April 23, 2024
Female Representation in Music Collage

Female Representation in Music Industry Lags

Recent statistics show that women make up only 2.7% of producers and engineers, and only 12.8% of songwriters. Although these numbers are discouraging, female students in Herkimer County Community College’s Songwriting and Composition class had a much more optimistic outlook.

Songwriting and Composition is taught in the Technology Center by professor Jason Davis. Students are taught about music software and different levels of music theory, depending on the student’s prior knowledge. This year, it is a small class of four students including Joya Chase and Olivia Friend.

Last semester, Chase worked with Friend on a cover of “I Could’ve Lied” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. They both play guitar and are planning to advance their careers in music.

The gender discrepancy in many industries has been slowly leveling out, but recent statistics say that music is lagging behind. A 2023 study by Fix the Mix found that only 2.7% of producers and engineers are women. A 2022 study by USC found that only 12.8% of songwriters are women.

Chase was sympathetic. “I feel like that’s something that a lot of women feel like they can’t really get into, but they can and just don’t know.” Fortunately, she does not relate. “Personally, every experience I’ve had has been pretty welcoming.”

Davis gave his own response. “I think we try to find things that say, ‘we’re not allowing certain types of people to have opportunities,’ when more times than not it just comes down to that they’re not interested in doing it. I know more females that are performers than engineers, because they want to be performers.” He also explained that the meager amount of inspiration for female producers is a “perpetual issue, passed down through generations.”

Journalists agree that representation is an issue, but they also believe that there are more insidious factors. In a 2021 RouteNote article, Madeleine Amos lays the blame on patronizing attitudes towards women. “There’s often an assumption the male-dominated music studio is too technical a space for women and gender minorities – in the same way science and sports were historically thought to be for boys, whilst girls would be better off quietly reading a book.”

Producer Marta Salogni, who has worked with Björk and MIA, blames nepotistic reliance on already-experienced producers. “It feels safer sometimes for gatekeepers to employ the same people but if women are not being employed, they can’t build up the credits that would make sure they can be employed.”

Today’s female musicians may have less reason to worry. Modern tech has allowed more people to onboard music, so that you don’t have to have a room full of equipment like Wendy Carlos in the 70s. For example, PinkPantheress got her start making songs on GarageBand. In 2022, she gained traction on TikTok and is now touring her new album, Heaven Knows.

Chase lists Courtney LaPlante from heavy metal band Spiritbox as an admired songwriter. She is planning to go on tour someday, remarking that she already has experience setting up events for Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Friend lists Hope Sandoval, a songwriter and instrumentalist who specializes in alternative rock and folk rock. She is planning on teaching music to children in elementary schools.

Lyla Williams

Lyla Williams is a Communication & Media major at HCCC. She is regularly involved in Fashion Club and has previously been involved with Theater Club and other on-campus media activities.

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