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The experiences of mothers in the industry are hard to stomach

I am a published songwriter, and I am a mother, and like many of my fellow music peers, I was deeply unsettled in discovering that the Women & Equalities Committee Misogyny in Music report recommendations were rejected by the UK government.

Aside from my utter disbelief that recommendations were rejected around the most threatening issues, including sexual harassment, bullying, and sexualisation, I was also completely deflated by the dismissal of the maternity and paternity support and childcare recommendations.

As a co-founder of Mamas In Music, set up in 2019, I am advocating for all mothers across the global music industry. Whether you’re an artist, writer, tour manager, A&R, or a music lawyer, freelance or employed, if you are in music and you identify with being in a mother role, then Mamas In Music is here for you. We provide essential resources that empower mothers to advance their musical careers by creating a shared network, generating opportunities, and offering financial and emotional support initiatives.

Other women told me that to have a baby someday would be “career suicide”

A few weeks after I gave birth to my daughter, it dawned on me just how blurred the lines were for me as a newly signed songwriter alongside the enormity of juggling a brand-new baby. I had just signed my first publishing deal that I’d worked so hard for and remember being terrified at the prospect of delivering the news to the team that I was having a baby. How long would I not be available for? Could I try and take my baby to a writing session? I hadn’t really thought these things through.

The reaction from my publisher was one of general well wishes, and I considered myself incredibly “lucky.” But in truth I was applauding a response that somewhere along the road I had learnt was not the norm. My default was to expect rejection. I was giving gratitude and credit for having not been penalised!

As a young woman in the industry, it was in fact other women who told me that to have a baby someday would be “career suicide” and that I simply had to choose to either be a mother or make a success of a music career. I left having a baby until the very last minute in fear of those learnt beliefs being the truth.

So, what does it really look like to try and maintain a career in music and be a mother, for those self-employed emerging signed or unsigned artists? Those who are trying to fund a tour either with children on board (or leaving them behind)? Those trying to get to a studio, leave a studio to get back to relieve child carers? Pay for childcare? Breastfeed or pump at a festival, a gig, or in a music label’s office?

The endless encounters that mothers in the community have shared with me are still hard to stomach

The endless encounters that mothers in the community have shared with me are still hard to stomach. Those that have been dropped by a label or management after news of a pregnancy, being told they wouldn’t fit the bill, “look quite right on stage” or “be able to do the job with a baby bump in tow.”

I know several high-profile mothers in the industry who have felt the need to hide their pregnancy and birth to protect themselves and their contractual agreements. No paternity or shared parental leave for self-employed fathers or same-sex partnerships is having major consequences, and I know far too many mothers who simply have not been able to justify “staying in music.”

Acting as an international hub for mothers, Mamas In Music’s work includes the UK’s first songwriting camp in London for mothers, Mother’s Write (in partnership with Girl Grind UK and We Are The Unheard) a three-day camp bringing writers and producer mothers together. Other key initiatives include monthly virtual and in-person meet-ups with industry speakers and educators, a chance to connect as a community and share challenges, network, and support. Production albums in partnership with BMG and MPath and a recent spotlight series with APM shining a light on key mother artists.

I love that Mamas In Music advocates for the grassroots of this industry. We are grateful to the visible celebrity mothers who are celebratory of their motherhood status, but we also want to make sure we are working hard for the undiscovered talent that may otherwise go under the radar because of out-dated discriminatory systems. We want them to flourish in an equitable industry, for them and their future offspring.


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IQ 128 out now: Take That, Germany, Metal & more

IQ 128, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

In the June/July issue, Gordon Masson goes behind the scenes of Take That’s This Life on Tour, and Derek Robertson charts the success of Switzerland’s leading promoter Gadget Entertainment as the company turns 30.

Elsewhere, Kerrang‘s Sam Law provides an in-depth report on the metal genre, and Adam Woods investigates one of the most robust music markets in the world – Germany.

Readers can also gain insight into the 2024 festival season, find out where some of the first New Bosses are today, and preview the forthcoming IFF (International Festival Forum).

For this edition’s comments and columns, Mamas in Music founder Mary Leay provides encouragement for mothers working in the music business, while MMF’s Manasvi Dethekar shares five takeaways from the association’s recent workshop in collaboration with Futures Forum.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month or click here to purchase your print copy.

Check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:


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