Gendering music and Spotify

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Open up Spotify’s Global Top 50 Charts and you might notice something strange.

Other than a list of catchy, familiar songs, I can’t help but see all the women that are not on the charts. These days, it seems that the music industry is being more and more male-dominated. In the Grammy’s alone, not only were there fewer women nominees, there were even less women winners. The Academy of the Recording Arts itself recognizes this and even claimed that women need to “step up.”

Now, at the end of the day, a good song is a good song, no matter if it is written or performed by a woman or a man. And a bad song is just that. But it seems that less women are going into the industry to start with, and as a result, there are fewer songs being created by women. Even though some songs represent the universal human experience, this means that there are fewer songs dealing with a woman’s experience.

Looking at the top charts, there is a trend of pop and R&B music. Out of all the songs though, some of the only women mentioned are the likes of Dua Lipa, Camila Cabello, and Cardi B.

I suppose I find it strange that for a population that is nearly half female, a significantly smaller proportion of art represents this half of the worldwide population. Not only in terms of music, but films and books as well.

This problem is spread out over the genres, not only in what can be refer to as ‘club’ songs, but other types of music too, such as the country charts which continue to be very male-dominated.

On the local side of things, here in Waterloo this seems to be the trend as well. As a singer-songwriter myself, I have often found that I am either the only one or one of the few women present at events such as song writing circles, coffee houses, open mics, etc. This is not only my experience either – this sentiment has been echoed by many of my peers in the music scene, both male and female.

There may be many factors contributing to this. Is it motivation? On a professional level, do women face different challenges than men when trying to break into the industry?

Some things may still be unclear, but it seems to me that it is not only in the STEM fields that women are minorities, but the creative arts too.

Art is meant to capture and reflect the human experience. In order to do that, we must strive to encompass the whole of this sphere by including both women and men.

Paulina Morgan

4B Economics

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