Women are taking center stage in the music industry against all odds

It was a tough yet steady climb for women to be recognized as they deserve

Art by Christina Tran

Art by Christina Tran

This year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) are lined up with an all-female list of nominees for the coveted Artist of the Year category. This is a first for the category in VMA history, and other categories are also dominated by female nominees. Clearly, the music industry has shifted to recognize and acknowledge women for their excellence and artistry in their chosen craft. 

This domination may come to others as a surprise, but I think it was inevitable. It was only a matter of “when” a big moment like this would come, and fortunately, the spotlight is on women for their achievements, not only in the music industry, but across many platforms. 

Women faced many adversities in the past and present across different fields due to gender discrimination. In the music industry, they remain underrepresented and uncredited in many areas. 

A report on the music industry published in 2022 examined 1,000 popular songs from 2012 to 2021. Key findings suggest only 12.7 per cent of songwriters are women — a ratio of 6.8 men to one woman. Additionally, 21.8 per cent of artists, songwriters, and producers credited were women in the Billboard’s Hot 100 Year End Chart songs from 2012 to 2021 compared to 78 per cent of which were men. 

The report also found women comprise 3.9 per cent of producing positions in 2021 and only 2.8 per cent in 10 years. Women of colour also deal with more hurdles on top of this and have fewer opportunities and credits across the industry. 

The inequality and harsh circumstances for women in this field, and any field in general, stems from centuries-old historical standards of patriarchy that persisted into modern times. Being sexualized, objectified, taken advantage of, and undervalued are just some of the adversities women face on top of the challenges in their careers. 

The problem is deeply rooted and seems hopeless to overcome, but the continuous pushback to these ideologies has given new light to challenge current systems and break barriers. 

It’s important to mention women in the history of music who have continuously inspired people through the years and broken boundaries. 

Big names like Ella Fitzgerald, known as The First Lady of Song, the first Black woman to win a Grammy award, won 13 Grammys, and recorded over 200 albums. Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, was the first woman to be recognized in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and won eight Grammys for R&B music. 

Tina Turner, known as the Queen of Rock, became the first woman to cover the Rolling Stone magazine and had a staggering career since the 1950s. Honourable mentions for modern-day artists include Dolly Parton, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and more. 

While others may not see the relevance of another awarding ceremony, this year’s nominees represent positive change. This step in the right trajectory helps create an equitable and inclusive environment, not just in the music industry, but in every industry out there, to help represent women as independent, powerful, and fully capable to shine brightly in what they do. 

Women are now claiming their space and being recognized as they should.