Taylor Swift, SZA, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo … with so many female performers nominated for so many Grammys, will this be the “yr of the girl” within the music business?
The information say no: We’re nonetheless removed from parity, in order that declare could be too bold. However there’s lastly a pattern in the fitting course.
Probably the most evident gaps is in songwriting, in keeping with the latest analysis from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Solely 19.5% of all songwriters throughout the Billboard Scorching 100 songs in 2023 had been ladies. This can be a welcome change in contrast with 2022 (14.1%) or 2012 (11%) however nonetheless wildly insufficient when one considers that half the viewers identifies as feminine.
Songwriting is an space during which ladies’s illustration may enhance drastically and shortly. All that’s wanted is a dedication from the business so as to add ladies in that function.
We hear excuses typically about why illustration can’t occur shortly. Some within the business say “ladies should be actually good” — and but mediocrity amongst males is suitable. Others resist bringing ladies into the writing course of by saying “you may’t intrude with an artist” or “expertise are superstitious about who they work with and the way.”
These sorts of rationalizations aren’t new. Now we have heard them in each leisure house. There are comparable adverse myths about feminine administrators, feminine showrunners and feminine cinematographers. The folklore about ladies in these roles serves solely the gatekeepers who need to limit ladies’s entry and alternative whereas males stay unfettered.
In movie and tv, these myths are shattered by one revealing reality: When you have ladies on the helm of a undertaking, other women are more likely to participate on display and in different key behind-the-scenes positions. We assumed that music could be no completely different.
Throughout final yr’s 100 high songs, solely 14 featured a feminine artist with a nonperforming feminine songwriter. A full 25 songs had a feminine artist and no nonperforming feminine songwriter hooked up, countering our assumption about ladies advocating for different ladies.
Hit songs typically are written by groups and checklist many writers. For these 25 songs, the typical variety of writers was three, however some included as many as 11 — all males. What provides? Feminine artists work with males however not ladies? This isn’t a superb look in 2024. However all isn’t misplaced. The rising energy of feminine performers ought to permit these artists and others to wrest vital energy from the 75% of talent-scouting executives who’re males.
Think about what the headliners of the business may do for illustration in the event that they make it a precedence. We’ve calculated that if the highest feminine performers every “simply add two” feminine songwriters to their hit songs per yr, we’d attain gender parity in solely 4 years. This could be a modest change for the performers with main implications for the business.
The “simply add two” method would create jobs for feminine songwriters along with the roles that males already maintain. As a result of they might be working with a feminine performer, ladies shouldn’t be tokenized in writing classes even when many of the different songwriters had been males. Bringing in feminine writers would additionally develop entry to high expertise that solely males have had prior to now. And extra ladies within the business may work towards profession sustainability.
Managers could be key to this transition. Usually all that’s required is asking the performer to collaborate with a girl after which facilitating that collaboration by placing it on the schedule. Artists corresponding to John Legend, Charlie Puth and the Nationwide have at all times been greater than keen to work with ladies. Alanis Morissette has made it a precedence to take action. The supervisor’s job is to make sure that the great intentions come to fruition.
Hiring is a selection, and feminine artists who routinely discover themselves on the highest charts may determine to make a change — not solely within the lives of feminine songwriters but in addition within the tradition at giant. Almost 25% of the 1,200 hottest songs of the final 12 years had been penned primarily by 12 males. These 12 males are shaping viewers perceptions and beliefs about romance, relationships, wealth, well being and any variety of different matters.
In the future quickly, we’d like to have a good time the “yr of the girl” within the music business. High performers can get us there with a easy act: simply add two.
Stacy L. Smith is a professor at USC within the Annenberg College for Communication and the College of Dramatic Arts, and founding father of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Ty Stiklorius is the founder and chief government of Friends at Work, a administration and leisure firm.