The music industry is gearing up to honor the latest Grammy® nominees and winners on February 5th. But there’s one more thing for women in music to celebrate this year, according to a new survey.
“Inclusion in the Recording Studio?”, the sixth annual music industry report by Stacey L. Smith and the Spotify-sponsored USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative provide an in-depth analysis of year-end Billboard Hot 100 Chart inclusion. The study examined the gender of artists, songwriters and producers in 1,100 songs from 2012 to 2022. The investigation also analyzed how often underrepresented women worked in these three roles. Additionally, the study evaluates each Grammy® nominee receiving recognition in the Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Producer of the Year categories during the same time period, as well as the inaugural Songwriter of the Year category .
In 2022, 30% of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were female, an improvement from 23.3% in 2021 and a significant increase from 2012. Over an 11-year period and 1,100 songs, the overall percentage of female performers is 22.3%. That’s a ratio of 3.5 male artists to every 1 female artist.
“There is good news for female artists this year,” Smith said. “But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – there’s still a lot of work to do before we can say women have equal opportunities in the music industry.”
Growth in female artists in general has not been seen in underrepresented artists. Half of all artists in 2022 are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. However, this is down from what the survey found in 2021, when 57.2% of artists were underrepresented. Overall, 48.1% of all artists on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart from 2012 to 2022 were underrepresented.
2022 was also a pivotal year for women of color. Sixty-five percent of all underrepresented artists were underrepresented women. This is an increase from 55% in 2021. The percentage of underrepresented male artists has decreased from 58% to 45%.
While some areas of representation have improved, the report shows that female songwriters have consistently seen little or no growth. In 2022, 14% of songwriters were female, roughly the same as in 2021. Overall, women made up just 12.8% of songwriters rated over the past 11 years – a ratio of 6.8 men for every 1 female songwriter of songs.
The survey also examined how many songs featured a female songwriter. More than half of the 11-year-old’s songs did not mention a female songwriter, while 43% had one or more female songwriters. In contrast, less than 1% of all songs lack male songwriters. In addition, the 12 male songwriters with the most credits in the sample were collectively responsible for creating almost 25% of the sample of 1,100 songs.
As for women of color, underrepresented female songwriters outnumbered white women in 2022. Still, it’s not a metric worth celebrating, as the number of underrepresented female songwriters in 2022 is down from what was recorded in 2021. 2019 remains the 11-year the highest point for women of color, with 44 underrepresented female songwriters appearing on the year-end Billboard Hot 100 chart.
In addition to songwriters, the percentage of female producers in 800 songs was assessed. Only 3.4% of producers were women in 2022. This is in line with the overall percentage of female producers – 2.8% of more than 1,700 production credits went to women. Only 5.2% of all rated songs featured a female producer. When women of color are considered, only 13 of the 50 female producers were women of color, or 26% of all female producers.
A solution aimed at increasing the number of female producers and engineers across the industry was also explored: the Recording Academy’s Women in the Mix Pledge. The pledge requires industry members to commit to working with a female producer or engineer on a song. The study examined the effectiveness of the pledge by assessing how often pledgers worked with a female producer or engineer on the most popular songs of 2022. The authors removed songs that appeared on the chart in 2021 as well as in 2022, and all promises – a participant who has produced or designed his own song. In 2022, only 1 pledge (Nicki Minaj) has worked with a female producer (Malibu Babie) on a song that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart. Not a single pledger worked with a female engineer in 2022.
“This industrial solution has not been proven effective,” Smith said. “Until female and male artists hire female songwriters and producers, the numbers will not change. It’s more than letting an artist get credit for a song, it’s about identifying talent and casting women in those roles. That’s the only way we’re going to see change happen.”
The annual Grammy analysis is also included in the reportâ nominations in five categories, with the addition of the Songwriter of the Year category in 2023. In 2023, 15.2% of nominees in these six main categories were women, almost unchanged from 2022, when was 14.1%. Over the 11 years evaluated, 13.9% of nominees in the main categories were women, while 86% were men.
In 2023, women are most likely to be nominated for Best New Artist (50%) and Song of the Year (33.3%), but represent a small proportion of nominees for Record of the Year (15.1%) or Album of the Year (12.2%) ). In the new Songwriter of the Year category, however, women make up 60% of the nominees.
The study examines separate nominations by race/ethnicity for women. Of the women nominated over the past 11 years, 51.5% are white, while 48.5% are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. In 2023, underrepresented women received more nominations in key categories than white women – 61.5% of women nominated in 2023 were underrepresented compared to 38.5% who were white.
The report also suggests solutions for change to increase the number of women as artists, songwriters and producers and to support the growth of underrepresented artists.
The report is the latest from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and can be found online here.