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Women in the Music Industry

We know women make music, and they sound amazing - but why are only 22% of top 100 recording artists women? (and dropping quickly).

In January the New York Times published the story “Gender Diversity in the Music Industry? The Numbers Are Grim.” On the heels of the uproar over Hollywood’s gender bias, Dr. Stacy L. Smith of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has announced the initial findings of a six-year study of Billboard’s yearly Hot 100 charts. The results are indeed grim. Just 12.3% of all the songwriters credited on those songs were women. Female producers carved out just 2% of those producing songs that end up on the year’s Hot 100. On a positive note, the inclusion of racially and ethnically diverse artists matches the general population very closely, with 42% representation on the Billboard charts in this time period, while being 38.5% of the U.S. Census.

The article went on to describe that despite the flashy headlines from major female singers, the number of Grammy nominees who are women is equally small- just 9.3%. As the Grammy Awards have gone on, gradually all of the Best Male/Female award categories have disappeared. Gospel music dropped them in 1990, Jazz in 1991, Rock and Rap in 2004, and Pop, R&B, and Country in the major overhaul of the award categories in 2011. Latin Music and the categories now merged under the American Roots genre have never had Best Male and Best Female award categories.

We looked at the Grammy awards in the Rock genre. For Best Rock Song, in the past 27 years there have only been four female winners, and only six females out of 138 nominees! Once Best Male and Best Female Rock Performance categories were merged in 2012, there have been zero female winners and only 3 out of 35 nominees were women.

We were curious and checked out the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending March 10, 2018. Out of these 100 songs, only 15 were sung by a lead female, and another 5 songs featured a female. However, these 20 songs were performed by only 13 different artists. Cardi B’s song “Bodak Yellow” which is still sitting in the Hot 100, was the first song with an unaccompanied female rapper to hit top 10 since 2014.

The numbers are clear: we have work to do! We’re passionate about connecting more women and girls with music. That’s why we’ve launch our #girlsmakemusic scholarships. Applicants must apply before March 31st, 2018. Get all the details here.