WXMB 2 is an evergrowing community of womxn connecting and coming together with a shared mission: to take on inequality within the music industry. Our team currently consists of 7 womxn who volunteer for this cause.
Our name, pronounced as ‘WOMB 2’ /wuːm 2/, derives from the acronym Womxn Of Music Business, but is also a word-play on ‘ROOM 2’, where female-identifying and non-binary artists tend to be relegated in the clubbing scene.
Everyone is welcome at our events, no matter their gender, race or sexuality. Our name came at the start of the group to try and include everyone who identifies as a womxn or non-binary.
The ‘X’ in our name is inclusive, promoting intersectionality and non-binary identifying people. The term ‘Womxn’ originated at the University of California, Davis in 1971. as a spelling of ‘women’ that is a more inclusive, progressive term. It is used to demonstrate a commitment to inclusiveness towards all kinds of women, including trans women.
WXMB 2’s mission is transformative: seeking to create more balance within an industry that, to this day, sees remarkable gender disparity. This permeates every area: from womxn earning less than men, lack of representation in festival headliners, to the amount of female-identifying artists producing music. The list goes on.
Examining the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 2012-2018, a study by University of Southern California found that womxn only made up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters and 2.1% of producers. Amongst the 75 female songwriters and producers interviewed by the same University in 2019, over 40% admitted their colleagues dismissed or discounted their work or skills and 39% have experienced stereotyping and sexualization. #GrammysSoMale was the most trending hashtag of 2018.
USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reports:
In 2017, 83.2% of artists were men and only 16.8% were womxn.
2017 marked a six-year low for female artists in popular content.
Of 2,767 songwriters credited, 87.7% were male and 12.3% were female.
73.8% of female songwriters only worked once in 6 years, 7.9% worked twice, and 4.3 percent worked three times. Less than 6% of female songwriters had 6 or more credits across the sampled time frame.
Nine male songwriters were responsible for 1/5 of the songs in the sample.
Out of the study’s 651 producers, 98% were male and only 2% female.
A total of 899 individuals were nominated for a Grammy Award between 2013 and 2018. 90.7% of those were male and 9.3% were female.
22% of all performers across the 600 most popular songs from 2012 to 2018 were female. 12% of songwriters of the 600 most popular songs from 2012 to 2018 were womxn.
However, there were some gains for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Male performers were 52% non-white, while 73% of female performers were womxn of colour.
But the disparity between representation on the stage and behind the scenes is stark, to say the least. Only four out of 871 producers were womxn of colour. Out of 400 songs and 871 producers, only 2% were female.
The gender ratio of male producers to female music producers is 47 to 1.
These problems have been long-standing, but this does not need to be the case. A 2018 YouGov survey reported that girls are much more likely than boys to say they enjoy studying music (48% against 34%). Yet, in 2013, Creative & Cultural Skills reported that the divide across all music industry related jobs is 67.8% male to 32.2% female. Many different factors are causing this shift and we at WXMB 2 are seeking to fix this by working towards a more inclusive industry for all womxn (of any race, class, sexuality, and ability).
As an inclusive and progressive platform, our ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality and to help create a world in which people of all genders can reach their full potential.
Our platform was founded to work for unity and support between womxn and non-binary folk in the music industry. We bring people together and make the industry more welcoming to people of all genders through workshops, panel talks, and enjoying what we all love: music!
As a fierce collection of bad-ass individuals trying to change things for the better, we focus on bringing together organisers, managers, agents, radio producers, musicians and other creatives for our shared purpose. A force to be reckoned with, our community is encouraging the next generation of individuals via training sessions, podcasts, networking, access to inspiring people, and general positive ‘you can do its’.
Although we are showcasing female-identifying and non-binary talent, we are inclusive to everyone and make a point of not being anyone’s competitor: we want to unite, rather than divide! To this end, our strength is in being connectors: linking like-minded creatives to each other under one roof, to foster collaboration and multiply impact. We want to share our knowledge and work together to reach as many self-starters as possible who would like to work in the industry or perform music, but who do not have the relevant resources or connections.
We really believe, with our combined knowledge and skills, we can make a real dent in the industry’s current state. Our workshops and panels are undoubtedly our most successful feature so far, with thousands of participants signing up and receiving training.
This is what we do best: inspiring a new generation by giving them the tools and access to pioneers and experts in the industry who share their professional journey and advice at no cost.
We organise monthly community events in London: workshops, panels, talks, networking and mentoring. We have, as of 2019, reached approximately 1000 event attendees, 2000 listeners on our audio channels, and 2500 followers on social media.
We host stages at festivals across the UK, where we present up-and-coming female-identifying and non-binary musical talent, as well as organising workshop areas for discussion, learning and training. Be they DJs, record label owners, business directors or workshop hosts, we aim to provide these talented and passionate womxn the space otherwise taken up by men. For instance, we have held a stage takeover and workshop at Noisily Festival (full day DJ takeover and Womb Circle workshop); curated a full day stage takeover at Mad Hatter’s Affair; hosted a panel on Grassroots Organising at No Bounds Festival; curated and hosted industry workshops for Westival Wales; curated a panel on Womxn in Music for Cross the Tracks Festival and Grrrl Zine Fair at Village Green Festival;
Wigflex City Festival case study: In May 2019, we were given a platform at the first edition of Wigflex City Festival taking place in Nottingham, seeking to showcase leading womxn in the electronic scene. We invited the Founder of Peckham’s newly-founded radio station Foundation FM (Frankie Wells), Erased Tapes and WeAreFloat founder (Sofia Ilyas), Outer Agency Founder and Head Agent (Carin Abdula), and POLY agency Head Agent (Keira Sinclair). Our speakers explored the unique theme of visibility: “What does it mean to be heard/seen versus being unheard and unseen?”; “Who are the people that often go unseen and unheard, and why is this the case?”. During this panel discussion, we featured a range of womxn with different experiences, which allowed us to further delve into intersectionality. How is it that a teenager growing up in a strict Pakistani-Muslim household, who was not allowed to enter into higher education, who wound up living in a womxn’s shelter, is now running her own agency for the likes of Jeff Mills and Nils Frahm? Why is it that an African-Portuguese migrant, who moved to the UK and runs an agency with her male counterpart, still gets requests to speak to “Mark”? Rooted in her home town of South London, one panellist thought that the only way to showcase female-identifying radio talent would be to create her own platform from scratch, risking everything. And another proactive panellist focused on the importance of bringing a diverse array of artists to the forefront of her agency. These experiences sparked discussion, revealed insightful observations, and encouraged our audience to grow and expand their own horizons. The overall idea of our panels is therefore simple but powerful: we invite a number of speakers to explore a theme, and get the audience as engaged as possible in order to share ideas and inspire new ways of thinking and creating.
We promote events similar to ours and help spread the word about womxn in the music industry who are often behind the scenes and not shouted about and celebrated as much as they should be. For our club nights, we connect with female-led and female-identifying and non-binary collectives such as Femme Fraiche, Sisu, Sister Collective, Get In Her Ears, PSY Sisters (and more) to make a point of not being competitors and showing that we work together towards the same goal, helping each other out along the way. We have started an all-day, festival-style event called ‘Femme Summer Fete’ to promote this idea, which we will soon be taking further into a Winter edition and an annual festival.
We hold regular panel discussions with industry experts. A prime example was our panel on International Women’s Day 2019 held in collaboration with Global Media company at Global rooftop. This consisted of three panels under the umbrella theme of ‘Balance for Better’, featuring panellists such as Global's Commercial Group Business Director, Head of Community at Mixcloud, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Global Festivals and Events, Head of Community at Shesaid.so and Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Universal Music Group. We also currently hold regular London panels at Colours, Hoxton and Allbright, Mayfair. Topics range from skills training (e.g. How to produce music on Ableton Live) to thematic areas (Music for Social Good, Breaking the Migrant Glass Ceiling etc.), and advice on different aspects of the music industry. We feature the experience of womxn who serve as role models and mentors for the attendees, as well as male guests who offer the male perspective on what we can do to achieve more equality within the music industry.
We hold ‘takeovers’ at various functions and festivals. For instance, to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2018 we hosted a day of workshops at Number 90, Hackney. It was a huge success: we had about 100 womxn join us to learn how to DJ, how to run a radio show, how to start a record label, how to vision board, and to talk about body positivity. We have access to some of the industries’ most successful womxn, who know the importance of passing on advice and knowledge in order to train and support upcoming womxn.On our website and social media pages, we showcase exclusive DJ mixes, podcasts and radio shows, plus feature events, reviews and interviews on our blog. Our Spotify is becoming a home for new releases of songs and mixes for aspiring artists, and we give them exposure and the opportunity to perform and share the music that they create with wider audiences.
We are launching a monthly podcast in order to get our message heard by even more people. Forthcoming episodes will include interviews with inspiring people, discussions about our initiatives and events, features with our collaborators and their creative projects, plus insights into current research and data about the imbalance in the music industry.
Our workshops and trainings have included: how to DJ; how to create your own podcast; and how to press and mix vinyl. In 2019, we collaborated with Second Home (Spitalfields) for Record Store Day, where we ran a record fair with female-identifying sellers and held workshops on running a label (by TASHA/Neighbourhood), the process of record pressing (by Elliot Clemenson), and vinyl beatmatching (by DJ SLAUKA).
We collaborate with other feminist groups. Our whole ethos is inclusivity and encouragement: we lift each other up, and help each other out - not only within the WXMB 2 nucleus, but in our community too. A highlight in this regard was our ‘Femme Summer Fete’ at Grow Hackney, at the end of summer 2019. This brought together eight female-identifying collectives from across London to promote unity and collaboration, and to showcase artists from each of the groups. We also work continuously with collectives with whom we share goals and ideas.
We provide role models and mentors, including in areas such as mixing, engineering, production and management. Representation matters: the more we push all-female tech workshops, or run events where aspiring creatives can hear from successful womxn in the music industry, the more the younger generation will see that it is normal for any gender to work in this field. The music industry can be an intimidating place, and we want to change that and make it more inviting to everyone. Having womxn pass on their knowledge and skills is vital to this process and everyone is welcome to come and learn.
We run live and electronic music nights to put female-identifying artists front and centre stage and to provide them with a platform to perform and display their talents. For instance, we held a WXMB 2 club night at NT’s Bar, London Fields which featured DJ Faro and WXMB 2 DJs.
We are presently designing a pilot workshop for outreach into schools and Universities in order to inspire young creatives to consider future careers in the music industry.
We realise 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!
Most of our events are free to ensure accessibility. If you are trying to get into the industry or would like to meet other like-minded creatives, come to one of our talks or workshops to be supported and inspired! Seeing womxn who have met through us join up and put on nights and events, start jobs in the industry, or step out and DJ is the most rewarding thing, so come along and get involved. Even if you have zero experience, we want to make everyone feel welcome and supported in order to work towards more equality in the music industry.
We are also looking to work with men and womxn and with brands, companies and collectives that share our values and realise the importance of what we are trying to do. As a non-profit, we are always seeking sponsors so get in touch if you are interested in our ethos and would like to partner and work to make a difference together.
Even if you are unable to join us, we encourage you to support womxn in music by attending female-led events. It is important to make an effort to buy tickets for female-identifying and non-binary artists, so follow them on social media, Mixcloud and Soundcloud and let promoters know we want to see and hear them as much as males!
There has definitely been a rise in the numbers of female-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!) and we strongly believe that working together as one, we can make a difference! Just to mention a few: 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, SisterWorks, and Gal Pals. If you also have an initiative that shares our ethos and passion, get in touch!
The ultimate aim of WXMB 2 is to disrupt a historically male dominated industry, off the back of the recent rebellion from womxn who have collectively had enough. To join us in the rebellion, check out our social media pages or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to help us give female-identifying and non-binary professionals their deserved moment in the spotlight.