Last year, many figures in the British music industry including Tom Jones identified clear issues of sexism in their profession, with Jones revealing that he, too, had been a victim of abuse.Now new salary figures between major record labels including Universal and Warner Music reveal a steep wage gap between male and female performers and non-performers. For example, female Warner Music employees are on average paid 49 percent lower than their male counterparts and 29.8 percent less at Universal.Universal Music identified in their figures submission that the main reason for the discrepancy was that there are fewer women in management positions, saying in a statement that “We have put in place several measures to accelerate our efforts to promote inclusion and diversity in all its forms.” Sony Music cited similar figures, that female bonus pay was on average 45 percent less, also citing similar reasons of having fewer women in senior roles.
The numbers come from new legal regulations in the U.K. that require companies with more than 250 employees to reveal their salary numbers in an effort to combat the gender wage gap.
Last year many female performers including Kate Nash of the U.K. revealed their own methods of fighting against gender inequality in the industry. Nash had initiated a Kickstarter to fund her latest album, a reaction against the skewed treatment of new female artists by record companies. Björk, who had also relayed accusations against Danish film director Lars Von Trier, also made public on Facebook in 2016 of the double standard in the music industry regarding song topics of both men and women.
While the mainstream music artists who are signed with these major record labels will no doubt still require a multitude of employees tending to them, semi-mainstream artists like Kate Nash have identified the D.I.Y. approach as a better way to avoid the record company middlemen and release music on their own terms.
Such an approach is risky and akin to sending out one person in a rowboat into the middle of a storm. However, if the gender wage gap persists in the other avenues available to artists, the major record companies in the U.K. and worldwide are in for a nasty wake-up call.