Closing The Gap

Haim found out they were paid 10 times less than a male act for the same gig—so they fired their agent

Alana Haim, Danielle Haim and Este Haim attend the 2017 Guggenheim International Gala.
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Christian Dior Couture

Women earn less than men in nearly every industry, including the music industry. The three sisters who make up the band Haim have seen this first-hand — and decided they'd had enough.

In an interview with Grazia Magazine, the band revealed that they were paid one tenth of what a male act was paid for the same Australian music festival. When they found out, they fired their agent.

Este, Danielle and Alana Haim told Grazia's Hannah Flint that they learned they had been underpaid last year. The trio did not reveal the name of the festival.

"We had been told that our fee was very low because you played at the festival in the hope that you'd get played on the radio," says Danielle. "We didn't think twice about it, but we later found out that someone was getting paid 10 times more than us. And because of that we fired our agent."

Alana Haim, Danielle Haim and Este Haim of Haim perform onstage at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall on January 26, 2018 in New York City.
Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARAS

The other act, they explain, was just one spot above them in the line-up. This dramatic gap is indicative of the larger climate that women in the music industry face, Alana argues.

"We're all in this together," she says. "But it's scary out there and it's f-----d up. It's f-----d up not even to be paid half the same amount. But to be paid a tenth of that amount of money? It was insane."

Danielle says that the most disheartening part is that they are unable to ensure that something similar doesn't happen again. "It's so hard to check: everything's so secretive about how much people are getting paid, and that's b------t," she says.

Indeed, women in a wide range of industries have advocated for transparent compensation policies and urged men to share their salary information with women so that they can understand if they are being underpaid, and how much they should negotiate for.

Danielle Haim
Andrew Benge/Redferns | Getty Images

Beyond pay, the band says that gender has also impacted how they dress and act on stage.

'In our early photo shoots, we'd just wear jeans and a T-shirt, because we were very protective,' says Danielle to Flint. "I feel like the music industry would maybe be like, 'Oh they're a fashion band.' Unfortunately, being a woman, in the early stages a lot of people think you can't really play. We were conscious that some people might not take our music seriously."

"What was really scary to us was feeling like if we acted a certain way, people would think we didn't play our own instruments," adds Alana. "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.'"

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