NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – The music industry has plenty of superstars, but there’s a void in what you don’t see: women in behind-the-scenes roles.
Women have long seen this discrepancy, and research from the University of Southern California Annenberg puts it in numbers. New efforts are underway to close the gap.
” Hello ! said Brookelyn Nichols, 13, of Chandler, Arizona.
She spoke in a closed recording booth.
“There is no echo,” she smiles.
It was at these Nashville-based Omnisound studios that Miranda Lambert recorded country hits. This is where mixing took place for Jewel’s 12 million-selling ‘Pieces of You’ album. For 8and-grading Nichols, there’s a lot to learn, like the mechanics of everything in the studio.
“I’m only 13 and can I do all this?” she says.
What brings him here is a new effort towards change in the music industry.
A new study from the University of Southern California Annenberg examines Billboard’s 100 most popular songs for each year from 2012 to 2020. The biggest gender differences are behind-the-scenes roles. The study found that 87.4% of songwriters on these hits are male, compared to 12.6% of songwriters being female. When you look at how many hits were written solely by women, the study says that brings the number down to less than 1%.
The study also indicated that looking at these 900 greatest hits, men outnumber women as music producers by 38 to 1.
“It’s true historically, in audio production and engineering,” said singer-songwriter Mark Thress.
“As an industry, we are working hard to change that,” added singer-songwriter Sheridan Gates.
Young women across the country participate in weekend experiences hosted by Gates and Thress.
It’s called New Roots, and the goal for the upcoming weekends is to give young women a comprehensive education in all areas of the music industry. They get recording time and hands-on experience in a large studio. They take songwriting lessons. They get Q&A sessions with music executives.
“The hope is that by immersing them, their eyes will be opened to the possibility of knowing where they might land,” Gates said.
“As women, having the resources and the verbiage and the connections to do these things is incredibly important,” Thress said.
Outside Omnisound studios, parking spaces are reserved for producers and sound engineers. Gates and Thress said these titles could one day belong to one of these young women.
“We strive to help these young female artists feel empowered,” Gates said.
The next New Roots weekend will be February 18-20 and applications are being accepted now. For more information, visit their site here. They can also be reached by email at [email protected] and via Instagram at @newrootsnashville.