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Songwriting and music composition sees steady increase in women entering profession

Written by on 08/03/2021

New figures released today (8 March), International Women’s Day 2021, show that despite increases in women entering the profession, gender balance within the professional songwriter and composer community remains heavily skewed towards men.

In 2020, PRS for Music, the organisation that represents over 150,000 music creators and publishers, recorded 1,971 women registering as professional songwriters and composers. This represents a 12.3% year-on-year increase compared to 2019, and near twofold increase (79.6%) compared to 2018, when 1,097 women registered. Over half (58%) of women joining PRS for Music in 2020 were under the age of 30.

Despite progress, men make up 81.7% of PRS for Music’s membership, which is significantly higher than the music industry as a whole. Umbrella body, UK Music, reported the proportion of women working in the music industry had reached a record high of 49.6% in its latest Diversity Report for 2020.

While last year was an unprecedented financial year for the entire music industry due to the pandemic, male music creators still earned more money than women. Research released today found that the top 10 highest earning female songwriters and composers, generated 70% less income than their male counterparts in 2020. The drop in income for women reflects a widening of the gap compared to 2019, where the deficit between the highest earning men and women was 67%.

Of all songwriters and composers who received a royalty in 2020 from their music being streamed, downloaded, broadcast, or performed, only one in six (16.7%) were women, highlighting the ongoing challenges women face as music creators when vying for opportunities for their music to be heard.

There is still much work to do to bridge the gender gap and PRS for Music, along with industry partners, is playing its part. For example, PRS for Music is actively collaborating with Girls I Rate, founded by songwriter Carla Marie Williams, to effect change and create opportunities for young women entering the music industry to succeed. While recent activities with Women in CTRL, founded by songwriter Nadia Khan, set up to empower women and underrepresented groups to advocate for fairness and equality in the music business, are focussed on dramatically increasing gender diversity within senior leadership roles on the PRS Members’ Council.

Across the music industry, PRS for Music will be actively encouraging members and staff to support positive change to address current gender bias and inequality, singing to the tune of this year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme, #ChooseToChallenge.

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