Response to Gender Inequality in the Music Industry

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A few weeks ago a Bagpipe article was written that looked at the real amount of gender equality that exists in the music industry. The author begins by talking about how a new producer named Arca was mistakenly given credit for being the only producer of Björk’s album Vulnicura. He quotes Björk talking about how this kind of thing happens to female artists a lot where they do not get all the credit for their work on their albums. The author then says,  “Björk’s frustrations should cause us to investigate how the music industry and music fans treat female artists.” I wholeheartedly agree that gender equality in the music industry is an important topic for us to think about as Christians. However, even though I agree that there is gender inequality in the music industry, the artists that are used aren’t the best examples of this.

The author focuses mainly on two female music artists: Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. This focus primarily questions how much these artists were involved in the making of their latest albums, “1989” and “Beyoncé,” respectively. He asks “How involved were these singers in creating their albums?” He then makes note of how there are many other names listed in the songwriting credits besides their own and suggests that Beyoncé wasn’t that involved in the writing process. He says “With this many songwriters, one has to wonder how much songwriting Beyoncé actually did.”

What this fails to recognize is that while some music artists, such as Beyoncé, do receive lot of help in making their music it doesn’t mean that they weren’t heavily involved in the writing process. In the Youtube series “Beyoncé – Self Titled,” Beyoncé talks about the writing process for this album. In the first video she says, “I had a grand idea to bring all of the writers I respected to the Hamptons. We had so much fun” and then in the fifth video says “One of the things I love about this project is how willing all of these incredible artists were to write together.” What this shows is that Beyoncé wanted to work with these writers because she wanted their ideas and creativity so that her album could be the best that it could it be. It’s not about trying to “muscle for credits on songs.” It’s about creating the best music that you can—something that is new, different, and better than before.

The author then assumes that because most of the writers that Taylor and Beyoncé worked with were men that “Beyoncé and Taylor are women singing men’s songs.” Umm…I don’t think so. Even if their songs were only written by men (which they’re not since both of them helped in the writing process) who’s to say that men can’t help write songs that support feminism and other women’s issues?

Again, I refer to the Youtube series. In the fifth video Pharrell is seen talking to Beyoncé in the studio about her song “Rocket.” He says, “Only a mama can talk like that…and only a wife can talk like that. That’s your strength. When does a mother and a wife do that? I mean you just ran through jail and just let all the women out, cus. You set women free.” What this shows is that although many of the people who worked on Beyoncé’s album might have been men, that doesn’t mean that she is “singing men’s songs.” All of the writers—male or female—as well as the main artist all come together to help create a song that has a message that the main artist wants to convey.Yes, Beyoncé worked with a lot of men on her album, but to say that Beyoncé sings men’s songs simply because men were involved in the creative process is not a very fair statement.
    The author then shifts in focus and talks about Beyoncé and her image. It claims that “Beyoncé is an incredible singer, but that’s not why she’s famous” and then goes on to say that she is famous because “She is flamboyant, attractive, tends to wear minimal amounts of clothing, is married to a famous rapper, and makes massive amounts of money…Beyoncé is a celebrity who just so happens to be a singer, too.”

These claims suggest that Beyoncé’s fame is given to her and that she is not known for being a great singer which isn’t true. She started her career in the music industry in 1997 with the female group Destiny’s Child, one of the most successful female singing groups of all time. Throughout the years Beyoncé has earned her fame as a music artist with the success of Destiny’s Child and then as a solo artist.

Part of the reason as to why Beyoncé has had so much success in the music industry is because of how talented she is. Over the years I have heard many music artists, including Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, and Adele, compliment her on her talent as a singer and a performer. If you have seen any performance by Beyoncé such as her performance of “Love on Top” at the 2011 VMA Awards or her performance at the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show then you know that this is true. Beyoncé is famous artist in her own right. Yes, Beyoncé is known for being married to Jay-Z, for making a lot of money, and for not covering herself on stage as much as some people would like her to. However, are these the only reasons why she is famous? I’m not sure that is the case. She isn’t called the Queen B for nothing.