Maxie Gedge

Behind the Scenes: Keychange

Keychange isn’t about taking opportunities away from men. It’s about providing more opportunities so we can all have more excellent music.

  • 3 Mar 2020
  • min read

In the run up to International Women’s Day, we asked PRS Foundation’s own Maxie Gedge to take us Behind the Scenes at Keychange – an initiative funded by Creative Europe and multiple collection societies across Europe and Canada.

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 ‘Keychange is an international initiative that supports women, gender minority artists and innovators through a comprehensive talent development programme. It also encourages music organisations to sign up to a gender pledge in order to achieve better representation in all areas of their work.

‘It started as a European extension of PRS Foundation's Women Make Music fund. Using what we know from our work in the UK, we have built a programme that focuses on confidence building and creating a positive, safe initiative that is also very collaborative.'

The numbers

‘The gender stats from PRS for Music that lead us to start Women Make Music are not specific to the UK. Across our collection society partners, on average, only 17% of members said that they’re women. Now, there are more recent studies that show the industry-wide imbalance.'

  • 2.6% of the top 800 songs in the US from 2012 - 2019 were produced by women (1)
  • 14.18% of writers signed to UK publishers are female (2)
  • In the British Festival Report of UK ‘ring leaders’ in 2019, 16 of the 22 line-ups surveyed were over 80% male-dominated
  • 48% of Musicians' Union members surveyed said they have been sexually harassed at work

The happenings

‘We’ve just launched the talent development programme in Stockholm with a brilliant cohort of 74 participants for 2020. There’s some incredible talent on the list. From the UK we’re working with the likes of Anais, Machine Women and Islet, and innovators Katie Tavini, Kat Kennedy and Shekayla Maragh. The idea is that the full network will collaborate, showcase, workshop new ideas, meet inspirational role models, and ultimately get the opportunity to progress in the music industry whilst making the change that they think needs to be made.

'We’re also working with on a mentoring programme. For this core activity, we have 13 partners from 12 countries who will all host Keychange activity and all shine a spotlight on this amazing network of future leaders and headliners. 

Talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t, so we are working hard to provide more of them.

‘Day to day, I work on Keychange with PRS Foundation, as well as project managers in Stockholm and Amsterdam via Hamburg. Francine Gorman also works from London and manages the pledge. Through this pledge, we facilitate a kind of contract where organisations state a target - an area of their work where they would like to achieve gender parity. Francine is in constant communication with all signatories and regularly monitors their progress, as well as providing resources for learning and best practice.'

The challenges

‘It’s still a challenge for festivals and all music organisations to achieve appropriate representation because it will take a long time for us to see the effect at all career stages - so we can see and access equal talent at all levels. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t, so we are working hard to provide more of them. 

'We need to make sure that the talent pool that programmers and commissioners are booking from is representative. The first step is all about taking accountability and accepting that there’s a problem, and unless you start to make change and positive moves towards inclusion, you’re part of the problem. That’s a difficult first step that many individuals and organisations find challenging.’


‘Keychange isn’t about taking opportunities away from men. It’s about providing more opportunities so we can all have more excellent music. Equality will be a positive for everyone and it’s incredibly important that we all take responsibility and fight for those that are underrepresented.

‘If you’d like to get involved in Keychange or sign the pledge, go to - we’d love to hear from you!’


  1. From the Billboard 100, according to the Annenburg Inclusion Initiative
  2. According to Vick Bain’s ‘Counting the Music Industry’ Report