While female recording artists have always been at the forefront of the music industry, it’s behind the scenes where things gets a bit more scarce. In fact, according to Dr. Stacy Smith’s USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, only 2 percent of music producers and 3 percent of engineers/mixers within the music industry are women.
Thankfully, the recently announced Producer and Engineering Inclusion Initiative is looking to jumpstart those abysmal numbers by confronting the rampant gender inequality that permeates the music industry.
And it’s backed by some pretty heavy names: The aforementioned Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, and a host of other artists, producers such as “4:44" beatsmith No I.D. and Salaam Remi, record labels such as Atlantic Records, Def Jam, and RCA, managers and management companies such as Scooter Braun and Quincy Jones Productions, and agencies such as Roc Nation, William Morris Endeavor, and She Is The Music.
The Recording Academy Task Force on Inclusion and Diversity is announcing the first ever industry-wide Producer and Engineering Inclusion Initiative. Together with prominent producers, labels, artists, agencies, management companies, and other stakeholders we’re making strides to create industry-wide change.
The Initiative asks that at least two women are identified and therefore considered as part of the selection process every time a music producer or engineer is hired. It also asks working producers to agree to take issues of gender diversity within music’s technical fields into account when deciding who to mentor and hire for further development.
Expanding opportunities for female producers and engineers is not only right and fair, but it also benefits music and artists by broadening the talent pool to best match the needs of each project. Similarly, established female engineers and producers will inspire more young women and girls to pursue technical careers in the music industry and lessen the gender gap.
For sports heads, this sounds eerily similar to the Rooney Rule—in which NFL owners are required to interview minority candidates for head coaching or general manager vacancies.
But while the results in the NFL have been varied—as there are currently only 3 minority head coaches out of 32 teams despite the players being 70% black, and often times interviewing minority candidates is purely performative—this initiative does provide women with a seat at the table. Which isn’t the end all be all, but is definitely a step in the right direction.
“As an artist and member of the Recording Academy, I’m proud to join this pledge and appreciate the work of the Task Force to bring this forward,” Common said in a statement. “Women deserve as much opportunity as men, and we know this industry has not always been fair. The only way to change these inequities is for us to face it directly and commit to do more.”