WATCH: WE MAKE MUSIC – Meet 7 Inspiring Women Producers and Songwriters

The gender gap in music production and songwriting is real! Meet 7 inspiring Nordic songwriters and producers who’re here to change that, one track at a time.

Gabriela Carmel - Screenshot by Nikolaj Rohde Simonsen

We know the names of so many incredible artists, but rarely know who their musical partners in crime are. That’s not a problem in itself. Lots of producers and songwriters have chosen to work behind the scenes for a reason. But if we knew more about the people credited for songwriting and production in Billboard’s top charts, we’d realize that there might be a problem after all…

In March 2021, The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative published a study called inclusion in the Recording Studio: Gender and Race/Ethnicity of Artists, Songwriters & Producers across 900 Popular Songs from 2012-2020. What the study showed was that out of all of the songwriters credited in 2020, only 12.9% of them were women. The numbers also showed that less than 1% of the 900 popular songs examined had only women writers. And in 2020, 65% of the songs on the Hot 100 Year-End Chart didn’t feature any women songwriters at all. A look at the top-performing songwriters revealed that the two top male songwriters each had more than double the credits than the top woman songwriter.

Within production it’s even worse. In 2020, 198 producers were credited and only 2% of them were women. Across the 6 year sample, the number was 2.6% which leaves a ratio of 38 men to every 1 woman producer. Whew! Call that a gender gap…

Needless to say, the stats look even worse for underrepresented artists. Looking at music production, the study showed that only 9 out of 1.291 producing credits went to women of color. 33 women had producer credits across the 6 year sample, and only 9 of the were women of color. In 2020, the only woman of color with a production credit was Mariah Carey and that was for her 1994-hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” which means that no woman of color had producer credits on a song released in 2020 that made the Hot 100 Year End chart. In comparison, the examination showed a total ratio of 180 men producers to 1 underrepresented woman producer. The issue of white dominance in the music industry is approached in this must-read article by the British musician, entrepreneur and activist VV Brown in The Guardian.

THE WE MAKE MUSIC INITIATIVE

It’s not that men aren’t good at writing songs and producing them, it’s just that women are too, but we don’t hear it as much.

Earlier this year, the Danish Association of Songwriters and Composers (DJBFA) launched the WE MAKE MUSIC song camp for women songwriters, topliners and producers in Scandinavia to start make a change. The camp took place in September and gathered 12 women writers and producers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland in Copenhagen to write tunes for local rising acts like Kamma, Asbjørn and Rebecca Lou.

Here at Girls Are Awesome, we joined forced with DJBFA to help spread the simple word that women are making music!

We got in touch with three of the participants from the camp as well as some exciting local songwriters and producers from Denmark to film a short video that presents some of the women working with songwriting and music production in the Nordics and give a taste of what a song camp is.

In the video you’ll meet Norwegian producer and sound engineer ToneB, Danish hip hop duo SkyggeSiden and KCL, Swedish songwriter, producer and performer Mira Aasma, Danish songwriter and performer Gabriela Carmel, Swedish producer, songwriter, DJ and violinist Anna Nas and Danish producer, composer and songwriter Keelah Jacobsen. Combined, they’ve worked with everything from classic pop songwriting to hip hop and K-pop and written or produced music for acts as different as Norwegian newcomer Nadia Essah, Danish rap talents Natasja, Tessa and Karen Mukupa, the South Korean streaming-success Kai and DRAG artist Jafar the Superstar (to name a few…)

The music used in the video is made by Danish producer, songwriter and performer Fjer who also participated in the WE MAKE MUSIC song camp.

We can’t wait for you to meet these awesome talents below and please note that you can always check out the “show credits” function at Spotify to keep track of who’s been part of making a song you’re streaming!

We Make Music

“When it comes to representation, I hope that people will be aware that there are social structures that subconsciously makes us think that we are in competition with one another ” – songwriter Gabriela Carmel

Video by Emma Ishøy and Nikolaj Rohde Simonsen – Music by Danish producer, songwriter and performer Fjer

You can check out other articles on the WE MAKE MUSIC nordic song camp and initiative here.

The WE MAKE MUSIC song camp was initiated by DJBFA for Koda Kultur in collaboration with NOPA (NO), SKAP (SE),  FTT (IS) and with support from Nordic Cultur Point/Nordisk Kulturkontakt and Nordisk Kulturfond.

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