Thursday, March 5, 2020

Number of female UK songwriters jumps by 60% | The Guardian

The number of female songwriters signing with UK rights organisation PRS for Music has increased by 60%, but they remain hugely outnumbered by their male counterparts.

PRS, which collects and distributes royalties to songwriters, said 1,755 women signed up in 2019, versus 1,097 in 2018. Around 63% were under the age of 30.

However, 5,580 men signed up in the same period, and only 18.4% of the total PRS membership – listed as “over 145,500” – is female.

Other data shows it is tough even for successful female songwriters to achieve the same level of popularity as men – the top 10 female songwriters generated 67% less revenue from royalties than the top 10 men.

PRS’s director of membership, Claire Jarvis, said the increase in female members was “encouraging” but added that the number of women is “dwarfed by male songwriters joining in the same year, which means there is still work to do”.

The news follows criticism of the British music industry at this year’s Brit awards, where only one British woman, Mabel, featured in the mixed gender categories. In drawing up the award shortlists, voters could choose from 86 male artists for best British male, but only 26 women for best British female, suggesting a lack of nurturing of female artists to achieve chart success.

After winning group of the year, Foals said “hopefully next year we’ll see some more women in this category”, and host Jack Whitehall joked: “In the spirit of sustainability, the Brits have been recycling all sorts of excuses for why there were so few women nominated.”

Alongside the news of the rise in female members, PRS has published a power list called 100 Women Changing Music, which collates “100 of the most successful and influential female songwriters and composers in the UK”. Presented alphabetically rather than by ranking, the list includes numerous pop stars who write or co-write their own material, including recent names such as Freya Ridings and Jorja Smith alongside established acts Adele, Kate Bush and Annie Lennox.

Elsewhere on the list are lesser-known names who mostly write for other stars, such as Kamille, who has worked with Mabel, Little Mix and the Script, and Amy Wadge, co-writer of Ed Sheeran hits including Thinking Out Loud, who has worked with Camila Cabello and Kylie Minogue.

The list also includes composers such as Rachel Portman, Nainita Desai and Isobel Waller-Bridge (sister of Fleabag star Phoebe).


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