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Report: Little change for women in music industry

A new report highlights gender imbalance between artists, as Annie Mac heads up initiative to improve gender parity both onstage and behind the scenes

By Anna Grace on 22 Feb 2019

Annie Mac Equalising Music Pledge

Annie Mac

A recent report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has documented the prevalence of women in the music industry over seven years, showing that little has changed for women in music and, in some cases, representation has worsened over the years.

The study looks at the gender of content creators across 700 popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts from 2012 to 2018, as well as the gender of Grammy award nominees from the past seven years.

Across all seven years, the report finds that only 22% of artists appearing on the year-end list are female. This figure hit a six-year low in 2017, with negligible improvement in 2018 (17% of artists). In 2018, not one woman in a duo or band appeared on the end-of-year chart.

The story is much the same for songwriters, with only 12% of writers credited on the chart being female. Only 2% of producers were female.

With regards to the Grammys, only 10% of all nominees across five categories over the past seven years have been female. The report also shows that female artists are more likely to be nominated for song of the year or best new artist, than for record or album of the year.

“The music industry is still embarrassingly lopsided when it comes to gender parity”

“The music industry is still embarrassingly lopsided when it comes to gender parity,” says DJ and presenter Annie Mac, recently appointed to head up a new gender equality initiative, the Equalising Music Pledge.

“We are all acutely aware of the enormous contribution women make to this business, and yet there’s still so much work to be done to ensure they’re embraced and championed,” says the DJ.

The pledge is the latest initiative from Smirnoff Equalising Music, a three-year, global campaign to accelerate gender parity in the music industry. The campaign is supported by UK booking outfit Coda Agency, and is endorsed by PRS Foundation’s Keychange Initiative, which encourages festival line-ups to achieve a 50/50 gender balance.

Many artists, executives and music industry professionals have brought attention to the lack of women in the music business over the past year, sparking campaigns and initiatives to address the gender imbalance, such as Smirnoff and Rinse FM’s all-female stage at Wireless festival, the inaugural Women in Live Music awards and the Latin American music associations’ gender equality declaration.

The report is the result of work compiled by the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative  and its founder and director, Professor Stacy Smith. A think tank linked to the USC Annenberg school for communication and journalism, the Inclusion Initiative examines diversity and inclusion across the entertainment industry through original research and sponsored projects.


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