Why Are There Few Women Music Producers?
Iím not talking artist-producers like Lauryn Hill, but rank and file producers like Ted Templeman (Van Halen, James Taylor, Carole King), Phil Ramone (Billy Joel), Dallas Houston (TLC, Madonna), Sir George Martin (Beatles, America, Goonies), Jimmy Iovene (U2), Keith Olson (Pat Benatar, Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac), etc.
Back in the 1970ís when the Directorís Guild of America was screaming that no one was employing women to direct feature films and television (while these numbers have grown, there are still few women making feature films in 2004) there was, however, no one pushing for women to be music producers! While weíve already have had women running major movie studios since the late 1980s (Sherry Lansing and todayís Amy Pascal) no women has yet to helm a music division at a major label (oh, yes, there are some VPs who are women, but no Clive Davis or Dave Geffin).
Iím not saying there are no women, Pinkís producer was a women and thatís still a rarity! There are still far too few women working on staff as studio engineers or in clubs as DJs (the two basic entry level slots from where producers are culled). The music production industry is still very much a manís world!
Itís still very hard for women to break out of the pop or country mold! Few bands with girls ever make the kind of waves that Third Eye Blind, Tool, Linkiní Park, Blink 182 have done in alternative rock circles. Yeah, there is Avril (and sheís semi-pop) and the current 'rocking woman' is from Evenscence, but sheís not getting the kind of respect that Tool or Blink gets from the male audience. Sheís the modern day Heart, who also didnít get the respect they deserved from the fan base which quickly divides between women and men when the rocker is female but stays un-segregated when itís an act like Blink 182 or Offspring. Women like male rockers, men like male rockers. But when it comes to women rockerís, if the concertís not filled up with several other boy bands (like on the current Evenscence tour) the only way men flock to this concerts in numbers is when their girlfriends demand it!
Thatís why they call it a manís world! Unless a wife or daughter or government agency doesnít demand a woman in charge of Sony Music or BMG from the ruling male board of directors they go off and pick a guy whoís produced a few hits (like Jimmy Iovene) to run their Interscope Records division!
Another one of the problems is that women are not becoming studio owner-operators and in todayís world there is no reason for this other than, perhaps, fear of the big, big male rock band attitude (yeah, I know guitar Chris Holms of WASP and he throws things at the control room window when he gets ticked off Ė and that's when heís mellow!).
All it takes to own a studio these days (like the one run by Pinkís producer) a big room in your house or basement with a Macintosh computer, Pro-Tools, a few good out of print microphones, some Neve pre-amp modules, a pair of good speakers for monitor work, a distribution amplifier connected to 8 sets of headphones. Thatís a state of the art studio and the total cost is under $80,000 which is the cheapest franchise you can buy into. You find bands and produce them (you own the masters) in sessions like those that launched Sheryl Crow (the Tuesday evening social club) and the rest of the time you rent the studio out at a per hour fee the local environment will demand. You get listed in Mix Magazine. You send pictures and spec sheets out to record companies and maybe a new small artist will book a block of time from you to do their basic tracks.
For another few thousand you can buy a few Canon or Sony digital video cameras, line in from the board and capture the session on video tape thatís decent enough to show on MTV if the band gets over, plus can be sold as a demo video for the band to make submissions!
Go a step further, put the stuff in a rack case with wheels, get a few 15 amp 100í power cords, a snake and take your studio to the clubs where bands play for a fee. You donít even need a van these days, just a big back seat and truck space is enough for the state-of-the art gear!
Thatís how the guys do it, only the costs have come down! For far less than the price of an old 24 track 2Ē machine you can own the whole set-up and run it our of your home.
As for dealing with male rockers who like to throw chairs into your control room window, hey, get a couple of big dogs who bark a lot!
It takes doing these things to get out there and women are not doing these things in the numbers like men in the studios! Most studios are owned and operated by men. Most DJs at clubs are guys with laptops, power amps and speakers. There is no reason why women canít or shouldnít be doing these things but the statistics are glaringly low. Few women record and produce music and thatís a shame, because they can do just as good job (if not better) than a man!
Why Few Women Producers? |
Picking A Studio |
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