Did you know, in 2019, only 2% of popular music was produced by women? The disconcerting statistic from last year’s Annenberg Initiative study is the focus of a powerful new video from the Recording Academy and She Is the Music, in conjunction with the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, and it’s premiering exclusively on Billboard above.
The clip physically represents the data through a 50-person, all-female ensemble choir featuring Loyola Marymount University singers. The group belts Alicia Keys‘ “Underdog” — at first all together, but over the course of the video, the women begin to slowly sit down to symbolize the percentage of male-produced songs. At the end, only a single woman — the 2% — is left to sing alone.
The video is part of the #WomenInTheMix initiative, which promotes opportunities for female producers and engineers. When the initiative was launched a year ago, in February 2019, approximately 200 employers and creative decision-makers agreed to get onboard, but over the past year, there are now well over 650 employers who have joined. As seen in USC’s latest Annenberg Initiative study released last month, the number of female producers has now jumped from 2% to 5% — encouraging numbers for “Underdog” singer/songwriter Alicia Keys, who co-founded She Is the Music in 2018 along with Jody Gerson, Sam Kirby Yoh and Ann Mincieli.
“When there are more women in the mix — magic happens,” Keys tells Billboard. “We all have more work to do to bring female creative energy, talent and heart into the studio too.” Fellow artist and activist Brandi Carlile adds: “I know from personal experience that, to truly move the music industry forward, we need to make a clear effort to engage and empower women. Artists and studios should commit fully to initiatives such as Women in the Mix, which help ensure representation and gender diversity in all aspects of music making — from the stage to the studio.”
Mincieli, a Grammy-winning producer, founder of Jungle City Studio and another co-founder of She Is the Music, says she’s seeing those positive changes already. “In my 30 years as a working producer and engineer, I’ve never seen more women trained and looking for opportunities inside of recording studios than I do today. Diverse minds and voices are the future of the music industry. Right now we all need to rally to get them hired and properly credited.”
The #WomenInTheMix anniversary comes at a complicated time for the Recording Academy, whose CEO Deborah Dugan was placed on administrative leave in January ahead of the 2020 Grammy Awards after allegations of misconduct and bullying. Since then, Dugan has levied her own complaints against the Recording Academy, including alleged corruption in Grammy voting practices and accusing attorney Joel Katz of sexual harassment.
Watch the poignant new #WomenInTheMix clip, spotlighting the lack of female music producers, above.