A discussion panel titled “Quand le Québec fait pop au féminin” was presented by SOCAN and Coup de cœur francophone at Montréal’s L’Esco on ;Nov. 6, 2018. The guests were SOCAN members Caracol and Laurence Nerbonne; Audiogram’s Alixe HD; and Carmel Scurti-Belley, in charge of creation and licences, and Judith Cossette, in charge of artist management, both at Dare To Care Records. The panel was hosted by SOCAN’s Chief of Québec Affairs, Geneviève Côté.
The objective of this round-table discussion was to define, and comment on, the issues faced by female pop artists in Québec who can barely reach even some semblance of parity in the music business, whether in media, onstage, or in the industry in general.
The discussion was captivating, despite the revealing metrics exposed by Geneviève Côté when it comes to the number of songs by female artists on the charts, or the quasi-non-existence of female record producers. For Caracol, who offered a short performance to conclude the event, “it’s also a question of confidence. We sometimes have a hard time taking credit for what we accomplish. We’re always looking for the validation of others, often men, to feel like we’re standing on our own two feet. We need more female role models who’ve taken their creative destiny in their own hands. I’m thinking of someone like Foxtrott, who does everything on her own, and collaborates with others. We need more like her.”
Laurence Nerbonne agreed about being self-confident: “We need to do what it takes to take our place as the producers of our own albums and — why not? — those of others. But on the radio, we have to fight against Rihanna, and the like, who have armies of collaborators. Achieving this on your own isn’t easy. We have work to do as women to become qualified as pop music producers. I’ve always said that things will start to change when a girl produces a guy’s album.”
As for radio play, Alixe HD said that “some musical directors think their 35-year-old audience doesn’t like female voices, and even hesitate to program two consecutive songs by female artists…”
The issue of a potential airplay quota of female songs was raised. Without clamouring for such a quota, Judith Cossette said she was saddened by the fact that there wasn’t a single woman in the house band at the Gala de l’ADISQ. “I think it would be nice to make an effort to invite more women for that kind of event,” she said, provoking a loud cheer of approval from the mainly female audience.
Creatively speaking, Carmel Scurti-Belley stressed the importance of song camps such as SOCAN’s Kenekt Québec event, “which allowed artists such as Stéphanie Boulay or Ariane Brunet to dabble in various pop formats.”
Caracol observed that “there are some changes beginning to take place on commercial radio as far as Québec’s pop is concerned, but when you look elsewhere in the world, the musical offerings are much more diversified than they are here, where we still have a strong bias towards folk.”
In short, a lot of things to ponder that will hopefully lead to more discussions during Coup de cœur francophone, and beyond.