Canadian Musician - November/December 2021 - Page 45

says Rogers . “ The more they hire them , the more these women will get the credits and visibility , the more other men will take a chance , saying ‘ if this artist or this band is willing to trust them , I should too .’ We need that cooperation . My career was launched as an engineer because Prince was willing to work with women engineers . Similarly , people worked with me after I worked with the Barenaked Ladies , because I was a female record producer who had a number one record .”
Having a great deal of experience is often required to receive any semblance of recognition . Still , for many , even getting one ’ s leg in the door of the industry is rather tricky when work opportunities are scarce and unstable at times .
“ Studios are finding it more and more difficult to stay in operation and those who can , for the most part , are small business operations who cannot afford in-house engineers ,” explains Canadian music producer and recording engineer , Amy King . “ Being a freelance or self-employed producer / engineer is difficult to navigate at the best of times , let alone coming out of a pandemic or with issues attached to gender .”
Pangsaeng echoes the same concerns , adding , “ I think one of the more discouraging aspects of the narrative around this right now , is that it ’ s really challenging specifically for women . It ’ s just challenging . This industry doesn ’ t really move quickly in regards to people ’ s careers , for most people . You really have to build it .”
Even Pangsaeng – whose clients include Yukon Blonde , Kinnie Starr , and Said the Whale , among others – feels she is still breaking in and establishing her career . She explains the process as one that requires a minimum of 10 years of simultaneously growing , learning , and building a client base . She , of course , is not alone in thinking this way . King also believes becoming a good engineer / producer requires at least a decade of learning skills and then another spent honing them , which brings in another critical block for women entering the industry – the cultural pressure or goal of starting a family .
“ This decade-ish time of learning skills coincides exactly with the prime years to start a family . This very thing can create a careeraltering situation ,” explains King . “ Engineers are often freelance or self-employed individuals , so there are no medical benefits , and taking time off for maternity leave not only creates a financial issue , but artists and bands often don ’ t want to wait once they are ready to create , so they ’ ll find someone else to do the work . I know women in the industry who manage a family and a career but it is really tough , especially early on , as the hours are unpredictable and can be very long .”
The small stats currently representing women may also reflect this , as women who do prioritize starting a family may have considered sacrificing their career . What ’ s important to consider amidst all of this is the duration of time required to gain enough experience to break in and achieve success .
But is there only one way to define success ? For King , making a hit record or recording a hit song doesn ’ t define success . “ A major issue here is redefining one ’ s idea of success overall ,” she says . “ The small ratio of engineers who actually get to work on mainstream music still seem to be men ; however , there are loads of great female engineers out there . Just because most engineers are not working with very well-known artists doesn ’ t mean we are not there and are not valued .”
For those seeking to increase the number
of women from the 2-5 % stat , however , it is critical that some women do work on hits and chart-toppers . As explained by songwriter , composer / recording engineer / producer , as well as founder and director of Women ’ s Audio Mission ( WAM ), Terri Winston , “ When a big artist calls me asking to work with a woman producer , I need to suggest somebody with Grammy nominations because that ’ s what the expectations are . The pool becomes smaller and smaller and smaller , when the expectations are higher and higher , and the pool is already incredibly small . We ’ ll hand them a list of , say , 40 women . It ’ s hard to make that list with our limited selection and that number is still not enough to choose from .”
The next obstacle women face within this industry , which likely deters many from entering or staying , is the continual pres-