This weekend we took a trip down to Spitfire Audio’s HQ for an exciting womxn in audio event dubbed Tech Dissect and organised by Saffron, which was filled with workshops and panels from a variety of female-identifying audio engineers, composers and music professionals at the height of their careers. Some of the highlights included hearing from Abbey Road Studios’ managing director Isabel Garvey about her journey from finance to heading the most legendary studio of all time, and a talk about making it as a woman in the music and audio industry featuring highly successful composer Nainita Desai, Connie Edwards from music submission agency We Are Golden and Sarah Guerin, head of rights management at ITV Studios. We also had a play around with Native Instruments’ magical Maschine and listened to singer and performer Bishi detail her incredible musical journey. Not to mention there were attendees in the masses cramming in to the small studio rooms to witness a mastering workshop from Katie Tavini and mixing masterclass by Fiona Cruickshank.
The stats show that although there is a 50/50 split of males and females coming out of Music Technology courses, this equality isn’t represented in the actual industry, with only seven per cent of UK engineers and producers actually being female. Events like this one are great as they encourage women to take that step further after pursuing music production courses and apply for the jobs or submit their work.
Nainita Desai pursued a degree in Mathematics to begin with, as she said “there were no music production courses during my late teens/early twenties, we’re so lucky now that we have such a fantastic music education now.” After that, she ended up doing a post graduate degree in Music Information Technology, and then following that got a scholarship to go to the National Film School and did music editing for films. She was introduced to Peter Gabriel during her course and ended up landing an internship with him after university.
Desai highlighted that “people are actively searching for female composers, it’s not just all talk” and all three of the women unanimously agreed that it isn’t the case that female engineers and composers aren’t wanted, but there is a lack of submissions from them. Connie Edwards emphasised that you should always send in submissions, as she makes a point of listening to every single one she’s sent – “that’s the job!”, she chuckled.
Sarah Guerin hammered home that you should “just let all your passion out, don’t ever hide that” in interviews, as that is what’ll get you the job. She also advised: “Don’t be put off by something that seems like a sideways step, because that could be an opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. Don’t shut any doors.”
In another session, Abbey Road Studios’ Isabel Garvey emphasised that you should “find someone to sponsor you, male or female”. Having a good role model and someone to support your growth is key. Garvey hasn’t ever really found being a woman in the industry as a barrier or an issue, but she did notice that there weren’t the female role models there to look up to, although thankfully, she added, this is changing.
In a call to men in the industry, she stated: “Where there are women with talent really help sponsor them and understand the barriers that they’re facing, understand that we have this imposter syndrome we shouldn’t have and help us a bit.”
To hear more from the experts, stay tuned for the December issue of the mag and an extended online piece.