Surge in number of young, female songwriters

More young women in the UK are pursuing a career in songwriting and composing, according to new figures.

PRS for Music, the performing rights organisation that represents more than 125,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in the UK, says the number of young women signing up as members is on the rise.

The latest figures show 40 per cent of new PRS for Music members under the age of 20 identify as female.

This marks a clear change in an area of the music industry that has long been male-dominated. Only 21 per cent of members aged 20 to 29 identify as female, while only 12 per cent of members aged 60 to 69 are female. Overall, 17 per cent of PRS for Music’s membership is female.

Karen Buse, executive director of membership and international at PRS for Music, says: “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.”

PRS for Music established a working group in 2016 to explore ways gender imbalance in the industry could be addressed.

Buse says: “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 and 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.”

The charity PRS Foundation launched two new initiatives last year to support the development of women songwriters and composers of all genres and backgrounds.

The first is Keychange, an international initiative encouraging festivals to achieve a 50:50 balance of male and female acts by 2022. The second is ReBalance, a three-year programme from Festival Republic in association with PRS Foundation, that offers studio recording time to female-led bands and solo artists.


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Bronwyn Bidwell is an Australian journalist and editor based in London. She enjoys writing about music, books, history and popular culture.