New Logo riveting riffs magazine  Opportunities for Women In Music: Why the Great Divide?
Manda Mosher Photo Four

                                                                                                         A Guest Editorial by Manada Mosher

There is a significant divide when it comes to opportunities for women versus men in the music business. I currently co-lead a female-fronted band, CALICO the band, and jointly operate a female owned record label, California Country Records, both with Kirsten Proffit. I know what it is like to be completely DIY (Do It Yourself) and participate in every aspect of the business. I come from a music business background and graduated from Berklee College of Music. I have lived and breathed music my entire life. At one time our band was being considered by a significant record label. Although that label expressed their love of our music, they were unable to work with us because they already had another “girl group” on the roster. I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of that notion in particular. I cannot imagine that being the case for any “guy bands.”

Manda Mosher Photo ThreeFrom the comments that I receive on social media, it is clear many men believe the divide in equality is fabricated, imagined, or an effect of women not wanting to do the work or take a seat at the table. This is untrue. I have had the pleasure of working with and witnessing incredibly hard-working women threaded through the entirety of the business; it is just that there are so few of them.

Billboard recently spotlighted a new report from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism that states:

“In 2017, 83.2% of artists were men and only 16.8% were women. 

2017 marked a six-year low for female artists in popular content.

Of 2,767 songwriters credited, 87.7% were male and 12.3% were female.

Nine male songwriters were responsible for 1/5 of the songs in the sample.

Out of the study’s 651 producers, 98% were male and only 2% female.

A total of 899 individuals were nominated for a Grammy Award between 2013 and 2018. 90.7% of those were male and 9.3% were female.” 

This is a reminder of what I have seen and experienced throughout my career in both the business and artistic sides of music. When it comes to territory within the music business platforms be it stage time, radio time, support from labels and publishers, or inclusion on Spotify playlists; access for women has been a battle.

Modern music business models were primarily set up and created by men in the 1930s and the industry is still male-dominated today. Now, more than ever, women are fearlessly tackling fields that were primarily reserved for men in the past. When I say “reserved” I am referring to pre-existing structures built by men, with the inclusion of pioneering women being the rarity. When it comes to being a musical artist, having proficiency in the technical fields of music, or being an executive within the business, talent alone doesn’t cut it. Having business acumen and the ability to fight for and negotiate for territory and access plays a huge role. For artists, working with excellent talent management or business management is an important step because no one is truly the sole architect of success. From what I have seen, every success takes a team.

The definition of “making it” is going to vary individually, but I like to start with the baseline of a financially self-sustaining career in music. The pioneering women in the music field who are “making it,” are as fierce as or more so than the men in the same field. Often artists are championed by the competitive men and / or women who comprise their business team.

As an artist I can speak to the joy of creating and sharing. That is at the heart of it in its most simple form. The connection between artist and audience is a priceless human experience. If music could remain in that space it would be utopian; however, that quickly morphs when art enters the marketplace. Selling, showcasing, and sharing art is when women still face their biggest challenge. When those who control the existing power structures tell you that there is not room on the radio, or playlists, or stages, or label positions for women, it takes an infusion of will to push past that and not only stand in the worth of your creation and value, but to sell it against the odds.

We are now in the midst of the #metoo and #timesup movements, which developed on the heels of women’s rights taking center stage politically to the tune of millions of women and men marching in the United States (and around the world) during the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018. It is clear that now is the time to address the whys and continue working towards fixing the inequalities faced by women. Much of that, I believe, starts with the initial education and awareness of the struggles women face.

Regardless of the resistance I feel as a woman in music, I think it is important to remain positive and continue to move forward. The climate for women in the music business will change once the industry’s gender inequities are faced, understood, and recognized by everyone. I am forever grateful to all of the women and men who have blazed the trail, and to the great people I had the pleasure of working with over the years. I truly believe that continuing steps towards equality will happen as long as we do not give up.

To learn more about Manda Mosher and her music career you can visit her website here or CALICO the band's website and California Country Records website.  Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published January 31st, 2018 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos  are the the property of Manda Mosher unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This editorial article may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of  both Manda Mosher and Riveting Riffs Magazine, All Rights Reserved