13 Times Female Musicians Were Abused By The Cutthroat Industry
From the Harvey Weinstein scandal to Kesha’s legal battle with Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, or “Dr. Luke,” women in the entertainment and music industry have always faced sexism and the frustration that comes along with it. When the New York Times Presents documentary series released an episode about Britney Spears in February 2021, it sparked an important dialogue about the media's effect on a famous woman's personal and professional life. As more stories were revealed and documentaries were released, they showcased not only the media's cruel mistreatment of female celebrities but how the music industry played a major role as well.
It is no secret that the entertainment industry is full of stories and incidents of harassment and violence. While the #MeToo movement has made it apparent that the pervasiveness of this colossal problem extends to different sectors, the entertainment and media industry has undeniably been most confronted with a series of revelations from many victims. People were finally talking about female musicians and how men in the music industry mistreated them in the worst ways possible.
The following is a list of famous female musicians who've been mistreated by the industry over the years.
Source: Tim Roney / Getty ImagesWith four career Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards and five Soul Train Music Awards, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and the late, great Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes are legends in their field. However, despite their unmistakable presence in the R&B history books, T-Boz, Chilli & Left Eye all ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995, declaring debts of a whopping $3.5 million.
Source: CBSAs it turns out, quite easily – provided you’re familiar with the sneaky pitfalls of a juicy Hollywood contract. The group maintained that they’d copped a pretty unfavorable deal concerning their contracts with both their manager Perri “Pebbles” Reid and their associated labels LaFace Records and Arista Records. The trio has received less than 1% of the estimated $175 million in revenues that the group's music has generated around the world.
#3 Diana Ross
Source: Harry Langdon / Getty ImagesAfter her six-decade-long career and pioneering efforts that have shaped the landscape of music today, Ross hasn't received any major accolades. The artist behind huge hits like "I'm Coming Out," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Endless Love" has never received a Grammy award — she also hasn't been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act.
Source: Jack Vartoogian / Getty ImagesAfter her six-decade-long career and pioneering efforts that have shaped the landscape of music today, Ross hasn't received any major accolades. The artist behind huge hits like "I'm Coming Out," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Endless Love" has never received a Grammy award — she also hasn't been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo act.
#5 Darlene Love
Source: Jeff Kravitz / Getty ImagesBut music producer Phil Spector never put her name on the records — instead, he put the name of a girl group, The Crystals, on Love's songs. She didn't receive any royalties for her chart-topping work but finally received recognition in the industry in the 2010s.
#7 Ronnie Spector
Source: Anthony Barboza / Getty ImagesPhil and Ronnie Spector were married in 1968. However, Phil was an abusive husband prone to eccentric behavior; as Ronnie wrote in her memoir, Phil had a coffin in the basement of their mansion, a threat that he would kill her if she ever left him. In 1972, she escaped Phil’s mansion barefoot with the help of her mother, she wrote in her memoir.
Source: Blackground / Da Family
#11 Martha Wash
#13 Yoko Ono
Source: Michael Putland / Getty ImagesYoko Ono co-wrote "Imagine" for John Lennon's 1971 album Imagine, but Lennon didn't give her songwriting credit. Ono finally received songwriting credit for "Imagine" in 2017 once it was learned that Lennon pulled the majority of the lyrics from her 1964 poetry book Grapefruit.
Source: @yokoonoLooking at the original album, you can see John had no intention of masking Yoko’s inspiration. On the bottom left of the back cover, you find a quote from Grapefruit right there.
#15 Big Mama Thornton
Source: UMGWhen asked how she felt about it, she replied, "I'm still here to spend my hundred bucks."
#17 Taylor Swift
Source: BlackgroundFrom the vantage point of 2021, it is hard to imagine how a sexual-abuse scandal involving two of the biggest names in popular music would not derail the alleged abuser’s career. But Kelly thrived as an artist and producer in the years that followed; he would go on to sell a total of more than a hundred million records, including his own and those he crafted for other artists.
#22 Jane Jackson
Source: Frank Micelotta / Getty ImagesJackson's career tanked not long after, with MTV refusing to air her music in 2004. Jackson had to do damage control by "apologizing for her behavior" while Timberlake's career continued to thrive.
#24 The Chicks
Source: Harry Langdon / Getty ImagesPreviously known as the Dixie Chicks, they publicly criticized President George W. Bush and the imminent Allied invasion of Iraq, triggering a backlash. Singer Natalie Maines made the statement at a concert in London; she said the band were ashamed to be from the same state as Bush and that they did not support the war. At the time, the Dixie Chicks were one of the most popular American country acts.