|Whether you’re the lead singer in a militant feminist punk group, or play second fiddle in a folk collective, female musicians all need a helping hand from their sisters if they want to get ahead in the big boys’ club that is the music industry.
We at LOUD WOMEN Club know this all too well, which is why we’ve asked some of the bands who have played for us to share their top tips for being a girl in a band.
My top tip for women getting involved in music is that it’s ok to suck. Seriously, there are plenty of men who play music that suck, and they are allowed to suck and it have nothing to do with their gender. It takes time to get good at what you do. So suck for a bit, and enjoy it. You’ll get better without even realising.
Here’s a technical tip for soundchecks: often when you’re having problems hearing things on stage, the sound tech (often a guy) will shrug and tell you ‘it will sound better when there’s people in the room’. To an extent they’re right – but that’s not much help when you’re trying to get a balance onstage so that you can all hear what you’re doing. So when that happens, ask them to switch off the front of house PA so you can play a song or a bit of a song with just the monitors on, and see if you can hear yourselves then. That’s my tip from the top! It’s one of the things I wish I’d known when I started out, anyway.
Don’t be scared to say no. In my old bands, stylists wanted me to wear things I would never normally wear and I was too scared to put my foot down. As a result I was uncomfortable and gave a worse performance. Just say no!
“Don’t do yourself down until you’ve given everyone else the chance first!” That observation was from another female performer and it really resonated with me. I had, and still have, to get out of my own way, as a performer, writer or really anything else! My advice would be, just have a go. There’s no magic formula or god-given talent or right involved. Hook yourself up with some enthusiastic and supportive people and do some work. Put on a wicked outfit, or don’t, and have a ball. If you think you’ll love it, you probably will.
When you’re a new band, you’ve got to shout from the rooftops about how awesome you are. Blow your own trumpet – no one’s going to do it for you! Bigging up yourself goes against everything we were taught as little girls about being ‘ladylike’. Which makes it doubly important that the next generation of little girls see us smashing that toxic stereotyping to bits. Be bold and confident (or, at least, feign confidence for long enough for it to start to feel natural!)
Know when to stand up for yourself, ask questions and prove yourself. Online trolls can be ignored, but certain people in the industry can and will help you if you can calmly but fairly show why they are in the wrong. Most people don’t know they’re being sexist, and although it’s unfair that we need to work extra hard to prove we belong here, I think it’s the best way to push the industry forward. Use your knowledge and be proud!
Kill with kindness. Nobody is perfect. Making music is hard and it’s scary sometimes, showing all when you’re on stage or people are checking out your MP3s. So don’t diss your fellow artists, befriend them. They’ll be your greatest allies.