Report: Little change for women in music industry
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.
Rinse FM and Smirnoff team up for all-female Wireless stage
London based radio station Rinse FM and Smirnoff have teamed up to tackle gender inequality in the music industry at this year’s sold-out Wireless festival. This marks the latest move for Smirnoff’s Equalising Music campaign, which is seeking to redress the gender imbalance on club and festival lineups by 2020.
The news of an all-female lineup is particularly welcome after a rocky start to the year for Wireless. In January, the festival, promoted by Live Nation, faced backlash after only three women appeared on the lineup. Smirnoff and Rinse FM’s all-female lineup is a direct response to this. Sam Salameh, head of Smirnoff, comments: “This is about giving under-represented talent a platform, inspiring the next generation of women headliners and influencing the industry to enable genuine, long-lasting change.”
This new lineup will see a variety of female talent from across a number of urban music genres. It sees local talent from DJs like Barely Legal, Jyoty and Eliza Rose perform alongside talent from around the UK. Taking on hosting duties will be Rinse FM’s own presenters Julie Adenuga and Emerald.
“This is about giving under-represented talent a platform, inspiring the next generation of women headliners and influencing the industry to enable genuine, long-lasting change.”
The promotion of female talent is not a new endeavour for the radio station. Sarah Lockhart of Rinse FM has spoken about Rinse’s commitment: “Since its pirate beginnings, Rinse has been nurturing talent and pushing boundaries.
“It’s fitting to be teaming up with Smirnoff Equalising Music and Wireless to celebrate a wealth of diverse female talent and promote a shift in urban culture.”
The issue of a distinct lack of women in festival lineups is not exclusive to Wireless, nor is it a new concern. FACTS, a bi-annual study of festival lineups across the UK and Europe conducted by Female:Pressure has recorded dismally low percentages of female performers for a number of years. At its lowest in 2013, only 5.6% of artists in festival lineups were women.
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