lifeblood: listlogs: 2006v09n090-news


ig-news-digest      wednesday, december 13 2006      volume 09 : number 090

today's subjects:
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  [ig-news] afterellen article excerpt  [sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.co]

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date: tue, 12 dec 2006 22:51:10 +1100
from: sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.com>
subject: [ig-news] afterellen article excerpt

hi folks,

here's an excerpt from a long article on afterellen.com called "coming out in
the music industry: then and now".  lots of amy content.  i've snipped a lot, so
if you want to read the whole thing please go to:
http://www.afterellen.com/music/2006/12/musicindustry.html

cheers,
sherlyn

- ---begin forwarded article---
coming out in the music industry: then and now
by shauna swartz, december 11, 2006

[...]

in contrast, lesbian musicians have had to tread a narrow path in determining
whether to reveal their sexual orientation. although amy ray and emily saliers
of the folk/pop duo the indigo girls were generally known to their fans to be
gay, they rarely spoke about their identities as lesbians before they became
successful. their breakout, multiplatinum album, indigo girls, was released by
epic records in 1989 and included the iconic song "closer to fine." the album
won a grammy for best contemporary folk album.

"for us, the path that we chose was just to try to be ourselves," ray explained.
"there's no other way we could've done it; we just felt compelled. but if you
aren't out, and you're closeted and lying about it all the time, you don't
really get an audience that way either, because everybody questions your
integrity and your honesty."

ray, who founded her own record company, daemon records, in 1990, was once
approached by members of a band from her label who were worried about what to
say in interviews if asked about being gay. she said other groups have suddenly
had these concerns when they're about to face the press, even when they've never
hidden their sexual orientation before.

she laughed and recalled telling them: "well, you have sideburns, basically, and
tattoos all over your neck, and you slick your hair back. i'm not sure if you're
going to be able to get around this thing. i tell them to embrace it, because
they'll be better off. they'll at least get a segment of the population that
thinks it's a good idea to be true to yourself. and i don't think it's just
queer people who want to see queer people being honest."

ray said that her record label has always represented a diversity of artists,
although she did want to make sure it would be "an easy place to be if you're
queer." she added that even the straight artists who appear on her label are
somehow queer, because they tend to be somewhat subversive to even want to be a
part of an outfit given its progressive political orientation. some of the
artists on daemon include the folk-pop trio girlyman, folk music legend utah
phillips and the athens boys choir, a transgender spoken-word artist.

[...]

at the end of october 2006, sony bmg became the first - and so far only - major
label to announce the creation of a division exclusively for lgbt artists,
partnering with wilderness media's matt farber to launch music with a twist.

[...]

sometimes it's hard to get past that defining role. even a band as commercially
successful as the indigo girls has had to wrestle with the limitations. "we have
a great career," ray said, "but there's always been a glass ceiling for us,
where you just don't get past a certain point."

while it may be easier today to be openly gay in the music industry than it was
even just a decade ago, homophobia persists, often in subtler ways. "i think
it's less likely that if someone's really happening that a label is going to be
like, no, we're not going to sign them because they're gay,'" ray theorized,
"but it's harder to get to that place, where people are looking at you for your
music and not just your lifestyle."

[...]

ultimately, the record industry is a business, concerned with its bottom line
just like any other enterprise. "the way record companies are, they're just
reacting to everything that's going on in society. they're not the maverick
vigilantes they use to be," ray said. "now everybody's just constantly reacting,
trying to cash in. so if they think being gay is worth a lot of money, they're
going to go out and find a bunch of gay people and they're not even going to
care about the politics of it. it's so apolitical, it's ridiculous."
nonetheless, ray said that she sees music with a twist as a positive sign.

according to wilderness media, research indicates that 15 million adults in the
united states currently self-identify as lgbt, a demographic the company
describes as "intensely brand-loyal, with an estimated $610 billion in annual
buying power."

traditionally, lesbian artists have often been concerned about whether being out
limits their market. "if they're out lesbians and they're just playing to
lesbian crowds, they're going to face a lot of bias because the industry will
say they're singing to a demographic that's way too small," ray explained. "it's
all based on numbers, and traditionally the lesbian demographic isn't one that
spends a lot of money on entertainment, whereas the tween demographic, ages 11
to 16, is a $10 billion industry. ironically - which is a good thing - it has
nothing to do with being homophobic. you have to be able to appeal to a wider
demographic."

[...]

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end of ig-news-digest v9 #90
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