30 August 2022
SAMRO study reveals that women feel marginalised and unsafe in the music industry
A preliminary study, commissioned by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), revealed that women remain poorly represented within the music sector. The research, conducted by gender-equality consultants Tara Transform, found that women are largely excluded from key decision-making positions within the industry and face numerous challenges that result in their marginalisation when compared to their male counterparts.
The survey conducted last year by SAMRO found that only a minority of its members were female. As a result of this imbalance SAMRO commissioned this preliminary research to better understand the experiences and views of women in the music industry. The preliminary study was shared with the media and various women’s rights organisations in the music sector at an event held at SAMRO on 30 August 2022 to commemorate women’s month.
The “Women’s Rights and Representation in the South African Music Sector” report identified a number of issues affecting women. These ranged from stereotypical beliefs about women, to the fact that there are not enough women in occupations such as producers, directors and composers. It further touches on a perceived pay disparity between women and men in similar positions, as well as the fact that sexual harassment and exploitation of women is rife in the industry.
Women do not feel safe in South Africa in general, but their safety concerns are exacerbated within the music industry. The majority of live performances take place at night, in spaces where alcohol consumption is involved, and women’s safety is limited.
It’s not all bad news though. Women are mobilising more, and being heard more, as they confront the patriarchal norms. The Jazz and DJ sectors have seen an increase in the number of active women artists, and the growth of digital media has opened safe spaces and new avenues for women to operate.
In its recommendations, this initial study states that women want changes to come from within organisations and from leaders across the music industry through diversity, policies and culture. “In addressing gender-based violence and sexual harassment, the most practical starting point is in creating female-friendly resources and safe workspaces,” the report states. It encourages SAMRO and other organisations in the music industry to use their voices to combat the ongoing challenges of Gender Based Violence and harassment in the sector.
In his introduction to the report, SAMRO CEO Mark Rosin noted: “It is hoped that this study on the rights and responsibilities of women in the South African music industry provides a foundation for further work so that women can take their rightful place in a more equitable industry.”
SAMRO is already developing plans to help remedy industry challenges in relation to gender disparities in the music sector and maybe, through this, influence change on national level.