Spotify and Max Martin launch diversity-focused The Equalizer Project


Spotify is launching a new initiative in Sweden called The Equalizer Project, which will focus on the role of women in the music industry.

The streaming service is working with partners the Swedish Music Publishers’ Association and songwriter Max Martin’s MXM Publishing on the project, which will hold its first seminar tonight in Stockholm.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek will join Martin at the event, with the company saying it was partly prompted by the realisation that of the 226 songwriters contributing to Spotify’s top 50 tracks of 2016, only 13.7% were women.

“Women are still hugely underrepresented in the music industry. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally you won’t find many female producers, A&Rs, agents or artist managers. And that’s because in the past, women weren’t expected or encouraged to succeed in these positions,” Spotify Nordic MD Jenny Hermanson told Music Ally.

“What’s more, the vast majority of songwriters and composers are also men. More women are starting to emerge in these fields, but they remain massively outnumbered. Most of the music we listen to is still written or produced by men – in fact, just one song in the Top 50 Global Spotify Chart 2016 was [solely] written by a woman.”

(That song was Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ if you’re wondering – it enjoyed a new lease of life in 2016 thanks to a dance remake by Jonas Blue ft. Dakota.)

The Equalizer Project

The Equalizer Project has already held its first networking dinner

Spotify has highlighted some other unwanted statistics around the role of women in the industry, ahead of tonight’s seminar.

The company says that in the last 30 years, only 12 women have been nominated as producer of the year in the Swedish Grammys, with only four of them winning – compared to 195 male nominees, 49 of whom have won.

According to Hermanson, The Equalizer Project has several concrete policies in mind to start tackling this state of affairs.

“First of all, we need to encourage more women to work in the music industry by rejecting traditional notions of what a producer or songwriter should be. We should also support women’s personal and professional development wherever possible,” she said.

“Secondly, we should make those in the business reflect on who they’re working with and why. Could they recruit and involve more female producers and songwriters? Again, this is often a case of looking for talent outside personal networks and going the extra mile to diversify.”

The project will include networking events and a podcast, as well as tonight’s seminar in Stockholm. Hermanson said that the more public this debate is, the better.

“We need to fuel discussion of the current situation and encourage everyone to question industry norms,” she said. “We also need to encourage people to look for talent outside their personal networks in order for the music industry to diversify.”

Written by: Stuart Dredge