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News April 12, 2023

Fix The Mix Report Finds Representation of Women In Studio Roles Remains ‘Pitifully Low’

Senior Journalist, B2B
Fix The Mix Report Finds Representation of Women In Studio Roles Remains ‘Pitifully Low’

The recording studio remains a man’s world, a place where men outnumber women and non-binary people by a ratio of 19 to 1 on major commercial projects and senior studio roles are largely out of reach, a new report finds.

“It is difficult to fathom that representation remains so pitifully low in 2023,” explains Beverly Keel, co-author of the Fix the Mix report, which peels back the layers of studio land, and finds women and non-binary people are largely locked out.

Published overnight (April 11), Lost In The Mix takes a granular look at credited technical professionals in the music industry by analysing the metadata for 757 top streamed tracks of 2022, and examining 14 genres.

The results are disappointing, if not a complete disaster.

Fix The Mix Report 2023

Among the key findings — a significant gender gap was identified among credits for the top 10 streamed tracks of 2022 across five major DSPs, with women and non-binary people accounting for just 6.7% (or 16) of the 240 credited producers and engineers.

Among genres, Metal has the lowest percentage of women and non-binary people credited in key technical roles at 0.0% (by an analysis of top 50 songs), with Rap and Christian & Gospel trailing closely at 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively. 

At the other end is Electronic, with a “relatively high” representation of women and non-binary people in producer roles at 17.6% of all producer credits on the top 50 songs of 2022. Folk & Americana is close behind at 16.4%. 

Also, analysis of credits in the top 10 songs across DSPs and genres reveals that women and non-binary individuals are more highly concentrated within assistant roles than in key technical roles.

“These findings challenge a misconception that women and non-binary individuals lack the qualifications to be hired as producers and engineers,” reads a summary, Instead, “the data suggests that they are qualified and present in the proper entry-level roles, but they are not advancing to the next level.” 

In any other industry, writes Keel, “these low percentages of the genres that have the best gender representation would be an embarrassment, so I hope these ‘high achievers’ are not resting on their laurels. There should be no pride in being the best of the worst.”

Keel continues, “It should go without saying that the genres with the lowest representation should convene their leaders to quickly develop solutions to this problem.”

The Fix The Mix report analyses data from 2022 across a total of 1,128 songs (757 top streamed songs), 30 Grammy Award-winning albums, Top 50 songs from the Spotify Billions Playlist, the Top 50 songs from the RIAA Diamond Certified Records List, and a breakdown of technical creator roles by distributor.

Fix the Mix report 2023

Spanning 101 pages, the study, which can be read here, is an initiative of U.S.-based We Are Moving the Needle and Jaxsta, the Australia-based official music credits database, along with several music organisations focused on closing the gender gap in the music business, particularly those behind-the-scenes roles. 

The report builds on the results published by USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study on “Inclusion in the Recording Studio,” which found women account for just 2% of all producers and audio engineers. Fix the Mix dives even deeper.

Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer and We Are Moving the Needle founder Emily Lazar and Jaxsta CEO Beth Appleton co-authored the study with Keel, Dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment; data scientist, audio engineer and assistant professor at Berklee College of Music Meghan Smyth; mix engineer, producer, Grammy-nominated artist and educator Carolyn Malachi; producer and engineer and Recording Academy trustee Jordan Hamlin; We Are Moving the Needle’s program director Jasmine Kok; and project manager Gabriela Rodriguez Bonilla. 

DSP scorecard

The problem is solvable.

“It is our responsibility as an industry to fix this longstanding disparity for those who identify as female or non-binary, and be proactive in making change,” says Jaxsta’s Appleton, who announces a “world-first”  Explore feature on the music credits platform, which enables credited professionals to add their genders to their profiles.

“This is a systemic problem in the recording industry that we cannot ignore any longer,” says multiple Grammy Award winner Brandi Carlile of the findings.

The way forward “begins with the courage to take a chance on someone who may not be getting recognised regularly in the field. We have to start somewhere. It’s no one’s fault and everyone’s fault at the same time.”

Fellow artist Maggie Rogers adds, “We simply have to do better for women and non-binary creators in the industry.”

Part of the solution, its authors say, would see major labels extend their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives into hiring more women and non-binary producers and engineers — starting now.

“This study confirms what I’ve known after spending decades behind the board in the recording studio – women are not being given the same opportunities as men in production and engineering roles,” says Lazar, a Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer and chief of The Lodge.

“Ensuring that there is more gender and racial diversity among music’s creators is not actually a complex problem if you want to solve it. The most important step is for artists and record labels to be able to hire from a more diverse pool of producers, mixers and engineers, but it’s exceedingly hard to hire people when you can’t find them.”

With this report, concludes Lazar, decision-makers should have “the motivation and tools they need to make real change in their hiring practices so we can achieve gender parity in production, engineering and mastering roles.”

Read more here and download the full report here.

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