‘Girls, you’ve got to look good, let’s face it’ – Misogyny in Manchester’s music scene

A Manchester-based female musician has recounted her experiences of misogyny in the city whilst trying to enter the industry. 

This follows a recent hearing in parliament, where the issues such as safety at gigs, maternity and unequal beauty standards were addressed, amongst other topics.

Adelaide Taylor, 22, is a musician who has just recently gone full-time, regularly performing in venues across Greater Manchester.

Adelaide said: “Most of the time, I have to get one, ideally two, mates to come with me because I daren’t go alone.

“But I walk in and it’s literally just like being prey to the wolves, it’s just immediate, that’s just what happens.”

The musician, originally from Halifax, has been pursuing music since she was 16.

Now 22, she’s bringing in enough from gigs that she was able to leave a part-time job in retail at the end of last year. 

Sourcing freelance gigs is no easy feat, made all the more difficult through the way women are treated in the industry. 

Adelaide says it is not uncommon to accept paid work in the industry, only for the offer to be swiftly followed by questions such as, ‘hey, do you want to go out for a drink later?’.

“It’s always a loaded thing,” she says.

She isn’t alone in facing these barriers to entry in the industry, it was something that featured heavily in the ‘Misogyny in Music’ oral session with the Women and Equalities Committee.

Vanessa Threadgold, founder and managing director of Cactus City Studio, told the committee: “The environment is set up in a way that is actually very unwelcoming to women, whether that be from a childcare perspective, or just from the nature of the sexual harassment, sexualisation and misogyny that’s present.

“It creates an environment where people don’t want stay in the industry.”

Such objectification appears to be present at all stages of the industry.

Adelaide recalls a meeting early in her music journey, where the speaker separated males and females.

They told the males that their appearance was inconsequential, the implication being that they will be judged solely on their musical talent, but the women in the room received a very different message from the agency representative.

She said herself and other women were told that if they want to get anywhere in the industry, ‘you’ve got to look good, let’s face it’.

This is another common theme for women in the industry, noted in evidence submitted to parliament by the Musicians’ Union. 

A snapshot survey conducted by the union in 2022 found that women were often judged on their appearance rather than their ability, with others missing out on work due to being categorised as ‘not attractive enough’.

Adelaide believes there is no true short-term fix to the problem. She said: “I don’t think it’s going to be radical; I don’t think it’s going to be overnight.

“I think it’s a bit like the environment, you can’t just click your fingers and just hope that the world is going to be saved.”

Despite the ever-present hurdles misogyny presents to women wanting to enter the music industry, Miss Taylor remains hopeful for the future, due partly to seeing more women in positions of power. 

“I’ve got music coming out this year and luckily I’ve got a little following, and a lot of it is about this kind of thing,” she says. 

Adelaide Taylor is currently releasing a new song every month ahead of her album release in May, further information available here.

Her latest song, ‘Bad Place’ is now available to stream on Spotify

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