THE ABSENCE OF WOMEN IN POPULAR MUSIC
Written by Hakeem Shabazz-Norris
Since the beginning of time women have faced trials and tribulations everywhere they go. From right to vote, the feminist movement, to equal pay, women have gone through hell just to be treated fairly. This battle, sadly, does not stop in the music industry. There are many problems that women face in the music industry, but today, we will focus on the under-representation of women in the recording industry based on a study conducted by the Annenberg School of Journalism, at the University of California.
The study conducted examined over 600 songs across the Billboard charts, many years worths of Grammy nominations and winners and did a full examination of the different analytics that comes in the music industry (songwriters, producers, etc …). Today, we will examine each conclusion that they made from their research and provide charts for a clearer understanding.
The first thing examined was 600 songs from the end of the year Billboard charts over the span of six years. Within those 600 songs, there were a total of 1,239 artists attached to those songs (including features). On average across the six years, about 22.5% of the artists were women. In 2016, women artists were at its highest peak, with 28.1%, but dropping to its the lowest number the following year with only 16.8% of the artists being women. Take a look at the chart below for a full analysis of the first study.
The next thing examined was the number of songwriter credits that varied between the genders. Out of the 600 songs, there were 2,767 songwriter credits. Now you may know that just because an artist has a song, it does not entirely mean the wrote the song themselves. An example would be Britney Spears’s single “Toxic”, which is performed by Britney Spears but was written & produced by Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg. Out of the 2,767 songwriter credits, 87.7% were male and 12.3% were female, which brings the ratio to a shocking 7.1 to one. The male with the most songwriting credits was Max Martin (Martin Sandberg) with 36 credits, while the female with the most credits with rapper Nicki Minaj (Onika Minaj) with only 15. Take a look at the two charts below which provide a deeper analysis into these credits.
One of the most shocking facts was to find out that that the gender ratio for music producers (across the charts for which the case was studied) was 49.1 to one! Which goes to a full 98% for males and 2% for females. Some prominent females producers like Wondagurl & Linda Perry put on for their gender, but is it enough?
GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS
For a while, the annual Grammy’s have been known to be kind of skewed to fit a certain demographic, but now it’s more obvious than ever. Between 2013 and 2018, a total of 899 artists were nominated for awards. Of those 899, 90.7% of those people were males, while 9.3% were female. These numbers bring the gender ratio to 9.7 males to every 1 female. The category that women were most likely to appear was Best New Artist & Song of the Year. But, in turn, were least likely to be nominated for Record of Artist of the Year. Take a look at the chart below for a deeper analysis.
If you want to read the full analysis of the case study, click the link below.