What Is the ‘Misogyny in Music’ Report and What Does It Say?

Published in January 2024, the ‘Misogyny in Music’ report was the first of its kind, examining the working conditions of women and girls in the music industry. In this article, we’re delving into the report’s core findings, implications, and its potential impact both on the music industry and society at large.

An Overview of the Report

The Misogyny in Music inquiry was published by the Women and Equalities Committee. During their inquiry, the committee spoke with women and girls throughout the music industry including record label executives, festival representatives, individual artists, industry bodies and music academics.

Their findings were then compiled into a final report that highlighted the inequality in the music industry, and demonstrated the unfortunate realities of many women and girls in the industry, including sexism, bullying and abuse.

Key Findings

The report found that misogyny was prevalent throughout the music industry, negatively affecting women and girls at all levels and in a variety of ways.

It found that, on the whole, women are underrepresented in key roles in the music industry and that while female representation is improving in some areas, progress is slowed by discrimination, misogyny and sexual abuse. When giving evidence in the House of Commons in September 2023 as part of the report, DJ Annie Mac called the industry “a boy’s club.”

The report uncovered misogyny in the workplace and issues around gatekeeping and unequal access to opportunities and financial funding for musicians. The report also found sexual harassment and abuse to be rife within the industry and singled out environments were it appeared to be particularly prevalent, such as educational settings, recording studios and live music venues.

The report celebrated the fact that in 2023, seven of the top ten tracks for the year were by female artists, while also recognising the wider and deep-rooted issues of underrepresentation, discrimination and gender disparities in the industry.

Impact on Society and Culture

The Misogyny in Music report highlights the wider societal impacts of the issues it uncovered, including fewer girls and women choosing to pursue their musical talents or stay in the music industry due to experiencing barriers, discrimination or harassment early on in their careers.

It also discusses the lack of support for women with children and the need for reform of parental leave for freelancers, given the significant number of freelancers working within the music industry at all levels.

Misogyny is by no means an issue exclusive to the music industry and the report acknowledges this and calls for the education of boys from a young age so that they grow up better understanding consent, how to support women and girls, and how to recognise and call out misogyny so that the burden of responsibility is shared amongst the sexes. At the same time, the report recognises that this will come with its own challenges, since schools are seeing a rise in the very same issues plaguing the music industry.

Industry Response and Accountability

In April 2024, the UK government published its response to the Misogyny in Music report, with a wholesale rejection of the report’s recommendations, much to the dismay of all those involved. The Musician’s Union released a statement expressing their deep disappointment and urging the government to rethink. In the meantime, there is still much that can be done to tackle the inequalities highlighted in the report by those currently working within the industry.

For example, the report recommends that commercial recording studios should undertake sexual harassment risk assessments to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect the safety of those who work there, particularly during out of hours sessions. It also suggests that staff at live music venues should undergo accredited training on dealing with discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse.

Ultimately, all those involved in the music industry from music labels and recording studios to streaming platforms and live music venues, as well as individual artists themselves, have a role to play in addressing misogyny  and promoting gender equality within the industry.