Women are making some gains, but men still dominate the music production industry. The ratio of male to female producers across 500 songs was 37 to 1, a recent study found.
Gender diversity in the music industry has a long way to go; the Production Music Association wants to help.
This week, PMA announced that it has formed a committee focused on increasing female representation in music production and the larger media industry.
“People are shocked to learn that a mere 3% of music composers in media are female and this figure could be even lower in production music,’’ said Mirette Seireg, chair of the newly formed Inclusion Committee and founder of Mpath Music Library. “Raising this percentage is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do because it’s been demonstrated time and again that when women achieve equal status everyone prospers.”
The committee plans to work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media to conduct field studies on the state of gender in the production music industry.
Suzy Shinn, a two-time Grammy-nominated recording engineer, songwriter, and producer, said that things were slowly improving.
“I would walk into a session, six years ago maybe, and I would be the engineer, and they would say, ‘Where’s the engineer? Can you go get us coffee?’ I’d say, ‘I can get you coffee, and I can also record you,’” Shinn said in an interview with Grammy.com. “Now, even in the past year, I’ve met other female engineers or producers. I think that’s because a conversation has been opened up to say, ‘It’s cool, we can do this.’”
In a January 2020 report, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor at the University of Southern California and the founder of its Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, analyzed top songs from 2012 to 2019. She discovered that the ratio of male to female producers across 500 songs was 37 to 1.
“The music industry has virtually erased female producers, particularly women of color, from the popular charts,” Smith said to the Los Angeles Times. “As producers fill a leading creative role, it’s essential to ensure that women from all backgrounds are being considered and hired throughout the industry. Moreover, the industry itself must continue to expand its commitment to representing the voices and talent of women in all aspects of the business.”
In addition to the efforts of PMA, other organizations are working to create change in the music industry for women, including She Is The Music, the Spotify EQL Residency program, and Women’s Audio Mission.