Unless the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can find a way to be more inclusive, it can “go to hell in a handbag,” according to rocker Courtney Love.
While there’s an annual debate over nominees and inductions, who is nominated and inducted is far from a silly matter. The Hall has a real economic impact on its chosen artists, Love claimed in a blistering op-ed in The Guardian.
Love said the Hall’s voting process hasn’t done enough to honor some important figures in music. “So few women are being inducted into the Rock Hall, then the nominating committee is broken. If so few Black artists, so few women of colour, are being inducted, then the voting process needs to be overhauled.”
She added, “Shame on HBO for propping up this farce.”
While Love acknowledged that this year included more women nominees than ever before, the Hall still made such icons as Kate Bush cool their heels, waiting for a chance. Artists can be nominated 25 years after their first record release. Bush was eligible as of 2004, but didn’t make the ballot until 2018, and is still not inducted.
In fact, just 8% of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are women. There’s a reason, Love pointed out.
“Of the 31 people on the nominating board, just nine are women. According to the music historian Evelyn McDonnell, the Rock Hall voters, among them musicians and industry elites, are 90% male.”
Black artists fared no better. Chaka Khan’s talent was hailed by Love, but even that dynamic force has yet to be recognized. “The Beastie Boys were inducted in 2012 ahead of most of the Black hip-hop artists they learned to rhyme from,” Love noted.
The reason why induction matters is that the Hall certifies greatness, thereby increasing revenue opportunities. Performance guarantees, the quality of reissue campaigns, and other benefits accrue.
“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 living they are able to make. It is one of the only ways, and certainly the most visible, for these women to have their legacy and impact honoured with immediate material effect.”
She concluded, “If the Rock Hall is not willing to look at the ways it is replicating the violence of structural racism and sexism that artists face in the music industry, if it cannot properly honour what visionary women artists have created, innovated, revolutionised and contributed to popular music – well, then let it go to hell in a handbag.”