Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles

Fix the Mix unveils its first annual report on gender representation in audio production and engineering roles plus calls on major labels to extend DEI initiatives into hiring more women and non-binary producers and engineers

Study conducted by We Are Moving the Needle, Jaxsta, Middle Tennessee State University, and Howard University finds that while women and non-binary people are more likely to be credited in junior roles in the technical fields, they are vastly underrepresented in senior roles

Fix the Mix unveiled its first annual report on gender representation in audio production and engineering roles today in conjunction with We Are Moving the Needle, Jaxsta, Middle Tennessee State University, and Howard University.

Titled “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“, 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 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.

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles

Fix the Mix is an initiative launched in 2022 by We Are Moving the Needle and Jaxsta, the world’s largest database of official music credits, along with other music 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.

While acknowledging the groundbreaking studies about the music industry produced by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Fix the Mix report dives deeper into the Annenberg study’s finding that only 2.8% of producers and engineers are women by untethering those two groups of technical 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 who are credited in senior studio roles versus those credited in junior studio roles.

Additionally, the Fix the Mix report 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.

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.” –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

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,” said co-author Emily Lazar, 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.”

The Fix The Mix report analyzes data from one year (2022) across a total of 1,128 songs (757 top streamed songs), 30 GRAMMY-winning albums, 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 the music industry’s major DSPs, the Recording Academy’s published list of the 65th GRAMMY Award winners, and the RIAA.

The credit dataset for these songs and albums was supplied by Jaxsta, which, at the time of this report’s release, is the only official music credits database in the industry. The streaming consumption data used to rank songs across this report was sourced from Chartmetric, a music data analytics tool.

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles

Key Findings

  • The credits for the Top 10 streamed tracks of 2022 across five major DSPs reveal a significant gender gap, with only 16 of the 240 credited producers and engineers being women and non-binary people (6.7%).
  • Among the DSPs, the Best of 2022 playlists sourced from TikTok and Spotify have the weakest representation of women and non-binary people in technical roles, with only 3.6% and 3.7% in key positions, respectively. The top songs on Apple Music have the highest representation of women and non-binary people across DSPs with 8.9% in key positions.
  • Analysis of credits in the Top 10 songs across DSPs and genres shows that women and non-binary individuals are more highly concentrated within assistant roles than in key technical roles. In all 3 DSPs and 10 genres that report any assistant credits in the dataset (regardless of gender), assistant roles have 12.6 percentage points more women and non-binary people on average than do key technical roles. These findings challenge a misconception that women and non-binary individuals lack the qualifications to be hired as producers and engineers. Instead, the data suggests that they are qualified and present in the proper entry-level roles, but they are not advancing to the next level.
  • Of all Top 50 songs across 14 genres examined in this report, Metal has the lowest percentage of women and non-binary people credited in key technical roles at 0.0%, with Rap and Christian & Gospel trailing closely at 0.7% and 0.8% respectively.
  • Of the 14 genres in this report, Electronic stands out 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.
  • 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%).
  • A total of 3,785 technical credits across 634 songs were analyzed across 14 genres (note that 36 songs were listed across two different genres). In total, 65 women and non-binary people were credited out of 1,260 total producers (5.2%) and 46 were credited out of 1,480 total engineers (3.1%).

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles

We’ve got such a long way to go to reach parity in the studio, but I know we can get there,” said 9x GRAMMY Award-winner and We Are Moving the Needle soundBoard member, Brandi Carlile. “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.”

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles
Brandi Carlile; 9x GRAMMY Award-winner and We Are Moving the Needle soundBoard member

We simply have to do better for women and non-binary creators in the industry” declared GRAMMY-nominated artist and producer and soundBoard member Maggie Rogers. “It’s heartening to see more women and non-binary individuals enrolling in audio and production programs, and I’m dedicated to supporting their growth through organizations like We Are Moving the Needle.”

Fix The Mix Unveils Its First Annual Report On Gender Representation In Audio Production & Engineering Roles
Maggie Rogers; GRAMMY-nominated artist and producer and soundBoard member

The report finishes with a list of recommendations and solutions to address the gender gap, including accurately crediting all technical contributors, diversifying hiring practices, educating the industry, finding and hiring women and non-binary producers and engineers, demanding data transparency, amplifying representation and encouraging active participation, supporting the changemakers, and developing forward-facing solutions.

Jaxsta has already begun making it easier to search for and find women and non-binary professionals to hire in its global database by recently enabling its Explore function, which allows credited personnel to add their genders to their profiles.

We are exceptionally proud that Jaxsta’s Explore functionality now enables creatives and talent to be found by their gender, ethnicity and more. It is our responsibility as an industry to fix this longstanding disparity for those who identify as female or non-binary, and be proactive in making change. In a world-first, producers, engineers, songwriters and all those who bring their creativity and talent to the making of records, will now have the ability to claim and edit their profile featuring their Official Music Credits, incorporating characteristics that open up opportunities for employment.” –co-author Beth Appleton, CEO, Jaxsta

I hope this report serves as a wake-up call for record labels, artists, and others who hire producers, engineers, and other technical creatives who record songs. Until we see women and non-binary people hired and invited to the table where decisions are made, the industry will continue to merely pay lip service to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” said Keel.

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