Women in the Music Industry Still Face Harassment, Study Finds

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Women in the Music Industry Still Face Harassment, Want More Recognition: Research Shows

Women in the Music Industry Still Face Harassment, Want More Recognition: Research Shows

The first annual “Women in the Mix” study, which was conducted by the Recording Academy, Arizona State University (ASU), and Berklee College of Music Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship on Tuesday, revealed the findings. The goal of this research was to learn more about and better understand women's experiences working in the music business.

According to the study, women in the music industry still face harassment, are not taken seriously enough, and want more recognition for their work. The study also found that only 23 percent of respondents have ever worked with a female producer, and only 28 percent have ever worked with a female A&R representative. "Inclusive representation of all genders is essential to create a more equitable music industry," said committee chair Tina Tchen in a statement. "We must work together to identify and remove the barriers that have prevented women from achieving their fullest potential in this field."

The study also found that, of those surveyed, 49 percent had experienced some form of gender-based discrimination or harassment in the music industry, and that only 11 percent of respondents felt that their work was always taken seriously. "This study confirms what we have long suspected - that women face significant obstacles and challenges in the music business," said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the Recording Academy. "We need to do more to promote diversity and inclusion throughout all levels of the industry, and we must work together to create a safe and equitable environment for everyone."

The study found that one out of every two respondents (50%) said they had not chosen to have children or had fewer than they had desired because of their job. Only 11% of respondents said their work was always taken seriously.

The study also looked at the experiences of women and non-binary people of color, who face an even greater level of discrimination and harassment. The report found that 60 percent of survey respondents who identified as black, Latina, or Indigenous had experienced some form of gender bias or harassment.

More than 1,600 people from all over the United States took part in the new research. Respondents included those working at all levels of the industry, ranging from behind-the-scenes to front-and-center, and in a variety of capacities.

Here are the most important findings from the research:

  • Over three-quarters of respondents (78 percent) said they had not been treated differently because of their gender in the music industry, and more than 56 percent felt their gender had influenced their career prospects in the sector, with musicians and producers reporting this most frequently at 65 percent.
  • Women are exhausted and underpaid. Eighty-three percent of respondents have two or more jobs, 24% work between 40 and 51 hours per week, and 28% work over 50 hours per week. Only 36% of respondents make less than $40,000 each year, with almost half believing they should be further along in their careers.
  • MThe study revealed that music creators and performers earn the lowest incomes and have the greatest job dissatisfaction among the various employment categories. Among those who identified as music creators or performers, 48.6 percent said they made less than $40,000 per year. According to the poll, about 16 percent of those who responded said they felt like songwriters. This percentage is 15 percent higher than the overall responding audience. Approximately 57 percent of music creators opined that they should be further along in their careers, significantly less than those working in music education (73%), event/tour production, and management/promotion.
  • Respondents who self-identified as women enjoyed a far higher degree of satisfaction than respondents who identified as men. They were 16% less happy than those who identified as women. They were almost twice as likely to make less than $40,000 each year and had a comfort level in their job by 18%.
  • Despite challenges, the music business continues to appeal to musicians. Eighty-eight percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with their jobs, with over 80% in professions that seem to face the most difficulties such as freelancers and musical creators. Over half of respondents indicated that their career path was driven by their enthusiasm for and love of the music industry.

The Academy has long struggled to achieve gender balance in music. Women's representation in the field of music has been a major goal for the organization. The Academy launched Women in the Mix in 2019, calling on hundreds of music industry professionals and organizations to promise that whenever a producer or engineer is employed, at least two women would be considered for employment.