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70% female composers see music industry is unequal: survey

Published : 09 Mar 2023, 00:48

  DF Report
File Photo: City of Helsinki.

As many as 70% of female lyricists and composers feel that the music industry is unequal, whereas the corresponding figure for men is only 32%, according to a survey result published by the Finnish Composers’ Copyright Society- Teosto on Wednesday.

The biggest reasons given for this were the prevailing attitudes in the music industry and the lack of networks and role models for women.

Desired measures to improve matters were also highlighted in the survey, including providing better support and encouragement through music teaching, increasing opportunities for having music as a hobby and increased showcasing of role models.'

Eleven Finnish music industry actors commissioned a large-scale survey that sought to find out why only one in five music authors in Finland are female or non-binary. More than half of music students are female.

"The situation is similar in many other countries, too. We wanted to investigate what obstacles and incentives there are to making music and what are the most important factors affecting whether or not composing music or writing lyrics for it becomes a job. In addition, we wanted to survey what kinds of measures are needed to improve the situation", said Vappu Aura, the Director of Communications, Marketing and Public Relations of Teosto.

Among respondents under the age of 35, the current state of equality is felt to be the worst: 78% of women and 42% of men feel that the industry is unequal.

According to the survey, 47% of women and 76% non-binary respondents feel that their gender has had a negative effect on their ability to find the right partners and networks, while the corresponding figure for men is 7%.

The survey showed that 29% of women and 45% non-binary respondents have been discriminated against due to their gender as composers/lyricists. The corresponding figure for men is 5%.

Among female respondents, the rap/hiphop/r'n'b genre was felt to be the most unequal. Women in classical and art music have experienced the least amount of inequality.

Women start making music early: Among women, 39% wrote their first compositions under the age of 12, while only 24% of men have done so.

Role models and idols have the biggest impact on career choice (49% of women and 66% of men). For women, the role of the music teacher is much more significant (34% of women, 28% of men).

Respondents are interested in composing and writing lyrics: among music students, 73% of women and 88% of men considered it an interesting career choice.

Both women and men stated that their biggest obstacles to working as composers and lyricists were their own insecurity/lack of belief (82% of women, 74% of men) and their idea of the industry (80% of women, 67% of men).

More often than men, women consider the lack of work-related networks (77%) and the lack of support from the people around them (69%) as obstacles.

Survey respondents feel that the music industry's traditional masculinity and prevailing attitudes are the biggest reason for the low number of women and non-binary people among music authors. The responses repeatedly mention old boys' clubs, men as the gatekeepers of the music industry and the overall feeling that men decide what good music is.

Female respondents also report having been discriminated due to their gender. The discrimination mainly takes the form of belittling and lack of respect, favouring of men and better pay for men. Harassment was also mentioned as a form of gender-based discrimination.

On the other hand, a significant share of male respondents over the age of 35 feel that gender does not matter much when it comes to making music and that everyone has equal opportunities in the industry. The same respondent group has the most respondents who feel that measures to promote equality are not really needed in the industry.

"This clear difference in the experiences of women and men is, of course, concerning. Those who have not experienced being discriminated against due to their gender may not necessarily be able to recognise this kind of discrimination. On the other hand, men under the age of 35 have a clearer understanding of the challenges to equality and they also feel that change is needed", Aura said.

The target groups for the survey were music professionals, people who pursue music as a hobby, students and influential figures in the industry.

The survey had a total of 2,055 respondents, of whom 47% were female and 46% were male. There were also 35 (2%) respondents who identified as non-binary. As part of the survey, 21 qualitative interviews were also conducted.