Mumbai: As a part of AmplifiHer, Spotify’s initiative to spotlight women in India’s audio industry, the company commissioned research to better understand the underrepresentation of female talent and how to increase the presence of women in music and podcasts, behind the scenes and in front of the mic.
The study done by YouGov, with over 1000 predominantly female respondents from across the country, uncovered three main findings.
- Looks matter, pay is unequal: There are expectations for women to look a certain way, and a gender pay gap exists as compared to male counterparts in the audio industry
- Overcoming a male-dominated industry: It’s harder to break into a male-dominated industry and if they do, there is hesitation to be a part of a profession that has limited gender diversity.
- Support is lacking: There is a lack of support for women who aspire to join the audio industry, from family, friends, and the society. The need to justify the investment of their time and effort acts as a barrier of entry for women to pursue a career in this field.
Nearly half of the respondents agreed that involvement of female talent in the audio industry is lower than that of their male counterparts, and that women are not taken as seriously when it comes to their craft. More millennials than Gen Z agreed with those statements, indicating that times may be changing and that there is perhaps better representation of Gen Z female talent in music and podcasts. The overall top-of-mind recall for female artists, however, was low with only 13% of the respondents naming a woman musician first.
Bias was also evident in the context of content and gender. In music, more respondents preferred male than female artists for genres such as hip-hop, ghazals, rock & metal, and Punjabi pop, whereas it was the other way around for devotional, folk, and Indian classical. For podcasts, the preference for male voices was higher for topics related to business, games, finance, true crime, and thrillers, whereas for cooking, language, and story & drama related content, female voices were preferred.
“The AmplifiHer research underscores the perception that our audio industry is dominated by male talent, and that there are distinct challenges faced by women who aspire to be a part of it. In fact, 1 in 4 female creators surveyed said they had faced gender-based challenges. Spotify wants to address this issue in India as we have in a few other markets because diversity of talent is important for the growth of any country’s audio ecosystem. This year is just the beginning, and we’ve focused on two things – putting the spotlight on women who have been associated with the industry so that they may inspire others, and to understand from women creators the support they need to thrive”, said Amarjit Batra, Managing Director – India, Spotify.
The research indicated three factors that can positively impact the representation of women in India’s audio industry.
- Fostering a culture of support and inclusion, especially from family and friends. This need was more strongly expressed by Gen X (65% of them) when compared to the millennials and Gen Z.
- Building proficiency and skills, including opportunities to work with professionals and access to platforms to upskill.
- The role of audio streaming platforms in helping to make it easier for women to break into the industry. For approximately 50% of the respondents across generations, this includes highlighting independent artists and podcasters as much as the established ones, and educating them on content creation and distribution. For over 60% of the Gen X and 55% of the millennials, supporting more local content was critical, while for nearly 50% of the Gen Z respondents, ensuring that female artists don’t just get opportunities to work on genres that are thought to be traditionally ‘female’ was important.
While the findings bring to light the development areas, it also highlighted that approximately 70% of the respondents believe that there is diversity of talent in the audio industry, and that both men and women have the necessary tools to succeed therein. Nearly 50% of those surveyed consider talent to be the most important factor to succeeding in the audio industry, whereas gender of the artist or creator saw the lowest association with success, at just 3%. And finally, a majority of the respondents indicated that for both music and podcasts, content made by both genders appeal to them, implying that listenership would not be impacted if one voice was chosen over the other.
Beyond highlighting the reasons and potential measures to increase the representation of women in audio, Spotify’s AmplifiHer research also highlighted the common challenges faced by any creator, regardless of gender, when entering the Indian audio industry. This includes the lack of funds to get started, limited opportunities to intern or learn on the job, and a high cost of building exposure.