INTERVIEW: Women In Music Production | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image by Victoria Wai

It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the music industry, particularly in technical roles such as engineering, mixing and production. Music producer Lisa Murphy is determined to level this playing field, and with her Women In Music Production project she worked with four young women to enable them to produce their own music, encourage collaboration and boost their confidence in technical roles. Having come to the end of the seven month Arts Council-funded project, she has released a mini-documentary about the process with the aim of inspiring countless more women to work in the industry.

The aim of the project was to raise the profile of women working in music in the North East, specifically in technical roles in recording studios, as she explains. “As a woman working in music production, I felt that there was an opportunity to share my knowledge, experience and contacts with women in the North East who wanted to learn more and access work in this area. The intention was to identify, and hopefully break down barriers, to ‘open the door’ to more women working as music producers in the local industry.”

Four well-respected local musicians – Cortney Dixon, Abby Hillyer, Holly Rees and Grace Alexander – worked at both Lisa’s own Production Room studio as well as at Blast Studios. The group were given access to professional equipment, received hands-on practical instruction from Lisa herself as well as guest speakers including Paul Gregory (Lanterns on the Lake), Sam Grant (Blank Studios) and songwriter and producer Hattie Murdoch, and they were able to use their time to work on their own music or record with clients, resulting in music produced for Beth Macari and bigfatbig.

Something that comes out beautifully in the documentary is how much the four musicians got out of their experience. They comment about feeling more confident for their future projects, able to carve new careers for themselves after having ‘upskilled’ as musicians, and they enthuse about the safe and non-judgemental space that Lisa provided. As part of this project, I wanted to share the story of four local music producers who happen to be women and their journey into music production. I hope that by seeing these women and hearing about their work, other aspiring music producers will see themselves in these roles in the future.”

There needs to be a shift in representation of women in these roles so that other women have role models to look to and supportive environments in which to learn

Lisa’s a passionate advocate for encouraging inclusive spaces for creatives to practice their art. Historically women have not been given the same opportunities to access these environments in which to learn these skills and gain vital knowledge and contacts in order to grow their career. There are lots of historical reasons, some of which I feel we still really need to address. For example: technical jobs such as computing, engineering etc. (all of which feature in music technology) have traditionally been seen as ‘male industries’. Women were simply not encouraged to pursue these subjects. Music producers can work long, antisocial hours and a studio environment can be physically demanding when setting up equipment – all of which were considered ‘jobs for the guys’. There needs to be a shift in representation of women in these roles so that other women have role models to look to and supportive environments in which to learn.”

Aspects including the gender pay gap, ‘imposter syndrome’, fewer allies and low expectations of success contribute to the lack of women getting into production and technical roles, but Lisa’s quietly confident about the future and has a message for anyone looking to forge a career in production. “Please don’t be put off! The industry is changing, we are starting to see more women confidently taking on the job role of music producer and setting positive examples in the field. The more that we normalise the image of a woman working as an engineer, musician or producer, the more it will be accepted and the gender gap will narrow.”

For those looking to get into music technology she recommends learning to work on music software like Logic Pro, Ableton Live and ProTools, checking out courses and lectures run by the likes of Sage Gateshead, We Make Culture, Brighter Sound and Tees Music Alliance, and collaborating with other music producers to learn together and build a network of contacts and a portfolio of work by recording local artists.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to achieve a gender balance in live performance and in recording studio environments – then we won’t need to create projects to provide access for women in music, as we will be treated as equals and given equal opportunities. We are not there yet, but we are certainly on the journey!”

Women In Music Production mini-documentary, created by Bridgelight Media, is available to watch via the project’s website and through their YouTube channel from Friday 28th May

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout