Did you know: only 5% of recognized music producers are female? 

We sat down with three members of the 5% to hear their personal view on these questions:

  1. Why is there such a gender gap?
  2. What can the industry do to create change?

… followed by advice for women interested in music production! 

#1 Denise Deion

https://www.instagram.com/denisedeion/?hl=en

The WiMN: Only 5% of recognized producers are female. Why do you think there is such a gender gap?

Denise:  I do think that we exist. We are quiet and kept. Hiding away. But we exist. I think some reasons we are not seen is because many women have grown up in environments that don’t encourage them to speak up about their talents and/or don’t have people speaking up on their behalf. Thus there is a gap. I also think that as there are more women doing it, more women will be able to look and see someone that looks like them and it will encourage them as well.

“Many women have grown up in environments that don’t encourage them to speak up about their talents” 

The WiMN: What do you think the industry can do to help change this gap?

Denise: The industry needs to speak up. They also need to take initiative and help to assist with programs that are female centred, accessible and are in safe spaces and places.

The WiMN: How did you get your start in music production?

Denise: I always had the interest to learn how to make music but coming up it felt like a boys only club and people didn’t take me serious that I was interested in learning. In 2007 I enrolled in an audio engineering program and learned how to produce and engineer.

The WiMN: If you feel comfortable sharing, describe one moment of discrimination you faced as a music producer.

Denise:  I think it’s more small moments than big. I’ve gotten sidestepped or dismissive attitudes from people. I walk into a room and automatically it’s this question “You’re a singer?”. And my response is “Yes but I also produce, engineer and songwrite”. At every opportunity I try to toot my horn so people know that we exist and we are here to stay.

The WiMN: What advice would you give to a female artist to encourage her to get into music production?

Denise: If you want it, go for it! Be hungry. And if you’re trying to get a seat at the table, get in the kitchen, cook your meal and set your own table.

The WiMN: What is one piece of advice that has gotten you to where you are today?

Denise: Keep going!!! 

#2 Lisa Conway 

https://www.lconofficial.com/

The WiMN: Only 5% of recognized producers are female. Why do you think there is such a gender gap?

Lisa: The patriarchy! There is much work to be done in many other industries and in our society in general. I also have a sneaky suspicion that many women are doing production work in studios, but lack the confidence to call themselves a producer, or aren’t being fully credited for their contributions.

The WiMN:  What do you think the industry can do to help change this gap?

Lisa: I think continually celebrating and recognizing work by female-identifying and non-binary producers is vital – I didn’t have the confidence to call myself a producer out loud until fairly recently. Being part of a series of regular workshops with fellow female-identifying producers and engineers was a huge game changer and confidence builder for me.

This is the kind of change that everyone has to work on – it’s not going to be one decision made by an industry executive, but also the choices we make – who we work with, and how we refer to ourselves in the work we do. Maybe inclusion riders can be incorporated into a studio context?

The WiMN:  How did you get your start in music production?

Lisa: My dad was an elementary music school teacher and had a copy of Cakewalk and few microphones kicking around for school recording projects. I had started writing songs and wanted to make an album of original material with my high school band. My bandmates and I figured out the basics and did all the tracking ourselves. I was also lucky to have a mentor – my fiddle teacher at the time – who strongly encouraged me to get Protools after I graduated high school and moved to Toronto. I kind of fell into production through DIY necessity rather than specific choice – doing everything myself seemed like the easiest and cheapest way to make a record happen. 

“Doing everything myself seemed like the easiest and cheapest way to make a record happen.”

The WiMN: What advice would you give to a female artist to encourage her to get into music production?

Lisa: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Just because people act confidently doesn’t mean they know everything, and continual learning and growth is part of the journey. Technology is a tool to help you achieve your creative vision, not something that should be intimidating. Trust your ears.

I don’t know if production has “done anything” for my career, but making a recording, and making the decisions about the sonic palette and colour and arrangement of the recording, is something I truly love. It’s been a joy to begin helping other artists in a production capacity, and help them make the best record they can.

The WiMN: What is one piece of advice that has gotten you to where you are today?

Lisa: “If it sounds good, it’s good.” – a piece of wisdom from recording engineer Chris Watson at a field recording workshop, and something I say to myself every time I’m feeling insecure about what I’m working on. 

#3 Alla Miroshichenko

https://www.facebook.com/aliasynesthesia/

The WiMN: Only 5% of recognized producers are female. Why do you think there is such a gender gap?

Alla:  I think that the reason why only 5% of producers are female due to music production and music industry in general being regarded largely as a male-dominated field, and this often creates either an impression of an unwelcoming environment to work in OR, in many cases, it is an unappealing environment for women because of the discrimination patterns of various severity. Now, the reason why I point out that it can be one or another, is because if you go an official industry route – there will be a lot of open decriminalization and discouragement. If you start self-learning – you will still find yourself in a male-dominated environment that would make you often  uncomfortable.
There is also a discriminatory assumption that women don’t produce their own music, and this lack of acknowledgement sometimes get perpetuated among male producers. Example: I do produce my own music, but no one reads credits, assuming I’m just a singer on my own tracks because many female musicians are produced by someone else.

The WiMN: What do you think the industry can do to help change this gap?

Alla:  to change this gap, I think there should be more women teaching other women production skills and creating their own women-dominated environments and pockets. Slowly but surely, the industry might catch up with the trend.

The WiMN:  How did you get your start in music production?

Alla: I started on music production because I didn’t have resources to pay someone to produce my music, and ultimately, I wanted to have control over every aspect of my creative work, so I learned the skills.

“I wanted to have control over every aspect of my creative work, so I learned the skills.”

The WiMN: If you feel comfortable sharing, describe one moment of discrimination you faced as a music producer.

Alla: Other male producers in the field do not believing I produced my own music (this happens as a recurring pattern). Other than that – I do not work in the mainstream industry where I have to face discrimination in person, so it’s a little different for me.

The WiMN: What advice would you give to a female artist to encourage her to get into music production?

Alla:  The benefits of getting in music production is a better control over your artistic work as well as an enriched knowledge about the sound and sound manipulation techniques that can give greater creative ideas. Sound production and composition in my opinion go hand in hand and both are amazing tools for delivering musical concepts.

The WiMN: What is one piece of advice that has gotten you to where you are today?

Alla:  Best piece of advice – keep going, learn more, shadow more established producers and be careful with compression. 

 

 

All of the producers featured were found in TWIM: Toronto Women In Music. TWIM is a Facebook group that creates a safe space for women in music to connect, empower, and relate.