The Women in Music Conference, organized by the Musicians’ Union, took place in Manchester on March 28th. It was an enlightening and empowering event where prominent female voices gave us an insight on the nuances of the industry, some keys for success learned from their experience and, mostly, a boost of courage and optimism to face the challenges still present for women in the music industry.
The conference started with a keynote speech by Heather Small, vocalist of the M people. Heather talked about her early beginning in the music industry, at the age of 18, and the challenges she faced along the way. Then, there were several workshops to choose from. For the morning, I opted for the one called “Shaping the future, paving the way”. In it, Jen Hingley, Julia Payne, Sidonie B Hand-Halford and Esmé Dee Hand-Halford explained what they are doing to ensure future generations don’t face the obstacles that prevent so many talents to grow and be nurtured nowadays. This workshop, plus the presence of the equality committee in the conference, talked well of the commitment MU has to ensure better conditions for underrepresented musicians.
For a change of pace, I then attended the “Composing for games 101” workshop by Katie Tarrant, award winning musician. Structured as an interview, the workshop delved into how Katie arrived to the video game sector, what are the characteristics and challenges of that niche, and what tools and equipment are needed for composing in this area.
To end the day in a high note, I went to listen to Alison Wenham OBE talk about public speaking. She was brilliant! She began by explaining how she had been the only woman in her sector for decades and what this taught her in regards of impostor’s syndrome, nerves and other negative feelings that bother so many of us when we have to talk in front of an audience. Alison explained every step, stopped at every detail and overall gave us a fantastic toolbox to address and engage our audiences. I am glad I attended to this talk, because it is quite a good complement to what I had already prepared for my talk in the Go for Gold in 2019 workshop.
We need more spaces like the Women in Music conference. We need to address the under-representation, the discrimination and the unfair treatment that female musicians still face within the industry. We have to support each other and find ways around the barriers that are put in our way. This conference invigorated me to keep working with Cafemnee and all the other ways I can find of empowering other #WomenInMusic. Hope I can share the journey with all of you!