also centering our knowledges when it comes to song.

Are there any action items that would directly help what you’re advocating for at the moment?

AB: Fund Indigenous owned and led initiatives. There are so many amazing programs and spaces out there run by mob that need resources to do the work colonial spaces cannot do without causing additional harm. Pay the rent on the lands and the art form that you operate on and within.

Anne Wiberg, artistic director, Light Cultural Foundation SA

If I had a magic wand, I would want to change this culture to ensure everyone feels genuinely included and valued, no matter who you are.

I’m pleased to see with some events and programs that there are more women and GNC people included, however, it’s still disappointing that so often headliners are men.

It’s also fantastic to see that more women are being employed in key senior roles in the industry, however, the culture can still be challenging and intimidating for women and GNC people to get a leg up and be respected and acknowledged.

In order to nurture and support women and non-binary people who work in the music industry, networking is essential. It’s important for us to feel a part of a community and share our thoughts, frustrations and ideas.

By getting together, we learn from each other and build connections, which can only lead to a more robust industry.

Dina Basille, founder and access consultant, TIBI Access, Naarm, Victoria

Signs of inclusion and safety are so important – as an industry we lack this. We need more women leading larger organisations, more orgs taking a stance against sexism, racism, ableism. Joining non-profits or showcasing signs of safety in marketing and campaigns is a big sign of inclusion.

Viv Mellish, GYROSTREAM, Meanjin, Queensland

The music industry, whilst getting better, can be a really tough place for mums. Many females just leave the industry altogether after becoming parents because of a range of structural, social and cultural factors.

Carolina Gasolina, Elefant Traks, Eora/Sydney

I would really love to see more people from Western Sydney in music industry positions, especially considering the wave of artists from Western Sydney coming through.

In March, One Of One hosts its largest run of events to date, to be involved – join their mailing list here, and note the following dates in your calendar.

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