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New Report on Women in the Music Industry Indicates Slow Improvement Amid Persistent Discrimination

MIDiA Research’s global survey for ‘Be The Change: Women in Music in 2022’ was answered by 952 respondents across genders

Anurag Tagat May 09, 2022

A new report by MIDiA Research puts the spotlight on issues for women in the music industry. Photo: Odin Reyna/Pexels

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The second edition of a survey on women’s standing in the music industry by market intelligence and consulting firm MIDiA Research shows that women creators believe there has been a marginal improvement in terms of visibility in public spaces like events and conferences, even as a lot of other issues – lack of diversity, sexual harassment and ageism – remain the same.

Collating a total of 952 respondents – 631 women, 267 men (creators and executives) and 54 from other gender identities – MIDiA’s Be The Change: Women In Music in 2022 survey largely represents the U.S. and Canada (47 percent participants), Europe (31 percent) and the rest of the world (22 percent). There were 74 respondents from India, across genders.

The report centers around understanding what women creators perceive to have changed in the last year. As it stands, endemic issues of gender discrimination are very much existent in the music industry as well. Sixty-seven percent of women creators say they have frequently witnessed the pressure put on them to “look good,” and 58 percent say they saw an “unconscious bias” in action. On a broader scale, women respondents – both creators and executives – said they frequently felt inadequate and doubted their abilities. Sixty-six percent of women executives said there was imposter syndrome when compared to or collaborating with men.

Right after the pressures of perception, women creators and executives said they have personally experienced sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior (61 percent) as a challenge. The report also aimed to dissect their findings on the basis of genres, finding that 81 percent of women in hip-hop and EDM felt they have to work harder than male counterparts. While ageism and perception of parents remained a focus, 79 percent of women in pop music were worried about ageism, compared to 68 percent in hip-hop and 80 percent in EDM.

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When it came to reading into the responses sent in by men in the music industry, 65 percent of them said they have “consciously listened to women” more in the last year. Only 16 percent said they created safe spaces or endeavored to hire or create more gender-diverse teams. MIDiA found that when it came to figuring out fixes, the option that most women creators (42 percent) and executives (45 percent) picked was mentoring and coaching opportunities to encourage women and non-male gender identities in the music space. They sought out more women-centric and gender-minority-focused resources (34 percent of women creators), but also felt that representative quotas at industry awards or live events would not be of much help.

Although the 74 Indian respondents to MIDiA Research’s survey are too few to map a trend, the company noted that they found more Indian women and men were likely to support gender sensitivity training compared to the global number. Within the country, 19 percent felt diversity of women in executive roles or positions of power had improved in the past year and 78 percent women in India said they were very likely to encourage women to enter the music industry.

New Delhi-based techno producer Zequenx aka Zainab Wani says in her statement, “Everything is going around in a circle. People are just talking about making change, and they only keep talking about it. It’s not just ‘show and tell.’ But to actually make a more diverse industry, we will require a certain amount of authority and proactiveness. An independent effort is not enough. It has to be a collective effort – it has to ripple out.”

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MIDiA’s managing director Mark Mulligan said in his statement, “We are very proud of this second edition of the ‘Women in Music’ report. Last year’s report had an important impact on the market, providing long-needed data that revealed the scale of the challenges facing women in music. This year, we have significantly built upon these foundations, expanding and deepening the scope to address issues such as the role of confidence and the perception gap between how males view the scale of the problems compared to how things actually are. Unfortunately, not enough progress has been made within the last year. This is why we have included strong calls to action, with the hope that this time next year we can report on truly meaningful progress and change.” 

The survey is sponsored by music platforms such as TuneCore and Believe. 

Access the report for free here.

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