Survey: Being a female artist in pop is a ‘lonely’ field
NEW YORK — A new survey of pop charts over the past six years finds that men overwhelmingly dominate the ranks of artists and songwriters and that 2017 represented a six-year low for female artists.
University of Southern California researchers released a study on Thursday that shows women comprised just 22.4 percent of artists and 12.3 percent of songwriters on the Billboard’s top singles charts. Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift dominated the charts during this time.
“For women, pursuing music as an artist is largely a solo activity, and appears to be a lonely one,” the researchers wrote. They noted that the numbers were “surprising” because women are big customers of music, making up 53 percent of digital music buyers in 2014.
The university’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative researchers examined 600 songs appearing on the Billboard Hot 100 end-of-year charts from 2012 through 2017. A total of 1,239 solo performers, duos and bands were included.
Some of the biggest gender disparity data was shown last year — a year in which the researchers note women “forcibly took hold of the cultural conversation.” In 2017, a mere 2 percent of producers of 300 popular songs were female and only four female producers worked on the 100 top songs.
The researchers also looked at Grammy Award nominees. A total of 899 people were nominated for Grammys between 2013 and 2018. Of those, 90.7 percent were male and 9.3 percent were female.
The study also found that the pop charts have been more inclusive when it comes to non-white artists. Underrepresented racial groups comprised 42 percent of artists across the six years sampled, a percentage which has increased over time.