Women in technical professions in the music industry – Current work

The professions of sound, lighting and event technology are not in the center of music research – and even less so are the women who work in these professions. This results in a narrative of marginalization and headlines like “There Are So Few Women In Music Production, No One Bothers To Count” (Huffington Post, 2016). Such statements and media portrayals cause the everyday experiences, professional aspirations, successes and failures of women in these professions to remain invisible and the hegemonic myth of a male profession to continue to exist. Due to a naturalization of women and their bodies, there is a societal discrepancy between the perception and the reality of female capabilities in technical professions.
A bachelor thesis on this topic is now available in the section ‘Forschung’ (in German):

Nicht im Spotlight, Nicht auf der Bühne – Die Konstruktion des Habitus von Frauen in den technischen Berufen der Musikindustrie (2019)

by Annika Hachmeister

Annika Hachmeister tackles this topic and gives an insight into the self-conception and self-perception of women from this professional group through interviews with experts. Referring back to Bourdieu’s Habitus Concept, an important goal of the thesis is to examine and understand the everyday life of the women interviewed in terms of economic factors, social interactions and also the experience of power.

PDF (97 Seiten, 1,1 MB)

Books, theses, essays and journal articles are collected here.

Other current bachelor and master theses are represented with the following main topics and can be viewed and downloaded in the ‘Forschung’ section: Postcolonial perspectives on music trends, streaming and curated playlists, the effects of the restructuring of music on the net and sound design in the e-automotive industry.

New topics:

Who or what curates the playlists for streaming services like Spotify and what criteria play a role? Matthias Lund (2019) examines the mechanisms, intentions and effects for the composition of playlists in Spotify in his master thesis. “As the choice of music within the streaming services is not comprehensible for the individual anymore, filtering mechanisms become necessary. The conditions of their design, however, remain almost hidden from the listeners: whether an algorithm or human curators are responsible for the music selection, whether economic or cultural decisions are behind the selected (and thus excluded) music is hardly recognizable in everyday use and takes a back seat to the visual title lists of the playlists. … Consequently, a certain field spans around playlists between the necessity of curating in the sense of usability and the cryptic black box of factors that shape this very service.

Link to the work:Die ganze Welt der Musik? Kuratierte Playlists als Zugang zu Musik bei Streamingdiensten (2019)

Frieder Behrens (2019) examines the hype surrounding the album ‘Obaa Sima’ by Ghanaian-born Yaw Atta-Owusu aka. Ata Kak. His album initially went unnoticed after its release (1994), until American Brian Shimkovitz digitalized a copy of the cassette-released album and made it available to the online community on his blog ‘Awesome Tapes From Africa’ in 2006. “From the author’s subjective perspective, Brian Shimkovitz’s project fits into a trend that is characterized by a growing interest in music from formerly colonized countries. Under names such as ‘Analog Africa’, ‘Sahel Sounds’, ‘Mr. Bongo’ or ‘Habibi Funk’, to name only a few examples, Europeans or Americans publish old music by predominantly African artists. It is obvious that this raises postcolonial questions. The relevance of this work is also to be understood in this sense by critically discussing the phenomenon using Ata Kak and Awesome Tapes From Africa as examples.

Link to the work: Awesome Tapes From Afrika. Eine postkoloniale TRX-Analyse des Reissues von Ata Kaks "Obaa Sima" (2019)

Lukas Iden (2018) discusses whether the arrangement of musical genres in the genre map Every Noise At Once reproduces existing topophilic patterns or, on the contrary, breaks them up and is shaped by a new, location-independent logic for the organization and structure of popular music. “In comparison to the ethnomusicological system, the thesis aims to show the extent to which music in digital networks is structured differently and, above all, how these potentially new and different systems affect the topophilia of agents of popular music as well as the associated postcolonial structures and cultural essentialisms in music. Do these rearrangements actually have the potential to decolonize music, or is it the reproduction of a rigid Eurocentric outlook on music?

Link to the work: (Un-)Mapping Music. Die Kartierung populärer Musik zwischen EthnoLogik und Algorithmik (2018)

Fully electric vehicles are no longer niche products. Many well-known manufacturers from the automotive industry are currently presenting the first models and series of electric cars as an alternative to vehicles with conventional combustion engines. However, electric motors have the characteristic of being almost entirely silent. This is a problem because “in many situations they can be overheard and thus pose a risk of accidents. […] An EU regulation, which came into force in July 2019, solves the problem of silent electric cars with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS). This system generates an artificial engine sound so that the vehicle is acoustically perceptible to other road users. The development and design of this exterior sound in accordance with EU regulations is the task and challenge of the industry”. Alex Krause (2019) examines “what strategy manufacturers are using to implement the task of designing a synthetic sound for a car” and to what extent the sonic characteristics of the combustion engine still play a role in this process. It also predicts what the soundscape of a future city might sound like, with mainly electric cars on the streets.

Link to the work: Funktionale Klänge im Straßenverkehr – die synthetische Klangerzeugung beim Elektroauto (2019)