Women are rare in the music industry, especially as producers: NPR

According to a new report, Nicki Minaj is one of the few top female songwriters in an industry where 57% of songs don’t have female writers.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


According to a new report, Nicki Minaj is one of the few top female songwriters in an industry where 57% of songs don’t have female writers.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The music industry is far from reaching gender parity. According to a new study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, women lag behind men as artists, but the problem is especially severe when it comes to areas such as songwriting, production and engineering.

All this despite stated attempts by the Recording Academy to try to expand women’s opportunities.

The study, which was funded by Spotify, looked at artists, songwriters and producers credited on songs that have appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart since 2012. By their tally, less than a quarter of artists on the chart in 2021 were female. Over the past ten years, that number has stagnated at 21%.

Over the past decade, women made up just 12.7% of songwriters. The study also counted producers in certain years and found that women made up a measly 2.8%.

In 2019, The Recording Academy launched an initiative called Women in the Mix to try to address the shortage of women in production and engineering positions, asking participating artists, labels, and managers to consider at least two women when hiring a producer or an engineer. According to the study, the effort has so far produced no measurable improvement.

“Industry solutions must do more than lip service to create change,” said Stacy Smith, founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, in a statement. “They need to target the underlying reasons for exclusion and have strong evaluation and accountability measures to ensure they translate into real progress.”

The study compared the progress of women in the music industry to the progress made by people of color. In 2021, 57% of artists were people of color, up from 38.4% in 2012.

Women of color in particular have made strides on the artist front – accounting for more than half of female artists in 2021, and overtaking white women as songwriters. But only one woman of color has been credited as a producer in 2021.

The report also continued its examination of the Grammys where the percentage of women nominated in major categories fell for the first time since 2019.

Alice P. Darby