Walk That Talk -
Discrimination Is Not Dead
In The Music Business.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Prevention Month, I have decided to write about some of my own and other women's experiences with discriminatory acts in the music business. In a perfect world, perhaps, people would not be judged based on their age, sex or race. But, the music business is a truly lessthan perfect world that we face everyday.

This whole subject was recently brought home to me (in a very inflammatory way). A very weird phone conversation I had with a known Pop Dance producer, regarding a fourteen-year old singer that I represent. What follows is the basics of what was said:

ME: Well, I understand that you (were referred by so and so) and you heard her sing on the phone last week. You've seen her bio and an older picture (and her performing background, voice training and theatre training), so would you like to hear her sing live, (as the only demo we have presently is from when she was 10 years old and that was the year that she was originally scoutedby Sony Records)?

HIM: Yeah she can sing alright, but it really doesn't matter "there's a million girls like her - and I can make anyone a star." So tell me, how long are her legs, what does she look like in a miniskirt or tight pants, is she sexy, does she dance real good? You know I produced so and so (from a TV show) and she couldn't sing a note, so it really doesn't matter if she has any singing talent, you see, I just package the kid - it's all done in the studio. So, what does she look like with makeup on? Can she be seductivelooking?

ME: Mr. _______, do you understand that she has a five octave range (and as you saw in the photo) she is very cute also but her voice is really, really extraordinary - and that makes it a must to hear her sing live (not over the phone). So, would you like to set an appointment to have us bring her over with some tracks on tape? I find it hard to believe that you'd really judge her solely by her looks and still not hear her sing live? Her voice is really incredible in person.

HIM: Like I said. I don't really care if she can sing at all. Ahhhh, you could send over a new headshot (something recent with makeup and hairstyle) and then maybe, I'll call you....

Well, you can guess by now that we decided to pass on his offer entirely but it sure left the artist, her mother and me very, very angry.

In a recent conversation with my jazz client, I had asked her what was happening with a particular well established female jazz singer's career, I said, "gee, I'm sure glad that mainstream jazz doesn't discriminate by age or sex and it's still all about talent and ability." She replied that this particular singer has faced so little record company attention because "she's overweight (not a great looker) and she's older than the newest flock of female contenders."

Where does the line stop? Who draw's it? I really wonder....

© Lynne Robin Green-Worldwide rights reserved.