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Only 15% Of ‘Top Songwriters’ In 2021 Were Women

2 November 2022 | 3:15 pm | Mary Varvaris

"Something the industry must continue to address."

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Music rights administration program Blokur has partnered with the Ivors Academy to share the 2021 Songwriter's Review. 

Like the 2020 report, the review is based on analysing the top 100 tracks (and thus also the top compositions and songwriters) on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube in 2021. Also, like the 2020 report, the top songwriter is a woman - Australia's own Tones And I topped the review in 2020; this time, it's Olivia Rodrigo.

Joining Rodrigo in the top 10 songwriters of 2021 is Ed Sheeran, Amala Dlamini (Doja Cat), Montero L Hill (Lil Nas X), Benito M. Oscasio (Bad Bunny), Johnny McDaid (from Snow Patrol, has also written songs for Sheeran, Robbie Williams and P!nk), Billie Eilish, Omar Fedi (songwriting partner with Lil Nas X, The Kid Laroi, and Justin Bieber), Japanese producer and songwriter Ayase, and ex-As Tall As Lions singer and Rodrigo's collaborator Daniel Nigro.

Crucially, the report reveals that the number of women in the top 100 songwriters across all platforms remained unchanged from 2020 at 15%. English language songs continue to dominate charts, rising from 80 to 83% from the previous year.

"As music becomes increasingly driven by playlists and social media, the creators behind the music are not always visible. But without songwriters and composers, there is no music. That is why at Blokur, we believe it is important to shine a light on the people behind the melodies and lyrics that make us dance, laugh and cry," Blokur's Phil Barry said.

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"While Olivia Rodrigo tops the chart, there continues to be a lack of gender parity overall - something the industry must continue to address. This report provides vital information that helps us grow awareness of the importance of songwriting to global streaming consumption," adds Graham Davis from Ivors Academy.

"A sharp disparity between female songwriters and vocalists was evident on all platforms. YouTube showed the biggest gap, with 43 women included as a feature or lead in the top 100 songs but only 15 credited as songwriters," the report reads. 

The Australians who show up further in the Overall Top 100 Songwriters are Tones And I at #13, The Kid LAROI at #23, Harry Michael (Masked Wolf) and his collaborator Tyron Hapi at #24 and #25, Fred Again at #30, then we take a big jump to Canberra-based singer Stephen Kirk at #97.

Check out the report here.

Tones & I might not have cracked the Top 10 on the most recent report, but Toni Watson's earnings from the song that put her at #1 on the last review, Dance Monkey, saw her crack another impressive list last week, the Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List.

The hitmaker is worth an estimated $35 million, according to the publication, which attributes her placement on the list to Dance Monkey, an “enduring hit”.

It’s reported that the track, which has broken numerous ARIA chart and streaming records since its release in 2019, has earned the singer $12 million.

AFR attributed Watson’s placement on the list to the fact she has written most of her biggest songs either by herself or with just one other person, whereas an artist like The Kid LAROI is forced to split his earnings with others (eight songwriters in the case of Stay).