Women still struggling to make it in music industry

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Men still dominate the music industry with only 30% of the artists featuring in the 2022 Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart being women. (Envato Elements pic)

PARIS: Men may still mostly dominate the music industry, but mentalities are changing, as 30% of the artists featuring in the 2022 Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were women.

This represents a significant increase from 23.3% in 2021, according to a recent report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

But women remain largely underrepresented in the major music charts, the American thinktank warns. Indeed, the overall percentage of female artists stands at 22.3% over an 11-year period.

This is a ratio of 3.5 men for every one woman. “There is good news for women artists this year,” said Stacy L Smith, the report’s lead author, in a statement.

“But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – there is still much work to be done before we can say that women have equal opportunity in the music industry.”

Ethnic minority women in music still have a long way to go, even though the numbers may suggest otherwise. In fact, half of the artists listed in Billboard’s Hot 100 Year-End Chart for 2020 were from ethnic minorities traditionally underrepresented in the industry.

And this would be good news, if it didn’t represent a decrease compared to the previous Annenberg Inclusion Initiative survey. At the time, 57.2% of musicians fell into this category.

More generally, gender inequality remains very strong behind the scenes in the music industry. Women remain relatively invisible in all sound-related technical occupations such as songwriting, production and music engineering.

Only 14% of songwriters credited on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were women in 2022.

In total, women comprised just 12.8% of the songwriters evaluated by the thinktank over the past 11 years — a ratio of 6.8 men for every one woman.

Female music producers are also rare. Some 5.2% of the songs analyzed by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative were produced, in part or in whole, by a woman.

Ethnic minority women producers are even more invisible than their white counterparts in the industry, representing just 26% of the female branch of the profession.

For Stacy L Smith, these statistics show how systemic gender inequalities are in music. Several initiatives have been launched in recent years to promote greater diversity in the industry, but these have proven to be relatively ineffective.

“Until women and men artists hire women songwriters and producers the numbers will not move,” she said in a statement.

“It’s more than just allowing an artist to credit themselves on a song, it’s about identifying talent and hiring women in these roles. That’s the only way that we will see change occur.”

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