By Jasmine Cain
When I was asked to write this article from a female standpoint in the music industry, I was a bit apprehensive. For one, I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky in dealing with promoters, venues, even my audience when it comes to being taken seriously and limited to no sexist comments. But then I realized one thing, I’m treated that way because I earned it and I didn’t tolerate the behavior when it was being dealt with me. I drew the “line in the sand,” and now I don’t have that problem anymore. But what did it cost me to do this? More than you could ever imagine.
I’ll never forget when I started doing my own bookings and band management hearing my fellow male bandmates say, “You’ll have it way easier getting us gigs because you’re a hot girl”! I took it as a compliment at the time and accepted the challenge, not only because I was organized and professionally minded, but because I wanted to set a new standard. What I learned when I got started was that my show offerings came with a price. Sometimes it was a part of my dignity, sometimes it was a piece of my innocence, and sometimes my tolerance and patience. And although thankfully I was never forced to do anything physically with any of the men I was essentially applying to, I always walked away with a dirty feeling. Did I need to continuously compliment the man and tell him he was desirable so that he would allow me to grace his establishment with my music group? Do I need to put up with the comments about how I should wear that shorter skirt because my legs looked better with it? The answer, if you wanted to stay employed, was YES. Yes, I did need to do that or else they would have no reason to keep me around. I was disposable. It was taxing on my confidence and self-worth. It changed the way I approached people, and I felt like a slimy used car salesman slithering up to the office door to work my body and charm to sell snake oil. But in actuality, I was selling music….my music! My years of bloody fingers while learning the instruments and the study of decades of songs before my time until current seemed insignificant as long as I stayed hot. But hot doesn’t last forever.
As the years went on, I learned how to recognize the different kinds of people.:
- Bottom Line: They want to know how much and then hire or dismiss you.
- Negotiators: They wanted to see if you would accept a bottle of booze as partial or full payment or perhaps a sandwich to off-set that extra $100 they would have to pay for a hotel room for your band.
- Flirts: These made you dance this dance to determine whether you were hot, witty, and complimentary enough to be graced with their presence. I learned how to read them almost instantly before any words came out of my mouth.
I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to mistake a bottom line guy for a flirt. The lesson learned was to keep your mouth shut until you know. Always let them do the talking and listen until you understand who you’re dealing with.
The beauty of sticking it out long-term is not that you don’t encounter a lot of these individuals any longer, but rather when you do, you can walk away, and there is always another show waiting for you where you don’t have to play the game. I’ve also learned that good people attract good people and when you surround yourself in your personal and professional life with good people, the slimy ones aren’t comfortable there and won’t approach you. They somehow know you’re off limits.
So get out there and draw your lines in the sand. It may cost you somewhat in the beginning, but chances are those loses aren’t even worth the price admission. Know your worth, and it will pay off massively for you in the end.
Jasmine Cain is a Current JPF Female Artist of the Year and Nashville’s Music City Mayhem (MCMA) three-time Female Rock Vocalist. Nominated for a record-breaking 7 MCMA Awards in April 2013, Current nominations include: Female Rock Vocalist, Rock Bass Player of the Year, Keyboard Player of the Year, Best Music Video “Highway Prophet”, Best Album Artwork “Modern Day Gypsy”, Song of the Year “Nightingale, and Best Live Band
You can learn more about Jasmine Cain at the following links: