Scroll through your favourite playlist on your phone. Chances are the majority of musicians are men. Turn on your radio — it is statistically likely you’ll hear music made by a man. Go to a summer music festival. Is the headliner a man? Probably. The Australian music scene, like many industries, has a gender problem.
If you’re working as a songwriter, an artist manager, an indie label manager or on the board of a peak music body – you’re more likely to be a man than a woman. If you’re working at triple j, double j or Unearthed, you’ll find the office is almost exactly split between guys and gals.
The gender divide between registered APRA members was one of the most drastic across the entire analysis – only about 1 in 5 APRA members are women. That number might seem low, but it was a 3.8% increase from the previous year. In addition, APRA outlined the genres where women are under-represented and over-represented. Only 7% of jingle writers in the industry are women; 53% of children’s music writers are women.
In an analysis of six of Australia’s prominent music festivals in the last 12 months, study found that festivals with EDM-heavy lineups had far less diversity. While 38% of Laneway’s 2016 lineup were solo female artists or artists with women, Listen Out and Stereosonic had only 9% and 10% respectively.
Jane Slingo, executive producer for the Electronic Music Conference, says the lack of women working in the Artist & Repertoire (A&R) departments of record labels and publishers could be part of the problem. A&Rs are responsible for talent scouting and artist development – they’re the people that can give an artist their big break.
“There’s a severe lack of female A&Rs,” Jane says, “And I think if that’s something that changes, I think that’s going to result in more female artists that are able to be curated on festival lineups. In Australia I can pretty much count on three fingers female A&Rs, and I think that’s something that’s kind of mirrored in a pattern internationally. I think if we start to see more females taking that role, surely there will be more of a focus and investment in developing female recording artists. That will actually put us in a much stronger position for have festival curators to have more to choose from.”
Jane also says we can’t squarely lay the blame on one part of the industry for the gender gap. “I think managers, agents, everyone has a role to play in this issue. I think it’s not something that we can kind of just point at awards nights or festival bookers. Because it’s a massive issue and it’s not going to change unless everyone’s on board and working hard as a community to change it.”
This article was originally published on ABC.net.au