The question of gender equity is an important one in the music industry, and data has the power to stimulate useful discussions that can lead to change. So we decided to ask:

  1. Are men and women equally represented in popular music?
  2. If representation is not equal, why?

Data Source

To answer these questions, we gathered the last 2 years of Spotify Top 200 Weekly charts - 104 weeks in total. Every week, 200 songs make it to these charts by virtue of their streaming numbers. That's 20800 songs in total. After eliminating duplicates, we found that there were only 1806 unique songs.

We analyzed these songs and our results are as follows:

Male voices are represented more than twice as often as Female voices

Source: Analysis Of 1806 Global Weekly Spotify Top 200 Songs From July 2019 to July 2021

Male voices represent 61.1% of all vocals in the analyzed charts, while Female voices are only represented 29.8% of the time. This is quite a stark difference. Let's take a look at the total Spotify streams received by each Vocal Gender

Songs with Male vocals received 3.8B more streams than songs with Female vocals

Songs containing Male-only vocals were streamed 8.3 billion times, compared to 4.5 billion streams from songs with Female-only vocals. So, how does each Vocal Gender perform on average?

Songs With Female-Only Vocals Outperformed Songs With Male-Only Vocals

Songs with Female-only vocals received, on average, 10.1 million streams, while songs with Male-only vocals were streamed an average of 8.8 million times in comparison. Female-only songs outperformed Male-only songs on average by 13%.

Conclusion, and more questions

So there you have it - songs with female voices perform better on average than male voices, even if male voices receive the lion's share of total streams. This suggests that songs with female voices may have less of an opportunity to make it to the charts, but can also expect to perform better than average once they make it there.

The question, though, is why?

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