Be The Change Study Details Gender-Based Inequalities in Music, Includes Telling Foreword from JoJo

In observance of International Women’s Day, TuneCore/Believe have shared the third installment of their gender equality study in conjunction with entertainment data company Luminate.

In an effort to take action against gender discrimination, bias and inequality in the music industry, this year’s edition of the study surveyed over 1,500 professionals across major and independent labels — including creators, distributors, live music execs, managers, publicists, radio and more — representing a total of 109 different countries.

Some of the issues targeted include sexual harassment in the workplace, the need for changes in hiring practices, the continued education of employees on how to confront such issues, and the demand for diversification of artist line-ups at live events.

The most striking findings reveal that 34% of women working in the music industry who participated in this year’s study have previusly reported being sexually harassed or abused at work; that number is increased to 42% and 43% for trans and nonbinary individuals, respectively.

Also, more than half of the music industry professionals and creators who responded to the survey agree that men are paid more than others in the industry though those in Africa (38%), Asia-Pacific (42%), and Latin America and the Caribbean (44%) are less likely to view gender discrimination in the music industry as a problem. Industry professionals and creators in Europe (59%) and North America (68%) are more likely to view gender discrimination in the music industry as a problem.

The new report also features a foreword by singer-songwriter and actress JoJo who details her struggles and triumphs across her 20 years as an artist.

“Change is possible when we reflect, learn and then choose to grow. There’s a hopefulness found in refusing to let history repeat itself,” wrote JoJo. “Next year, I’ll be celebrating my 20-year anniversary in the music industry as a public figure, a journey that started when I was a young teenager. When I reflect on that time, I realize it’s hard for me to separate the formation of my identity as an adult woman from my identity as an artist. And while those blurry lines come from both external and internal influences, I’ve recently wondered if my male peers consider themselves ‘male artists.’ My suspicion is that the term is not as ubiquitous for them as the term ‘female artist’ is for myself and my fellow women in music, whether in the press, in business meetings, or in the studio.”

The study also includes comments and insights by Lzzy Hale, frontwoman of Halestorm, and artist and activist Jessica Betts, alongside a group of Believe and TuneCore’s global roster of artists, including Canada’s Alysha Brilla, Mexico’s Erika Vidrio, Italy’s Beatrice Dellacasa, and India’s Shalmali Kholgade, who all share personal reflections of gender inequality and inequity in the industry.

“The good news is that ‘Be The Change’ is now in its third year and we’ve seen the study’s impact. It’s been quoted by the United Nations and widely discussed in creator and executive circles across the industry,” said TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson in a statement. “But here’s the bad news – we need more change. We, as individuals and as an industry must heed the calls to action and do just that – take action. Small changes add up and if we each do something different each day, week, month, year, we will see a sea change in the industry. So let’s go!”

“The development of a more diverse and equitable music industry is one of the core goals of Believe’s Shaping Music for Good strategy,” added Denis Ladegaillerie, CEO of Believe. “We have consistently worked to support gender equality and will ensure that the insights provided by this year’s Be The Change study will encourage even more of our industry peers to join us in shaping a more respectful, diverse, and transparent music industry for all.”

Find the complete report and JoJo’s letter here.

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