Earlier this year we dove deep into gender balance on festival line-ups in Belgium. The clear lack of women on festival stages didn’t come as a shock to anyone, but seeing the numbers helped us bring the issue to the surface in a very concrete way. Long story short, if we want to change the way the music industry operates, one of our main action points should be supporting women in reaching their professional and personal goals, and highlighting female role models and ambassadors.
As a non-profit advocating for women and minorities within the music industry, we love supporting organisations with a similar cause. RoSa is a Belgian non-profit and documentation centre focused on women’s issues, feminism and gender. Last week they launched their latest campaign, which again points out the painful lack of women in music, specifically in music charts.
Making lists at the end of the year is quickly becoming our favourite way of organizing a year into highs and lows. We rank the cities we’ve visited, the concerts we’ve seen, the books we’ve read. Radio stations, streaming services and concert venues ask for your highlights and favorites. The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on a year passed, in all genres of music.
One of our most well-known annual lists is the Tijdloze, the most timeless songs ranked by listeners of Flemish radio station Studio Brussel. As RoSa points out, year after year women end up being the obvious absentees on this list. The first women, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie in Fleetwood Mac, take up spot no. 36. The only female solo act is Sinéad O’Connor, snatching a meagre no. 48.
Rock music isn’t the only genre struggling with this issue. On the other side of the spectrum we find classical radio station Klara’s Top 100. Admittedly, almost all of the composers on this list have passed away and organizations such as shesaid.so and RoSa are a few centuries too late to change the circumstances for history’s greatest female composers. Nevertheless it supports our story; for centuries, women have had to take the backseat while their male colleagues take the lead. Even worse, in many cases people don’t even realize that people like Clara Schumann, Francesca Caccini and Rebecca Clarke exist and helped shaped classical music into what it is today.
Surprising? Not at all. But as we have mentioned in our festival research article, we can only start changing the current by actively bridging the gap. And that is where RoSa comes in. Taking aim at Studio Brussel’s listeners and their voting history in the Tijdloze, they call for a change. No longer a Tietloze (Dutch for ‘without boobs’), but a balanced list of Pearl Jam, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, and many other male and female artists in the Hall of Fame of music history.
You can support RoSa’s campaign by purchasing one of their buttons, listening to their Spotify playlist, being part of the conversation by using the hashtag #Tietloze, or of course, voting a woman into the Tijdloze. No inspiration? RoSa would love to see Respect by Aretha Franklin appear in this list, and so would we. You can vote until December 2nd.
P.S. Don’t forget, we need to hear your voice in our Diversity and Inclusion Survey! Help us gather the numbers so we can better cater to needs and aspirations of women and minorities in the Belgian music industry. You can fill in our survey here.