By Amy Knowles
From #OscarsSoWhite to #BritsSoMale, why in 2020 is the music and film industry still so behind on diversity and inclusion?
As the views plummet each year for the Brits, the show seems to be going backwards in time, with only one British female artist nominated for an award out of the possible 25 spots available in the mixed-gender categories.
At the 2019 Brit awards, the 1975 used their speech to quote Guardian’s writer Laura Snapes about misogyny within the music industry, and similarly Foals (this year’s winners of Best Group), called out the lack of women as Yannis Philippakis uttered “Hopefully next year we’ll see some more women in this category.” So why can the artists see and try to correct the misogyny but the record labels and Brit Award management can’t?
Awards had been cut from 14 to 9 this year, with Best International Group being scrapped, leaving fans of BTS enraged after the K-Pop group have had their most successful year to date. Are the BRIT team deliberately trying to make the ceremony less diverse or are they genuinely clueless?
In both Album of the Year and Group of the Year categories in 2020, no women were nominated. Isn’t it funny how at school, choirs and musicals seem dominated by girls, yet when we get to the professional level, they all seem to disappear? Perhaps not the fault of the BRITS at all, but the music industry as a whole. Just 19% of artists signed by UK record labels are women, so no wonder the BRITS are coming across as so misogynistic. Of the 193 albums put forward for consideration this year, only 39 were by female artists, and with 49% of the panel being female, the blame seems to be in the fault of the industry rather than those voting. Mabel, this year’s Best Female Solo Artist was in fact the only female artist to have a solo record in the top 10 in 2019. But why?
Are women just worse at making music? Absolutely not, and I think Billie Eilish proves this as she dominates the music industry at just age 18, and let’s not forget Adele and Amy Winehouse hold the top three spots for the best-selling albums of the 21st century.
It’s merely the fact that the music industry is horrid at signing female artists. Rhian Jones, a music business journalist, puts this down to record labels claiming female artists are more expensive with stylists and make-up artists. Do tell me then how many stylists does it take to do Billie Eilish’s makeup or Tones and I’s makeup? And even if this point was valid for record labels, in an industry which isn’t low on cash, why would that really affect promoting and displaying their talent? Also, let’s not pretend Harry Styles’ stylist doesn’t work just as hard as any of the female artists’ stylists.
One win however for the BRITS in terms of inclusivity was ethnic diversity, with Stormzy winning Best Male Solo Artist and Dave winning Best Album of the Year, after performing a politically-charged rendition of Black. As well as these two deservingly taking home the awards, their performances on the night were memorable to say the least. Stormzy even used his speech when accepting Best Male Solo Artist to appreciate “the most incredible females in [his] team.” He continued to state “the best male is nothing without the best females”.Record labels- take note. After performing an epic ballad, winning Best Solo Male Artist and being the first person to receive a Gregg’s black card, could he be having a better week?
I’ll leave you on lyrics from the verse Dave added to his Brit Awards performance of Black: All we need is unity, funding for communities, equal opportunities. Whether this be in terms of ethnic diversity or gender inclusion, the music industry as well as the BRITS need to step their game up before their viewing figures plummet even more.