March 8, 2016 Rose Wintergreen

3 things you can do right now to better support female artists

When an artist stops creating, Launch Bubble Artist servicesMarch the 8th is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate and highlight the valuable contributions women make to our world. There are many incredibly talented female artists who stop creating because their work doesn’t get the celebration it deserves and they don’t get the support they need. Here are some ways you can support female artists right now. 

Why female artists need you

Art and creativity is a vital life force. It helps people dream, to feel less alone and to imagine a different future.

When an artist stops creating because they feel burnt out or unsupported, it’s not just a personal loss for that artist. It affects everyone.

A study of the Australian music industry by Triple J’s Hack reveals:

  • Female artists are still only getting 40% or less of radio airplay on Triple J, Double J, and Triple J Unearthed, compared to 60% for male artists.
  • Of the top 6 Australian music festivals in the last 12 months, male artists made up 63-90% of the artist lineup.
  • Of the 120 independent Australian record labels registered with AIR, only 20% of them are managed by women.

There are many reasons why artists stop making art, and all artists could do with better support, but female artists are at particular risk, especially mid career. As Jesse from Tinpan Orange said today:

…I’ve been reflecting on the problem that the music industry faces around gender equality. It’s not a problem unique to the music industry, but the music industry has always been ahead of the curve on social issues and cultural change, and I don’t think it’s as simple as getting a few radio stations to play more songs by women.

Having now toured in a band with my sister for the past 8 years, and particularly after having both had children during this time, it’s clear to me that being a touring and recording artist is an incredibly difficult career path for women – especially with kids. Being a parent is intense, but being a mother is next level. I have an incredibly supportive wife and it’s possible for me to play shows and tour while she keeps the home fires burning. For breastfeeding mothers, this is often not an option. Bringing babies on the road can be stressful and costly and many mid career bands simply can’t make this work (it’s often when a band is mid career when family life becomes a priority!).

Success in the music industry is built on momentum and it can be difficult to pick things up from where you left them after a baby break. I’ve recently had my first baby and while there are challenges for me as a touring musician, these are dwarfed by those faced by women in the industry.

The music industry (actually, wider society!) needs to be more supportive of women in the music business – especially the trailblazers getting back into the swing after having had kids.

This experience is not unique. Juggling family life and a creative career is no mean feat. In fact, Rachel Power wrote a book based on interviews with Australian artists about their experience – “The Divided Heart: Creativity and Motherhood” – and it is so popular, it’s just had its second print run.

3 things you can do right now to better support female artists

1. When you discover art you love by a female artist, spread the word

  • Tell the artist. It might just make their day. It might just be a day that they’re considering chucking it all in because it’s too hard. Your contact might make all the difference.
  • Buy their work if you can afford to.
  • Tell your friends and family about their work.
  • Support them on social media.

2. Check out these projects, and spread the word

  • LISTEN – a project to encourage conversation around female experiences in music and allow musicians and others involved in the music scene to connect.
  • One of One – a weekly spotlight on women in the Australian music industry – artists, managers, label heads, bookers, publicists, radio personalities, tour managers and more.
  • The Divided Heart: Creativity and Motherhood – a book of interviews with Australian artists who are also mothers, about how they juggle it all, and how they manage to keep making art.
  • The Celebrating Female Artists Launch Bubble Series – a series of 31 interviews with Australian artists.

3. Follow these 6 incredible artists

Click the image to read an interview with them about their work.

1. Malia Walsh, theatre and circus artist

Malia Walsh Celebrating female artists Launch Bubble series, photo by 3 Fate Media

Malia Walsh, theatre and circus artist

2. Maria Blackwell, visual artist, animator and film maker

Maria Blackwell Launch Bubble Celebrating Female Artists Series

Maria Blackwell, visual artist, animator & film maker

3. Maeve Marsden, cabaret artist, performer and writer

Maeve Marsden Launch Bubble Celebrating Female Artists Series

Maeve Marsden, cabaret artist, performer & writer

4. Xanthea O’Connor, living statue, musician and arts manager

Launch Bubble Celebrating Female Artists, Xanthea OConnor, pic robin custance

Xanthea O’Connor, living statue, musician and arts manager

5. Rachel Power, writer, author and visual artist

Rachel Power, Launch Bubble Celebrating Female Artists Series

Rachel Power, writer, author and visual artist

6. Shu Shu Zheng, filmmaker, writer, singer

Celebrating female artists_Launch Bubble_Shu Shu Zheng with quote

Shu Shu Zheng, filmmaker, writer, singer


I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have other tips for supporting female artists? Maybe you know about other projects that are being run in Australia to support female artists? If you’re a female artist, what has kept you going when you’ve been going through hard times? I’d love to hear from you with a comment below.

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About the Author

Rose Wintergreen Rose Wintergreen is an artist, award-winning singer-songwriter, and a marketing and communications coach to artists, organisations and businesses who work to make the world a better place. She’s obsessed with helping people get unstuck and achieve their dreams, discovering and sharing amazing new music and art, bright colours, and savouring extra hot lattes as slowly as possible. She lives happily in Melbourne, the live music capital of Australia. You might have heard her guest-presenting on radio shows on Double J, Radio Adelaide, or Southern FM. She’s also worked as a copywriter, freelance feature writer for magazines, newspapers, and online, a support worker and mentor for artists experiencing disability, and a communications coordinator at Community Music Victoria.

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