France: not heard enough, women turn up the volume in the music

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(AFP) – The #MusicToo movement has shed light on sexual assault in music but other fights remain to be waged according to women in the sector in France, who consider their legitimacy still too much attacked and say they are forgotten in the organization charts.

“To talk about a problem, you have to start by giving figures”, summed up one of them, Corinne Sadki, of the National Music Center, on the occasion of a forum, “Women de la musique “, at the Parisian festival MaMA (Current music market).

In France, the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers (Sacem) has listed only “17% of authors, composers and publishers of music”, according to the head of this organization, Catherine Boissière, present at MaMA.

Without doubt because “everything is done so that women do not feel legitimate, or are not credited”, estimates Emily Gonneau, co-founder of Change de disk, a platform which fights in particular against the structural problems of women (remuneration and career progression) in the music industry.

And all musical genres are concerned.

According to Héloïse Luzzati, of the Elles creative women association which aims to compensate for the absence of women in musical programming, “only 4% of works by classical composers are programmed”. “In 25 years of cello studies, I have never played a woman’s work,” she emphasizes.

– Insidious Mechanisms –

During this forum, rapper Tracy De Sa, born in India, talks about the many traps to avoid for a woman. “There is a sexualization, which goes through the control of the image by the label, for the choice of photos or clips, we tell you at the beginning that it is + that you like +. Not to mention the use of Photoshop to whiten my skin “.

” And when it is we who choose to strip ourselves in our clips, then we hear that we + do too much +, that ‘we found only that to develop our art, ”she denounces.

The insidious mechanisms that trap women are found in all parts of the sector, such as among technicians.

” employers are more demanding of us, we are asked to have a strong character, because it is a male environment, but we are then criticized for it + when a woman gives her opinion, it makes waves + “, relates a manager , Virginie Bègue.

At the top of the pyramid, the situation is not very bright. Only 14% of management positions in labels are occupied by women, according to a study in 2019 from the French information and resource center for contemporary music (Irma).

– Des levers to change –

But levers exist to change things. The Elles Creative Women association tackles the problem of visibility of classical composers at the root, with a manuscript exhumation project. Héloïse Luzzati also created a festival called Un Temps pour Elles, a video channel La Boîte à Pépites and a record label, Elles Records (first opus for 2022), to put in value this work.

An administrator at the service of rap artist-entrepreneurs, Céline Bakond, told the forum that she had integrated chauvinistic discourse for too long, developing a “syndrome of impostor”. “I had a hard time charging a fair rate for my work, working for free or doing more things than I should have.”

It was a mentoring program for women in the music industry, Mewem, that opened her eyes, showing her that she had all her “place” in the sector. One of Mewem’s tutors is a figure in the middle, Pauline Duarte, director of the Epic France label.

The health crisis has put the sector on hiatus but has had a good side. “The bosses have thought about the question and, after the Covid, they want joint technical teams”, rejoices the manager Virginie Bègue. To recruit, it will rely, for example, on an association, Bandshe, which aims to support, promote and democratize the place of women in live music.

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