Damned Damsels: Fighting For Gender Equality In The Music Industry

Meghan Conwell (left) and Jordyn Benjamin (right) — Photo by Damned Damsels

A new study from the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of California, revealed that the gender gap in the music industry still exists. According to the study, in 2017, only 16.8 percent of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 were women while 83.2 percent were men.

Meghan Conwell, a graduate student at DePaul University who also works at Red Frog Events as Vendor Credential Coordinator, and Jordyn Benjamin, Vendor Relations Senior Coordinator in the same company, decided to make something about it. Inspired by the current climate in the world regarding the movements #TimesUp and #MeToo, Conwell and Benjamin launched Damned Damsels, a company for women in the music industry that seeks to provide support, opportunities and a safe community for rising industry professionals as well as connecting and supporting those already in the industry.

“Damned Damsels is offering a community here in Chicago for women to come together, share their stories, express their frustrations and concerns and hopes for what the industry can look like in the future. We are going to be hosting pop-up shows around Chicago, as well as hosting panels and a mentorship program as well,” Conwell says.

The idea of the company is also Conwell’s thesis project at DePaul University, where she currently studies a master’s in Digital Communications & Media Arts. “Both me and Jordyn have around almost eight years of experience in the music industry. When I was ready to take my Thesis Class at DePaul, I chose our “dream,” and we gradually realized it,” Conwell says.

Jordyn Benjamin, a former student of Marketing Communications at Columbia College Chicago, believes that funding is the most challenging thing about starting a company. Only in 2017, women got 2% of venture capitalists dollars. “The music industry is already extremely competitive and intense, and often seen as a “boys club.” We, two women who want to create a company for women… that is a real challenge,” Benjamin says.

Both Conwell and Benjamin believe in social media as a powerful tool to advertise their company, mainly because it is free and almost everyone has social media accounts. They are currently on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and they are sharing content about influential women in the music industry. “Our initial mission is to create and foster a community for those who identify as a woman and want to pursue a career in the music industry. The easiest way to find those people, is often, social media.”

Since Damned Damsels was recently launched, social media has become the first strategy to advertise the company. “We have not reached out to any press outlets or anything. Hopefully, we will have marketing materials for our events soon and can start using print ads and digital ads as well,” Conwell says

Damned Damsels wants to be a multi-faceted music company. As the primary goal, Conwell and Benjamin want to open a woman-owned and operated music venue in Chicago, as well as a booking and management agency for musicians. “We are currently dipping our toes into consulting for local Chicago musicians now, so we are very excited for the future.”

As part of their activities, Damned Damsels will host an event on April 27 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the issues surrounding women in Chicago’s music scene.

Instagram: @DamnedDamsels