It is almost 2018 and we still live in a world with great gender inequality.
Examples are everywhere, from conservative industries to liberal ones. The bottom line is: in general, unfortunately society is still predominantly run by men and rewards (e.g. financial and non-financial) much more the male gender in pretty much every context.
It is truly an unfair game and, as a men, I feel deeply disappointed to notice that, despite advances, we are still moving very slowly towards gender equality.
But how is gender inequality in the music industry? Can our consumption of music also reveal gender inequalities?
One easy way for me to displayed it to you is by highlighting a quick analysis of the Billboard charts. Essentially, for years the Billboard charts have been a reference for the music industry as one of the most trustworthy “thermometers” of listener behavior.
As the year 2017 is near the end, I’d like to show you an overview of the “Top Artist” End of Year charts.
Analysis of Billboard Charts Category: “Top Artists”
I will present to you the analysis of “End of Year” charts.
Importantly, Billboard ranks the Top 100 artists based on the combination of three main factors throughout each year: Radio play, sales figures and streaming data.
As Billboard clarifies: “Ranking is based on an artist’s chart performance on the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard 200 and Social 50, as well as Boxscore touring revenue“.
So in essence the Billboard charts will allow an understanding of the scenario from a consumer perspective.
For the analysis, I ranked all “Top Artists” during a 12 year period: 2006-2017.
(Ps: The artists were ranked by Billboard from 1-100, however between the years 2009-2006 artists were ranked from 1-50).
To start the discussion let me just highlight an astonishing fact: In 2017 the best ranked female artist within the “Top Artists” in on 15th (!!!) place, with Ariana Grande.
Results are summarized on the chart below:
Here are a few quick observations:
- Female artists represent on average only 25% of the Top 100 artists.
- Since 2013 the number of female artists has been declining on the Top 100.
- In 2017 female artists account for only 15% (!!!) of artists on the Top 100.
- Sadly, the year with greatest representation is 2008 (considering only the Top 50 artists) where females represented 36% of the distribution. This is nearly 10 years ago.
If we restrict the data and have a look only at the “Top 10” artists, the results are even more interesting. See the chart below:
Two quick observations:
- Within the last 12 years, only three times (2014, 2009-8) there were more female artists than male artists on the top 10.
- There are no female artists in the Top 10 in 2017.
An important fact that the graphs do not show is that female representation on the Top 10 in the last 12 years has been limited to mostly only 6 different artists (Adele, Lady Gaga,Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Beyonce and Katy Perry).
These 6 artists are responsible for over 75% of the total representation of female artists in the last 12 years. Incredible, isn’t it?
The male representation, as you can imagine, is much more evenly distributed.
It is astonishing to notice that gender inequality is everywhere we observe. Issues have been raised in sports, academia, politics and many other industries.
The music industry is no different and the gap shown here is incredible.
Moreover, the Top 100 Artists from Billboard reveals the discrepancy from a consumer perspective. It takes into consideration the listeners’ consumption of music, through streaming, sales and others.
By doing so, it highlights listeners’ preference for male artists. In sum, it is a reflection of societal paradigms, corporate interests and lack of effort to revert the situation.
Consequently, it influences consumption and this is easily demonstrated through the previous charts.
Once again, music is no different.
It is simply another reflection of the society we live in.