Gaslighting in the Music Industry | Feature

gaslighting womxn music industry

Keeping a Safe Space for Young Creatives and Speaking up for Yourself.

I don’t actually work in promotion, content or any kind of music related field. I don’t even have a portfolio. I’ve got Linkedin and a CV for my day job and that’s it. So when I relentlessly tap ‘Link in bio!’ and ‘stream now’ it’s because I genuinely back the track I’m suggesting you support and download. It’s usually because someone I know, a person I love, or a friend of a friend has put their all into that record on a shoe string budget. 

There are endless reasons someone will fall into music blogging or promotion, and the scene has always been a better place for it. For me it’s because I work in a sales orientated, high-pressure environment and even when I had two jobs, the wee indie creative in me couldn’t shut up about her best mate’s EP. It wasn’t about getting a job in music, it wasn’t even so I could keep my work anywhere. It was just about shouting about how hard people were working, and how good it sounded. 

What seems more important now is that we keep safe young creatives

The only time I’ve ever had to doubt that was earlier this year. I was pretty vocal about it on social media – because it was the first time in about 18 months I’d ever fallen victim to being berated mentally and emotionally for the sake of someone else trying to climb the creative ladder. 

I’m not here to vilify anyone. I stand by every word I’ve said until now regarding my own experiences with gaslighting and always will. What seems more important now is that we keep safe young creatives, usually working for free, who fall victim to abuse in the music industry.

make music a safe place
Illustration by Sarah Legender

Gaslighting is the practice of someone making their victim question their own reality so they gain more status or power in the relationship. Someone, comfortable in their narcissistic complex, creates their own version of reality which is why so few see an issue in their behaviour. A gaslighter believes they are always correct. Anyone they see fit it berate, victimize or speak down to is incorrect, misguided or delusional. The end goal of a gaslighter is to manipulate narratives and other people’s realities to gain power over their victim.

The weaker and less important you are made to believe your own voice and values are, the likelier you are to accept and even start to believe this behaviour. A victim will likely then start doubting themselves, their ability and their own mental health.

Maybe she’s not crazy. Maybe you’re just gaslighting her.”

When you recognise this behaviour happening and proceed to call the perpetrator out on it, they quickly and manipulatively place the blame back on you – you might not even notice they’re doing it. Especially not if this isn’t the first instance they’ve gaslighted you, and your guard is already down and you’ve already began to accept the narrative that you’re ‘over reacting’, ‘irrational’, or ‘crazy’. 

Their toxic narrative will try to control the way others regard you. For example, if you call someone out on their behaviour and they proceed to tell you they had ‘no idea you felt like that’ or that they could ‘feel the energy of your message and hadn’t realised how uncomfortable they were making you’… but proceed to tell individual members of a team or your colleagues that they found you to be crazy, abusive, irrational – that’s gaslighting. Suggesting you’ve ‘constantly praised’ your victim to everyone but the victim, so all they see is someone being angry at these supposedly kind words – that’s gaslighting, too. 

They paint a picture of being an older, concerned and caring professional and you become a villain for calling them out. See where I’m going with this? 

If we allow women to be treated to poorly at the very root of their career, where does that leave them years down the line?

Men/males in music – you aren’t all like this, and you know you aren’t. We know you aren’t. I’ve said as often as I can how blessed I feel to be part of a team where those who identify as male make the space as safe, respectful and just nice for us as possible. We speak up about bands who champion equality and safety and let people speak. Music is art – it was always about expression.

My point, is this: if we allow women to be treated to poorly at the very root of their career, where does that leave them years down the line? Are we going to see even less female representation in the music industry? We’re better than that. We’ve always been better than that, so we need to keep speaking against it. When you see it happening to a colleague of who identifies as one gender and you know fine well it wouldn’t happen if they identified as another, call it out. I’m yet to hear ‘he’s like a crazy ex boyfriend’ or have a male counterpoint be called ‘fiesty’ as a derogative. 

Support those who need support. It’s really that simple. And please recognise that regardless of age or status, every voice deserves to have its own merit credited for its own sake, and not to pacify anyone else’s ego or landing page views. 

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