When it comes to the way women are treated in the music industry, particularly in terms of equal pay, there is a lot of room for make-up compared to other fields. Take for instance the recent controversy over the GRAMMYs acknowledgement of women, president Neil Portnow’s misadventures at the microphone (plus a half-hearted attempt at an apology) and subsequent stepping down. According to the Los Angeles trio of sisters known as HAIM, who are generally considered one of the most popular artists in the world of alternative music, this reality of inequality was felt very recently and had an immediate impact on their inner circle.
Fader reports that in an interview with UK website Grazia Daily — titled “Why We Fired Our Agent Over Equal Pay,” the HAIM sisters explained the events that led up to their agent’s dismissal last year. They said that last year they discovered their fee for a festival appearance was ten times less than a male artist (presumably of equal or at least comparable stature).
“We had been told that our fee was very low because you played at the festival in the hope that you’d get played on the radio,” said Danielle Haim, the band’s guitarist and lead vocalist. She goes on to state that at the time, the band didn’t bat an eye at the size of the fee and agreed. When they discovered how much more the male artist was paid, they knew it was time to take action. Shortly after this, they fired their agent
Alana Haim, the band’s guitarist, talked about how important and lucky the sisters are to be able to unconditionally have each others’ backs. “That’s why I love my sisters so much,” she said. “I trust them with my fucking life. We’re all in this together. But it’s scary out there and it’s fucked up. It’s fucked up not even to be paid half the same amount. But to be paid a tenth of that amount of money? It was insane.”
Just because the band has fired their agent doesn’t mean that this sort of issue won’t arise in the future. In the interview the sisters explain how secretive festival fees can be. “It’s so hard to check: everything’s so secretive about how much people are getting paid,” Danielle elaborated and so eloquently and accurately puts it: “and that’s bullshit.”
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna