Sara Zlanabitnig (c) osaka.at
Sara Zlanabitnig (c) osaka.at

In this series, mica – music austria and Austrian Music Export have collected the experiences and perspectives of women in the music business. No matter the categories, quotas or breakdown, the goal is 100% of us working together in the struggle for feminism. In this interview, flutist and co-founder of the Fraufeld association SARA ZLANABITNIG talks about her experiences in the music business. Sara Zlanabitnig has been a co-director of echoraum since January 2022.

Which people/institutions/support programs have helped you on your way in the music business?

Sara Zlanabitnig: First and foremost, colleagues and friends who have worked in the same field. I would also like to mention the BMKÖS start-up grant and Werner Korn (echoraum).

How and how did you gain experience in the music business? What were the biggest hurdles and how were you able to overcome them?

Sara Zlanabitnig: Learning by doing – by playing concerts. In addition, there were relevant summer courses like the Jazzseminar Schönbach and the Intertonale in Scheibbs. One hurdle was certainly the technique, but here too the motto was to learn by doing. The self-confidence to stand on various stages also had to be gained again and again.

Anthrazit by Sara Zlanabitnig
Anthrazit by Sara Zlanabitnig: listen on Bandcamp

In what way were you supported on your career path? Where would you have wished for (more) support?

Sara Zlanabitnig: Through people and their feedback on my music and my work. I would have liked more support at a young age, between 12 and 25, when I was very interested in freer forms of music, but didn’t really find any profitable offers for me as a flutist, apart from classical music. The Pink Noise Girls Rock Camp, for example, would have been just right for me!

Did you have appropriate role models around you to look up to?

Sara Zlanabitnig: Not really. Maybe at the youth center, but those were exclusively men who played music. As far as the flute is concerned, outside of classical music, not at all.

What role models are there currently with regard to women in the music business?

Sara Zlanabitnig: I think they are increasing, but there are – at least in some areas – still drastically too few. These fields include jazz, electronics, sound engineering, composition, conducting. A ridiculous fraction of the lecturers at universities in these fields are female! Questions that also arise in this context: Where are the female festival directors? How many venues are there that are run by women? Not to mention the percentage of women in sound and event engineering …


What can you pass on yourself?

Sara Zlanabitnig: I can bring a focus on gender balance in my role as an organizer. I want to encourage, enable, affirm.

Sara Zlanabitnig (c) osaka.at
Sara Zlanabitnig (c) osaka.at

What role does age play for you?

Sara Zlanabitnig: Age should play less of a role in the music sector than it normally does! To the extent that it plays a role, as a musician, for me: I become more relaxed with age.

What would you like to see in a more diverse music scene?

Sara Zlanabitnig: I would wish that there were no more event or festival programs where you have to look for and count women – only to be stunned to find that they make up less than 20%.

What questions have you been asked frequently that a man would never be asked?

Sara Zlanabitnig: Phew, I seem to have blocked them all out! : )

Translated from the German original by Arianna Alfreds.