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More women registered as professional songwriters in 2020, but representation and compensation gaps still exist with their male peers

Femal singer-songwriter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

International Women’s Day is observed today, March 8, and in recognition of the global celebration, PRS for Music – the UK organization representing more than 150,000 music creators and publishers – has released new statistics on women in music.

The rights organization reported that 1,971 women registered as professional songwriters and composers in 2020, a 12.3% year-on-year increase from 2019. Additionally, over half (58%) of women joining PRS for Music in 2020 were under the age of 30.

Despite this uptick, however, PRS also reports that men continue to make up 81.7% of the organization’s membership, which is significantly higher than the numbers reported by the music industry as a whole.

Furthermore, while 2020 returned unusual financial results across the music industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PRS reports that male music creators still earned more money than women, with research showing that the top 10 highest earning female songwriters and composers generated 70% less income than their male counterparts.

Additionally, the drop in income for women reflects a widening gulf, with the deficit between the highest earning men and women being 67% in 2019. 

Further highlighting the gap, PRS stated that among all songwriters and composers who received a royalty in 2020 from their music being streamed, downloaded, broadcast or performed, only one in six (16.7%) were women.

PRS for Music states that it will be actively encouraging members and staff to support positive change to address current gender bias and inequality, in particular “singing to the tune of this year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme,” #ChooseToChallenge.

Said PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin: “Celebratory moments in the year like International Women’s Day are an important opportunity to reflect on the progress being made for gender equality around the world.

“PRS for Music and our industry has a long way to go. Initiatives like, Keychange, led by our charity partner, PRS Foundation, are doing incredibly important work to create a more sustainable and stronger music community for all genders. Creating equity and access to opportunity should be at the forefront of everything we do.”

For more information, head to PRS for Music.

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.