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POSTED ON 21ST OCTOBER 2019 BY nada el-hammoud for ERIC

The music industry is notoriously one of the hardest creative industries to get into, a fact that anyone with a Soundcloud account and guitar is definitely aware of.

If you’re someone who sees yourself touring the world with your band, writing songs, or producing international hits sometime in the future, you’ve probably experienced that feeling of doubt at one point (probably fuelled by all those Negative Noras and Nelly Naysayers). What if I don’t make it? How am I supposed to make it? The sad truth is that for females in this position, those fears and insecurities are a lot worse - why? Because whilst being notorious for its difficulty in terms of getting your foot in the door, the music industry is also notorious for being imbalanced and male-dominated.

Rihanna, Britney, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Mahriah, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez… at a glance, it seems like the music industry is run by powerful and influential women. But behind all the big female names at the frontline of the industry is the little-known truth that women are seriously underrepresented, underpaid, underestimated… under everything to be quite honest. From 2013 to 2019 only 10.4% of Grammy nominees were women - in case you missed that, that’s JUST nominees, never mind how few women actually won anything in comparison to the guys. In the entire industry, women make up just 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers. In the UK, the average gender pay gap within the industry is a whopping 30% and according to PRS only 17% of professional songwriters are women.

Girls I Rate is here to change that.

Carla Marie Williams was born in Harrow, and her musical talents manifested from a very young age. She formed a girl group, The Likkle Mentions, at the tender age of 10, when most kids her age were spending their spare time watching CBeebies. Her girl group appeared on local radio and entered loads of local competitions, but after losing her voice, Carla tried her hand at full-time songwriting - and she was bloody good at it. Now a multi-platinum, A-List songwriter, Carla has written material for almost every big name under the sun; Britney Spears, Naughty Boy, Sean Paul, Craig David, Kylie Minogue, Alesha Dixon, The Saturdays, and even Beyonce herself. But all the fame, awards, nominations and musical stars didn’t disillusion Carla from the fact that the industry she had fallen in love with was deeply flawed. From her seat at the big table, she witnessed first-hand the gender inequality that is it at the root of all those music-industry horror stories from female musicians and songwriters.

But rather than let it slide, Carla did what any superwoman would do - she made it her mission to change the status quo. She founded the Girls I Rate movement in 2015 with the aim of supporting, empowering, and inspiring girls of all backgrounds to make their way into the male-dominated music industry and thrive. Forget the sparkly, cute ad campaigns with hollow messages and false promises that oh so many organisations put out there - Girls I Rate is an organisation that actually works to make a difference, tirelessly supporting and educating women and girls on how to get seen, get heard, get going in the right direction, and get to making real money from their talents. For those of you who think advice and empowerment can only go so far, hear this - Girls I Rate also create internships, jobs, and work-experience placements for females so you can actually get out there and start physically working towards your dream career. Their mission statement, COUCH sums up their entire ethos perfectly:

C - Change: Pushing for equality, female representation and recognition in the creative industries

O  - Opportunity: Creating internships, jobs and work experience opportunities for girls and women

U - Unity: Encouraging women and girls to work together

C - Celebration: Honouring inspirational women and girls within the creative industries

H - Hope: Empowering women and girls to believe anything is possible

According to almost every female from the industry who has spoken on this subject, change is most definitely needed. Female creatives have so much to offer to industries, and Girls I Rate actively push for their validity and equality so that everyone can benefit from the positivity and creative genius that women have to offer. In a world where even women who make it aren’t credited for their achievements, Girls I Rate celebrates and acknowledges all the amazing work females put in, day in, day out, and help foster the notion that a girl can do, and should be allowed to do, anything she dreams up.

The organisation is always putting on pop-up events and meetings where you can network, meet other young female creatives, gain invaluable advice and become part of the Girls I Rate family, so make sure you check out their website and socials for more information. And if you’re really passionate about empowering the next generation of females who will be running the music industry, you can sign up as a volunteer or a sponsor and help take Girls I Rate to new heights.

Ray BLK (if you don’t know who Ray BLK is please re-evaluate your entire life!), who now works with Carla, said “In a man’s world where women are constantly told they’re not as capable by society its important we keep reminding women that they are so we can disprove that”. Words of wisdom indeed, and words that Girls I Rate follow to a T. Take some time out of your week to remind a female in your life that she is that girl. Remind her that she is capable and valuable and valid, and she can do whatever she sets her mind to.

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