It's been a big year for women in music. From Lady Gaga's triumphant performance of "Til It Happens to You" alongside sexual assault survivors at the Academy Awards in February, to Beyoncé's complete and utter internet shakedown with Lemonade in April, and Taylor Swift making bank despite not releasing an album this year, there were plenty of moments that had us cheering for the ladies like never before. Now, Billboard is honoring those women and others at the 2016 Women in Music celebration, and the magazine created a short film for the occasion that's a must-watch. Called Women in Music: Inspiring a Generation, the video features some of the fiercest and most influential women around, from singer-songwriter Tori Kelly to first lady of the United States Michelle Obama, discussing the ways women changed the conversation in music this year and what that means for all women. As FLOTUS says, "Women have been rising to the top of just about every industry in this country, and that’s particularly true of the music industry." In the video, panelists discuss the ways that female musicians are highlighting important issues, like sexual assault, equal pay, and mental illness, not just in their music but in interviews and on social media. These musicians opening the door for those conversations, in song and otherwise, gives women everywhere a platform to ignite change, and that's a wonderful thing. Singer Tori Kelly discusses the obstacles she faced early in her career and how she finally learned to do things on her own terms, no matter how challenging it was at times. "All these doors were getting closed. And I was just like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna start writing my own music, producing my own music, mixing my own music, just literally putting it out there onto YouTube or whatever platform was in front of me.'" Kelly is among a group of women in music today who are breaking the mold simply by being who they are and taking charge of their careers, public image, and relationship to their fans. The success of Kelly, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and others also paves the way for women to take the reins behind the scenes in positions of power, another win for all women. Ultimately, when young girls see women take the stage at awards shows and post pictures on Instagram with a message that it's okay to be who they are and that they can achieve anything, that's where the real change will unfold. Music is the universal language we all can hear, and the trailblazers of 2016 are doing their part to create the positive change for women we desperately need. Check out the short film, below.
Billboard's Women in Music special airs on Lifetime Monday, December 12 at 9 p.m. EST.