Despite recent progress, inequalities and lack of representation persist in the world of music production. This area in particular is a very male-dominated space, with women making up just 2.6% of producers credited on the top-ranking songs of the 2010s in America.
Local songwriter, artist and producer Lana Winterhalt sees a complex story behind this issue.
“There are so many factors that explain why we don’t see as many women and gender-diverse people in music production – historically, men have been scouted, recruited or encouraged into technology-based jobs, leaving women find ways for themselves rather than doors [being] open for them to cross,” she said.
“It’s by no means impossible, and we’ve seen women rise to the top of these industries – Susan Rogers, Sylvia Robinson, Linda Perry – and yet these women were anomalies.”
Even for women embarking on careers in music production, Winterhalt feels there is a lack of community networks and support to help them get started.
“The boys’ club is easy to find,” she says.
“There are so many white male producers that it’s easy to form a community. Many women and people of diverse gender identities produce music alone in their home studio with little or no supportive community. It can be incredibly isolating, and [it is] harder to break into a pre-existing male-dominated community because “no one has heard of you before” – you work alone, from home [or] in your basement.
So, inspired by her unsuccessful search for a female mentor in the field, Winterhalt took it upon herself to build the community she wanted to see through the Good + Plenty Producer’s Club.
“Surely there were more of us and we just didn’t know each other. The idea of a kind of ‘community’ came from there — we have to know who we are, we have to find mentors and be mentors and we have to encourage each other in our growth,” he said. she stated.
Good + Plenty is a multifaceted initiative. First, there is a Facebook group just for women, non-binary and trans women in Manitoba.
Winterhalt said the Facebook group in particular has been used to “share resources with each other, submission opportunities or workshops with other organizations, [ask] questions about each other’s workstations or workflow and [start] introduce ourselves and make new friends.
Winterhalt also hosts a podcast under the name Good + Plenty.
“I’m the one talking to a woman, non-binary [or] trans producer or sound engineer from across Canada to talk about their creative process, how they got started in audio, and any encouragement for the next generation of producers,” she said.
The club is also beginning to consider hosting in-person events in the community, including tech workshops, mixers, collab days, and other events tailored to the interests and needs of the group.
“The main goal is to create a strong community and network that was literally non-existent before, and to ensure that wherever people are on their journey, they have all the resources they need to grow,” said said Winterhalt.
“A lot of people don’t even know we have a recording school in Manitoba — Mid-Ocean School of Media Arts [or] MOSMA. Many people don’t even know what grants or programs are available to them to learn, grow [and] fund their careers. Many people don’t even know how to start working and making money in the industry.
“We want to make sure that knowledge is available and that everyone with talent has an equal and fair chance at achieving the same success.”
For more information about the Good + Plenty Producer’s Club, please visit their website at goodandplentywpg.com. The Good + Plenty Producer’s Club podcast can be streamed wherever you listen to podcasts.