#IWD2020: Our most influential musicians

Mar 06, 2020
In the build up to International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of female artists and visionaries – all through the lens of this year’s campaign hashtag, #EachForEqual. Today, we’re focusing on the music industry – engaging with the conversation around diversity challenges, and celebrating the trailblazing women who’ve inspired and influenced their peers.  

Affectionately referred to as a ‘the great equaliser,’ the music industry presents specific challenges to women – with men consistently releasing more songs, being more frequently signed to record labels, and approached with more collaborators to produce music. One particularly sobering report from the USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which examines the Billboard Hot 100 chart from 2012 to 2018, found that out of 400 songs and 871 producers, the gender ratio was 47 men to every one woman, with only four women of colour, total.

But it most certainly isn't all bad. The percentage of women in the industry is steadily climbing, and in response to last year’s GrammysSoMale hashtag, award ceremonies have pledged to place a greater emphasis on gender equality. As for the live arena, Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis is staying true to her promise to consciously address the deficit of female headliners, and work towards a 50-50 balance. And in terms of production, Ariana Grande broke new ground by releasing two studio albums in six months – defying the schedule set for female pop-stars by predominantly male record labels and A&R management.

While representation is still an overarching issue, it’s exciting to see that of the small group of female artists who charted, a record-braking 73-percent came from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups – a far-cry from the lack of diversity in film and TV.


These notable strides are less of a beginning, and more of a restart. Kicking against an industry that stereotypes and sexualises women, females are slowly but surely dismantling the establishment to find new sanctuaries in sound. We’re already seeing more of this as women like Lizzo and Janelle Monae increasingly dominate cultural conversation – setting high-visibility examples that pave the way for others. But to really allow women to navigate a career in music without roadblocks, we need to keep pushing. Let’s start today – #EachForEqual.
International Women’s Day is a perfect opportunity to discuss diversity and equality – but it’s also a time to celebrate, and talk about some of the amazing political, cultural, economic and social achievements of females across the globe. We asked women across our Music, Voice and Production departments to tell us about some lesser-known pioneers in their industry who they’ve been inspired and influenced by.  

Alice Salmon, A&R Manager | Delia Derbyshire

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Emma Mooney, Music Supervisor North America | Hildur Gudnadottir 
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Rebecca Cole, In-House Composer  | Alice Coltrane 
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Danielle Murphy, Senior Music Supervisor | Hedy Lamarr & Imogen Heap
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Katy Stephenson, Senior Producer | Kemistry & Storm 

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