Audio Engineering: A Female Perspective

By Olivia Wiles


The music industry is an interconnected business full of varying demographics, expertise and aptitude. It is dominated by four particular companies: Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI. These corporations control the majority of the market and have the ability to push artists to the next level. Audio engineers play vital roles within these major companies and small businesses. They work to produce live performances and recordings by fine-tuning sound. In larger companies, audio engineers will work under a music producer and artist to help see their vision through to the end. However, in smaller companies, music producers act as audio engineers in order to complete the production process.


Jobs in music production are male dominated. Production positions in the United States according to Statista are held by 97.7% men and 2.3% women. Because of this statistic, the majority of songs are produced through a man’s vision. It is interesting to think about how the music industry would change if more females were involved in the production process. It is difficult to point out exactly why this demographic is so skewed, but there are potential reasonings. Females are exposed to technology much differently than males. Traditionally, young girls are not taught how to use tools and build as often as boys are which can lead to lack of interest in these skill sets in the future. This is one potential cause for the lack of female representation in the music industry.


As a female audio engineer, I understand what we have to go through in the industry. There are many incredible male music producers who curate excellent work environments so everyone feels included, but this is not always the case. One huge struggle female engineers experience is acquiring respect from peers. It is much less common to experience sexism in today’s world, but lack of respect is unfortunately a regular occurrence. In a production company, a woman will almost always find herself surrounded by only males. This creates a difficult dynamic where the woman stands out against the rest for better, or for worse. When I worked in an all-male studio, connecting with other producers was a lengthy process. I stuck out so much and experienced pressure to succeed. In order to thrive under pressure, I found it necessary to put on a bold and determined front. This helped me work through the group dynamic and gain credibility. However, it was exhausting. Women must work incredibly hard to gain acceptance when surrounded by all-male peers. We might have to adapt more to the environment, but we can become the voice of other women to ensure our perspective is brought to the table. We can support one another, become stronger and make great music.

 

Olivia is a junior and is working towards both Communications Studies and Arts Management Majors. She loves to go to concerts and produce music. Her dream job is to work for a major concert venue or music production company.