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Jimmy Iovine thinks it's difficult for women to find music

Melody Lau

Yesterday was International Men’s Day, and Jimmy Iovine had one hell of a way to celebrate it. The co-founder of Interscope Records and Apple Music went on CBS This Morning with R&B singer Mary J. Blige to talk about a new ad for the streaming service starring Blige and actresses Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington.

Some may remember a similar Apple Music ad starring the three women that aired during the Emmys in September, almost stealing the spotlight from the televised event, garnering praise for refreshingly featuring three influential women of colour — a fourth if you include the commercial’s director, Ava DuVernay. But enter Iovine, who clearly showed up to the interview ready to rain on everyone’s parade.

When Gayle King asked Iovine what the story behind the commercial was, this is what he had to say: "Women find it very difficult at times — some women — to find music … and this helps make it easier." (Watch the full interview here.)

Go ahead. Re-read that sentence and tell me if that made any sense to you because, as Justin Trudeau would point out, it’s 2015. What makes you think music is any tougher for women to discover than it is for men, Jimmy Iovine? Inequality exists in many aspects of women’s lives — income, sexual and reproductive rights and general respect — but resources to music is not one of them. 

Iovine continues to explain that the service is curated by "real people," slash "algorithms with a human touch," and I can only assume in both those cases, he equates humans to men only because, again, apparently women find it difficult to find music so how can they possibly put together a playlist, right?

Let’s be clear: the commercial was great. The concept of representing women as music lovers who turned to each other for good times and good tunes was phenomenal and it rightfully received a lot of attention. So we can thank Iovine for providing the opportunity for these women to shine. But boy does he have an antiquated way of explaining how he came up with idea.

"I just thought of a problem, you know, girls just sitting around talking about boys, or complaining about boys," Iovine continued. "They’re heartbroken or whatever and they need music for that right? So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everybody has the right list or knows a DJ or something so you need great lists."  

This is how a boy in an elementary school would describe female behaviour. And those DJs and great lists you speak of? Here’s one: the internet, which has revolutionized the way people of all genders discover music. From YouTube to various other services that provide curated playlists, it is easier than ever to find good music.

The internet has also helped forward the conversation in feminism and music, which is something Iovine may have grasped onto (without actually reading into). With wider platforms and easier ways to voice opinions, the conversation of feminism, gender identity and intersectionality have picked up immensely over the past few years and it’s more important now than ever to continue carving out a space for women and female-identified people.

Iovine’s display of mansplaining threatens to discredit the female gender. (He has since issued a sort-of apology.) Furthermore, we need to stop viewing music as a market that solely belongs to the "passionate audience of millennial males." Music belongs to all of us equally and it's evident when we see people like Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein write one of the year's best memoirs about being a music fan, or Taylor Swift showing off her fandom by inviting all her favourite artists onstage or, I don't know, by talking to any woman about music. 

Jimmy Iovine is providing a "new" solution to a problem women have never had.