Updated: Feb 28
Today is Equal Pay Day in Germany. This initiative aims to raise awareness of the existing wage gap between women and men. In this article, we take a close look at the situation of women in music, in regard to equal pay and the equality status of wages in the music industry.
March 17th, is the day on which, statistically speaking, women start earning money for their work. The work that has been done in the last three and a half months was, statistically speaking, unpaid - if women received the same pay as men. According to the world economic forum, it would theoretically take almost 100 years longer for womxn to earn the same amount of money as is earned by their male colleagues.
Today, Germany celebrates Equal Pay Day; each country determines this individually according to the current gender pay gap. With a 21% difference in average income between women and men, Germany is in the global midfield. According to the World Economic Forum, the average global figure for how much fewer women earn is at 31.4% in 2020. The unfortunate front-runner in this survey is Yemen, with a difference of 50%, whereas Iceland, with only 12.3%, is last in this ranking - in a very positive sense. In Germany, the gender pay gap has remained almost constant since 2002, and the German government has set itself the goal of reducing the pay gap to 10% by 2030. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, each and every one of us is called upon.
Today it is more important than ever that every woman is committed to a fair and just salary.
These figures generally refer to the generic labor market. But what is the situation in the music industry? Looking at the average annual income of freelance music professionals in Germany in 2019, it is striking that librettists are the best earners among musicians with an annual income of 36,676 €. This is followed by composers and technical staff, who earn an average of around 20,000 € per year. But what about the gender pay gap in the music industry?
2018, the British magazine Music Business Worldwide found out that there is definitely still room for a change concerning the music business' gender pay gap. Female staff employed by one of the three British major labels earn almost 34% less than their male counterparts; at Warner Music, the salary difference was highest, at an alarming 43%. On a fundamental level, flexible working, something that women with children are dependent on, is not yet established in major label work culture. Meanwhile, Live Nation’s UK operation reported a 46% gender pay gap, alongside an incredible 88% difference in bonuses between male and female employees. But there are also considerable salary differences among freelancing women in music. Musical director Sarah deCourcy, who toured among others with Kylie Minogue stated the following in an interview with Synchtank:
“I recently discovered that I got offered half of what a man was offered for the same pitch. That has to change.”
Womxn in all sub-areas of the music industry are affected by the gender pay gap. The band HAIM was one of the most prominent examples of female musicians who stood their ground in this matter publicly. The three sisters had unceremoniously parted ways with their booker when they learned that male colleagues would receive ten times the salary for a festival performance. Reflecting upon the HAIM narrative, Ruth Kilpatrick, New Music Consultant at Record of the Day and manager of IMOGEN, called for a “greater transparency” around live performance fees but also explained what are the next steps toward equality: “In order to achieve pay equality, I genuinely feel the attitudes at the top are what needs to change. There are countless, countless examples that I and many friends or colleagues have from our working lives, or social situations with those in executive positions, where it’s been made more than clear that staff is valued differently due to gender.”
There is no doubt that equality and, above all, diversity in every respect are two attributes that have a positive impact on every company. This is confirmed, among other things, in a study conducted by MC Kinsey in 2015, which shows that those with the most gender-diverse staff were 15% more likely to produce better returns than other companies. So the equality factor in this so important economic topic could not be higher or less scientifically proven. Thanks to great networks as shesaid.so - a global network for womxn of the music industry - there is a persistent awareness created around the topic, motivated by empowering support and a very positive association to the female factor.
All companies should use today's Equal Pay Day to develop an awareness of equality within the company.
Since the day was established in 1966 in the USA, much has changed for the better. Now it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to keep the numbers moving in the right direction - and not wait the next 100 years to close the gender gap.