When she’s in the recording studio, Andrea Larez is used to being the only woman in the room. In the music industry, it often comes with the territory.
“I’ve just had experiences where I’ve been in the recording studio with all men, and your voice just is not as loud sometimes,” says Larez, a second-year music industry student at Northeastern. “But if you are loud, then you’re being ‘obnoxious.’ It’s just that power imbalance that can sometimes show up.”
But Larez and fellow music industry student Julia Linden are working to make the industry a place where these kinds of gender inequities and microaggressions aren’t the norm. This year, the two students founded the first collegiate chapter of Women in Music, a nonprofit with a global presence that provides resources to women in the music industry.
Larez and Linden, who serve as co-presidents of Women in Music Northeastern, say having a chapter at the university will be a way to provide women with resources and connections much earlier in their careers. In an industry with historic gender inequities that have hardly changed even in the post-Me Too era, those resources are even more valuable.
“I think some people, both in and outside the industry, have a misperception that post-#MeToo and in this decade it’s really changing and it’s changing into a women-dominated industry,” Linden says. “That might be true for some sectors, but for the majority of high-level executives it’s still not the case.”
According to a study published in March by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, female representation in the industry has failed to increase in a significant way over the past 10 years. Funded by Spotify, the study found that from 2012 to 2021, 12.7% of songwriters and 21.8% of artists were women.
Behind the scenes, only 2.8% of producers were women. And when it comes to the Grammys, one of the most visible representations of what the industry values, 13.6% of nominees from 2013 to 2022 were women. Although the numbers fluctuated year to year, there was little to no increase in most of the years included in the study.
Established in 1985, Women in Music has been fighting to shrink these gaps in the industry with its now global network of executives, musicians and producers. Linden and Larez are ready to extend that mission to the college level.
Over the course of a year, the two students worked with Kristina Latino, head of the organization’s Boston chapter, and Melissa Ferrick, a recording artist, professor of the practice of music at Northeastern and board member of the Boston chapter, to create the nonprofit’s first collegiate chapter.
Linden and Larez share an interest in the music industry, but they also bring different skills to their co-president roles. Linden was raised on Motown and classic rock of the 1960s and ‘70s and wants to pursue a career in music and entertainment law; Larez is a guitarist and singer-songwriter who loves marketing as much as making music. Their complementary interests are already informing the slate of events and opportunities members will have.
Students who join Women in Music Northeastern get access to a suite of resources and contacts in the organization’s network, which includes thousands of industry professionals from musicians to executives. Through those connections, the club will hold Q&As with women in the industry, career and resume building workshops that are specific to the entertainment industry and open mics to showcase university talent. Members of the organization also have access to the Women in Music Executive Internship Program, which pairs candidates with companies in the industry.
“Especially in entertainment, it’s about who you know,” Linden says. “I really hope this club is a resource for people to feel comfortable reaching out to those who are already established in the industry and to make those connections in hopes that they are able to land jobs and co-ops easier.”
Larez hopes the club can also foster a community and safe space for women who share a passion for music.
“I think collaboration is something that’s so central to music, and I think it would be cool if we could pair songwriters with producers and videographers with artists,” Larez says.
“All of the friends and all of the special connections I’ve made in my life I’ve made through music, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet those people through different resources,” she adds. “I think it would be really cool if Women in Music Northeastern could be that space for people.”
Women in Music Northeastern’s first meeting is at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 in Ell Hall Room 411. Subsequent meetings will be held biweekly on Wednesday, with a location to be determined. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.