Addressing the gender gap by creating free resources for women in music

12 August 2022

A woman drops a guitar solo
Guitar solo
Type: Text
Category: Student work

This piece was written by BSc(Hons) Business & Digital Marketing student Sally Freke. During the Social Action Project module on her course, Sally decided to address the gender gap in the music industry head by developing a free digital marketing masterclass for women working in music – Metalette. Read on to find out more about the project.

The making of Metalette

For my final university project, I was tasked with developing a social action project – a business that would drive real social change - in an industry of my choosing.

As a woman who loves heavy metal but sometimes feels like I’m looking in from the outside, it was clear where I should direct my focus: addressing the gender gap in the music industry.

There is a gender gap in the music industry at every level. In 2020, women accounted for 40% of senior positions in the UK music industry (Njoku-Goodwin et al., 2020). However, the number of women working in creative roles such as artists (21.8%), songwriters (12.7%), and producers (2.8%) are much lower (Smith et al., 2021).

You just need to look at the gender pay gap reports of key UK music industry companies to see the issue at play. The mean gender pay gap of Universal Holdings, Sony Music, and Apple Music was 28.2% in 2020, with all three companies reporting the vast majority of people in the top earning quartile to be men - 74%, 61%, and 87% respectively (Stassen, 2021). This is unacceptable, but change won’t happen unless we start taking action.

Inclusion and diversity are essential in any business, especially the arts. They provide different perspectives, cultures, and a balance of voices. Without diversity and inclusion, cultures would become echo chambers, with original thoughts and creative ideas becoming extinct.

While this is bad for the arts, it is also bad for business.

Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle et al. (2020) found in their research that businesses with higher diversity in both gender and ethnic culture were likely to outperform those who did not. Their study found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above average profitability compared to those in the fourth quartile. Diversity, inclusion, and most importantly, equality, are essential to a profitable bottom line. So why are women missing in music?

I have been working with women in the music industry to better understand the barriers they face. Throughout my research a common theme has appeared. Sexism. In a survey sent to women in music, 100% said they had experienced sexism when booking a gig and 90% when playing a gig.

It’s no wonder women aren’t working in the industry when it can be such a hostile place for them.

One woman writes:

“We are seen to not have the same abilities as men, so booked less, paid less and treated as though we are dumb.

“We are made to feel like we have to go against other females in what feels like a beauty pageant style of work, but men would never be booked or not depending on how they look.”

To address the issue, and with the aim of rebalancing the industry, my social action project is a digital marketing agency for women in rock and heavy metal named Metalette.

Metalette has a FREE digital marketing masterclass available for anyone to use to boost their marketing skills. It will soon be offering a selection of memberships providing bespoke marketing services.

There is no lack of female talent, just a lack of female representation and Metalette is working to change this. For good.

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