In Resources on the Arts (scratch)

Women in Music: A Profile of Women Working in the Ontario’s Music Industry

November 28, 201828 November 2018

Women in the arts
Publisher and Ontario Media Development Corporation



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Based largely on an online survey of 455 women working in Ontario’s music industry, this report covers seven types of positions, of which “artist” is one. Survey respondents included employees of music industry companies (60% of all survey respondents), company owners (21%), and freelancers / short-term contract employees (19%).

Because the survey sample was not randomized, an overall margin of error cannot be applied to the results. As is the case for all surveys where individualized self-select whether to respond, there is uncertainty as to whether the responses provide a representative sample of all women in music in Ontario.

The survey found that women working in Ontario’s music industry tend to be:

  •  “Somewhat younger than women in Ontario’s population as a whole” (41% of female music workers are under 30 years old vs. 20% of all female workers).
  • “Relatively homogeneous” (89% of female music workers described themselves as white, compared with 63% of all Ontario women).
  • “Clustered in the Greater Toronto Area (86%)”.
  • Well-educated (41% of female music workers “had completed an undergraduate degree, and an additional 13% had completed both undergraduate and graduate studies”).

Regarding salaries, the survey found that female music company employees earned 10% less than the average for all music company employees ($50,500 vs. $56,000) and 24% less than all workers in the sound recording industry ($50,500 vs. $60,100). Artists had the lowest earnings ($24,100) of the seven positions covered in the survey results.

The survey found three positive factors in women’s career progression: “1) Access to networking opportunities; 2) Overall workplace culture; and 3) Access to mentors”. The key negative factors in women’s career progression were found to be: “1) Compensation practices; 2) Gender balance in senior management; and 3) Overall gender balance in the workplace”.

A scan of music company employment found that women hold relatively few “named executive positions” (23%, or 24 of 104). Furthermore, about one-half of companies (48%) “had no women represented in their executive tier”.

The report concludes that “women in the music industry in Ontario, home to Canada’s largest music industry, face numerous challenges. From lower pay across the board and low exposure to boardrooms/executive levels to a lack of workforce diversity and systemic gender discrimination, there is much work to be done and progress to be made.”

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