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Influential Women in the Music Industry

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By Allison Schroeder
Web Content Contributor

It is Women’s History Month and there are so many women to commemorate for the work they have done to help other women, like themselves, go further in industries.  The music industry is one sector of industries that have seen a lot of growth for women, but we still face a plethora of challenges. 

According to Rolling Stone, “There are 13 frontline major record label groups operating in the United States, including Nashville outposts,” and only one of them is run by a woman and another is co-run by a woman. The rest of the major record label groups are being run by men.

A major difficulty within the music industry, other than the record labels running by men, is that the female artists are not supported like the men are in the music industry. For instance, if a woman writes about her breakup, she is scrutinized whereas when a man writes about his breakup then it is thought of as normal.

Women in music also experience other issues like unequal pay, harassment, rights to their music and much more.  Many female artists have helped shape the music industry into what it is today, but there are several that stand out the most to me.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has paved a way for women inside of the music industry by changing the mentality of women being pushed over and proving that they have an important voice.  Swift has undergone scrutiny for her past relationships, music, stance on politics and even her friends or enemies. 

In 2019, Swift faced an unimaginable ordeal where the master recordings of her first six albums had been sold to Scooter Braun. 

The selling of master recordings is an important issue in the music industry because many artists are not being compensated or given the chance to own their music, so she has been paving the way towards owning her music by re-recording her earlier albums.

When awarded the Billboard Woman of the Decade Award in 2019 she said in her speech what female artists face from men in the music industry.

There had been criticism and doubts as she rose to fame at a young age, so she faced the criticism and rose above it.  Swift had changed the way she wrote, her genre of music, her public persona and many other things because she thought she had to change.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston paved the way for black female artists in the music industry like Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and many other women.  Houston crossed genres and showed women that it was possible to power through their challenges and success. 

Houston had initially been gospel-trained, but she expanded her music abilities to other genres like pop, R&B and ballads.  She had even expanded into films where she won awards, but none of her success stopped the criticism she received despite her talent. 

According to a Rolling Stone article, Houston explained to Katie Couric that she received criticism for not being “black enough” or “R&B enough,” which led her to ensure that “each of her songs contained a signature moment.”

Despite her challenges and criticisms received, Houston will always live on for her legacy and the influence she has made on women in the music industry.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is a country legend who has influenced not only country music, but other genres.  She has helped female artists take ownership of their music, gain the credit they have worked for, all while creating a path for singer-songwriters like herself.  She also helps inspire equal pay for women and helping women become savvy business people.

Dolly’s story starts from her childhood where she grew up in Tennessee in a hardworking family that did everything they could to help her reach her dreams. Throughout her lifetime, she has faced adversity and success and her songwriting moves her audience.

 She has inspired many female artists to become who they are today like Jennifer Nettles, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Miley Cyrus and other women in the industry.

Her legacy and impact can also be seen through her films and books, where she describes her life and the stories behind her songs.  Dolly is a legendary woman who fights to push out of the boundaries of music.

Selena Quintanilla

Selena was a 23-year-old icon who was rising in her music career at the time she was killed.  Selena started her career in Corpus Christi, Texas, and she became known as the Queen of Tejano music because she was a female in a male-dominated industry.

Selena was a savvy businesswoman and fused several types of music into one, alongside creating music in English and Spanish.  Her legacy has lived on even after her death because of the way she made people feel while listening to her music. 

In the very few years she had, people were able to enjoy her music. Posthumously, her legend lives on through her music where she has inspired women like Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and Demi Lovato alongside many other female artists.

For five years, Selena’s memory was honored through a festival called “Fiesta de la Flor,” where thousands of people would come to celebrate her life and legacy through music, talks, shopping, and other events.

Featured image by Allison Schroeder.

Written by: ktsw899

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Events

International Women’s Day Roundtable

By KTSW Female Executives In this podcast, the women of KTSW discuss what International Women's Day means to them and the influential women that they have admired and recognize on this day. They also discuss the theme of International Women's Day and talk about what they #ChoosetoChallenge when it comes to breaking gender norms and biases. Tune in to hear powerful women discussing powerful change in new age media. Featured […]

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