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TuneCore publishes study into challenges faced by female music creators

By | Published on Friday 26 March 2021

Be The Change

To coincide with Women’s History Month, TuneCore and MIDiA Research have published ‘Be The Change: Women Make Music 2021’. The report is based on a survey of 401 female artists, songwriters, producers and DJs from around the world.

The study aims to “better understand the uphill journey [female music-makers] 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”.

Asked if they felt that it was harder for female artists to gain recognition in music compared to men, 81% said that they did. The same number agreed that there were fewer female role models for independent creators. Meanwhile, more than 90% of respondents said that they had experienced unconscious bias due to their gender – with more than half saying it happens frequently.

The biggest challenge women face, according to the study, is sexual harassment or objectification, with more than two thirds identifying this as a key issue. The three other greatest challanges were identified as ageism (38%), lack of access to male-dominated industry resources (36%), and lower pay (27%).

On ageism specifically, respondents said that the music industry prefers women to be young, the perception being that they need to have their success before they leave to become mothers. A total of 84% felt that women are still expected to take on the primary role in parenting, leading to the belief that they will only be active in music for a short time.

To an extent, music remains a ‘boys club’, the survey concludes, with 63% of respondents saying that they feel excluded from the composition and production sides of music-making, which makes this aspect of music creation highly ‘genderised’.

Change, they said, needs to come from within organisations and from music industry leaders. More than a third also said that it would need to be underpinned by legislation, while a similar number also called for more female-friendly resources and safe work spaces, education and mentoring.

“When I discovered that only 28% of TuneCore artists are female, I was surprised”, says the DIY distributor’s Chief Revenue Officer Andreea Gleeson. “While that’s better than the industry standard which indexes around 11%, it’s still not good enough. We partnered with MIDiA to figure out, when the barriers to entry are low, why then are women still so grossly underrepresented? The study reveals the main reasons behind why female creators feel unsupported and identifies key areas of improvement. It arms us with the information we need to do better”.

Mark Mulligan, Managing Director at MIDiA Research, adds: “The objective of the study was to drive awareness to the issues, uncover the ‘why’, and inspire the industry to move forward with meaningful change”.

“The issues, challenges and experiences highlighted in this report are not ‘women’s problems’ to be solved just by women in the music industry”, he adds. “The findings of this study articulate a systemic inequity in the music industry today, requiring thoughtful consideration, commitment to change and courageous action. This is required not of any one faction of the industry, or by women alone, but by all the industry’s organisations and constituents”.

Download the full report for free here.