It is a generally uttered phrase in recent time amongst women that ‘What a Man can do, a Woman can do better’. They have indeed been trying to match that up in different sectors and industries as far as Nigeria is concerned, with the exception of the music industry.
Yes, there are still some female artistes doing pretty good at the Top Level — with the likes of Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Niniola, Asa and Simi — but the numbers are no where near a competitive ground with the male artistes. This is one of the less talked-about — but important — topics in the Nigerian music industry today, and we wonder why female artistes shy away from this topic.
In a bid to understand why its been difficult for female artistes to rise up high in numbers to match the level of their male counterparts, HEP spoke with Nigerian Pop and R&B singer, songwriter and performing artiste, Tobiloba Mariam Adeyemi fondly known as ‘Toby Grey’.
The 27-year-old highlighted a number of reasons why she believes Nigerian female artistes find it difficult to reach the top level like the male artistes does.
“I cannot speak for all females in the industry in terms of the challenges that some or most might be facing and the obvious gap that you’ve highlighted in the question asked,” she began.
“The industry is male dominated which makes it easier for men to succeed. The ‘brotherhood’ perception and reality of the industry makes it difficult for women to get their foot in the door.”
Grey who has openly said she has never been sexually assaulted at any point in her career, added that several advances are made towards female artistes, which limits their growth when they overcome such advances for favours.
“There are also a lot of things that come with a woman’s popularity or fame. She has to work twice as hard and overcome occasional sexual advances made towards her for favours.”
“With our music industry, you might have to ‘kiss ass’ on several occasions and since we (women) don’t speak ‘bro code’, we have lower chances of getting the right network or connection required for success in the absence of ‘ass kissing'”
Aside those aforementioned reasons, Toby Grey also stated that the fans/public also play a role in this. According to the “You & I” singer, fans put women against each other:
“The public has a huge role to play here as well – as a matter of fact, this question is better suited to be answered by the ‘fans’ – some of whom are constantly putting women against each other. That ideology that one woman is better than the other exists equivalently in the ‘male world’ but for women its more apparent. The ideology is that there should be one QUEEN – this in my opinion has created unnecessary gaps where most women in the industry do not ‘support’ other women or collaborate and create opportunities for each other – something the men are better at.”
Closing up her argument, she mentioned the general issues artistes battle in a bid to get their music across to the right audience — Inadequate Finance!
“There’s the general issue of inadequate finances as well. A lot of these chart toppers and A list artistes have really good financial platforms in form of labels, management deals or sponsors – which a lot of talented artistes in the industry lack (male or female).
At the end of the day, I don’t have all the answers – if you ask me, na the fans I go ask,” she said.