It looks like Spotify can’t spot enough gender diversity in the music industry. For that reason, Spotify, the Swedish Music Publishers’ Association (SMPA), and MXM Publishing created The Equalizer Project, which is an initiative aimed at addressing and correcting the deficit in gender diversity in the music industry.
Lacking gender equality in the music industry is no new issue. SMPA reports that, since the Swedish Grammy Award for music producer was introduced, 12 women have been nominated and only four have actually won the award. It’s overshadowed by the 149 nominations and 49 wins by men. Similarly, in 2016, women were only 13.7 percent of the songwriters on Spotify’s top ten list of popular songs.
Supporters of the project, Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek and Swedish music producer Max Martin reflected on their understanding of the issue. “There is no reason a company like Spotify shouldn’t be able to be completely gender-equal,” said Ek.
Ek admits that attaining gender balance begins with a shift in mentality. “I believe you have to start with yourself, think about your bad habits and prejudices, not only in your profession but generally in life. Why do I assume that a doctor is a man? Something is indoctrinated from very early on,” admitted Ek. “Those are the kind of things that got me thinking about stuff like that, so it’s about educating yourself and then questioning yourself, ‘Why did I behave like that? Why did I assume that?’”
Moreover, Ek believes that with more diversity in the music industry, his company will be more accessible and the products of the industry will ultimately be more creative. “In our case, we want to be a platform for everyone,” said Ek. “Looking at the music industry, I think we might be a bit excluding as a group because when looking globally at top lists and the top songwriters, women are very underrepresented. I think the product that is Spotify would be perceived differently if more women came through, and it would be amazing to see what would happen to the music culture, what would happen to the actual music, because most importantly, it’s something I’m sure would lead to a more tolerant and open society than what we have today.”
As a music producer, Martin can simply look around him and see how few women are in the studio. “After sitting in the studio for so many years, working with lots of women and mostly singers, when it came to technical skills, there were no women at all,” said Martin. “It’s one thing to speak about it and another to actually do something about it,” he added, explaining that as he spoke about the issue with Ek, “this idea to stop talking and start doing something grew more and more.”
The Equalizer Project takes a comprehensive approach to improving diversity in music. By offering music camps for teens, music centers for adults, time in a music studio, and a network of producers for those looking to kickstart a career in music, it’s safe to say that the project is “doing something” to pave a way for women in the music industry.
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