Thank you! This is insightful and thought provoking! The USC studies in conjunction with the academy showed that historically, one woman was nominated for every nine men who were nominated for a GRAMMY — I think it was from 2013-2018– across all categories. Not sure what their methodology was.

But it lends to your last comment about women getting nominated being an obstacle. Anyhoo, thanks again for the deep dive. Sharing!!!

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Thanks for the great question. Things are moving in the right direction it seems. Hopefully it continues.

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Feb 17Liked by Chris Dalla Riva

Yes, I think you’ve gone at this the right way, looking at wins. If we look at nominations, a statistician would immediately begin asking questions about the underlying pool of eligible songwriters and musicians. For example, if one of those populations skews male, say, in the 60s, then we would probably expect more nominations of men, right? And that would be an industry question, not a Grammy question.

That’s my logical take. My unlogical take includes questions about the larger meaning of the Grammys and the many anomalies. For example, Bob Dylan didn’t win his first solo Grammy until 1980. This is the guy the Beatles referred to as The Man, who has 8 albums and songs from the 60s and 70s that are in the Grammy Hall of Fame. He didn’t win a Grammy for any of those?

And was the P.O. awesome in 1957 or what? Who sends a letter to somebody in NYC without a street address?

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Yes. Lack of nominations in the early years was probably partially fewer artists who were women. Without any evidence, I’d guess now there are more women making music than men. The Sadie Vimmerstedt story seems fake especially with the post office stuff but they actually have the letters. So, all evidence points to be it being true. Probably just dumb luck. Good story though

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The idea that the Grammys, or for that matter just about anything in the music industry, is biased against women is...not true.

In addition to the two all- male bands i work in, i've worked for women as band-bosses, I work as the only man in a band with 4 women (including my wife, on drums). I'm exposed to every level of the live-music industry save the very top one, and I can categorically say that women, whether at the helm of their musical projects (they frequently are) or as members of all women or even otherwise all-dude band lineups, are very well-advantaged in the present landscape; + have been for at least a decade and a half.

Part of it is management; they have access to much better, more professional management (often by other women) than all-dude bands do; bc they have more choices on who to sign with right out of the gate. They'll get 10 solicitations from management/labels/etc., where a roughly equivalent band of dudes has to knock doors for even one.

Another part is that, for media, covering women's musical projects are image-enhancing to the outlets that do it.

More readers, more clicks, more comments, more views. It makes them look "cooler", internally and within their culture, to have Khruangbin or Thundermother in their pages than Moon Tooth or Visigoth.

These advantages of placement accrue up the scale, to the Tiny Desks and other career-making exposure opportunities that can lead to Grammy nomination-ready works.

The assumption is, that "somebody else" will give the (sufficiently meritorious) all-dude bands some space and exposure; and "its not a zero-sum game!".

But "somebody else" is not, and it is a zero-sum game; particularly now when so much space is eaten up by Industrial-Grade Nostalgia, and there's less space for newer music at all.

Again, I've worked for women in music; I work with women in music now, and I regularly deal with woman-led and all-women musical projects on a regular basis. They are far from being suppressed by sexism (at least in rock music); and far more in control of their destinies than ever.

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I’m so happy that you’ve had so many women as part of your music journey. This warms my heart.

Chris’s findings that once nominated, women are almost on equal footing to winning a GRAMMY is also encouraging!

That said, the notion that women experience equal or more opportunity in the industry isn’t supported by the statistics. Historically, women get 1 GRAMMY nomination for every 9 for men.

Local venues book about 80% male acts. One example of the gender inequity in bookings:

Every week I open my Live Nation email promoting local shows at all their Detroit venues. Last week they had 19 music acts listed. All but one were men. This is common. 😕

In 2019, about 1x per week I scrolled through Sirius XM and counted how many music channels played a female fronted song as soon as I landed on the channel for ~80 channels. The most I ever counted was 10 channels playing a female/female-fronted act. The least was one channel playing a female act, with the average hovering around six — out of almost 80 channels over the course of a year.

Major music festivals in the U.S. averaged 12% female or female-fronted headliners (I think the years studied were 2013-2018).

My point being that we still have a way to go, but we’re heading in the right direction. And a lot of the forward motion is because men like you and Chris are working with women and celebrate collaboration and discovering new talent. And I do not believe that women deserve or ask for special treatment, just equal opportunity for merit-based success.


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