A Call To The Record Labels

Turn over that favorite CD or record of yours. Who put it out? Unless you’re really cool, probably someone like Universal or Columbia. You know, those record labels almost anyone can name. While our favorite labels are home to, inherently, our favorite artists, they’re overwhelmed¬†– even the indie ones- by men. And I don’t just mean the artists. Most of the record labels in the music industry, major and minor alike, are owned and run by men.

Not only does that create staggering disparity in the executives that run the behind-the-scenes work for the label, but it also skews the selection of artists and the artistic process. Perhaps it is a tad assumptive to assert that if men are in charge of a label, they’re more likely to choose male musicians over female ones- but there’s truth to be found in that. I’ll admit that I’m more likely to go with a female choice for many things than a male choice. It’s natural bias- we select what we’re familiar with.

Sure, we have our fair share of female musicians getting signed to all kinds of labels. But we still lack them at the wheel.

Kaia Wilson of The Butchies shared this sentiment back in 1996 when she was so fed up with the lack of women working on the business side of the industry, she formed Mr. Lady Records.


“(Our music is) feminist music: strong women-identified women playing music. That doesn’t necessarily fall into a genre but describes the people playing. To me, we are women’s music.”

While specifically aiming to be a feminist record label that upheld the ideals of the ideology, Mr. Lady was a pioneer in its field. Unfortunately, the label went defunct in 2004. But in the timespan they were active, they made sure to voice their support for female musicians and women’s rights. In a statement they made it clear that they weren’t entirely opposed to signing male artists, however, they were indeed “a feminist business and part of that involves prioritizing work made by women”.

Home to the first two releases of the iconic Kathleen Hanna’s Le Tigre, the label was just beginning to tread the waters of the music industry. But they’ve certainly set a precedent that’s yet to be followed. You can check out a compilation playlist of the label’s artists below and download it for free over at their Bandcamp.

As mentioned in my very first post, we do have women in power at some of the more major record labels. Michele Anthony, for example, works as Vice President for Universal Music Group. But scrolling through the lists of women working in the music industry, you’ll find that that’s what most of them are- Vice President, Assistant, Co-whatever. And while that’s certainly impressive, we still need to take that final leap to the top.

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