Canadian women have fought for generations so that musicians of all genders are able to pursue their dreams and goals in music, but pay gaps and limitations still persist.
“Power Playing: Advice for Top Women In Music for the Emerging Generation” was a panel hosted by Canadian Music Week that focused on female journalists, publicists, and musicians. It featured six women that are in executive positions in the music industry and addressed the successes and issues of working women. The women on the panel did not hold back and I learned the discrepancies continue to persist in the music industry today.
Moderator and founder of Women in Music Canada, Samantha Slattery emphasized that women continue to make less money than men in the music industry. She explained that for every dollar that a male employee makes, a woman in the music industry makes 73 cents. Women continue to be compensated unfairly for their contributions and have a difficult time climbing up to executive roles.
“Women need to do a better job advocating for themselves and each other,” said panelist and senior director of Live Nation, Melissa Bubb-Clarke. “It is important to chalk it up to business objectives. Anytime that you can bring it back to a financial contribution, ask yourself what is my return on my investment and how should I be compensated for that?”
Bubb-Clarke explained that she received a bonus check that was lower than she believed she deserved for her contribution and returned it. She was uncertain she would be receiving any check at all after making such a bold move, but learned an important lesson when she was given a bonus check with double the amount the next day. Interestingly, Bubb-Clarke and most of the other women on the panel, began their careers in administration and landed their jobs internally only to climb in the company from there.
A recent initiative was launched by MTV called the 79 percent clock. The clock is a daily reminder for women that because of the wage gap we still experience today, 21 per cent of our workload is free when compared to men’s average salaries in the same job. It is also possible to calculate your workload on the website by plugging into the app when you start and complete work.
“Working for Women in Music Inc., I have a lot of conversations with women about insecurity. They need to realize they are worth more,” said president of Women in Music Inc., Jessica Sobhrai. “If you truly believe you deserve more and they say no, it isn’t the company for you and there is no room for growth. It’s knowing your value.”
A report published by Canadian Music Week went on to say that women who work in the music industry work five hours more than the average Canadian, with a starting pay of 24,000 per year and 75 per cent of female employees are under 40. A low salary and long working hours create difficult criteria if you have a family. “It is a 47/7 job. It gets tricky for women in their 30’s who want to have a family,” Panelist and Director of Operations from Toronto-based music public relations company known as the Feldman Agency, Olivia Ootes said. “If we want people to stay in the entertainment industry, we need to change standards.”
Though issues of gender equality persist in the music industry, the women on the panel were hopeful and positive about the changes that were underway for the upcoming generation. Bubb-Clarke noted that women in executive positions have worked hard to carve out the path for future women leaders in music.
Though there are still struggles for women in the workplace, if we keep pushing into the executive roles in the industry and demanding fair pay, the standards will change for future generations. As the Spice Girls once said, “Girl Power!”.