The number of women in the music industry in general is still quite low and this has been a big barrier to getting more women into leadership roles.

Stats from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative show that female songwriters and producers are vastly outnumbered in the global music industry.

Just 17.1 per cent of music artists and 12.3 per cent of songwriters in 2018 were female. The ratio of male artists to female artists was 3.6 to 1.

Jacqui Louez Schoorl, CEO, co-founder and executive director of Jaxsta (ASX: JXT), says the music industry is a highly sought industry and getting your foot in the door can be challenging – regardless of gender.

“However, research has shown that there can be a ‘confidence gap’ between men and women in how they approach promotion or self-promote their own credentials and abilities, and this can present a barrier to female career development and advancement,” she told Stockhead.

Louez Schoorl said one of the biggest challenges she faced in her career was confidence.

“It’s more about believing I can do this and therefore owning my space and my strengths,” she explained.

“Over the years, I’ve learnt how to defeat my own self-doubt and kick my confidence into high gear by embracing the discomfort of speaking up and knowing that I won’t have all the answers and that’s okay.

“Confidence gives you the boost to generate ideas and express them forthrightly, whether to colleagues, partners or industry peers. I feel a big part of confidence is being honest.”


‘Credit where credit is due’

Jaxsta is building an online platform of official music data. The company’s ultimate goal is to ensure digital music and all its collaborators get the same amount of credit attribution that people once found on a record sleeve.

Around 90 per cent of Jaxsta’s staff are seasoned industry vets, including musicians, artists and repertoire, touring and label people.

The company’s five-person board features three women, including the company secretary, and there are two women in its five-person management team.

Half the people in Jaxta’s Sydney office are women.

“We recognise that there is an opportunity for us to break down these barriers and create a space for women to advance and receive recognition,” Louez Schoorl said.

“We do this by providing ‘credit where credit is due’.

“Jaxsta as a platform is committed to accurate music information and data, so female creators — be it songwriters, producers, engineers, artists, composers and more — can get their due credit and by ultimately showcasing their repertoire, improve their opportunities and career path just like most professionals are able to do via services such as LinkedIn or IMDb.”

Jaxsta is also focused on building global opportunities for local artists, by giving them a platform to engage with new music fans in new markets, and to connect with international record labels and music publishers.

“We’re excited to support Australian female songwriters like Sarah Aarons, Phebe Starr, Kate Miller-Heidke, Muki, Hayley Warner, Georgina Nott and Isabella Kearney-Nurse and producers like Alex Hope, Milan and Antonia Gauci who can pave the way for other female talent within the industry,” Louez Schoorl said.

“As an executive in the music industry, it’s important to play it forward by assisting both women and men with career development and ultimately promoting equal representation in the industry.”


Networking is important

Louez Schoorl founded Women in Music Sydney, a networking group where members can learn from their peers in the industry on how they’ve forged their careers.

In nearly six years, that network has expanded from 40 women to almost 1500.

“I really wanted to create an environment that encouraged open discussion, networking and shared experiences, ultimately encouraging more women to be a part of the industry,” Louez Schoorl said.

“It can be truly terrifying to walk into an event by yourself and have to network.

“Creating a space outside annual industry events and award ceremonies, to hear from our peers about their career ups and downs, the challenges and wins, but most importantly their ‘why’.

“The mission was to create an environment where like-minded people could meet, discuss ideas or challenges they were dealing with in a safe space, and ultimately to build their own network.”

Louez Schoorl believes mentors play a key role in increasing gender diversity.

“Mentors can help you progress quickly at early stages of your career, help build confidence and provide invaluable insights and perspectives,” she said.

“They are also a vault for your fears and concerns, which ultimately they can help you dissect and find a path forward.

“Mentors offer experience and a different perspective and often open up your world by introducing you to training, education and networking opportunities.”


Less talk, more action

Louez Schoorl says increasing women in the music industry is just as challenging as other industries.

“Low female executive representation in the industry and on boards is an ongoing challenge across all industries,” she said.

“More work and less talk is needed to ensure gender diversity on boards and on management teams.

“I’ve worked in a variety of different industries over the course of my career. From television, film and music to hospitality and retail.

“I’ve been a receptionist, assistant, sales person, executive assistant and executive. I don’t believe it is more challenging in the music or entertainment industry. I believe business is business and therefore the same rules apply.”

There has been progress in the music industry, with the Australian Recording Industry Association recently appointing four women directors to its board.

Women now make up around 44 per cent of the board.