Australia music scene
Turn on your radio — it is statistically likely you’ll hear music made by a man.
Go to a summer music festival. Is the headliner a man? Probably. The Australian music scene, like many industries, has a gender problem.
When triple j’s Hack crunched the numbers, it discovered last year’s Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival booked almost 70 per cent male acts. That number blew out to 90 per cent at Listen Out and Stereosonic.
So what is it like to be woman making music in Australia? Musician KLP has been doing it for years, and frankly, she’s sick of the question.
“I’ve got a boyfriend who is a musician as well, and he never gets asked the kind of questions that I get asked in interviews. He never gets asked his age, he never gets asked what it’s like to be a male DJ,” KLP said.
Earlier this year, new festival Spilt Milk announced a line-up with 16 acts. Only one of them was female. KLP was unimpressed with the “bro-town” attitude.
Soon after, Spilt Milk announced several more female acts, with the promoters saying: “You spoke, we listened. Opportunities for female artists in the music industry ARE less than those for men.”
Adam Lewis books musicians for venues across Sydney, as well as boutique music festival Secret Garden.
He says over the past few years, he has seen the industry start to become aware of gender imbalance.
“You’re seeing festivals come up with these really blokey line-ups — we saw that in Australia with Soundwave and internationally with festivals like Redding,” he said.
“Really masculine line-ups, and there is a push back on it in a way that there hasn’t been before.”
He says if bookers are not conscious of it, it is easy to gravitate towards comfort zones, and end up with a lopsided line-up.
“Men get put on pedestals for doing things that women can do just as well, throughout musical history and I think that reverberates through what we see in live music culture and festival culture to this day,” he said.
“I don’t want to go to a music festival where it’s a monoculture and you are just hearing five white dudes with guitars all day long. That’s a boring festival.”
The end of Spilt Milk’s statement was addressed to the people “using hateful, bigoted, sexist and misogynistic comments online … your negative attitude has absolutely no place at our event and your money might be better spent on education”.
It is a clear reference to how the internet can also be a dark place for aspiring female musicians.
A look at the comments section on a video from KLP and several female musicians on her all-girl KLParty tour is proof — one comment reads: “You can all go drink some bleach, f*** you all kill yourselves”.