Exploring music industry inequalities with women in CTRL founder, Nadia Khan.
The Meister Series by Jägermeister spotlights initiators in the music industry, the trailblazers and entrepreneurs breaking standards and smashing glass ceilings. The latest episode follows Nadia Khan. Nadia is a manager, music consultant and Chair of AIM (Association of Independent Music). She has been working in the music industry for nearly 20 years and is a force behind conversations about equality and inclusion in music.
“I think I’m getting more and more angry,” says Nadia when discussing the data of inequalities in the music industry. “I feel like our eyes are finally opening. We’ve been told this lie throughout our lives that, back in the day, women had no rights. Now these things have changed. Now, there’s equality. And it’s just not true. It’s great that we’re talking about it now, but the change is happening too little too late.”
Nadia is the founder of Women in CTRL, a not-for-profit organisation set up to empower and inspire women in the entertainment, creative and business sectors of the music industry. Women in CTRL campaigns, lobbies and advises industry associates and organisations on issues relevant to women, and research and reports on issues affecting women.
At the beginning of her career, Nadia had zero preconceptions of what being a woman in a male-dominated industry was going to be like. “I didn’t think about it,” she tells us, “but I started to notice I was being treated differently a lot of the time.” Nadia explains, “I felt a lot of other managers or men in the industry would talk to me more aggressively, trying to pressurise me to do deals on their term, or talking down to me, or bypassing me completely. I kept my head down and continued to do amazing work. I loved my job and had such incredible opportunities, but one thing I started to realise was that I felt increasingly more invisible.” Nadia has been kicked off festival stages when working with an artist because she was assumed a groupie, her male staff members have been called to confirm she is the manager, and “these things start to knock your confidence”. It made Nadia question, “why do I feel invisible when I’ve achieved so much?”
From women changing their behaviours to how they dress, or having to experience events as Nadia set out, we must acknowledge the disparities. “I started to post on social media and communicate my stories to other women in the industry, and what was really shocking was, everyone I spoke to said that’s how they had been treated too. I thought I was completely alone. That was a big driving force in me to want change.” Women in CTRL grew naturally from the discussions and realisations Nadia was having. “I really wanted to tell these women’s stories. It was about trying to empower women and encourage women to speak out about their journeys, and be honest, because we can’t change things unless we speak honestly.”
The first episode of The Meister Series featured an illuminating insight into Boomtown, with LWE joining the series for the second part. In instalment three of five, Jägermeister continue to explore behind the scenes of the music industry shapers and shakers. Nadia is joined by Laughta, a multi-talented musician, producer and presenter and Women in CTRL Mental Health Advocate, Jess Kangalee, who runs a broadcast media promotions company Good Energy PR, and Claire Rose, an Outreach Manager and Community Manager at Women in CTRL. The four women discuss their experiences of working in the industry and what needs to be done to further conversations, make changes and be a force for good. During their roundtable, Claire says, “Everything is louder together. It doesn’t make me feel so isolated anymore because I’ve got all these other great voices around me.” Women are powerful when we are together.
Being able to talk together openly is the first step, the second, Nadia explains, is how data research plays a part in making change. In July 2020, Women in CTRL released a report which analysed the make up of the team, board members, Chairperson and CEO positions across 12 UK music industry trade bodies. The Seat at the Table report showed women are underrepresented within leadership positions with only 3 Female CEOs, and 1 Female Chair across the 12 music trade organisations and that black women are severely underrepresented across all trade bodies with 5 board seats out of a possible 185 being held by black woman, and only 2 positions out of 122 roles employed within teams are black women.
Following the Women in Radio findings, Nadia explains how we lose women in the industry because we don’t support them. The report states 84% of women feel it’s hard for them to progress their career, 70% feel their appearance has an effect on their job opportunities, 61% have experienced sexist comments about their appearance at work and 59% feel child rearing has had or would have a negative impact on their career progression. In the Gender Disparity in Radio report which concluded 81% of songs in the Top 100 Radio Airplay chart feature men, female songwriters are credited on only 19% of songs in the Top 100 and only 3% of music producers in the Top 100 are women. Nadia states, “The bottom line is we need to make change happen, we should be supporting and encouraging these women”.
We are thankful to women like Nadia, Laughta, Jess Kangalee, and Claire Rose, companies like Jägermeister who offer platforms to their voices, and people working in the industry at any level who are starting conversations and holding others accountable. These are the changemakers and shapeshifters that are paving our future. Now we have to carry on the work, speak up when it is and isn’t our turn, because as Claire said, we are louder together. More change is coming.
As a way to support the industry even further, Jägermeister created the #SAVETHENIGHT initiative to support both sides of the nightlife community: artists, creatives and bartenders whose livelihoods have been impacted by the crisis, and those who would normally be in clubs and bars every week, hanging out with friends. The initiative consists of a mix of donations, micro-fundings, creative online entertainments such as ‘Meister Drop-Ins’ or ‘Meister Classes’ and support of partner activities. To find out more, please visit www.save-the-night.com.