New report shows that women and non-binary people are still massively underrepresented in production and engineering roles

Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile. (Image credit: Fix The Mix)

Fix The Mix has unveiled its first annual report on gender representation in audio production and engineering roles, and it confirms that women and non-binary people are massively underrepresented.

The report indicates that, for these groups, senior studio roles are out of reach, though women and non-binary people are more likely to be credited in junior roles in the technical fields.

The Fix The Mix initiative was launched in 2022 by We Are Moving the Needle and Jaxsta. They conducted research for the report in collaboration with Middle Tennessee State University and Howard University, and sought to go beyond USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, which found that only 2.8% of producers and engineers are women, and deal with production and engineering roles separately.

Additionally, Fix The Mix wanted to compare the number of women and non-binary people who are credited in senior studio roles versus those credited in junior studio roles, and to discover how representation varies across musical genres.

Among the findings is the confirmation that, of the top 10 streamed tracks of 2022, only 16 of 240 credited producers and engineers were women and non-binary people, which is just 6.7%. Of the top 50 songs across 14 genres examined in the report, Metal has the lowest percentage of women and non-binary people credited in key technical roles at 0.0%, with Rap and Christian & Gospel having just 0.7% and 0.8% respectively. 

I hope this report serves as a wake-up call for record labels, artists, and others who hire producers, engineers, and other technical creatives who record songs.

Beverly Keel

Electronic music has seemingly done a little more to get its house in order, with 17.6% of all producer credits on the top 50 songs of 2022 going to women and non-binary people, while Folk & Americana had 16.4%.

In total, 3,785 technical credits across 634 songs were analysed across 14 genres (36 songs were listed across two different genres). The report found that 65 women and non-binary people were credited out of 1,260 total producers (5.2%) and 46 were credited out of 1,480 total engineers (3.1%). 

“We’ve got such a long way to go to reach parity in the studio, but I know we can get there,” said We Are Moving the Needle soundBoard member, Brandi Carlile. “This is a systemic problem in the recording industry that we cannot ignore any longer. I’m not sure everyone knows exactly where to start…but it begins with the courage to take a chance on someone who may not be getting recognized regularly in the field.

“We have to start somewhere. It’s no one’s fault and everyone’s fault at the same time. Even me. I urge my fellow artists and producers to make hiring decisions that work toward a more equitable future.”

“We simply have to do better for women and non-binary creators in the industry,” adds soundBoard member Maggie Rogers. "It's heartening to see more women and non-binary individuals enrolling in audio and production programs, and I'm dedicated to supporting their growth through organisations like We Are Moving the Needle.” 

The report concludes by making a list of recommendations and solutions to address the gender gap, including accurately crediting all technical contributors, diversifying hiring practices, educating the industry, finding and hiring women and non-binary producers and engineers, demanding data transparency, amplifying representation and encouraging active participation, supporting the changemakers, and developing forward-facing solutions. 

“I hope this report serves as a wake-up call for record labels, artists, and others who hire producers, engineers, and other technical creatives who record songs,” says co-author Beverly Keel, Dean of Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment, Co-founder of Change the Conversation and Co-founder of Nashville Music Equality. “Until we see women and non-binary people hired and invited to the table where decisions are made, the industry will continue to merely pay lip service to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

You can read excerpts from the report at Fix The Mix and read the full report here

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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