HAIM, an American pop-rock band, fired a booking agent after finding out they were paid 10 times less than a male artist at the same music festival last year.
In a new interview with Grazia magazine, Danielle Haim explained that she and her sisters, Este and Alana, were told their fee was low “because you played at the festival in the hope that you’d get played on the radio.”
Though she said they didn’t question the explanation, they later learned that an unnamed male artist was paid considerably more and immediately took action against their agent.
“That’s why I love my sisters so much. I trust them with my f—ing life,” Alana Haim said of the decision to find a new representative. “We’re all in this together. But it’s scary out there and it’s f—ed up. It’s f—ed up not even to be paid half the same amount. But to be paid a tenth of that amount of money? It was insane.”
A representative for the band did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since their debut, the Grammy-nominated group’s album “Days Are Gone” has charted in the top 10 around the world, including No. 1 in the UK.
HAIM’s experience highlights a serious problem facing many women.
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Women in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, which amounts to almost $900 billion every year, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Though the gender pay gap has been steadily closing the past three decades, wage inequity between men and women is rampant in virtually every business — including the music industry.
In 2017, Forbes named its annual list of the 25 highest-paid musicians in the world, and only five were female. One possible reason? Alana Haim said that some people cast doubt on an all-female band’s talent.
“I still get so many people asking me, ‘So who really writes your songs?’ A lot of people automatically accept the fact that an all-male band writes their own songs, but when they see an all-woman band they’re like, ‘Oh there must be a man behind it, fueling their fire,'” she told the magazine.
To that end, a recent study by University of Southern California shows that not only are female artists vastly underrepresented on stage, the gender disparity is even wider behind the scenes.
In analyzing 600 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 released in the last six years, the study found 22.4 percent were by female artists and only 12.3 percent of females were credited as songwriters.
“Unfortunately, being a woman, in the early stages a lot of people think you can’t really play,” Danielle Haim told Grazia. “We were conscious that some people might not take our music seriously.”
But the group remains optimistic. According to the interview, they hope stories like theirs can spark public debate about the larger issue that’s plaguing industries everywhere, and with their continued success, they could change the narrative about what it means to be a female rock band.
HAIM is currently on their Sister, Sister, Sister tour.