Why we need to stop invalidating young female artists
This essay reflects the thoughts and opinions of the author.
Very rarely does the music industry treat young female artists fairly. It often turns them into something they never set out to be—or paints them into an image far from the truth.
Disliking female artists *just* for being female is a concerning phenomenon, and it goes beyond internet trolls hiding behind a computer screen. Journalists frequently ask misogynistic questions during interviews and well-known male musicians publicly belittle successful women. Totally not fair, considering that female songwriters, who make up only 12.7% of the industry, put just as much effort into their music as any other artist. For their success to be chalked up to "connections"—or even worse, "calculated moves"—is invalidating.
Take Claire Cottrill, better known as her stage name Clairo, for example. Her song "Pretty Girl" went viral on Youtube in 2017, which led to a record deal. But the public soon turned on her, calling her an "industry plant" after they discovered that her father was an executive at her label. (In short, an "industry plant"—derived from rap culture—is an artist who has an unfair advantage in the industry, whether it be a familial connection or wealthy marketing team.)
But let's set the record straight: After "Pretty Girl" blew up, *several* record labels offered her deals. She chose the one her family had connections to (because, let's be honest, who wouldn't pick a label they already know and trust?).
Allegations like this can be damaging to an artist's reputation. If people view artists as inauthentic individuals, their lyricism won't be taken seriously either. Clairo says it best, "Because I think that what this industry does a lot is drain young women of everything until they're not youthful anymore."
Claims like these are almost solely against female musicians. Not only is that unfair, but it's exhausting for women to have to overcompensate.
There were similar misogynistic allegations made against Olivia Rodrigo. People attacked Olivia for the lyricism and themes in her album, Sour. Interviewer Zach Sang said, "I watched Olivia Rodrigo totally go after a single human being for entire album."
zach sang contributing to the untrue/harmful narrative that olivia rodrigo, a young female songwriter made and released her album out of pettiness and an intention to “go after someone”,when really sour was an expression of a difficult period of time olivia went through and she’s— temi (@darlinglivs) June 19, 2022
Teenage girls are allowed to have feelings and should be encouraged to express themselves through therapeutic outlets like songwriting. Olivia Rodrigo stays true to herself and doesn't shy away from more challenging subjects, such as jealousy and insecurities.
Olivia Rodrigo tells The Guardian, "I'm a teenage girl. I write about stuff that I feel really intensely—and I feel heartbreak and longing really intensely—and I think that's authentic and natural. I don't really understand what people want me to write about; do you want me to write a song about income taxes? How am I going to write an emotional song about that?"
Unfortunately, Clairo and Olivia aren't the first females we've seen treated unfairly, and they certainly won't be the last. It's disheartening to see these girls experience invalidation when their artistry is built off intuition and authenticity.
The brave act of raw self-expression can connect us more than we know. Challenging stereotypes and misogynistic claims is crucial—not only for young women in the music industry, but for teenage girls everywhere.
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