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Unless the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can find a way to be more inclusive, it could “go to hell in a handbag,” according to rocker Courtney Love.
While there is an annual debate about nominees and inductions, who is nominated and inducted is far from a trivial matter. The Hall has a real financial impact on its selected artists, Love argued in a blistering op-ed in The Guardian.
Love said the Hall’s voting process has not done enough to honor some important figures in music. “So few women are accepted into the Rock Hall, so the nomination committee is broken. If so few black artists, so few women of color, are inducted, then the voting process needs to be overhauled.”
She added: “Shame on HBO for supporting this farce.”
While Love acknowledged that this year included more female nominees than ever before, the Hall still had such icons as Kate Bush cooling their heels as they waited for a chance. Artists can be nominated 25 years after their first record release. Bush was eligible from 2004, but did not get to vote until 2018, and is still not registered.
In fact, only 8% of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are women. There’s a reason, Love pointed out.
“Of the 31 people on the recommendation board, only nine are women. According to music historian Evelyn McDonnell, Rock Hall voters, among them musicians and industry elites, are 90% male.”
Black artists fared no better. Chaka Khan’s talent was celebrated by Love, but even the dynamic force has yet to be recognized. “The Beastie Boys were inducted in 2012 in front of most of the black hip-hop artists they learned to rhyme from,” Love noted.
The reason induction matters is that the Hall certifies greatness and thereby increases earning potential. Performance guarantees, the quality of reissue campaigns and other benefits arise.
“These opportunities are life-changing — the difference between touring secondary market casinos opening for a second-rate comedian or headlining respected festivals,” Love wrote. A Rock Hall induction “directly affects the lives they are able to serve. It is one of the only ways, and certainly the most visible, for these women to have their legacy and influence honored with immediate material impact. ”
She concluded, “If the Rock Hall is unwilling to look at the ways it replicates the violence of structural racism and sexism that artists face in the music industry, if it cannot properly respect what visionary female artists have created, innovated, revolutionized and contributed to popular music – yes, let it go to hell in a handbag.”