The Fix the Mix initiative has released its first annual report on gender representation in audio production and engineering roles today, “Lost In The Mix: An Analysis of Credited Technical Professionals in the Music Industry Highlighting Women and Non-Binary Producers and Engineers Across DSP Playlists, Genres, Awards, and Record Certifications.”
Released in conjunction with We Are Moving the Needle, Jaxsta, Middle Tennessee State University and Howard University, the report confirms that women and non-binary people are vastly underrepresented in audio production and engineering roles across genres, the most-streamed songs of 2022 and of all time. It also concludes that women and non-binary people are more likely to be credited in junior roles in the technical fields, while senior studio roles are still out of reach.
The Fix The Mix report analyzed data from 2022 across a total of 1,128 songs (757 top streamed songs), 30 Grammy-winning albums, the Top 50 songs from the Spotify Billions Playlist, the Top 50 songs from the RIAA Diamond Certified Records List, and a breakdown of technical creator roles by distributor. The song and album data used in the report were sourced from major DSPs, the published list of the 65th Grammy winners, and the RIAA.
The report dives deeper into USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s findings that only 2.8% of producers and engineers are women by untethering those two groups of professionals and looking at each role—producing and engineering—separately. Fix the Mix drills down to compare the number of women and non-binary people credited in senior studio roles versus those credited in junior studio roles. Additionally, it analyzes data by the 14 most popular genres and finds that the levels of representation for women and non-binary individuals vary significantly, ranging from 0% to 17.6% in specific genres.
Among the interesting facts from the report is that Electronic music stands out as a genre for its relatively high representation of women and non-binary people in producer roles, accounting for 17.6% of all producer credits on the Top 50 songs of 2022. Folk & Americana is close behind at 16.4%. When considering both key technical roles of producer and engineer, Folk & Americana arguably has the best gender representation, as it holds the second highest percentage for women and non-binary people in both producer roles and engineering roles. The report also revealed looking at how women and non-binary people show up in engineer credits, Folk & Americana (6.4%) is second only to R&B (7.2%).
The Fix the Mix report closes with suggestions that are, “meant to empower both major music industry players and individuals to drive measurable change,” including a call for the major music companies to extend their well-funded DEI initiatives beyond full-time employees to also include the hiring of more women and non-binary producers and engineers for their releases.
“This study confirms what I’ve known after spending decades behind the board in the recording studio—women are not being given the same opportunities as men in production and engineering roles,” says co-author Emily Lazar, a Grammy award-winning mastering engineer and founder of We Are Moving The Needle. “Ensuring that there is more gender and racial diversity among music’s creators is not actually a complex problem if you want to solve it. The most important step is for artists and record labels to be able to hire from a more diverse pool of producers, mixers and engineers, but it’s exceedingly hard to hire people when you can’t find them. We hope this report will give decision makers the motivation and tools they need to make real change in their hiring practices so we can achieve gender parity in production, engineering and mastering roles.”
“We’ve got such a long way to go to reach parity in the studio, but I know we can get there,” says Brandi Carlile, a We Are Moving the Needle soundBoard member. “This is a systemic problem in the recording industry that we cannot ignore any longer. I’m not sure everyone knows exactly where to start…but it begins with the courage to take a chance on someone who may not be getting recognized regularly in the field. We have to start somewhere. It’s no one’s fault and everyone’s fault at the same time. Even me. I urge my fellow artists and producers to make hiring decisions that work toward a more equitable future.”
“While this research notes the genres that have the best and worst gender representations, it is important to note that every genre needs improvement in representation of women and non-binary people. It is difficult to fathom that representation remains so pitifully low in 2023. In any other industry, these low percentages of the genres that have the best gender representation would be an embarrassment, so I hope these ‘high achievers’ are not resting on their laurels. There should be no pride in being the best of the worst. It should go without saying that the genres with the lowest representation should convene their leaders to quickly develop solutions to this problem,” adds co-author Beverly Keel, Dean of Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment, Co-founder of Change the Conversation and Co-founder of Nashville Music Equality.
Fix the Mix was launched in 2022 by We Are Moving the Needle and Jaxsta, the world’s largest database of official music credits, along with other organizations focused on closing the enormous gender gap in the music industry, particularly in behind-the-scenes roles. The authors of the study are Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer and We Are Moving the Needle founder, Emily Lazar; Jaxsta CEO, Beth Appleton; Dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, Beverly Keel; data scientist, audio engineer and assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, Meghan Smyth; mix engineer, producer, Grammy-nominated artist and educator Carolyn Malachi, who teaches audio production courses in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University; producer and engineer and Recording Academy Trustee, Jordan Hamlin; We Are Moving the Needle’s program director, Jasmine Kok and project manager Gabriela Rodriguez Bonilla.
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