University of Southern California Study Looks at the Status of Women in the Recording Industry

Stacy Smith

A new study led by Karla Hernandez and Stacy L. Smith of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, finds that for women in music, the last decade has been one of insignificant change in the recording studio.

The study examines the artists, songwriters, and producers credited on each of the 1,000 songs on Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart from 2012 to 2021. In 2021, 23.3 percent of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were women. There has been little change over time for women artists — only 21.8 percent of artists across ten years and 1,000 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts were women.

In 2021, 14.4 percent of songwriters were women. This figure has not changed over time. Women comprised only 12.7 percent of the songwriters evaluated across all 10 years studied. More than half of the songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts from 2012 to 2021 did not include any women songwriters.

For producers, women held only 3.9 percent of all producing positions across the songs on the 2021 Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Charts. Overall, across a total of 1,522 producing credits in the 10- year sample, 97.2 percent were men and 2.8 percent were women.

“For women songwriters and producers, the needle has not moved for the last decade,” said Dr. Smith. “We know there are talented women from all backgrounds who are not getting access, opportunity, or credit for their work in this arena.”

Dr. Smith added that “industry solutions must do more than offer lip service to creating change. They must take aim at the underlying reasons for exclusion and have robust evaluation and accountability metrics to ensure that they result in real progress.”

Filed Under: Research/Study


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