Campaign launched to ‘level playing field’ for women in Scottish music industry

A new campaign is to be launched to secure a “level playing field” for women working at every level of the Scottish music industry.

Scotland’s biggest music promoters have given their backing to the fledgling initiative, which is also being supported by the national arts agency Creative Scotland, the Scottish Music Industry Association and the Musicians’ Union.

The alliance of “female music creators and industry professionals” wants gender equality in all areas of the industry and across every musical genre.

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Scottish Women Inventing Music will lobby organisations “with a poor track record,” stage regular public events, and build an extensive database of members and their skills.

Emma Pollock is set to speak at a Scottish Women Inventing Music launch event. Picture: John Devlin
Emma Pollock is set to speak at a Scottish Women Inventing Music launch event. Picture: John Devlin

Key aims of the campaign include staging talks in schools, colleges and universities to “provide real role models to young people”, better promotion of the work of women across the industry, and “greater visibility” of female artists at festivals.

Instigated by Glasgow-based musical director, arranger and composer Hillary Brooks, SWIM is staging a day of launch events across the city tomorrow to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Brooks said SWIM was inspired by campaigns like Let Girls Learn, set up by Michelle Obama to try to ensure equal access to education in the US, and Key Change, a global campaign to get festivals to agree to a 50:50 gender balance.

Brooks said: “We’ve already got around 100 members and that has only really come via word of mouth so far. We’re very much a grass-roots network, but we’re trying to cover every sector of the industry, involve women of every age, and include every genre.

“We really want to educate and inform about the abilities of women across the industry, and really advocate for greater visibility of women and equality of opportunity. We’d like this to be a positive channel for change.

“A core aim is creating a place for producers and directors who want to work with female artists. It’s no longer good enough for people to say: ‘We already have a woman on the bill.’ That still happens.

“But it’s also about looking at things like why girls and boys take up different instruments when they are at school.”

As well as promoters DF Concerts and Regular Music, the launch also has the backing of Celtic Connections and the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Speakers at the launch events include singer and record label founder Emma Pollock, Celtic Connections’ producer Lesley Shaw, DF Concerts’ head of marketing Aarti Joshi, Creative Scotland music officer Siobhan Anderson and The Scotsman music critic Fiona Shepherd.

Shepherd said: “There are plenty of righteous trailblazers out there who didn’t wait to be asked. But you only need to look at, say, the line-up of TRNSMT to see there is still work to be done in boosting representation of women in the music industry.”

Anderson said: “It is great to be involved in the launch of such an exciting and important organisation. Scotland’s music scene is full of talented women and it is crucial that they are nourished and encouraged at all stages of their careers.”