Women in Music Industry Are Still Underpaid and Discriminated Against, According to New Recording Academy Study

Music News Women In The Mix Study
Women in Music Industry Are Still Underpaid and Discriminated Against, According to New Recording Academy Study

Despite many triumphs in the path towards gender equality, the workplace is still a challenging area for women. In the newly published Women In The Mix Study released today (March 8) by the Recording Academy in collaboration with Arizona State University and Berklee College of Music Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, the experiences of women and gender-expansive people in the music industry is explored. The findings were based on data taken from a 2019 study done by the Berklee College of Music, which took responses from over 2,000 women.

The information gathered includes demographic characteristics, employment experiences, career challenges, job satisfaction and more. Many participants also gave recommendations for ways to improve working conditions. The study was designed to influence leaders and advocates in the industry to work towards a better, more inclusive future.

Among the results are:

Underrepresented and Underpaid

As cited by the Women In The Mix Study, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s annual report on popular music found that women are severely underrepresented in the industry, accounting for 21.6 percent of artists, 12.6 percent of songwriters and 2.6 percent of producers with no significant increase.

In addition to the alarming findings, over half of the study’s participants work two or more jobs. Thirty-six percent of respondents earn less than $40,000 a year, with half of those respondents identifying as either performers or music creators.


Across all races, 84 percent of respondents faced discrimination. A majority (77 percent) of them reported being treated differently due to their gender, while more than half felt that their gender affected their employment. Sixty percent of respondents said they were discriminated against due to their age. Women of color reported the highest level of discomfort and job dissatisfaction, and gender-expansive individuals were also less satisfied than those who identified as women by a 16 percent margin.

Career > Parenthood

Roughly one out of every two respondents chose not to have children or had fewer than they wanted because of their careers. There was a correlation found between income level and likelihood of children, with respondents making over $100k having a 27 percent likelihood and those earning less than $40k having a 15 percent likelihood.

Paid Internships

Internships do help, with 78 percent of internship-holding respondents feeling that they contributed to their career. However, these internships are often unpaid, and they may not be feasible for students who don’t have an existing stable financial background. Respondents suggested paid internships would be beneficial.

Passion Prevails

Despite these challenges, 78 percent of respondents felt satisfied in their careers. Even in some of the most difficult careers, such as freelancers and performers, more than 80 percent felt satisfied. Among the least satisfied were those working in event and tour production, with a 65 percent satisfaction rate.

There are many more findings from the study, including details of the research methodology and respondent demographics. You can find an abridged version here or check out the complete study here.

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