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APRA AMCOS leads music industry towards gender parity

3 Aug


•    Goal of 25 per cent increase in female members YOY over three years
•    Strict 40 per cent female participation measures
•    Australasian mentorship program in partnership with industry organisations
•    Whole of industry call to action to tackle gender disparity
•    Follows internal review and career development initiatives for female staff

APRA AMCOS has responded resoundingly to the results of gender diversity research released recently. Among a raft of new initiatives, the country’s leading music industry organisation will launch mentoring and skills development programs as well as widespread measures to effect immediate and sustainable gender participation and equitable financial success in the $6bn+ sector.

The Australian Women Screen Composers: Career Barriers and Pathways research conducted by RMIT’s Dr Catherine Strong was commissioned in response to feedback from the music industry and will benefit both the 21.7 per cent of women who make up the APRA AMCOS membership and the development of the next generation of music creators.

In fact, more women are represented in cricket (24 per cent) than songwriting in Australia. Diving deeper, APRA AMCOS female members share in only 10 per cent of the total royalty pool paid to writers

To address the imbalance APRA AMCOS is immediately committing to the goal of doubling annual female membership applications within three years, a year on year increase of 25 per cent new female members.

The RMIT research showed female screen composers (who make up 13 per cent of the screen composer membership) are less likely to be making a sustainable career from their craft, less likely to be given fair opportunities for work despite being more educated, less likely to win professional accolades and more likely to experience sexism.

“One of the key outcomes of this research was that there was a fundamental mismatch between how our male participants saw the industry compared to the women,” said Dr Catherine Strong.

“The men were much more likely to see it as a meritocracy, while women were more inclined to see gender bias. Bringing about change is going to be that much harder if it is only women who even see that there is a problem. Engaging men in this issue and asking them to think about how their actions and attitudes make a difference to women in the industry is key to overcoming gender disparity.”

Jenny Morris, Chair, APRA Board said, “Our industry has been waving the flag of inclusiveness for years, but the small numbers of women we organically recruit each year tell an entirely different story. If music is to face its complex technological and legal future with talent from all demographics, then it’s time for a little less conversation and a little more action. For APRA AMCOS this means a deliberate recruitment and re-training program to draw female talent we know is out there.”

John Watson, Eleven Music and APRA AMCOS Ambassador, said, “Thankfully the situation is finally changing but it won’t happen fast enough on its own. It will actually require existing industry players to take more responsibility for the opportunities we offer to talented women. We need to attract as many smart and talented young people as possible – regardless of their gender.”

From October, APRA AMCOS will invest annually in an extensive songwriter/composer mentoring program for female members across a range of genres. In line with research recommendations, at least half the mentors will be men, with funds allocated to cover mentee’s travel and living expenses. In some genres, the mentee will be offered a three-month work placement. APRA AMCOS will be working in partnership with individuals and industry organisations to ensure a broad outreach to women. Mentors include.

A further financial investment will be made in technical skills training and toward building confidence and networking skills through a series of national events and master classes.

In response to feedback that women are underrepresented in the music industry, APRA AMCOS will immediately execute a 40/40/20 measure on all membership programs. This will ensure that within the medium term, at least 40 per cent of the judges involved in APRA’s suite of awards are female. A minimum 40 per cent threshold will be applied to the Ambassadors’ program (currently at 30 per cent), SongMakers (currently 38 per cent of mentors are female) and SongHubs (currently 39 per cent). At least 40 per cent of presenters and performers at all awards, workshops and membership events will now be female.

Significantly, from 2018 APRA Music Grants extended to external programs will be strictly allocated to grant applications showing at least 40 per cent female participation, or a commitment to tackling gender disparity, where possible.

Recognising their leadership position within the industry, APRA AMCOS is calling on music organisations, publishers, record labels and the wider sector to commit to gender parity within their own programs and initiatives. This could apply internally through supporting career development of staff and externally through Board nominations, selection of industry spokespeople and development of opportunities for women to extend their influence in wider discussions.

APRA AMCOS will invest a further $20,000 in Stage 2 of the research.


Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The ArtsGovernment of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Lottery West, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.