Hen Hoose initiative to support Scottish women songwriters in response to COVID-19

Female Scottish songwriters unite for Hen Hoose initiative in response to COVID-19

New collaborative songwriting project led by Tamara Schlesinger (MALKA) includes Honeyblood's Stina Tweeddale, Karine Polwart, Emma Pollock and more

With a lack of live gigs since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how financially challenging and uncertain a career in music can truly be. Women in particular have fewer opportunities to develop revenue streams to sustain a viable career in music than their male counterparts. Women are disproportionately underrepresented in every area of the music industry including songwriting, production, the live arena, streaming and radio play, while only 17% of women have music publishing deals.

In response, notable women in Scottish music are coming together for Hen Hoose, a new collaborative songwriting project. Funded by Creative Scotland and founded by Glasgow-based musician and lecturer Tamara Schlesinger, the project aims to address the underrepresentation of women in music and empower young women starting out in the industry.

Schlesinger – who currently releases music under the moniker MALKA – is also the Director of Tantrum Records, sits on the advisory board of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) and lectures at SAE Institute in Glasgow.

Female Scottish songwriters unite for Hen Hoose initiative in response to COVID-19

Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood) / credit: Marieke Macklon

Other women participating in the Hen Hoose project include Karine Polwart, Emma Pollock, Stina Tweeddale (Honeyblood), Amandah Wilkinson (Bossy Love), Beldina Odenyo Onassis (Heir Of The Cursed), Carla J Easton, Rachael Swinton (Cloth), Pippa Murphy, Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow), Inge Thomson, Suse Bear (Pictish Trail), India Rose and Elisabeth Elektra.

In an attempt to find new revenue streams for established songwriters, Hen Hoose will pitch new songs for TV and films and may also look to release the material commercially. With artists missing essential income from live gigs since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is for women to have opportunities to establish other revenue streams in music.

The new initiative comes as English academic Vick Bain launches The F-List, a comprehensive directory of women in music in the UK to address the same issues around underrepresentation. Hen Hoose will unite a wide range of talented and award-winning women Scottish artists, writers and producers to collaborate remotely on the creation of new music across multiple genres.

'There's no touring for artists right now, hardly any money to be made, so setting up this collective feels like the right response,' Schlesinger said. 'This a place for talented female songwriters to come together to write on new projects and support each other.'