Artist & Producer Tiffany Miranda Started ‘Girls Make Beats’ Org. To Disrupt The Male-Dominated Industry

If you saw the recent HBO 4-part mini-series ‘The Defiant Ones’, you will be familiar with the story of artist, producer and entrepreneur Andre Young, aka the eponymous Dr. Dre, and his rise to fame and fortune. Together with music industry mogul Jimmy Iovine, the two navigated a cutthroat industry, clashed with the changing culture, and defied the odds which ended up making them billionaires after the creation and sale of the ‘Beats by Dre’ brand to Apple in 2014.

In fact, when you think of famous DJ’s, producers, music moguls and industry pioneers, it is often well-known men who immediately come to mind, like Dre. Now, granted, ‘The Defiant Ones’ was specifically focused on Dre & Jimmy’s career paths, but what was missing from that show and the greater conversation about music and culture revolutionaries are the names of women, who often get erased or are rendered invisible either consciously or because certain roles in the industry are more likely to be dominated by men.

There have been a number of high profile female artists speaking out about the sexism and frustrating standards tat exist, which would not be known by the public unless they spoke out. Artists like Grimes, Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, and Bjork, for example. Those are names people are familiar with. However, there are also women behind the scenes who are disrupting the status quo to ensure there are more future opportunities for women and girls in music.

The Guardian recently spotlighted a group of new and independent female-owned record labels and music management and PR companies which were founded as a way to counter the industry’s gender disparity. Some of the founders also say it was their way to regain control of their artistry and image, which bigger labels tend to take away, especially for women when it comes to their image.

But it’s not just about what happens once an artist gets their foot in the door of the music industry, it is also about the journey leading up to it and what kind of representation younger generations see as they aspire to emulate their heroes. Which DJ’s and music producers are young girls looking up to knowing they can see themselves in that role? One woman who is working to make this happen is artist, producer and DJ Tiffany Miranda, founder of Girls Make Beats.

Tiffany has worked with some major artists like Rick Ross and DJ Khaled, and appeared on TV shows such as ‘American Idol’. Having been in the recording industry since she was 15 and having an enviable resume which has led her to the success she enjoys today, you’d think she might be a unicorn who managed to escape any industry sexism…but sadly no. In an interview with Billboard.com about why she started the non-profit GMB in 2012, she recalls the times being mistaken for an assistant or a male artist’s girlfriend.

“It was always so strange for people to come in and be like, ‘where’s the engineer?’ And I’m like, ‘you’re looking at her’. My hope would be for [other women] to never, ever have to experience even half the stuff that I went through,” she said, citing the reason for wanting to help future female DJ’s and producers.

GMB is based in Florida and helps girls aged 8-17 develop skills in audio engineering, music production and DJ-ing in summer camps and a range of workshops. A quick look through their Facebook page photo albums of past camps and events, you will see young girls learning to master the Solid State Logic board (SSL), the very same console Dr. Dre uses and talks about in ‘The Defiant Ones’, as the very tool which launched his producing career.

Tiffany says the desire to start producing came from experiencing the kind of sexism as a young women and artist that independent label owners in the Guardian article talked about.

“A lot of the direction I was getting was coming from men. ‘Oh, wear this, sing it like this, do this, be more seductive.’ I was like, ‘okay, this isn’t really me’,” she said. She did an internship at B.o.B’s studio and was determined to learn the ropes, but kept getting pushed into more administrative roles, rather than creative ones, which also frustrated her.

“I always teach my girls that there’s nothing wrong with rolling up your sleeves and doing the dirty work. It’s definitely necessary, but I also felt like I was getting treated unfairly, whereas I saw guys who were progressing and getting to sit in on sessions, and they came in after me. I’m like, ‘wait, I’m putting in my work, when am I going to get my chance?'” she said.

She worked against the sexism by learning what tools people like Dr. Dre were using, researched them, and eventually got her certification. Yet it would still shock some of the guys she that knew how to use certain programs like Pro Tools, proving the lack of women behind the scenes has well and truly become an ingrained stereotype. With Girls Make Beats, she is hoping to turn the tide of gender expectation.

Tiffany describes her organization as more of a movement, than simply a workshop girls take. And those who sign up love being involved.

“Little girls, they love making beats, they love DJing, they love editing and audio engineering. They’re just a) not exposed to it, b) if they are exposed to it, it’s not a comfortable environment, because they’re normally the only girl. So a lot of the reason why we’re here is to be an answer for a lot of those problems. To create an environment where we’re specifically targeting girls,” she said.

Tiffany’s role models are musicians such as Alicia Keys, who produces as well as writes and performs her own music, and Alessia Cara who is a huge inspiration for many young girls today, so she wants to ensure the younger generation has even more women in the industry to look up to and aspire to emulate.

“It’s great for me to show an 8-year-old how to use a DJ controller. But to me, it’s more impactful than that. It’s empowering her to say, ‘hey, I have a voice, I can make a difference. I can make beats’,” she said.

The effects of encouraging and empowering young girls in typically male-driven roles in the music industry are most definitely going to be far-reaching in the future. We have so much data available right now which shows what happens when men are the default, and women are the exception to the rule. All you have to do is look at the massive gender disparity in the world’s largest music festival line-ups, as Gabby Catalano over at F Bomb recently did.

“Although 50 percent of the 32 million people in the U.S. who attend music festivals are women, the gender of the performers at them hardly reflect their viewers. Coachella’s 2016 lineup included 168 male artists and just 60 female artists. Lollapalooza’s 2016 festival featured 124 male performers and only 47 female acts. Only 20 female artists appeared at the Ultra festival, while an incredible 198 male acts composed the remainder,” she wrote.

There are a number of factors she cites as the reasoning for this happening over and over again, year after year at music festivals, but sums it up like this: “because many women are conditioned to buy into gender stereotypes that hold them back, men end up dominating the industry.”

She also cites a handful of organizations who are creating change and raising awareness about the need for gender equality, and for talent to stop being seen as such a gendered entity as a whole. This is why women like Tiffany Miranda and her Girls Make Beats non-profit are so important – she is not just disrupting the status quo, but actively working to change culture.

“When you think about culture at large, culture is driven by music, a lot of the time. If that is the main component of culture, and music production is a main component of music, and women are not present in that very initial component that is so important, then what are we really doing?…Music is such a vehicle to have an impact on culture,” she said.

To learn more about Girls Make Beats and find out how to enroll your young girl for one of the classes, visit their website.

 

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  1. Pingback: Canadian Indigenous-Black DJ Empowering Marginalized Youth To Feel Represented In Media - GirlTalkHQ

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