It’s International Women’s Day today, which means an inbox full of related press releases, many of which are simply new spins on things that were announced last year or the year before. Which neatly illustrates the challenge being tackled: the music industry is good at saying the right things (and sending out press releases about them) around diversity and inclusion, but progress can feel frustratingly slow.

Hopefully this year’s announcements can kick things along. Start with the Recording Academy in the US, which a year ago was in the awkward position of entering International Women’s Day having just suspended its first female CEO. Now it’s launching the latest study of women’s representation in the music industry, working with Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University.

“The study’s primary goals are to further establish a baseline analysis on women’s representation working in the American music industry, learn more about the available talent pool of women in music, and set priorities around music creators and aspects of mentorship,” claimed the Academy. It has also released some data showing the work to be done: a gender breakdown of this year’s Grammy Awards nominees. Just 23% of them are women.

Talking of studies, PRS for Music in the UK has put out some new data this morning, claiming that nearly 2,000 women registered as professional songwriters and composers in the UK last year, up 12.3% compared to 2019. And yet… “Currently 81.7% of professional songwriters and composers in the UK are male” and “the top 10 highest earning female songwriters and composers generated 70% less income than their male counterparts in 2020”. That gap has widened from 67% in 2019.

It’s good to have terrible data out in the open for discussion, not least because that discussion can be partly about why some of that data has got more terrible, not less, during the past two years of talking about creating a more diverse music industry. Still, it’s also true that more people are talking about these challenges, including more people in positions with the power to turn that talk into meaningful action.

Anyway, there will be plenty of announcements today. The UK’s National Album Day this year will be themed around ‘Celebrating Women in Music’; SheSaid·so is launching a month-long collaboration with TikTok in the UK, France, Spain and Italy for Q&As and ‘mentor moments’ with artists and executives; Impala is celebrating 20 of the women who’ve made their mark on its work in the last year, and the Music Venue Trust is doing a similar thing with women in the grassroots UK venues industry; Bandsintown is holding a 24-hour mix with Kitsuné Musique and SheSaid·so… Lots going on, but encouragingly, all with the stated aim that it’s the hard work over the next year that will make a difference, rather than just today’s activity.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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