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Tipping the scales: New figures show more women entering songwriting profession

Nearly 2,000 women registered as professional songwriters and composers in the UK in 2020, up 12.3% year-on-year

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New figures released today (8 March), International Women’s Day 2021, show that despite increases in women entering the profession, gender balance within the professional songwriter and composer community remains heavily skewed towards men.

In 2020, PRS for Music, the organisation that represents over 150,000 music creators and publishers, recorded 1,971 women registering as professional songwriters and composers. This represents a 12.3% year-on-year increase compared to 2019, and near twofold increase (79.6%) compared to 2018, when 1,097 women registered. Over half (58%) of women joining PRS for Music in 2020 were under the age of 30.

Despite progress, men make up 81.7% of PRS for Music’s membership, which is significantly higher than the music industry as a whole. Umbrella body, UK Music, reported the proportion of women working in the music industry had reached a record high of 49.6% in its latest Diversity Report for 2020.

While last year was an unprecedented financial year for the entire music industry due to the pandemic, male music creators still earned more money than women. Research released today found that the top 10 highest earning female songwriters and composers, generated 70% less income than their male counterparts in 2020. The drop in income for women reflects a widening of the gap compared to 2019, where the deficit between the highest earning men and women was 67%.

Of 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, highlighting the ongoing challenges women face as music creators when vying for opportunities for their music to be heard.

There is still much work to do to bridge the gender gap and PRS for Music, along with industry partners, is playing its part. For example, PRS for Music is actively collaborating with Girls I Rate, founded by songwriter Carla Marie Williams, to effect change and create opportunities for young women entering the music industry to succeed. While recent activities with Women in CTRL, founded by songwriter Nadia Khan, set up to empower women and underrepresented groups to advocate for fairness and equality in the music business, are focussed on dramatically increasing gender diversity within senior leadership roles on the PRS Members’ Council.

Across the music industry, PRS for Music will be actively encouraging members and staff to support positive change to address current gender bias and inequality, singing to the tune of this year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme, #ChooseToChallenge.

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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.

Andrea Czapary Martin, Chief Executive, PRS for Music
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We are incredibly proud to welcome almost 2,000 women joining the PRS for Music community as professional songwriters and composers in 2020, showing creativity is alive and well. Dedication to the craft is still thriving and music creators have shown great resilience through the pandemic. While promising, this number represents just a quarter of our new joiners. We continue to work closely with our members and wider music community to inspire the next generation of music creators from all backgrounds, as we all work together towards a more balanced, representative music industry.

Michelle Escoffery, Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter and President of the PRS Members’ Council

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of over 155,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the UK and around the world.  On behalf of its members, it works to grow and protect the value of their rights and ensure that creators are paid transparently and efficiently whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2020, 22.4 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music, with £699m paid out in royalties to its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations. 

PRS for Music’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music. 

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