and Katie Milestone (2000) 'What Difference does it
Make? Women's Pop Cultural Production and Consumption in
Sociological Research Online, vol. 5, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/5/1/richards.html>
To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary
Received: 20/3/2000 Accepted: 23/5/2000 Published: 31/5/2000
Gender, class and race are not capitals as such, rather they provide the relations in which capitals come to be organised and valued. Masculinity and Whiteness for instance are valued and normalised forms of cultural capital' (Skeggs, 1997:9)
The dominant force is twenty something, thirty something, males who went to Manchester Poly. They control the [Manchester] scene basically.
By appropriating space the boys, albeit perhaps relatively few boys, were very visible to the producers of hardware, software and magazines. It is little wonder that those in the industry could easily assume that micros and games-playing were a totally male domain, and show surprise that girls demonstrated any interest at all. (Haddon, 1994:90)
We were friends from college, I had the musical background […] I knew he was into music so […] one day I said to [him] why don't we start a club? It was a simple as that. [male DJ and promoter]
Obviously when you're doing your A Levels you don't think 'oh I'm going to be a DJ' do you? You just think go to university.. [female DJ and promoter]
I've just drifted around really. I've done all sorts of things. You know I have worked in offices and done bits and pieces like that.. It's been a very indirect route to what I do now. […] And in some ways I wish I had come more directly to what I wanted to do. I mean [B], the other person in [the band], is a lot younger than me and came pretty directly from leaving school, he went to sound engineering-college. So it's been a very direct route for him. He's younger and he's doing exactly what he wanted to do. [musician]
The excessive relation to music was obvious in the future plans of the boys. They wanted music to be the basic element of their future life. They wanted to have bands of their own and make a lot of money. ..For girls, music was more like a hobby than an essential element of a lifestyle. They had no ambition toward making their own music. (Mäki- Kulmala, 1993)
I was always obsessively into music, culture, and the musical scene. I followed every kind of musical scene when I was younger, from very young. Taped the charts religiously and all the rest of it! So I have always been obsessed by music. But I did not really know that jobs like this existed when I was in school or college. Right up to college, I did not know that you can get a job in a recording studio or work for a record company. [A&R consultant]
I think men seem to have a natural tendency towards trainspotter- behaviour. […] they are very good at tunnelling themselves in one direction [..] I find it really hard to channel myself into one single direction and not get distracted by other things. [musician]
A lot of men are more precious about music than a lot of women. I have a lot more male customers than female customers. Lads seem to be much more: 'I have to get this and I have to get that!' And there don't seem to be as many girls like that. I think that people sometimes tend to think that because I am a girl, I don't really know what I am talking about. Like "how come you got into music, love!" [laughs]. [record shop manager]
You've got to be completely obsessed in a Nick Hornby kind of a way. I've always been obsessed and totally focused on what I want to do. [A&R manager]
I don' t like office politics in normal kind of 9 to 5 jobs. So, there is a life style choice. And even though I work really hard, it's work I enjoy, with people that I enjoy working with. It's like bringing your whole lifestyle into work. [music journalist]
Work and leisure are linked. Because of all this bar and pub culture and everything else related to that in Manchester, the people that we know are all connected in lots of ways. [record promoter]
If I go out on a night out with friends I'll […] end up talking to someone, and it's quite often some work can be done […] it means you get this constant sort of circle and forum for feedback because you meet these people socially and […] you don't have to organise a meeting. [male music journalist]
When I see my friends, I tend not to go to a club with them or out in town […] because that's work, if I go to a club I will bump into people from work and have to talk about work. [..] I don't see going out in that way as leisure. [recording studio manager]
There is one thing I don't like about the job […] that I am never turned off from it really. [venue promoter]
It's a really slimy and superficial scene. That's what I don't like about it. [DJ and promoter]
You know the music industry is not something that you can grow old in. It's not a good industry for you to be working in when you're in your 40s. I've got to think ahead to what I'm going to be doing when I'm 40. - And it is really for young people. Unless you are working in publishing or you are a manager or something like that. But they generally are men. [record label manager]
I would not really want to do this when I was 40. You know, work 90 hour-weeks and not see your family and things. It does become your life, but that's okay for now. […] J is 45 and he's got three kids and a wife and he still [runs a club] and does shitty hours. I just can't imagine doing that when I am 45 years old, and have three kids and a husband. I haven't yet met a woman that does that. [night-club manager]
I do like having control about dictating my own hours, my own work schedule. I think it would be quite hard to work a nine-to-five and have to be at certain places at certain times. That would be quite difficult. [night-club manager]
What frustrates me about Manchester is that, in particular Manchester AND Liverpool are both guilty of it, and Leeds, Sheffield: bands have ALWAYS been white straight males. Like four or five boys in a band. Which is great, but in the last 20 years - you name me one famous female artist out of Manchester or from Liverpool or Sheffield! There isn't one! And similar with black artists. And I think that is because there isn't a nurturing environment in the regions for them to come out. The female artists really come from America or Australia or London. Apart from one exception, it's probably Lisa Stansfield from Rochdale, but she had a London-based manager. [A&R consultant]
Its DIY ethos and anti-muso attitude allowed women a much- needed space to perform without fear of ridicule. Punk was about starting from scratch and throwing away traditional rock clichés. (Raphael, 1994:xiv)
The simple fact that the relationships, networks and activities that comprise Liverpool rock culture are predominantly male works to exclude women from music creativity and collaboration. (Cohen, 1997:30)
The negative side of [being a woman] is I think - for obvious reasons - say you have got to see a band playing in a venue in Sheffield on a Thursday night and you are on your own. That's NOT good. [A&R consultant]
The live music scene is controlled wholly by men I think. It's like all the promoters and most of the venues are run by […] men. …all the successful tour managers - because [of] the late nights, you have to deal with aggressive promoters and so on. I have always found that the most difficult part of management was having to deal with the […] the live performance side of it, because it is a bit of a man's world unfortunately. [A&R consultant]
A&R-people sort of stick together a bit. And so there's all of the taking drugs, being a man, being a lad, being comfortable in going to clubs and bars on your own. Which is difficult for women sometimes. [record label manager]
I used to feel very much part of a well-defined group of people that were all working towards an aim and [who] all had similar kind of lifestyles. [..] But I don't feel so much part of that any more, mainly because I am a single parent. I don't have that sort of freedom after hours that I used to have. […] The majority of people that I would have counted as being part of that well-defined group, tend to be men and it's something to do with my attitude towards them and their attitudes towards me that puts a sort of barrier to it and effects the networking really. I am aware it sort of goes on around me but (..) I am also aware that I am not as involved in it. [music convention co-ordinator]
it is very difficult to locate yourself within that circle [of music industry insiders] if you are a single woman in that industry. […] within that particular environment if you are single, and if you are a woman, and you are hanging out with all these people who are colleagues and friends and male, it can become a fairly complex kind of set up. [night club manager]
You are a person. You are not a woman first and foremost. [recording studios manager]
I think I am quite an individualist [..] I represent myself . [..] I [know that I] represent women even if I don't want to [laughs]. I know it's quite harsh really, but I don't really feel like I represent a woman, I feel like I represent myself. I refuse to represent anybody else. [night club manager]
The clock is sort of ticking - much more so than it is for a man. You are aware of the ridiculous element of a middle-aged woman running a night club. […] So I have to hope that [..] when I am 30, I will look 20.. You already have to start thinking about alternatives. [night-club manager]
It's alright for men to be either younger and in a position of power or older than it is for women. So when you are in that middle level and say when you get older, you know, unless you have eternal youth in your looks, you know you've got an expiry date in what you are doing. That's probably partly based on the way you look. [record label manager]
You have to convince people and it can be quite hard for me because - first I am a girl and secondly I am a bit younger. And, physically, I am tiny - so that can be quite difficult to overcome. I think most of the time I manage it. And that can be half of my job some time. Just convincing people that I'm not just a fifteen year old girl that's been left with a bunch of keys. [night-club manager]
I did not want to be perceived as the girl in the band who just sang. You know, the pretty thing at the front. This sort of love interest. I wanted to make sure that my creative input wasn't limited to singing and writing the songs. Because I had ideas on ALL levels. […] I just remember being interviewed and people automatically assuming that [male partner] produced [the band] and I was just a singer. And it is really hard to turn that around, that whole perception. You know that people come with that perception. [musician]
2For a more detailed discussion see 'Definitions of Cultural Industries' by Justin O'Connor at <http://www.mmu.ac.uk/h-ss/mipc>
3It is beyond the scope of this paper to engage in a full discussion of the impact that the Frankfurt School has had upon understandings of commerce and culture, although it is Walter Benjamin's conception of mass culture, rather than that of Adorno, that has had the greater background influence on our work.
4Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) usually refers to businesses with less than 150 employees. We use the term MSE to indicate those businesses at the very smallest end of this spectrum - in this case generally with less than ten employees.
5From 1983 onwards many new pop cultural businesses began to be located in a city centre area now known as the Northern Quarter and promoted as a pop cultural quarter. This area had become run down because of the relocation of retail and other industries out of the area during the 1970s. However because of its dilapidation rents were relatively cheap and proved attractive for these pop cultural businesses (Milestone 2000, Milestone, Lovatt and O'Connor 1994).
6Similar schemes such as those offered by Prince's Youth Business Trust and New Business Support provided similar opportunities to those of the Enterprise Allowance Scheme.
7And, it is often argued, the youth cultures in turn attract more students to the city. It has long been a piece of city folklore that applications to the city's universities increased following the 'Madchester' explosion.
8See also Simon Frith on Sheffield in T. Bennett et al (editors) (1993) Rock and Popular Music: Politics, Policies and Institutions, (London, Routledge), p.15-17; Phil Johnson on Bristol in (1997) Straight Outta Bristol: Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and the Roots of Trip-Hop, (London, Hodder and Stoughton).
9London obviously also has a wealth of underground or non mainstream music and clubcultures.
10See for example Ronnie Spector's (1990) Be My Baby London: Macmillan
11For links to information about the Northern Quarter see <http://www.nqn.org.uk>. For links to pop music related businesses in the area see for example Paper Recordings <http://paper.state51.co.uk/>, Piccadilly Records <http://www.piccadillyrecords.co.uk/>, Silk Studios <http://www.nqn.org.uk/silk/> and the Roadhouse <http://www.theroadhouse.u-net.com/>.
12All quotations are from women unless otherwise stated. In the text interviewees are identified only by their job title - in some cases the same title applies to multiple interviewees.
13Manchester Polytechnic became Manchester Metropolitan University in 1993.
14For a full bibliography of the sociology of consumption see Don Slater's http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/slater/consumer/biblioa.htm
15Cara Aitchinson raised these issues in her paper 'Researching Gendered Space: developing a discourse in leisure and tourism studies' presented at the Women's Studies Network Conference, Hull, 1998.
16Julie Burchill, 'Off their rockers', The Guardian, April 17 1999.
17See for example OECD report (1998) The Future of Female- Dominated Occupations, p.66.
18See for example Chris Smith (1998) Creative Britain, (Faber: London); LEDA report, (1995) New Opportunities for Employment Creation Through the Cultural Sector; Bianchini and Parkinson (1993) Cultural Policy and Urban Regeneration (Manchester University Press). Women's position within the sector is, however, unclear and research such as the 'mapping document' produced by the Government's Cultural Industries Task Force does little to enlighten. Creative Industries Mapping Document, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1998.
19Deborah Curtis (wife of Joy Division's Ian Curtis) writes an interesting personal account of the marginalisation of women in Manchester's punk scene in Touching From a Distance, Faber, 1996.
20It should be acknowledged, however, that Sarah Champion was a key female journalist of the period.
21The title of this article makes reference to a Smiths' song – What Difference Does it Make? (Morrissey and Marr), Rough Trade, 1994.
22In recent years Manchester's Gay Village has been increasingly heterosexualised by the expansion of corporate-run bars and clubs. This has made the Village much less an exclusive 'safe space' (for gay men and women) and much more a mainstream urban quarter based upon the night time economy. The Village has also long been criticised for marginalising lesbians.
23Similarly in a recent journal article Mary Ann Clawson argued that in alternative rock music women play the electric bass as a way of getting into bands. Opportunities for women exist in this area because men see the bass as an 'easy' instrument and therefore inferior to other instruments. Clawson argues 'the entrance of women into rock bands via the bass may provide them with new opportunities and help legitimate their presence in a male dominated site of artistic production, yet it may simultaneously work to reconstruct a gendered division of labour and reproduce dominant gender ideologies'.
24'Dance music' is a generic term for a range of contemporary club and rave music such as that now associated with 'super-clubs' such as Liverpool's Cream, Pete Tong's programmes on Radio 1 and the magazine MixMag.
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