WXMB 2 is an ever growing community of womxn connecting and coming together with a shared mission: to take on inequality within the music industry. Pronounced as ‘WOMB 2’ /wuːm 2/, the name derives from the acronym Womxn Of Music Business, but is also a word-play on ‘ROOM 2’, where female, female-identifying and non-binary artists tend to be relegated in the clubbing scene. We catch up with co-founder Petra ahead of Wxmb 2’s event at Colours Hoxton this month to chat about gender equality in the music industry and more!
In the years since the launch of WXMB 2, what are some of the most significant milestones you’ve seen in disrupting the rein of a male-dominated industry?
This year we have ‘officially’ seen Primavera Festival succeed to book a 50:50 split femxle to male line up. Other festivals such as No Bounds in Sheffield, have been doing it since their beginning 3 years ago, but quietly, on the down-low. The PRS Foundation’s Keychange claims over 150 festivals have pledged to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. An all-female-led radio station has opened its doors in London, Foundation FM. A global platform for womxn in music, SheSaidSo has organised their first self-made conference / international gathering in Portugal this year. Annie Mac has become the face of the Equalising Music campaign which is successfully promoting the gender disparity in the music industry on a bigger, national and commercial level.
There has definitely been a rise in the numbers of femxle-focused collectives, platforms and projects starting up all over the country (along with the ones that have been making waves for quite some time already, of course!) and we strongly believe that working together as one, we can make a difference! Just to mention a few you should definitely check out: Sisu, Femme Fraiche, B.L.O.O.M., Get in Her Ears, Equaliser, Slut Drop, GRL Sheffield, Intervention, Sister Collective, PSY Sisters, MPFW, WDM, Hub16, SheSaidSo, In The Key of She, HeSheThey, BBZ, GalDem, Pxssy Palace, SIREN, Meat Free, Big Dyke Energy, Saffron Records, Loose Lips, Not Bad For A Girl, Gal Pals… etc
In your opinion, what measures need to be taken by the industry’s key players in order to push the agenda of equality even further?
We are only as strong as our reach and our network is, and the key players of the industry need to realise the potential they have in making this change. They have the resources, finances and the brand strength to help us push the agenda even further. First, we need them to spread the word, so we get taken more seriously outside of our own circles, as still to this day, most people think there is NO gender-disparity in music. They see Beyoncé and Rihanna hitting the charts, but they don’t know that between 2012-2018 on Billboard Top 100, womxn only made up 21.7% of all artists, 12.3% of songwriters and 2.1% of producers or that #GrammysSoMale was the most trending hashtag of 2018. Secondly, they need to stand strong in their pursuit of more diverse hiring policy within their companies, offer training and (paid) internships to womxn, non-binary and BAME people, but also promote the jobs and the industry to younger generations, in their teen and Uni years. Third, they should offer sponsorships and funding to collaborate with local organisations, collectives and platforms who may not have the opportunity to reach as big of an audience as they do, so we can work together towards our joint goal.
Who are some amazing femxle and non-binary artists that are making huge moves in the UK music scene right now?
We definitely need to mention Jayda G, Violet, Object Blue, Eris Drew, Octo Octa in the electronic music scene and Tamera, Poppy Ajudha, Jelly Cleaver, Judi Jackson in the live music scene! Also some of our favourites recently: Flora Yin Wong, Loraine James, Lucinda Chua, L U C Y and Nadine Artois.
How do you predict the landscape of gender equality in the music industry to look over coming years?
We are hoping platforms like ours will become the norm, not the exception. That we can get out of our own circle of like-minded individuals, work together with men, larger organisations, youth groups, Universities and global organisations in order to reach our joint goal. We hope the younger generations will give us more femxle bookers at festivals, promoters and venue managers, but we realize we cannot do all of this on our own. Through partnerships and friendships, we will be able to reach more people, sending our message to a wider audience, providing more womxn with opportunities, training and exposure, and therefore having a greater impact. In essence, we want you to be a part of this transformational journey we are on!
What has WXMB 2 got planned for the rest of 2019?
We have had a summer full of festival appearances and panel talks, hosting workshops, curating stages and just generally spreading the word around! We have just done our first Colours Hoxton event in September, a panel talk called ‘Finding Motivation & Momentum’ where we invited some of the leading womxn in music to discuss their practical methods to encourage self-motivation, plus their techniques for actually putting plans into action. The panel gave an insight into how they find the momentum to keep persevering in the pursuit of innovation and ownership, and shared any tips they have to push past ‘mental block’. Next one was an event in collab with Allbright (UK’s first female-only member’s club) on the topic of ‘Breaking the Migrant Glass Ceiling’ which is happening on 24th Oct in their Mayfair club and the registrations are free via Eventbrite. We are also preparing 3 very exciting music-focused events (a live music night and 2 club nights), but they are still very hush-hush, so we can’t talk about it just yet – make sure you follow our Facebook and Instagram pages or more info! Apart from that, we have some dates coming up at Colours Hoxton again in 2020, in Jan, Feb, April and May, plus a joint all-dayer event in March 2020 for International Women’s Day – so STAY TUNED! 😊😊