TuneCore and parent company Believe have partnered with MiDiA Research to release a new study on the underrepresentation of female creators within the music industry, revealing the challenges, experiences, and barriers they face in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Many women who are starting out on making a career in music receive little support from the industry’s traditional male-dominated infrastructure. That’s where TuneCore comes in: the study, BE THE CHANGE: Women Making Music 2021, compiles the opinions of hundreds of female creators from all over the world, including independent artists, songwriters, producers, and DJs. TuneCore’s mission is to expose the “why” behind the low percentage of female creators and figure out how we can do better.
Whether women are breaking records and climbing the charts, or just releasing their first single, we believe each and every female artist in the TuneCore community should be recognized for their hustle. We pledge to support and encourage women while amplifying their voices today and every day because #womencan.
The study also commemorates Women’s History Month, building on and adding to the excellent work already being done by a plethora of women-first organisations. Through the results of the study, we better understand the uphill journey they face, and hear from them first-hand about their experiences and perceptions, from direct forms of discrimination through to the endemic issues of under-representation, unconscious bias and damage to confidence.
The challenges and barriers facing women in the music industry are becoming more recognised thanks to the work of a growing number of networks and industry groups. However, these challenges and barriers are still there, remaining poorly understood and unsolved. Many female creators, when asked what they thought has changed in recent years, agreed that transparency and discourse have improved – but also hold the view that real, material change remains harder to pin down. Phrases such as “tokenism” and “lip service” are commonly used to describe some of the current changes but there is also a clear, bold vision of what real change should be.
To that end, the report sets out priorities for progress based on what women creators around the world say they need now and in the future, to make the music industry more welcoming to women, and so that women creators are better represented, recognised and rewarded for their talent, ability and achievements.
Some highlights from the study:
-Gendered expectations have skewed recognition and reward in the music industry: of 401 women creators around the world, 81% think that it is harder for female artists to get recognition than male artists
-Linked to this is the fact that there are not as many female role models for independent creators (81% agree, 49% ‘agree strongly’)
-Almost two-thirds of female creators identified sexual harassment or objectification as a key challenge, making it by far the most widely cited problem
-Sexualisation and objectification are a consequence (or symptom) of unbalanced power dynamics, as shown by the ‘big three challenges’: ageism (identified by 38%), lack of access to male-dominated industry resources (36%) and lower pay (27%)
-These major challenges are symptomatic of deeper issues of systemic male dominance permeating industry attitudes and behaviours – over 90% of respondents said that they had experienced unconscious bias – nearly half of them frequently
-Music composition, production and sound has long been connected primarily with men, so it is no surprise that the majority of female creators (63%) feel excluded from the composition and production, which makes this aspect of music creation highly ‘genderised’
-Although the overall representation of women in society has increased over the past few decades, 84% of women still feel that there exists a perception that women are expected to take on the primary role of parenting duties. The music industry wants female artists to be young – partly a symptom of the industry’s youth obsession, but also so that women become successful before they are presumed to decide to take on the role of motherhood
-To bring more female creators into the industry, women want changes to come from within organisations and from leaders across the music industry through diversity, policies and culture, with 42% stating this as a ‘top 3’ reason to encourage more women into the industry. Meanwhile, 38% of female creators want to see this organisational change underpinned by legislation
-The most practical starting point is in female-friendly resources and safe work spaces (34%) and 35% women creators want more change to come from learning and shared experiences, in the form of coaching and mentoring