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  • Writer's pictureSophie Smith

New report shows horrendous gender pay gap in the music industry

new reports shoes horrendous gender pay in the music industry

In 2021 we are still experiencing horrific gender pay gaps in the music industry. Now to most of us, it unfortunately doesn’t come as a surprise, as it's prevalent in any industry. But this topic has been in the news for years, and we’re still not seeing progress quick enough.

Music Business Worldwide released an article yesterday breaking down earnings of companies in the UK. All the companies involved had to have more than 250 employees. The publishing of results was mandatory, to analyse and keep an eye on the gender pay gap. As you can expect, the numbers are shocking all around, but we’re going to get down to the music business.

The findings

Across 3 of the major music industry bodies the gender pay gap is a disappointing reminder that not enough is being done. In Universal Music UK, it was revealed that women are paid 29.2% less than their male counterparts, Sony Music’s UK gender pay gap was the lowest at 25.4% and Warner Music UK peaking at 30%.

Unsurprisingly women also received lower bonuses than men across the music industry. The classic culprits, Warner Music UK are yet again showing their lack of equality by peaking at a whopping 65.6% pay gap. Yes, you heard that right. Men’s bonuses are 65.6% bigger. Sony Music UK’s gender pay gap was at another high with 50.4% and Universal Music UK not far behind them with a 49.6% pay gap.

Streaming giants

Let's face it, nearly all of us use some sort of streaming service for music. But it isn’t looking promising for the gender pay gaps here either. Starting off with Spotify UK, women are paid 15.3% less than men. Though the stats are significantly lower than the likes of Sony, Universal and Warner it is still far too high. For doing the exact same job, men are still receiving more pay. The bonuses for men at Spotify UK are 40.3% higher than what women receive. I would honestly roll my eyes if it wasn’t so soul destroying.

Streaming giant number 2, Apple UK. A little higher than Spotify, women are paid 18% less than men. UGH. Though the bonuses are slightly less, you guessed it, men are still receiving WAY MORE than women. 33% in fact.

Live Nation UK pays their female employees 34.3% less than their male colleagues and receive 33% less bonus pay than their fellow male peers too.

Nadia Khan, founder of Women in CTRL commented on these shocking figures:

“The gender pay gap stats published yesterday are a stark reminder that gender equality in the music industry is still a myth.”

The most worrying part of these studies is, little seems to change from year to year, meaning that publishing statistics on the gender pay gap isn’t leading to any positive action at all.

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, gender pay gaps are apparent in all industries. A new study conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (ISF) reported that women earn less than men because they are choosing the wrong subjects to study at university.

“Women make up just a third of graduates in economics, the subject with the highest financial returns, and two thirds of graduates in creative arts, the subject with the lowest returns.”

Not only is this laughable, it’s hugely disrespectful to women who work just as hard as their male counterparts- who are earning significantly more than them in creative roles- and is quite honestly partially sighted. To completely ignore the misogyny at play is neglectful. Women are more likely to graduate from university with higher qualifications such as a first class or upper second class degree than men are, so there really is no excuse for such distasteful statistics.

The research has also shown that the pay gap between men and women’s earnings does sharply increase after women have their first child due to the lack of parental support. But it cannot be blamed on having children, as the research shows that before women even have their first child they are already paid less than men.

What needs to change

We’re well aware that snapping our fingers isn’t going to bring immediate and permanent change in the industry, but there are smaller changes that can get us there:

  • Pay transparency! The toxic culture of being told not to talk about wages is often what leads to these unforgivable pay gaps. Getting rid of secrecy around salary is beneficial to men and women. It could even lead to people working harder to get to the bigger roles, because they can see the bigger picture.

  • Job advertisements listing salary. Going into a job knowing exactly what the pay is means people know what to expect too.

  • Publish action plans with timelines. Another attempt at transparency means that not only can these industry giants be held accountable, but everyone can see which companies are dedicated to positive change for women.

It is demoralising for women to be paid such a lower wage than men for doing the EXACT SAME JOB. Women already don’t have it easy within the music industry due to minimal parental support and the worrying attitudes towards expiry dates. It is no wonder that we are seeing women leave the music industry when it has continued to be a hostile place and ignoring women’s needs. The industry needs to be a more nurturing space for women rather than this volatile cesspit of misogyny.

What you can do

Now you may not have a huge following on social media, but that doesn’t matter. Use your voice no matter who you are to talk about these stats, share them around, talk about them. The more people that know, the more people who can stand against this blatant misogyny. Men and women need to unite to spark the overdue change.


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