How to be a woman in the music industry, from one girl that gigs to another

We all know that being a girl that gigs is no mean feat. In fact, sometimes simply being a girl can be an exhausting experience. Eventually you get used to the cat-calling, the mollycoddling, the inappropriate groping when you’re just trying to have a fun night out with your friends. But the one thing I can’t get to grips with is the cacophony of sighs and eye rolls when you suggest a new idea or have a surge of creative inspiration. Because of course how could you, a meek female with your tiny girl-brain, ever succeed in fulfilling your ambitions?

Fortunately for me, I’m in an environment that encourages girl-power and does not discriminate against the genders. But one day in the fast-approaching future I will be flung out into the real-world where I will have to fend for myself as woman in music, a challenge that may terrify me, but that I am willing to face head on.

As silly as it may sound, I’ve been practicing. Yep, I’m preparing myself for the injustice that might come my way as I pursue my dream of being an artist. In doing so, I’ve learned a few things along the way that might be helpful to some of you…

1. WORK HARD. Put in the hours and work your little socks off. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to slip into the role of the pretty girl who gets whatever she wants and never works for it. Trust me, if you want to be respected you need to be prepared to do things for yourself, no matter how many people tell you that you can’t (because you’re a girl, of course).


2. DON’T GIVE UP. Okay so these first two tips are slightly cliché but are still massively important. Sometimes, as a creative woman, you can feel that you aren’t taken seriously, which can drastically impact your creativity. I’ve been there, and I know tons of you have too. Just keep soldiering on, and while it’s important to receive criticism well and take onboard people’s opinions, remember to stay true to yourself and don’t let anybody put you down just because of what’s between your legs.

3. BE A BADASS. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we are actually super badass. We aren’t always taken seriously, we’re battling an insane amount of hormones, we’re under a truck-load of pressure from the media and other sources in our society, yet we are still determined to have our voices heard and express ourselves creatively. And no, the opportunity to do that isn’t just handed to us on a silver platter. I urge you to wake up every morning and just remember these four words. You. Are. A. Badass. Give yourself that little boost and voila! You’re oozing self-confidence and power

4. PEOPLE DO MATTER. Okay, so far you’re working hard, not giving up, being the badass that you know you are, but you can’t do it all on your own. Don’t forget the people that believe in you and see you as a creative person, not just a girl with a silly dream. I’ve met some incredible people, men and women, throughout my time at LCoM who respect me as a musician and have never made me feel inadequate or incapable. Through meeting and working with these people, I realised that I have in fact internalized some of the sexism in the music industry; it is so engrained in my mind that sometimes I perpetuate my own creative oppression. “Oh I can’t do that”, “that’s too complicated for me”, “I’m not good enough to do that” – sound familiar? Whether you’re an artist, a business-woman, a producer, a writer, whatever your passion, don’t put a limit on your ability. Surround yourself with people that believe in you and push you to challenge the boundaries that you created for yourself.

5. EMBRACE IT. Yeah, being a woman is bloody hard. Yeah, sometimes we have to work that little bit harder to be taken seriously and seen as equal. And yeah, it’s not always going to work. But please, embrace it. Although it might not always feel this way, being a woman is an amazing thing. Women are strong, beautiful, inspirational creatures, and guess what? You’re one of them!

Moments of self-doubt are inevitable, and extremely frustrating (trust me, I’ve been there). But I beg you, do not doubt yourself simply because you are a woman. Being creative and ambitious might come with a side order of doubt and self-deprecation, but being a woman does not. The strength that comes with being a woman is what helps you through those dark times.

It is also important, however, to not be a man hater. Please. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful men who have played an important part in my creative journey, without discrimination or degradation. Hating on all men does not make you a strong woman, it makes you a daft one.

It’s not always going to be easy, but with enough belief and hard work you can be a successful woman in the music industry. I’m still learning, and I’m a long way off achieving my dreams, but I firmly believe that being a woman is no reason for me to give up on my goals, and neither should you.

Han x

Hannah Lamb

Images: Megan Roe

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