Women gain ground in music industry, but 'still room to grow,' study finds

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Women’s participation in the music industry reached a 12-year high in 2023, according to a new study.

The University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg Inclusion Initiative releases a report each year tracking how much of a role women play in all levels of music production. In nearly every metric, women’s participation in the industry reached a new high in 2023 as popular singers such as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé kickstarted world tours.

The share of women artists in 2023 jumped up to 35 percent from about 30 percent in 2022, a 12-year high that also marks the second consecutive year the percentage of women artists increased. Individual woman artists filled more than 40 percent of the spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart, which is an increase from the 34 percent of spots women filled in 2022. 

The study noted that the percentage of women working behind the scenes also increased last year. Nearly 20 percent of songwriters were women in 2023, which the researchers attributed to the growth of songwriters who are women of color. 

Fifty-six percent of songs in 2023 included at least one woman songwriter, the study noted.

While the number of women producers increased in 2023, the share of women producing songs is still staggering low. Just 6.5 percent of producers were women in 2023, but this marked a 12-year high for the metric. 

The study also looked at what share of Grammy nominations were women in major categories. It found that nearly 24 percent of 2024 Grammy nominations across six categories were women, up from the 15.5 percent in 2023. 

Stacy Smith, an associate professor of communication at USC who helped conduct the study, said that improvements can still be made despite these positive indicators.

“For the second year in a row, the percentage of women artists on the popular charts has increased,” Smith said in a statement. “This is a notable milestone and worthy of celebration. However, it is still important to recognize that there is room to grow.”

“Women filled less than one-quarter of artist roles across all 12 years examined, and these figures are still far from representing the 50% of women in the population and the music audience,” she added.

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