We Need More Women Centered Music Producers and Entertainment Executives

My childhood was defined by music. Some of my earliest memories involve listening to music on the now defunct Channel O and TRACE. I also have memories of listening to music on the radio on my way to school and watching Nigerian and Ghanaian music videos after school. I also have memories of singing along to catchy songs while on the schoolbus.

But there were things even my young mind noticed about most of the songs that played. They highly portrayed women in a negative light. I clearly remember a music video where a male musician stuck his head into the laps of a woman who was dancing on a table where he was seated. The vileness of that scene has refused to leave my mind no matter how much I try to let it go almost seventeen years after.

Now, it seems to me that the objectification and poor portrayal of women in music videos seems to have gotten worse from my childhood. It also seems to me that the treatment of the few female artists in a heavily male dominated music industry is quite appalling. 

For one, there are quite low numbers of women producers and owners of record labels in most African countries. The numbers of pro women entertainment executives and DJ’s that actively center women’s narratives in music drops even further and that is dangerous.

The poor numbers of women centered DJ’s, radio hosts and record label owners means two things. It means that women and women’s music will most likely never be heard in entertainment circles; this is such that women and girls who aspire to a career in entertainment would not see themselves adequately represented. 

The second thing it means is even more dangerous. When we do not have pro women and feminist minded music producers, it directly means that it is people and male singers with poor views of women who will get platformed. This inevitably means that songs by men degrading women and songs by men who may even be known rapists will get platformed.

That in itself is dangerous to the cultural landscape of any community. If young boys grow up seeing that the media amplifies the voices and stories of men who hurt women, it is only to be expected that they think that being a man means a free pass to hurting women. 

Furthermore, seeing men who abuse women being platformed will pass a message to young girls that women’s abuse must always be met with silence and never boldly speaking up. This inevitably means that we build a community of dysfunctional men and women because they grew up seeing rapey and anti women values platformed on billboards, radio and television.

Speaking with Gladys, she says that merely listening to female singers and observing the interactions between male and female singers in the industry is enough to convince of the need for women centered music managers.

In her words: “If one listened to the versions of the fuck you challenge from female artists and read what Brymo had to say about his interaction with Simi or his demands and needs for it rather…Or ever got a chance to ask female artists about their hardships, one wouldn’t need to ask if women were needed in the music production, distribution and management space.”

For Idayat, a writer and designer, she believes the need for female centric entertainment executives also extends to the production of movies.

To quote her: “All the movies I watched growing up were male-centered and shamed women. The movies promoted domestic violence and rape and all of those things; Yoruba films o.

With movies like Aye olomo kan where Funke Akindele’s character could not cook and because of that her husband abused her and they said her mother failed because she raised a girl child who couldn’t cook. 

The money ritual movies where men continuously use women for money rituals, women’s “glory”. 

The movies where women faced the “consequences” of having sex. Really crazy tbh.

Thank goodness for feminism and continuous unlearning and relearning, the media I was exposed to as a child were misogynistic. 

I remember when Tiwa Savage was shamed so badly for that Wanted music video. Tiwa walked for girls like Ayra Starr to fly. She’s a pick me, yes, but I respect her. She did a lot. 

Movies like Mara and Clara, Her mother’s daughter, helped me see that my body is mine and I could wear whatever I want. Then I watched Miley Cyrus’s wrecking bowl and I was like oooooooh, my body is mine too. 

And there the journey began.”

When asked to give her opinion, Glory, a writer and journalist, insists that the women there have to be feminist minded.

In her words: “Definitely. Glad the word is feminist minded. Not all women support women. All women are not pro women and if unfortunately women like that are in these spaces, they will only cater to the needs of men and further stunt the growth of other women. 

If more women minded are in these musical spaces a lot of these music they are so openly misogynist will not pass certain checks but men are majorly in control. 

More women must keep striving to access these spaces. Representation matters. It’s a big hurdle. One I hope we overcome.”

Women matter. Women’s stories matter. To create a society that is healthy and functional for women, there must be positive representation of women in the media.

Feminist minded entertainment executives are a crucial means of achieving that.

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