EDM: Where the women at?

For the last few years there has been rise of EDM, with many acts achieving international popularity. One sign of the rise is more and more DJs are now booked for major slots in mainstream music festivals. Acts such as David Guetta, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Kaskade, and DJ Snake were among the performers on Coachella this year.

With EDM rising to a new level of mainstream popularity, people have started to realise that the world of EDM is dominated by white, male DJs. Those avid EDM fans among you might have taken a look at DJ Mag’s top 100 for this year. It was hard not to immediately notice the lack of women on the list that is dominated by white male artists. Only three female artists made the cut this year. A decision which left many readers posing the question, where are the women?

“Genres are given labels of masculinity which exclude both female listeners and a huge pool of female talent”

DJMag weren’t blind to the major feminine flaw in their list, or rather, lack thereof and set about finding the reason for this missing feminine mystique. Borgore mentioned that there is systematic discrimination in EDM, just like in many other genres in the music industry and beyond. Many other DJs mentioned that EDM has always been male-dominated and more male listen to the genre compared to women.

I was quite surprised when I read that many of the DJs think that EDM listeners are majority male. Whenever I go to clubs or any party, everyone, regardless of their gender, seem to enjoy EDM songs being played. I have been to an EDM festival in my country and a lot of the attendees are women. So what makes them think that not many females listen to EDM?

Krewella, who managed to make it to number 81 on the list has commented that, “The electronic music industry can be daunting for women. If more women are willing to take big risks and be unafraid of the ridicule, double standards and any other setbacks or troubles, we will (hopefully) slowly start to see more women releasing electronic music, playing shows and festivals, and thus ending up on the Top 100”.

What they said make me realize that it seems like there a huge issue of gender discrimination in music industry. Genres are given labels of masculinity which exclude both female listeners and a huge pool of female talent. EDM, metal, and rap are grouped as masculine genres while pop music is inherently feminine. Any daring female artist that attempts to challenge these oppressive gender role is not taken seriously and deemed unfit artists.

Ultimately the Top 100 list is decided by a poll of readers and thus some may argue that it ends up becoming a popularity contest. Voted by the fans rather than critics, many readers lack the wealth of knowledge of the genre needed to make such judgements. With the dominance of white, male DJs in mainstream EDM, more people will undoubtedly vote for them rather than other female acts.

“people have started to realise that the world of EDM is dominated by white, male DJs”

So, the question is how do we promote these female acts to give them the recognition they deserve? DJ Fedde Le Grand came up with what he thinks may be the solution. He said that “it’s up to promoters to book them, for journalists to cover them, and for people to buy their tracks” in order to raise female artist profiles and move their music into the ears of the masses.

 

Nathasya Gunawan

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