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News February 21, 2019

Report: Male pop stars and group dominated last year’s biggest hits

Staff Writer
Report: Male pop stars and group dominated last year’s biggest hits

The gender gap is growing in Britain’s music industry. BBC research found three times as many male acts as female pop stars featured on the biggest hits of 2018.

Data from the Official Chart Company, which compiles the UK charts, showed that 91 men or all-male groups were credited on the Top 100 singles.

It was 30 female acts – the same as in 2008.

Ten years ago 35 of the Top 100 hits were credited only to women. It slipped to 13 last year.

The BBC gave some reasons as to why this was happening:

* The increased number of collaborations (as in, Pop Star A featuring Star B) is heavily skewered to males

It’s risen from 59 men in 2008 to 91 in 2018. Collaborations between males and females only rose from 10 to 25

* The charts were dominated by rap and dance, traditionally male-dominated, over girl groups and singer-songwriters

Feedback from the music industry was that the growing gender gap was not due to fans wanting to hear more males.

Rita Ora’s manager Sarah Stennett said, “It’s the choice they’re given” saying the fault lies with the “gatekeepers” – the people who decide what gets promoted on streaming platforms, on the radio and at festivals.

They aren’t sexist as individuals, but there is a “systemic” problem, she believes.

Coincidentally, the report came out as the SMIRNOFF Equalising Music campaign intensified its gender parity efforts with the Equalising Music Pledge.

This sees people in the biz making pledges to individually find ways to generate equality on a daily basis.

The SMIRNOFF Equalising Music, launched in 2017, is a three-year global initiative to double the amount of female and female-identifying headliners at festivals, and to inspire the next generation of DJs.

Equalising began when 2016 figures showed that 17% of headliners at international festivals were women, 5% of recognised producers were women, only three solo women had won the Mercury Prize in its 22-year history.

The pledge is endorsed by PRS Foundation’s Keychange, which this week highlighted issues that females in the music industry face, and has persuaded more than 150 festivals to fulfil a 50/50 gender balance across their lineups.

It provides more examples of issues needing solutions.

Just 17% of Performing Rights Society’s registered songwriters are female, women are paid an average of 30% less at major record companies and only 15% of labels are majority owned by women.


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