Gender gap narrows at PRS for Music

Forty percent of new songwriters and composers aged 20 and under who are joining PRS for Music identify as female, according to new figures.

Although just 17 percent of the total membership are women, this shift among younger generations indicates positive green shoots for a music-making community currently out of balance.

In the 20-to-29-year-old category, 21 percent of PRS members identify as female, while among 60-to-69-year-olds, the figure drops to just 12 percent.

In this respect, PRS for Music is largely in line with other collecting societies in Europe, with GEMA (Germany), SGAE (Spain) and STIM (Sweden) all reporting an overall female membership of less than 20 percent.

Among other music associations and unions, the picture is slightly healthier, yet men still significantly outnumber women. The Musicians’ Union recently reported that 30 percent of its members identify as women, while at the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, 23 percent are female.

Karen Buse, former Executive Director, Membership and International at PRS for Music, told M: ‘The growth in the number of young female songwriters and composers joining PRS for Music is extremely positive, and we look forward to supporting this upward trajectory into 2018 and beyond. However, we recognise there is an issue here.

‘In 2016 we established a working group to examine the gender imbalance and explore how we could encourage an increase the overall number of female members.

‘We’ve been analysing data, and gathering information and opinion from a wide number of sources, and we’re of the view that this is an industry-wide issue – we cannot improve female representation across our membership unless the wider community also changes.

‘To that end, we’re working with national and regional bodies to widen the discussion and action positive change. Our Education & Outreach team is working hard to reach out to women creators across the UK and we continue to increase our presence at targeted events, to raise our profile among the female demographic.’

Since its inception, the group has partnered with organisations including the BBC, Association of Independent Music (AIM), UK Music, PRS Foundation, Urban Development, MOBO and Girls I Rate.

New initiatives from PRS Foundation, including ReBalance and Keychange, are also working to fix these issues at grassroots level and beyond, while panels, keynotes and seminars at events touching every area of the business from music production to live music have provided platforms to discuss practical solutions throughout 2017.

Pictured above: Poppy Hankin (middle) from indie trio Girl Ray was under 20 when she joined PRS for Music in 2016.