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Sad Numbers: Women Vs. Music Industry

On my social media, a Smirnoff plugin told me that if I wanted to see the percentage of women I hear on Spotify. Obviously, I clicked to see my results. It hurt too much to do so. I couldn't believe that I, a woman in the music industry, only heard 17% of what my colleagues have to say. This article will give you a picture of why I had those results.


Seeing that women have no barriers, we will see global inequalities. Take into account, the only figure you will read throughout this article with gender equity is; 49% of festival participants are men and 51% are women. No more.


A study that Ruidosa Fest did in 2016 and 2017 on 60 Latin American festivals and 2000 bands; 78.3% of the participation in music festivals was made up of men, 10.6% was mixed bands and 11.4% was female.







The first time I went to the Corona Capital I felt very out of place. There was too much personal space in all the concerts. Even in the forward part (where I usually go) it was much quieter. In a moment of epiphany, I realized that most of the attendees were women. For every 4 of us there was a man. And that man was probably the boyfriend of 1 of the 3.





Personally, I'm glad to see these statistics in Mexico (provided by Slang). Although they have a festival with absolutely no female participation, there is one with 100% mixed. In all the countries that I have had the opportunity to investigate, none has 100% mixed. 67% for Nrmal and 58% for Cumbre Tajín it shows that Mexico is one of the most progressive countries to this global movement.


Pitchfork found in 2019 that, on average:


  • 19% of the line up is made up of women. Of 20 festivals (almost all in the United States). In 2017 there was a 74% male participation, 12% mixed and 14% female.

  • The electronic music scene has a 9.7% female participation.


The festival, Noise Fest, had the highest number in the United States, was 35.4%



Moving from the numbers on posters, we go to some more terrifying numbers; those of the women who are going to see the acts on the posters. A survey made by OMMB (Our Music My Body) to 500 festival participants in the United States, of which 75% were women. 92% said they experienced some type of harassment. If we take these trends to the figure of 51% of attendees who are women, there is about 42% of total harassment. Almost half of the women who have attended a festival are denigrated, intimidated, harassed, touched, disturbed and a thousand and one more feelings mixed with fear and courage. At the Bravalla festival in Sweden in 2018 there were more than 50 reports of sexual assault.


An investigation by YouGov has revealed the scale of unwanted sexual behavior that occurs at music festivals in the United Kingdom. The study found that one in five (22%) of all festival goers, and 30% of women attending the festival have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behavior at a UK festival.


The figures show that women under 40 are much more likely to have suffered sexual harassment or harassment at festivals. More than four in ten (43%) women under 40 have experienced unwanted sexual behavior at a festival in the United Kingdom.





These numbers are shocking. They show that the culture of bullying is still frowned upon by everyone. Out of fear, they decide not to tell anyone. Neither his relatives. Only 7% trust festival staff and 2% go to the police. And these figures can be interpreted not only for events within concerts.



 The concerts have become synonymous with callousness. We are used to seeing attendees in a state of intoxication and we see it as a gigantic party, which we do not wonder if certain people are really having fun. Parties where girls are passed out and it is their fault for getting plastered. And that they have to take care of themselves because they were the ones at fault. Why should they go to a concert if there are many people and lend themselves to being touched? [Sarcasm] Better stay at their homes where there will be no one to disturb them. If more than half of the attendees are women and half of those attendees have suffered some type of harassment, then about ¼ of those attending concerts have been harassed. Aren't there supposed to be staff for these types of cases? Or that the culture of musical events suits? It's not 60's anymore and there's no free love. Everything leads to consent.


The University of Southern California of the Annenberg Institute found that women's participation in this industry consists of:

  • 22.4% artists

  • 12.3% music composers

  • 9.3% of Grammy nominations

  • 2% music producers. Out of 300 popular songs, 6 are produced by women. The ratio is 49 to 1!





Having so many songs featuring someone else, how is it possible that the duets are 5.1%?





This BBC graphic shows how in 10 years the gender movement has been in the UK Top 100. In the last decade, inter-artistic collaborations have become an excellent form of marketing. However, the growth of artists is more partly than masculine. Almost 91% of the Top 100 is made up of men so far from 2017 to 2018.





In the week of October 12, 2019, the Billboard 100 of the USA has the following collaborations:



1-.Post Malone ft Young Thug

2-.Ed Sheeran ft. Justin Bieber

3-Shawn Mendes ft Camila Cabello

4-Chris Brown ft Drake

5-.Lil Nas X ft Billy Ray Cyrus

6-.Ed Sheeran ft Khalid

7-.Post Malone ft Swae Lee

8-Drake ft Rick Ross

9-.Wale ft Jeremih

10-Megan Thee Stallion ft Niki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign

11-.DaBaby Featuring Lil Baby & Moneybagg Yo

12-. Sam Smith & Normani

13-.YNW Melly & 9lokknine

14-.Ariana Grande & Social House

15-. Young Thug Featuring Gunna

16-. Marshmello & Kane Brown

17-. Post Malone Featuring Ozzy Osbourne & Travis Scott

18-. DaBaby & Nicki Minaj

19-. Megan Thee Stallion Featuring DaBaby

20-. DaBaby Featuring Kevin Gates

21-. Young Thug, J. Cole & Travis Scott

22-. DaBaby Featuring Migos

2. 3-. Post Malone Featuring DaBaby

24-. Mustard Featuring Roddy Ricch

25-. DaBaby Featuring Chance The Rapper, Gucci Mane & YK Osiris

26-.French Montana Featuring Post Malone, Cardi B & Rvssian

27-. Chris Brown Featuring Gunna

28-. DaBaby Featuring Stunna 4 Vegas

29-. Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, Ozuna & J Balvin

30-. Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey

31-. Y2K & bbno $

32-. Sech, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Anuel AA

33- Post Malone Featuring Future & Halsey

34-.j-hope Featuring Becky G.

35-.Bad Bunny & Tainy

36-.Brantley Gilbert + Lindsay Ell

37-. Post Malone Featuring Meek Mill & Lil Baby

38-.Khalid Featuring A Boogie Wit da Hoodie

39-.Young Thug Featuring Lil Baby

40-. DJ Khaled Featuring Cardi B & 21 Savage

41-. Kygo X Whitney Houston

42-. Jhay Cortez, J Balvin & Bad Bunny

43-Tainy, Anuel AA & Ozuna


Of the 100 songs, 43 are collaborations. Of those 43, 14 include women and 1 is completely composed of women. Compared to the 90's that was the height of female artists with 49 hits of the 100.


And we haven't talked about what's happening behind the scenes. There are:



Bookers, managers, A&R, brokers, lawyers, agents, engineer assistants, recording engineers, tour manager, promoters, editors, licensing representatives, video technicians, audio, lights, stage managers, photographers, journalists, critics, historians , VJ, DJ, radio producers, store managers, sales representatives, merchandise and poster designers, publicists, public relations, orchestrators, arrangers, conductors, concert performers, leaders and members of orchestral sections, opera singers, development directors , subscriptions and ticket sellers, choreographers, dancers, music supervisors.


Not mentioning the crucial role of sales representatives of alcohol, cigarettes and narcotics.

I hope that among all those positions there is one with 50% female.


Going to the less popular part of music, a study by Quartz at Work on the 22 largest orchestras in the world, taught us that the field is 69% composed of men.


Amy Phelps, a cello instructor who wrote her doctoral thesis on gender discrimination in orchestras said "The instruments they identified as men are the strongest and greatest," she tells Quartz at Work. "Our society does not want women to be noisy. The grouping of instruments by gender reflects prejudices that date back to the 19th century or earlier. Women were discouraged from playing instruments that could distort their facial features (ie flutes and horns) , as well as instruments that required supposedly unfeminine postures (such as the cello, which are held between the knees), or that were heavy or powerful ”


The graph demonstrates the perception of a crucial stereotype; The harp, being the most symbolically delicate and feminine instrument, is used by 90% by women.





This is only the western music industry. Composer singer Amanda Sondhi says that in the Indian music industry, 70% of women have suffered workplace harassment. And the forms of harassment are disturbing.


22.48% Inappropriate comments, either verbally or by messages

21.56% Touch improperly

16.97% Libidinous looks

12.84% Declarations and questions of sexual anecdotes

11.47% Attempt (s) to organize meetings on purpose at odd hours in non-professional settings (i.e. bar, home)

10.55% Proposal for work in exchange for sexual favors

3.21% Sexual assault

0.92% Not Specified


The work environment cannot be a club of buddies where all deals are closed with drinks and backstage parties. The fact is that there are too many stories about powerful men taking advantage and the inherent risks in trying to raise female voices. An industry where there is financial pressure and fierce competition creates a perfect storm.


Dr. L. Smith Lacey's research led her to interview 75 composers and producers to obtain information about the "lived experiences of women in music." More than 40% of respondents admitted that their colleagues discarded or discarded their work or skills. Meanwhile, 39% have experienced stereotypes and sexualization. A third said that the music industry is dominated by men. A quarter experienced being the only woman in the recording studio.


Many women are pressured to appeal to their sexuality on stage to get attention, although it can also hinder your consideration as musicians. Female pop artists often claim empowerment as an excuse for their sexual performances even though they are finally "stripping to be heard "; however, this sexualized distortion of empowerment contributes to women being devalued as artists



There is no lack of appetite or talent when it comes to women who write, do and get involved in music. Clearly what we have is an old-fashioned and biased industry that needs to work together to achieve a better gender balance.


The 2018 Ceremonia had a 29% female participation. There are already organizations such as SheSaid.so where they have started to do networking events only for women and KeyChange where they have managed 165 festivals to change the proportion of their line ups by 2022 and reach 50 / 50 that we deserve. Annie Mac has created an Equalising Music Pledge petition that calls on everyone in the music industry to take direct action on gender equality.


The numbers can be very cold, but being in this work environment, I can safely say that it is difficult. Without a doubt, the ratio is 5 to 1. Minimum. I witnessed how a girl proudly introduced me to a producer of Televisa (one of those obese with a devil's face who has never entered a recording studio) and they both knew that they are going to a restaurant and that the producer will teach her how to become a "star". Many of us have changed our ways of expressing ourselves and speaking. With great sorrow, I admit that I have expressed myself misogynistically because I have been normalized to my surroundings.


The future of the industry is changing, starting with education. Like Full Sail University that grants scholarships for women and, thanks to that, in my classes we were 65%. Social networks are allowing women to raise their voices and understand how the system is being governed. #MeToo unmasked harassment, abuse and deception in the entertainment industry. We all had an idea of what was going on but nobody dared to say it, until this improper fact. #GrammySoMale was also a movement that made us realize the seriousness and neglect that has been held. The gap is there and more present than before. I don't listen to 17% because I prefer to listen to men. I only hear 17% because that is what the industry gives us.


Music is a culture embedded in our genetics. It has accompanied us 10,000 years, along with our humanity. Music is divided into too many genres. The beings that are part of the musical movement should not have that division. Gender is our humanity.

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