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Trixie Mattel & Monet X Change Call Out ‘Glass Ceiling’ for Drag Music

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For all the steps forward the music industry has taken when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, Drag Race stars Trixie Mattel and Monét X Change say there’s still a ways to go when it comes to drag musicians.

During the latest episode of Mattel’s podcast The Bald and the Beautiful With Trixie and Katya, Mattel and X Change compared notes about life as a drag musician. When Mattel complimented her guest on her musical talents, X Change asked the host whether or not she felt there would ever be recognition for drag artists at the Grammys.

“I recently have been taking a break from music because I feel the glass ceiling so fiercely,” Mattel said in response. “I think I’ve just gotten to do everything that I’m going to get to do, because we’re only ever taken seriously about one month a year. And it kind of takes the wind out of your sails. I want to make music, but if I don’t have this wig on, no one will pay attention. But because I have this wig on, no one will take it seriously. So then what?”

X Change agreed, saying that she often asks herself why she continues to make music when the industry doesn’t invest in drag artistry. “I often feel like, ‘Why am I even doing this,’” she said. “‘Why am I even putting all of this time, effort, money, everyone’s f–king patience into this thing?’”

Mattel then spoke about the cost of trying to sustain a career in music as an independent artist. “A cheap music video is, like, $30,000. And that’s when the directors are like, ‘Well, we’re not going to have food on set, and you won’t have a ride, and there’s no air conditioning,’” she explained.

X Change jumped in and added that music videos are also billed as being exceedingly necessary in order to maintain a steady following. “There’s such a machine where it’s like, ‘Well, you have to do the music video so it gets more press, you can talk about this thing …’ and it’s like, one thing does lead to another, but we’re independent artists. I have to self-fund all of this. There’s no label behind me pumping all this money into a single and into a project.”

Even with backing from a major label, Mattel pointed out that the industry is still brutal for up-and-coming artists. “I know artists who are signed, and I know about their deals. The record label can collect 80% of what they make, including touring and merch,” she said. “They could be like, ‘Here’s $2-3 million … but it’s an advance, which means that it goes against five album sales. So either you make us that much money or, at a certain point, you owe us an extra album because you didn’t make good on that amount.”

Each of Mattel’s two studio albums and two EPs — 2017’s Two Birds, 2018’s One Stone, 2020’s Barbara and 2022’s The Blonde and Pink Albums — have charted on Billboard‘s Top Album Sales chart, with The Blonde and Pink Albums serving as her highest debut (No. 48). X Change, meanwhile, released her debut EP Unapologetically in 2019, and is currently promoting her forthcoming two-part album Grey Rainbow, with the first volume set to release Friday, May 16, via PEG Records.

Check out the full conversation between Trixie Mattel and Monét X Change below:

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