I think it’s an exciting time for women working in the music industry at this current moment. The Scottish music scene is no stranger to producing female talent. From the likes of singer-songwriters Amy MacDonald and KT Tunstall to mainstream pop artists such as Nina Nesbitt. There’s also female-fronted band Chvrches and indie, rock duo Honeyblood, a Glasgow formed band which is now a solo project with singer-songwriter, Stina Tweeddale.
Furthermore, women working in the pop genre seems to be dominating the charts with popular artists such as Ariana Grande, becoming the highest streamed female artist to hit the Spotify charts according to statistics in March 2019. Ariana’s song 7 Rings, has 31.27 million streams on Spotify alone. The spot was passed on from UK artist Dua Lipa, as she held the post in the Spotify charts during 2018. Chart figures suggest that women are doing well, especially in the pop genre. It’s also interesting when it comes to figures on streaming services such as Spotify, Tidal, and Apple music as these services provide great music listening but could these influence radio listeners?
Moreover, figures on female involvement in the producing side of the music business revealed that the number of successful women producers to be at an all-time low. A study carried out by the University of South Carolina, showed that out of 400 songs, only 2% were produced by a woman. This astoundingly low statistic can also be shown in a gender ratio of 47 males to every one female.
I spoke to Emma Kerr, a commercial music student at the University of West of Scotland. She’s responsible for setting up her independent record label, ‘Pink Empress Records’, which she gears towards girls across Scotland.
Emma explained that the label initially started as a project for her university course, as Emma strongly feels that there’s a lack of females in different genres, within the Scottish music scene.
“Starting my own label has allowed me to meet a lot of new people, as well as people working within the music industries. I wanted it to become a platform to help promote female based artists”.
So far Emma’s label has been a solo project although she hopes if things go well in the future then she will be able to team up with some people to organize live events, in partnership with her label. She talked to me about the change she hopes her label will bring to girls wanting a career in music, in Scotland.
“I think that the label provides a community for females working within the music industries, it can be pretty intimidating releasing your own music and emailing music blogs/radio station your track”.
Having labels such as hers will give a confidence boost to young artists. Her label is also a good promotional tool for other great things happening in the Scottish music scene such as, (Queens of Noise conference, DMC – Female Takeover month, Girls Rock Glasgow and ‘Peach’ club night.
As its early days with Emma’s record label, she’s only worked with a couple of different artists but is tremendously pleased with the success of each release.
“The first single released by Pink Empress Records was from indie-pop band Cortnë. I’m happy with the response on social media platforms from the release of this single”.
Alongside Cortnë, the label has released singer-songwriter Bethany Ferrie’s debut EP, which was out on the 22nd March earlier this year.
“Hopefully, the promotion from the label has helped the artists gain a bigger following”.
I had the chance to sit down with one of the artists Emma’s record label produced, Bethany Ferrie, also a commercial music student, at the University of West of Scotland. She told me how she got involved with Pink Empress Records, in the release of her EP this year. When speaking to Bethany, I also found out what sparked her love of music.
Bethany was around aged ten when she first became interested in music. Bethany’s dad always played the guitar around the house when she was younger which made her want to pick it up.
“My brother started first, and then obviously being a wee sister you kind of want to do what your big brother’s doing. I asked my dad to teach me some chords and it just grew from there”.
Bethany explained that growing up in her home her dad would play a lot of strange music and she went on to say that she probably couldn’t tell me the name of half of it.
“I was in a music world that maybe a lot of people my age wasn’t”.
I also found out more about the initial release of her debut EP and how she got in contact with Emma, and Pink Empress Records. The pair of them met through University and worked together to release new music.
“One of my lecturers put my name forward and was like you should talk to this girl. She’s releasing music. It’s a good record concept that its girls in Scotland, so it’s a lot of female representation in the industry”.
When writing both her songs I was interested to find out what had influenced her sound the most. Both songs are quite different. She explained a bit about her writing process and the inspirations she drew to make her sound.
“With ‘Say Say Say’, I was thinking had like more influence from the Beatles. Just guitar-driven pop. I had the chant in my head, and I had the guitar riff already. Whereas ‘Stayed’ is a different kind of topic as it felt like something I needed to get out”.
“I take inspiration from people my own age that is in the music industry. I look up to people like Shawn Mendes, who’s just 20 years old and he’s doing all that, and, he performs the same way I do with the guitar and singing”.
I asked Bethany if she had any advice for people wanting to get into the music industry. From her response, I think writing about what you’re familiar with works best and perseverance.
“A lot of my first songs I was writing about things that other people were. You write better songs when it’s songs that mean something. Even if you write a song and say you can’t get a guitar just keep pushing through. It took me so long to build up the calluses in my fingers for playing guitar”.
Bethany’s playing at some university gigs and appearing as part of a local acts showcase, at the King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, on the 31st of May. She’s an artist on the rise and I think she’s just one of many talented, female artists to come out of the Scottish music scene so far this year.
I also found out more about the Queens of Noise music conference, an event set up by two ladies, Kathryn Dryburgh, and Hannah Campbell. The event spanned two days. It was held in Mango bar and restaurant, on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow, from the 16th and 17th of March 2019. The conference showcased the best line up of female talent in Glasgow. The organizers worked closely with different partnerships around Glasgow, including Wild and Kind, Girls Rock Glasgow, and Mango. Alongside an eclectic line-up of live music, there were also guest speakers that attended from different sectors of the music industry.
The main aim of the Queens of Noise music conference is to inspire, educate, and change the way music industries see women. I spoke to a member of the group to find out some more about what impact their work has had on women in the music industry.
“I think that we have given people something to think about within our little corner of the industry. We’ve had people from all different kinds of huge companies from within the industry join us and that shows that we’re doing something that matters”.
“Our goal for the future is just to keep pushing on and to learn and grow as the company develops to be the most supportive, we can be to other women, and things that infuriate us about the industry are no longer an issue for the next generation of women”.
This is the first year that the event has been up and running, so it’s still got a long way to go but so far, I think the work they are doing is great and will no doubt attract more people to attend in the future.
Overall, I think it’s an extremely exciting time for female artists working in the Scottish music scene, especially around Glasgow. With acts such as Bethany Ferrie to release new music this year. Also, people such as Emma, who are giving girls a confidence boost in releasing new music. Pink Empress Records is a label that I can see prospering and producing more musical talent, across Scotland, in the future. Also, organizations such as the Queens of Noise music conference are doing fantastic, innovative work to inspire, educate, and encourage girls to work in future jobs in the music sector.
Here’s the link to Pink Empress Records website, where you can check out Emma’s work and contact her: https://www.pinkempressrecords.com/?fbclid=IwAR0VSWmTNKBeCpCbBP9eRkM9sgoNdXREqJ1UgoNym_o-77z2JMKpKHO6EtU
Here’s the link to Bethany’s website, where you can check out more about her music: https://bethanyferrie.com/?fbclid=IwAR2iW3nPic4uHsptZ6RtvPbzqTUQYG8grX640OTrKtI0njjFwYxFnWEdudI
Here’s the link the Queens of Noise website, where you can keep up to date with future events: http://queensofnoise.site/