Happy new year to everyone!
2019 was an eye-opening year for women in the Country music scene. A lot was brought to light, challenged and no longer accepted as “just the way things are”.
As a hardworking woman in the Country music industry, 2019 made it clear to me that the importance of supporting other women cannot be underestimated. The world of women isn’t neatly divided into our job occupations that make our experiences separate – we are all facing the same struggles with different hats on. This is why women must support one another and anyone who values Country music must support the women who move in that industry.
With this thought in mind, I set out some easy New Year’s resolutions we can make together to see real change in the Country music industry. The resolutions are accessible and simple – it’s sometimes the easiest actions that make great change. There seems to be great momentum gathering around the Country music scene and it’s up to us to turn that momentum into real change.
I have put together 5 Country New Year’s resolutions for 2020 and I invite you to join me in undertaking them this year, with the goal of moving towards a more equal Country music scene.
Resolution 1: Listen to platforms that actively promote women
This isn’t a request to stop listening to your favourite male Country artists, keep doing what you love but why not make a conscious effort to include more women in the mix? This can even mean searching for new women artists on spotify- you never know, you might just find some lifetime favourites. It’s a good way to challenge your own beliefs about women in the industry. Whether you believe that you don’t hear as many women on the radio because they are not as talented, commercially viable, or simply that there are just not as many women artists as men. Accept the challenge to listen to more platforms that support women this year and find out for yourself if your beliefs are fact or fiction.
Resolution 2: There’s nothing wrong with being wrong
One of the biggest challenges to moving forward towards equality in the industry, is our inability to accept when we’re wrong. If someone raises a concern over your favourite festival’s all male line-up, does it feel like an attack on you? Sometimes when someone critiques something we enjoy, it feels like a criticism of us personally: It isn’t.
You are not that festival. Sometimes we support an idea or argument that we later realised wasn’t the best, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We are all entitled to learning and that means getting it wrong sometimes – the important part is what we do with our lessons. If we can try this year to be aware of how we react to criticism of the industry and ask ourselves: is this a criticism about me? When we realise that it more than likely isn’t about us at all, we can form a much better response.
Resolution 3: Listen to women artists experiences
This resolution connects back to resolution 2. We can often feel like a criticism of the music industry is attacking us personally when really it has nothing to do with us. If we view a situation from a defensive viewpoint, we don’t see the situation for what it really is and most of the time react in a way that helps no one (including ourselves). If we can recognise that it is not about us, it leaves room to work out who or what it really is about. Then the most important part comes in: listen. If a women artist tells you about her experience of discrimination in the industry, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen, heard or felt anything like it. Listening to women is a basic, human dignity that should have been the standard a long time ago. The more open we are to other women’s experiences in the industry in 2020, the more likely we are to see the truth of the industry as a whole and respond compassionately.
Resolution 4: Take action when appropriate
I mentioned a less talking principle. This shouldn’t be mistaken for radio-silence. It’s more of a ‘listen before you speak’ resolution.
Assuming we’ve done all the listening required, and have a sound understanding of the situation, now what? For example, what will you do if your favourite festival releases an all male line up? First of all we can challenge the festival organisers on their decision- this shouldn’t be an attack, remember that just clouds communication.
You can see how women artists feel about the situation on social media and listen to their experience. The festival may take on board the concerns and sort out the problem. Alternatively, If the festival organisers devalue women artists or mock/ignore anyone raising concerns, then the choice whether to take action is yours. You can continue the discourse on social media with peers and give women a space to be heard, and if nothing changes you can choose whether to go to the festival. It should be understood that this isn’t about punishing the male artists who would be on the roster but it’s about weighing up the choice between continuing to enjoy a system that discriminates against women musicians, or make it clear that the discrimination is no longer acceptable.
Resolution 5: Support local women musicians
If I asked you to name as many current women Country artists as possible, how many would you come up with? When many mainstream Country radio stations, festivals and the media neglect women artists, it makes sense that we don’t know as much as we should or would like to. Like resolution 4, taking steps to support women artists is vital. While we can listen to more of our favourite women in Country, what about the women we haven’t heard who are fighting against the odds to make it onto mainstream platforms? There are many new/undiscovered women Country artists on our doorsteps who could use our support. We can show our support by downloading, streaming and buying their music, buying their merchandise, interacting with them on social media and going to their gigs. As an artist I can tell you that these things are so important and so very much appreciated.
To sum up, 2020’s Country New Year resolutions are as follows:
1. Listen to more platforms that support women musicians
2. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, it’s what we do with our lesson that counts.
3. Listen to women artist’s experiences, and try to understand their point of view
4. Take clear-headed action when appropriate
5. Support local women musicians by connecting with their social media, listening/streaming/downloading their music, buying merch and going to their gigs.
My hope is that any of these carried out successfully can lead to real change in the Country music industry in 2020.
2019 was a year of seeing the reality of Country music’s treatment of women, and 2020 is as good a year as ever to challenge that reality and pave a new way rather than creating more of the same. I hope that we can understand the damage that can be done to women musicians when we see their reality and don’t give it another thought. If we can make conscious efforts to support women in the industry, we can help to disperse the power held by discriminating people and organisations, and thus make the Country music industry a fair playing ground for women and men. The good news is that it’s 2020, and we already know what we have to do.
Do you have any resolutions to add? Tweet us at @bellesandgals and let us know!
Article written by Honor Logan (twitter.com/honorlogan3)