Poor Jimmy Iovine. He really stepped in it this week, didn’t he?
By now, it’s been widely reported that he made an unfortunate statement in talking about a new commercial for his Apple Music service, saying flat out that sometimes, some women—he was considerate enough to say some, to his credit—might find it “difficult” to find new music. Later, realizing his mistake or after reading some of the backlash against his, shall we say, comments of an unfortunate nature, Mr. Iovine said he misspoke, he made a poor choice in language, that both men and women sometimes could maybe find it less than easy to find new music.
Ok. Let’s take a step back.
Firstly, Mr. Iovine has made a career in the music industry, finding new artists, signing them to his previous label, Interscope, helping to make and break trends, creating and crushing stars. He also has an exciting new opportunity through his newest endeavor, Apple Music, of introducing even more people to even more music.
A few questions to Mr. Iovine, should he happen across our humble little website:
- Why do women have more difficulty finding new music? Do you have anything to back that up, or were you just speaking extemporaneously?
- Why is it easier, as you imply, for men to find new music? Do they have some kind of tool or genetic enhancement that helps them sniff out new talent?
- If you’re really concerned about this—conceding, of course, that you didn’t say that you were concerned, only that the playlist feature on Apple Music would make it easier—what are you doing to eliminate the barriers to this discovery? Is it focused solely on Apple Music, or do you have other developments in the works?
Mr. Iovine obviously has heard of the Internet. After all, it’s what enables his Apple Music to exist. Doubtless he believes in this marvel, which connects people around the world with limitless access to resources and information as never before possible. And what do a growing number of people use the Internet for, to the point where Apple has fully invested in creating an online radio station complete with a person selecting songs for listeners to enjoy? FINDING MUSIC.
Are you suggesting, Mr. Iovine, that women have a more difficult time using the Internet? That we’ve not heard of, say, YouTube, or iTunes, or Spotify, or Pandora, or any of the other seemingly countless services for playing music and videos and discovering artists or bands new to the listener? And if that’s the case, Mr. Iovine, maybe you need to take a look at who’s using your services and determine what percent of them are female, because clearly you’ve got an untapped well of super special creatures, highly evolved people with two X chromosomes or who identify as female who have figured out how to work something that only men are gifted with the ability to use. Bravo!
Or are you suggesting, good sir, that women don’t listen to the radio? A short and unscientific survey of some women conducted just this afternoon—a little more than 24 hours after your interview on the CBS morning show accompanied by the explicitly talented Mary J. Blige and hosted by Gayle King—found that women are not only using the Internet to find new music, they’re also doing it the old fashioned way, by finding songs on the radio, in their cars on their way to work or hanging out with friends.
Which brings up yet another question, Mr. Iovine: if women are hanging out with other women, “talking about boys, or complaining about boys,” as you say, is it not possible they’d also be talking about male singers or bands fronted by men? Or, to play on another stereotype, that women share clothing and accessories, isn’t it possible that women would swap bands, or CDs, or records, or playlists, free and clear of the influence of men? (This website won’t even delve into the fact that Mr. Iovine’s comments didn’t allow for women who don’t complain about boys or men because they’re not attracted to boys or men, but instead are attracted to women or are asexual, because that’s a whole other topic for a whole other time.)
There are some sad truths when it comes to the music world. Women, it seems, aren’t supposed to be fans in their own accord. We’re only introduced to music by the men in our lives: brothers, fathers, uncles, boyfriends, husbands, friends, cousins, etc. There have been numerous men who have influenced the music in my life, I’ll fully admit that—my best friends, my uncles, the DJs I respect and have grown to trust through the years—but the women in my family and my female friends have been just as influential. And then there’s that rarest of discoveries, a woman DJ who is just as well-versed and knowledgeable and bold and immersed in the universe of music as any man in the booth who has introduced me to many bands that I hold dear and have forged relationships with through her time on the air. I’d link you to her page, but she was relieved of her duties earlier this week, a casualty of a shrinking media empire in Canada, dismissed after 27 years without so much as the opportunity to give her fans a farewell.
Why aren’t there more women on the air? I’ve long wondered that. Why aren’t there more female DJs on the radio, either terrestrial or satellite? If there were more women on the air, playing new music—from male or female artists, it doesn’t matter—would more women think it easier to find new music?
Women are scarce outside the recording studio. Female critics are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts. Jessica Hopper titled her book the First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. She admits in the prologue that the title isn’t so much a 100% factual accuracy but rather about “planting a flag.” She lists a few other books, some published while the women were alive, others posthumously. “We should be able to list a few dozen more—but those books don’t exist yet,” she notes. Why? No idea. Female executives? A rare breed. Female label heads, producers, curators, you name it, all harder to find than should be the case in 2015. That some of the top selling artists of the year are women, your Taylor Swifts, Adeles, etc, whose every moves are monitored by their legions of fans, maybe they don’t count in terms of influencing their listeners to find other bands or artists to appreciate and enjoy.
Mr. Iovine, maybe it’s time for you to stop having such an influential role in the music industry, if you’re incapable of making it easier for half the population to find new music. Because if women find it difficult to find new music without the help of men, you kinda suck at your job.