Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 62

WMIC ’ s Mission to Foster a Fair Industry for Women

COLUMNS Balancing Live Sound

WMIC ’ s Mission to Foster a Fair Industry for Women

Women in Music Canada ’ s new Executive Director , Robyn Stewart , recently spoke to Canadian Musician about her mission to engage more women and gender-diverse professionals in the music recording and live sound industries .

CM : It ’ s been my impression that most of Women in Music Canada ’ s membership to this point has been artists and music industry professionals . But one of your top goals in taking over the organization is to increase involvement from women in music recording and live sound . Why is this one of your priorities ?
Robyn Stewart : I want to focus on increasing engagement of women and gender diverse folks in the music recording and live sound communities as these are of the top areas where equity is so wildly unbalanced . I have seen stats from funding bodies in sound recording with less than 3 % of applicants indicating female or gender-diverse engineers and producers . And a study we recently released cited 81 % of female and gender diverse folks graduating from post-secondary programs had already experienced some sort of harassment or discrimination due to their gender . This is not okay .
Work in live music often comes with non-conventional hours , working spaces , and expectations . For too long , these have been built to work primarily for men . I believe that having more equitable and diverse staffing in these vulnerable spaces for young artists will help so many areas of our industry just be better from the artists ’ experience , the fans , and absolutely the live sound professionals .
Crucially , I don ’ t see us helping solve equity issues across the music industry without the live sound and recording professionals involved . Without them there is no music .
CM : Live sound , especially , has always been a very male-dominated area of the music and audio industries . How can WIMC help women in live sound , especially those who are early in their careers ?
Stewart : WIMC is in a growth phase of programming . This past year we launched a Women in Music Directory of artist and industry professionals to help connect and promote folks and eliminate excuses to host all-male conference and festival lineups , or tour teams for your projects . Joining this directory will help us promote young women and gender-diverse live sound professionals and connect them with opportunities . The directory currently has nearly 1,000 folks on it and growing .
Additionally , we will be launching a live sound series of workshops early in 2023 that will focus on key areas of live sound , taught by a diverse team of top-level professionals . These sessions will be offered live in a few Canadian markets and will be recorded for legacy viewing on womeninmusic . ca . This is just one of the new programming streams we have coming in the new year and the more we hear from industry folks about what will help and support them , the more we will develop .
CM : How would their involvement with WIMC improve the wider industry and make it fairer and more welcoming for women ?
Stewart : Ultimately , we are working to build community , to advocate for equity in all areas of our industry , and to strengthen knowledge and opportunities available to build a more equitable and sustainable industry long-term . With more engagement from the live sound sector , we will have more folks to connect with each other and more examples of what programming and advocacy will help these professionals be successful . Simply put , let us know you are there , the challenges you have , needs you have , or what you dream of , and we are here to help get there together .
CM : Specific to the music-focused audio industries , what would success look like to you , long-term , in your mission ?
Stewart : Success to me in the music-focused audio industries would be looking at the number of recording grant applications with female producers , engineers , or touring sound teams and see at least 50 % female or gender-diverse hires . We have a long way to go on this but even if we look at this in terms of steps and earmark , say , an increase to 25 % within five years and go from there , that would be a step in the right direction .
I want to work in an industry where all artists can choose the teams that they are most comfortable with , including folks who look like them , that they relate to , and generally have those options in professional sound teams . I want new and aspiring sound professionals coming out of university and post-secondary education to have role models within their field who are female , gender-diverse , and intersectional so that they can know this career path is for them long-term and feel the support of the community around them in reaching their goals .
Robyn Stewart is a 20-year music industry veteran , accomplished organization and event director , and currently the Executive Director for Women in Music Canada . She was previously the Executive Director of the Western Canadian Music Alliance and BreakOut West . Robyn has been a key contributor to projects forwarding the advancement of underrepresented genders in music and is an extreme supporter of the music industry and emerging talent in Canada . www . womeninmusic . ca .
62 CANADIAN MUSICIAN