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Study Tracking Women’s Music Credits Has a Surprise: Good News

Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the study’s lead author, was cautiously celebratory of the findings. While the latest numbers are up, she noted, women still represented an average of only about 23 percent of performer credits on all surveyed songs since 2012. (Some years that figure has been as low as 17 percent.)

“For the second year in a row, the percentage of women artists on the popular charts has increased,” Dr. Smith said in a statement. “This is a notable milestone and worthy of celebration. However, it is still important to recognize that there is room to grow. Women filled less than one-quarter of artist roles across all 12 years examined, and these figures are still far from representing the 50 percent of women in the population and the music audience.”

In some ways, the study, which received funding from Spotify, reflects an extraordinary year for women in pop music. Artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and SZA dominated the charts and the news media, and Greta Gerwig’s film “Barbie” became a pop-culture touchstone with a hit-chocked soundtrack that went to No. 2.

At the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, female artists dominate the nominations in the major categories. SZA leads with nine nods and will face almost entirely female competition, including Swift, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey and the band boygenius. (Only one man, Jon Batiste, was nominated as a performer in the three most prestigious categories of album, record and song of the year.)

Among the study’s other findings, the growth in women’s songwriting credits last year was “due almost exclusively” to a rise in the number of songwriters who are women of color — 55 individuals in 2023, compared with 33 the year before and 14 in 2012. They included SZA, Beyoncé, PinkPantheress and Ice Spice.

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