By Tamara Shlesinger

IF you had asked me eight months ago what I had planned for the forthcoming year I would have told you all about my album launch plans, the tour across the UK, a trip to Cologne to play at Co-Pop with my band and the other festivals confirmed for the summer. Everything was lined up to promote my newly released album I'm Not Your Soldier. All artists will recognise this cycle of promotion.

But Covid-19 closed the doors on those activities – for all musicians. We have all suffered huge losses from the lack of touring and the subsequent loss of merchandise sales. Relying on income from digital streaming platforms such as Spotify (with a minuscule $0.004 per stream) does not a living make. Many artists have had to rely on hardship funds. Lots of us have felt lost about what our futures may now hold.

Even pre-Covid the statistics are pretty depressing when it comes to women’s representation in the music industry. Only 14 per cent of songwriters signed to UK music publishers and just 12% of producers registered with The Music Producers Guild are women. Added to this the lack of women represented on festival line-ups (see TRNSMT and Reading for reference) and the numbers paint a dispiriting picture.

I have been running my own record label for more than 15 years and I have had a number of my songs used on TV shows and films over the course of my career. Before the pandemic, I had found myself in the position to be invited to pitch music for adverts and TV shows. Seeing other revenue streams vanish coupled with my desire to help make a change for other female songwriters led to the creation of my newly launched project Hen Hoose – an all-female Scottish songwriting collective funded by Creative Scotland bringing songwriters together to collaborate across multiple genres.

There has long been a real need to change women’s position in the industry and the pressure is increasing. Key Change (an initiative launched by The Performing Rights Society to encourage festivals to book a 50/50 gender split for their line-ups) and the F-List (a new all-female directory of women in the music industry) are two new enterprises flying the flag for women. They’re making the industry stand up and pay attention to the action that is required.

Female songwriters need more recognition across the music industry and that is what has led me to set up Hen Hoose. Our line-up is rich and diverse. It includes award-winning and established writers from across Scotland such as: Karine Polwart, Emma Pollock, Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood) Amandah Wilkinson (Bossy Love), Beldina Odenyo (Heir Of The Cursed), Carla J Easton, Rachael Swinton (Cloth), Pippa Murphy, Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow), Suse Bear (Pictish Trail), Tamara Schlesinger (MALKA), Inge Thomson, India Rose and Elisabeth Elektra.

Hen Hoose is not just going to create new and exciting songs through collaboration, we’re also going to pitch those songs to TV and film companies to make more revenue for the artists involved in these difficult times. It is vital that we level the playing fields in the music industry, especially now as we navigate the challenges of the pandemic. The aim is for Hen Hoose to encourage other female songwriters to believe in – and achieve – success in this industry.

For more information on Hen Hoose go to