producer, producers
[Photo by: Drew Patrick Miller/Unsplash]

While it’s no secret that women and minority groups are often underrepresented across the board in regards to the music industry, the statistics to back it up are shocking. In a new study conducted by USC Annenberg, a group of professors and researchers analyzed diversity across a spectrum of over 700 popular songs from 2013 to 2018.

The study itself was conducted and compiled by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Dr. Katherine Peiper, Hannah Clark, Ariana Case and Sylvia Villanueva.   

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“The aim of this study was to examine the quantitative and qualitative realities of working in the recording studio,” the report reads. “Qualitatively, the investigation takes a deeper dive into barriers and opportunities women experience in the recording studio.”

According to USC, roughly 28 percent of artists creating popular music at the time of research were women. Additionally, women are typically performing as solo artists as opposed to in bands, their research reveals.

However what is even more mind-blowing than the underrepresentation of artists, is the low percentage of women actually working the booth. According to USC’s studies, there is only one woman producer for every 47 males, making their presence about 2.1 percent. 

The research additionally calls out the Grammys. While more women won in 2019 than in recent years, the research still shows that over time, men were being nominated and winning at in a much larger capacity.

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However, the study doesn’t just stop at women in positions of power in the music industry. USC Annenberg’s data shows that people of color, while they dominate (and are continuing to be represented) on the charts, very few are working as producers — at least for women of color, anyway. In fact, out of 871 producers, only four were women of color.

As for why these stats show such low numbers, a variety of reasons come into play. 32 out of 75 women said that their views and abilities are often discounted. Following that, many also said that they were sexualized and stereotyped.

“The responses in this category illuminate that simply being a woman in music can serve as a barrier to career success,” the report reads. “21 percent of women reported being sexualized (16), which included being the subject of innuendo, undesired attention, propositioned, valued for their appearance, and even an awareness or fear of being personally unsafe in work situations. One-quarter of interviewees (19) stated that gender stereotypes guided others’ expectations about their behavior, treatment, or opportunities they were given.”

Additionally, many interviewees say that their age, the connection-oriented nature of the industry and the lack of financial stability were all factors into why it was hard for them to break into their career.

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So how do we combat the underrepresentation of minority communities in the music industry? While it is no easy task, the folks at USC Annenberg say that creating environments that give women a platform is the first step.

“These include creating environments where women are welcome and generating opportunities for women to use their skills and talents,” the folks at USC Annenberg say. “Other solutions suggested are to ensure that role models and mentorships are available to women, and for the industry to commit to considering and hiring more women. The report also illuminates the work of different organizations or initiatives that seek to address the barriers identified in the study.”

You can check out the full report of their findings here.

What do you think the music industry can do to support women, especially women of color? Let us know in the comments below.

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