2020: Women, Music and the Shocking Truth

Lashonde Lavelle Christian
September 25, 2020
4 minutes
A tale as old as time; women facing gender inequality (yet again).
Of course, covering this topic as a whole, we hardly think one article would suffice. So, we’re settling for just discussing the music industry instead.
Did you know that the first ever female singer was given the title ‘Lady of Song’ and she was none other than Ella Fitzgerald? As a matter of fact, Ella was one of the first women to re-sculpt the face of music for females everywhere. Her music not only appealed to people of every age, but also to those of various nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. She made an everlasting impact on the Jazz genre and during her time, the great Ella won 13 Grammy awards, as well as sold over 40 million albums.

Image via Gold Coast Arts
Her success has since often been deemed a noteworthy instant in music history, because of what she did, forging the pathway for all future female singers that came after her.
After Ella and over the years, more female singers did dip their toes into the music scene. Greats like Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Mariah Carey and many others took over the globe with their oh-so-good hits.
Songs like ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’, ‘Respect’, and so many more, had both male and female listeners alike fall in love all over again, with music.

The rise in the number of female artists over the decades continued its climb and came the 21st century, women had made up 46% of artists in the music industry. Today, with pop powerhouses like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Rihanna and more, women in music are at the highest they have ever been.
However, (like the norm, there is always one) the disparity between male and female musicians in the industry have been and are still very apparent. With time, those numbers undoubtedly have been improving, but it’s rather obvious, that it just isn’t enough.

For instance, based on statistics from 2012 to 2019, there was an astronomical gap between male and female producers in the industry. Besides that, a study which took a sample of 800 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Grammy nominations, also discovered that the majority artists which dominated in all three years were male.

Which makes you wonder really, why? Why is there a difference and such a huge one, we might add, between these two genders? Famous female music producers like Linda Perry, Grimes, WondaGurl, Sylvia Massy, are only a few from a very long list of talented women, and yet they are still so far behind.

The disappointment continues, because based on Spotify and the most streamed artists of the decade, the top 5 only has 2 females, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.

Adding to it, is Business Insider’s list to the best-selling artists of all time. With such a stark difference in album sales, (the Beatles at number 1 and the first female artist Barbra Streisand who only comes in at number 12), it is no wonder that the music industry is still very much known to be an ‘all boys club’.
The very clear discrimination against women, whether it may be as producers, songwriters or artists are saddening, and on top of those atrocious figures is the very fact that the women who do get a chance to shine are then either stereotyped or sexualized.

Image via Chicago Tribune
I mean, it’s 2020, and we’re often painted a picture of evolution and growth. But seeing as the devil is in the details, when put under a microscope, the most important question is, is the music industry really becoming a more just place for women, or is it just yet another façade?