Less than five per cent of music producers are women, an issue local musicians are highlighting with a new documentary about the gender disparity at the Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth this week.
Canadian singer and songwriter Kinnie Starr is the executive producer of the film Play Your Gender. She has worked in the music business for years and told Rick Cluff, host of the CBC's The Early Edition, that addressing the gender gap is long overdue.
"I can't believe that we are still dealing with this subject," Starr said. "I've been in this business for a long time but I've watched a lot of women get squeezed out."
The documentary, featuring some of Canada's most prominent female artists like Melissa Auf der Maur from Smashing Pumpkins, Sara Quinn from Tegan and Sara and Chantal Kreviazuk, explores what it takes for a woman to succeed in the music industry.
"Most of the women talk about just feeling outnumbered, feeling like they are at odds with wanting to get the work done but always being sexualized," Starr said.
Behind-the-scenes changes needed
Women are often the face of a band or on display at festivals, Starr said, but they are very rarely hired to write or produce the songs.
Only one fifth of songs are written by women and about 15 per cent of record labels are majority owned by women, according to the trailer for Play Your Gender.
"Most songs are written by men, a lot pop songs are written by teams — most of those teams are made up of men — and all of the production is done by men," Scarr said. "You have this mass of people being educated by the perspective of a bunch of dudebros."
She believes that change has to happen behind the scenes and that men need to be a part of the conversation.
"It's not just enough to just have women singing," Starr said. "Music is a very informative form of media. Everybody listens to music, so that's why I really want to see women in power in those positions."
Play Your Gender screens at VIFF Vancity Theatre in Vancouver this Thursday and Friday.
With files from The Early Edition.
To hear the full audio, click on the link on the side labelled Play Your Gender screens at Vancouver film festival