Munoz discusses women in music industry

Katie Ward

Taylor Munoz, the events coordinator at KSPU, joins me in the KSPU office, which is hidden in a corner of Weter.

She sits comfortably behind the desk where all the magic begins, an entire wall full of various artists and genres like a musical timeline. Each CD contains a moment, a sensational feeling that transports you to another time period or memory of your life, all compacted into tiny plastic circles that hold the tunes of music.

Originally from Southern California, Munoz’s attraction to music came early. It not only became a way for her to connect with herself, but also a bond that could be grown between her and her father, the two of them tuning into K-rock and 98.7 stations together, which continuously played top 30 songs on loop.

Music quickly became a means of comfort in Munoz’s life, an invisible shoulder to lean on through times of panic, heartache and joy. The vibrations of songs became a visceral representation of nostalgia as life went on.

As artists came and went and different bands piqued her interest, there loomed an inevitable realization that women, especially those of Hispanic, African-American and Asian backgrounds, were presented as inferior to the vast majority.

“Some of my favorite female musicians are always referring it as a ‘boy’s club,’” Munoz says about the music industry, “because it is a boy’s club, but it’s also a white, men’s club.”

While the last few years have displayed radical strides for women in the music and entertainment industries, with artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Lorde and SZA rising to the top, there still remains an inequality between sexes, cultures and ethnicities on and behind the stage of the production.

This is not to say that there have not been improvements in the imbalance in the male to female ratio in the industries.

Katie Parsons, a radio presenter and journalist, stated in a Marie Claire interview in 2016 that, “the industry feels a lot more balanced than when I first started over 10 years ago … back then, most gigs were what were affectionately called ‘sausage fests.’”

This past month, Munoz began work at Sub Pop, a highly acclaimed and established production label located in here in grungy Seattle. Death Cab For Cutie, Beach House, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes are just a few of the well-known and successful artists the record label has signed in the past.

Munoz admits to having been intimidated at first being the new radio intern for the popular label in a male dominated industry. However, she also noted that as of this year, there are a lot more women working for the label, which allows the next generation of musically invested and talented women to feel represented and hopeful for the future.

“At the same time, all the women are white,” she added, in no way trying to discredit the women who have made it. “It’s admirable, but you can’t deny the facts of there still being inequality, even amongst the female gender.”

This fact became painfully evident after this past weekend’s broadcast of the Grammys.
So much anticipation and hype surrounded the award show, as Lorde was nominated for Album of the Year, and SZA was up for a total of five nominations.

“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls — who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers … to step-up,” Neil Portnow, president of the Grammys, stated after the show in response to criticisms about the male dominated awards.

Portnow has received multiple complaints from female musicians like Pink, Sheryl Crow and Katy Perry for his choice of language regarding women’s efforts. He has since apologized for using the word “step-up” in discussing the matter.

“Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams,” Portnow stated in an apology to Variety.

It’s hard not to be frustrated, Munoz admitted. You could literally be such a superior artist, like Lorde or SZA, putting out amazing albums, but even then, it’s not enough.

In the end, neither women won in their category, and Lorde did not even perform, with rumors stating that this was due to her not being offered a solo, unlike the rest of the male nominees in her category.

University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released alarming statistics about the gender breakdown of the Grammy Award nominees, stating that between the years of 2013 to 2018, a total of 90.7 percent of nominees were male and only 9.3 percent were female.

This is hardly surprising though. Munoz comments that almost every single field out there is male-dominated.

Munoz has always dreamt of doing something in music, but hasn’t yet found which area calls to her. In the meantime, she’s trying it out as much as she can.

“I’m really interested in education. My dream career would be an intersection of teaching young and old individuals on music,” Munoz shared. “I had an epiphany the other day of realizing that where I could do this would be places like PBS.”

As a member of the team, Munoz noted that last year’s KSPU team was all women. It’s no secret that SPU is a women-dominated campus, but there was still a powerful atmosphere when all females joined the team; it was as if the rumbling of change, of women holding the responsibility of power, was beginning right on our campus.

Despite this, Munoz wonders, is that enough? When will we reach a moment where all gender, races, ethnicities, ages, etc., feel confidently accepted and appreciated when being a part of something?

“It’s frustrating, but I know — I’m pretty sure — our generation is going to be the one that changes it all,” Munoz added. Even if the change is not complete, at least we are making the room for more change to follow in the future.