To address the question of gender balance and equality of chances within the wider music community, but also in ECSA’s membership community, boards and CMOs, the ECSA board has set-up in 2016, the Working Group on Gender and Equality. The group continuously examines the situation in the music environment in Europe and we work on solutions on how ECSA can improve within its own network.
ECSA Gender Equality Charter
The ECSA Working Group on Gender and Equality is proud to announce the publication of the ECSA Gender Equality Charter, a set of commitments aimed at improving the conditions and advancement of women composers and songwriters in the music industry.
The charter is the result of collaboration, discussion and debate among the Working Group and the community of ECSA’s members and it is meant to inspire ECSA Member Organisations and other stakeholders to take action and act to change the gender imbalance we experience in the music industry today.
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In March 2021, ECSA has joined the Keychange movement by signing up the Keychange Pledge, through which the alliance commits to enhancing its effort towards achieving gender balance in conferences and seminars’ panels by 2022, and to encouraging members to sign-up to Keychange as well, in line with its Gender Equality Charter’s goals.
Keychange is an international gender equality campaign which invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging festivals, conferences and a growing range of music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond.
Members of the Working Group on Gender and Equality
Elizabeth Anderson is a Belgo-American composer specialised in electroacoustic composition. Her artistic production comprises acousmatic, mixed, and radiophonic works as well as works for multimedia and sound installations. It has been performed in international venues for over twenty-five years and has also been honoured in diverse international competitions. Underlying her creative and pedagogical approach is her research on the perception of electroacoustic music from a poietic and esthesic perspective, to which end she conceived models to explore the meaning of electroacoustic music as constructed by the composer and the listener. Elizabeth Anderson developed a complete curriculum for electroacoustic composition at the Académie de Soignies (Academy of Soignies, Belgium) from 1994 to 2002. In 2003, she joined the department of electroacoustic composition at Arts au Carré – École Supérieure des Arts in Mons, Belgium. Elizabeth is interested in promoting women composers, in particular those who specialise in electroacoustic music.
Alfons Karabuda is a Swedish composer born in Stockholm in 1967. Composing mainly flm and theatre music, he has worked with BBC, Zentropa, DR, SVT, The Swedish Film Institute, Dansens Hus and Stockholm City Theatre. Mr. Karabuda currently holds the position as chairman of SKAP (Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors), president of ECSA (European Composer and Songwriter Alliance) as well as a member of the board of STIM (Swedish Performing Rights Society). In addition to this, he is president of the Polar Music Prize Award Jury and chairman of the Polar Music Prize Award Prize Committee. Mr. Karabuda currently is president of the International Music Council. At SKAp he champions initiatives that strategically promote diversity and equality.
Sine Tofte Hannibal is the general manager of the Danish Composers’ Society. Gender equality, diversity and the meeting between audiences and live music are topics that she continuously focus on and work with at the Danish Composers’ Society and within the field of new music. She has a background as project manager for festivals and ensembles for experimental music, projects that engage children and young people in music, and as facilitator of Nordic and European networks on audience development. In the Danish Composers’ Society she has taken the initiative of making a recurring comprehensive repertoire statistics on live classical music in Denmark – a statistic that shows the music that we as audiences are presented with in terms of music by women and men, newly written music and older music, as well as Danish and foreign music.
Natalia Vergara is a singer and songwriter. Natalia is the Founder, Producer and Director of “Señoritas On Fire”, a collective of female composers which aims to promote female songwriters and singers, having managed tours in London, New York, México, Berlin, Madrid. Natalia is as well the President of AMCE (Association of Spanish Women Music Creators), member of the Gender Group in ECSA (European Composers & Songwriters Alliance) and CIAM (International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies), she is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Society of Composers AMA (Associated Music Authors). Natalia’s works have been published by Warner Chappell Spain and Televisa Mexico. Natalia teaches Music Business in the European School of Economics ESE, she got her postgraduate Diploma in Music Management at Berklee and graduated from Complutense University, Spain, on Gender Gap in the Cultural Industries.
Wally Badarou is a French composer, songwriter, producer and performing artist originating from Benin (West Africa), long time associated with the British band Level 42 as well as the Compass Point All Stars. From the late 2000s onwards, he has been deeply involved in the advocacy for authors rights in France and abroad, and now feels “the need to give back time and energy and help our community of creators worldwide to reach the well-deserved status we are all aiming for, in all gender and diversity equity.” Wally has been a Board member of ECSA since 2019.
Aafke Romeijn (1986) is a composer, songwriter, producer and performing artist from Utrecht (NL). As a pop musician with a stark interest for anything political, she founded BAM! (Dutch Songwriters Alliance), together with seven (male) colleagues. Romeijn: “My mom is a female conductor, and I was raised in a feminist household. I’d like to see more women in decision making positions and on stage, and I hope I’m able to encourage women to get out there.”
Gender Working Group members (from left to right): Aafke Romeijn, Natalia Vergara, Elizabeth Anderson, Alfons Karabuda and Sine Tofte Hannibal. Image credit: Natalia Vergara
Outcomes of the Working Group on Gender and Equality
In 2017, the Working Group has initiated a research on best practice examples of policies and initiatives that promote gender balance in the creative sectors. This section presents some examples of best practices implemented in projects and activities across Europe and beyond, that contribute to a higher representation and promotion of female composers and songwriters.
Festivals and Events
(SWE) Statement Festival. Only Women artists on stage and women in the audience, as a protest against harassment on festivals.
(GER) W-Festival. All soloist and band front figures are women.
(ENG) WOW (Women of the World). Conferences, debates, shows, performances focused upon gender equality.
(LUX) OMNI Festival. Embracing artists from different backgrounds.
(MEX) Ruidosa Festival. Showcasing music created by latinx women, and curating discussion about gender issues in latinx communities.
(DK) Talk Town. Talk Town consist of debate rooms and stages focusing on all forms of debate and conversations around gender issues.
(UK) Music Week: Women in Music Awards. Celebrating women in the music industry since 2014.
(NO) Borealis Festival. Festival for experimental music, with a successful programming of 50/50 male and female composer and performers.
(UK) Keychange: A pioneering European program developed in partnership with seven international festivals and co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union. Partners pledge to have 50/50 gender balance in their music program by 2022. Keychange festival partners are: BIME (SPA), Iceland Airwaves (ICE), Mutek (CAN), Musikcentrum (SWE), Way out West (SWE), Reperbahn Festival (GER), The Great Escape (UK), Tallinn Music Week (EST).
(UK) Women Make Music. Program to support the development of outstanding female composers and songwriters in the U.K.
(SPA) Musica de Mujeres en las Aulas (trans. Music by women in the classroom). Initiative in which every classical music schol in Spain will have to organize a concert containing works by women.
(UK) RISE Liverpool. Platform supporting and connecting female artists, producers and policy makers at local and international level to create artworks and projects which can inspire the next generation of women artists.
(UK) Both Sides Now. Programme of talent development (including residencies, mentoring programmes, panels, traineeships, digital resources, etc.) for young and emerging female musicians.
(UK) Babyrocksampler. Workshops for little girls (and parents) aiming to familiarize and initiate female kids to rock music practice.
(Int.) WeAreEquals – Music Academy. Programme training future leaders of electronic music to develop their careers in order to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and social diversity in the music sector.
(Int.) She.grows at MEETSSS. Mentorship programme for women in the music business.
Associations and Movements
(DK) Women in Live Music. Platform for women working behind the scenes in the live music sector, i.e. sound engineers, light designers, stage managers, tour managers etc.
(NO) Balansekunst (trans. The Art of Balance). A network of art institutions working with gender and diversity in arts. The network consist of more than 40 art institutions.
(UK) Stop2018. Women in the british music industry unites to end sexual misconduct.
(AUS) MeNoMore. More than 360 australian women have signe the #MeNoMore letter, recounting harassment, assault and rape.
(SWE) #Närmuskentystnar (trans. When music is silent). More than 2.000 swedish women working in the music businness, has signed an open letter alleging widespread sexual abuse, and calling for major changes.
(Int) Women in Music. International organization for women working in the music business.
(Int) Girls I Rate. International movement encouraging women to work together for a better future.
(Int) #SheSaidSo. Global network of women working in the music industry.
(UK) Let’s Be the Change. Network of women in the music industry, who are willing to talk openly about gender issues.
(Int) Women Produce Music. Encouraging women to work with technical aspects of music.
(UK) The Other Woman. Music network showcasing the best in new, upcoming and current female talent.
(ITA) FACDIM. Organization for female composers. Prints books with history of women, hosts residencies for female composers only and curates performances of female composers.
(NO) AKKS Norway. Organization involved in creating a more diverse and equal music industry in Norway.
(SPA) AMCE. Association of female music creators in Spain. The aim is to raise awareness upon equality, diversity etc.
(SPA) Mujeres Y Musica (trans. Women and Music). MyM’s mission is to achieve a more gender balanced music industry.
(INT) IAWM – Internation Alliance for Women in Music. Membership organization dedicated to foster and encourage activities of women in music.
(BE) Gender Gaps in the Cultural and Creative Sectors by European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual (EENCA), 2019 (mentioning the ECSA Gender Equality Charter).
(UK) Counting the Music Industry. The Gender Gap. (2019, Vick Bain)
(INT) Online Encyclopedia of Living Women Composers, Songwriters and Creators of Music. Consisting of more than 4.000 biographies of female European creators of musical content.
(DK) Jazzcamp for Piger (trans. Jazzcamp for Girls). Annual jazzcamp for girls only.
(DK) Pop Pilots. Annual music camp encouraing girls to create and play music.
(NO) Loud Bandcamp. Camp for all non-males between teenagers.
(NO) ElektroLoud. Elektroloud is an offer for all non-males between the age of 16 and 26. Focus is on how to record and produce music.
(IE) Girls Rock. Summer camp initiative which aims to build girls’ self-esteem through music creation and performance.
(SPA) Women in Music – Towards Equality in Music Biz. Documentary. (2017).
(UK) Women in music and entertainment – LinkedIn network.
(UK – Int.) Women in Sound Women on Sound. Network which explores an innovative way of addressing the industry gender gap (with online and offline toolkits to inspire and support women involved in music technology).
(FI) Theses for promoting equality, non discrimination and diversity in the music sector, signed by multiple Finnish organisations in the business.
(Int.) Free the Bid. Database of women composers.
(Int.) InChorus by Shesaidso. First music industry survey addressing bias and harassment in the workplace.
Please note that this list is non-exhaustive. If you are aware of other best practice examples that you would like to share, please contact the ECSA team at email@example.com.
Experts’ resource for gender equality, diversity and inclusion
In 2020, the Gender and Equality Working Group has initiated the creation of a database of female and non-binary experts’ contacts, aiming at helping ECSA members and stakeholders reach a better gender balance and diversity in their panel and events. For more information on the expert resource pool, please contact the ECSA office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ECSA statement against sexual harassment
ECSA’s members acknowledged and approved the following statement against sexual harassment at the General Assembly on 21st February 2018: The main objective of the European composer and songwriter alliance – ECSA – is to defend and promote the rights of authors of music at the national, European and international levels by any legal means. ECSA advocates for equitable commercial conditions for composers and songwriters and strives to improve social and economic development of music creation in Europe.
ECSA enshrines equal treatment and freedom from sexual harassment as fundamental human rights. Every composer and songwriter has the right to a safe working environment in which they can provide the best possible performance, and to be free from harassment, discrimination or retaliation. All of the stories of #MeToo show that is not the case today.
European composers and songwriters must stand united. Sexual harassment, abuse and all manner of offensive behaviour is unacceptable and must cease immediately. Our belief is that in a diverse and inclusive industry, there exists no culture of silence and no room for structural oppression.
Now is the time to make a change. The goal is to have an industry free from oppression, sexual harassment and abuse. Not in fifty years, not in ten years – but now!