The 2019 Oscars, the BRIT Awards and the Grammy – all of them had a strong female presence on-screen and hinted at the changing mindset towards gender equality in the music industry. However, when looking at the statistics behind the scenes, it was found that the music industry is still a male-driven sector and gender equality is still far off. The recent report by the PRS for Music Limited, a UK-based collection society, revealed that among the top 20 highest earning songwriters and music composers in the UK last year, only one was female.
PRS for Music Limited is the industry body that represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK, works to ensure that creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed or played in public, with over 6.6 trillion performances of music reported to the organisation in 2017.
Gender Equality- a long way away
Over 1,000 women in the UK registered as working songwriters and composers last year, yet the ratio of male-to-female songwriters and composers remains disappointingly flat year-on-year, with only 17% of PRS for music’s writer membership identifying as female, signalling slow progress across the music industry to address the need for gender equality in the profession. This figure was just 13% in 2011.
It’s not all bad news. Younger generations are experiencing a fairer industry than their older counterparts as they set upon a career in music; 42% of PRS for Music writer members under the age of 20 identify as female. Dua Lipa, who won a BRIT award and two Grammy’s this year, first entered the UK charts aged just 20 with debut single Hotter Than Hell in 2016.
This new generation of music creators potentially have a long and prosperous future ahead of them too, as the current average age of the highest earning top 10 female songwriters and composers is 47-years-old. Annie Lennox, Kate Bush and Chrissie Hynde are among the most played songwriters on UK radio.
Millennials Charli XCX, Jess Glynne and Romy Madley Croft (The xx), are joining the likes of Adele, Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch and Emeli Sandé as some of the most successful female songwriters in the UK: 40% of the top 10 highest earning female songwriters are under the age of 35.
“These statistics are indicative of widespread gender disparity across the entire UK music business and shine a light on the need for continued positive action to be taken to make our industry a fairer and more inclusive space. Whether through creating opportunities, breaking down barriers, improving education, or mentoring, we need to work together to ensure tomorrow’s songwriters have visible role models to aspire to,” Claire Jarvis, Director of Membership, PRS for Music.
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