Female Artists and the Digitization of Labor in the Music Industry

Ian C. Strachan


The digital revolution brought about by new technology and the eroding of intellectual property rights has simultaneously brought about increased opportunity as well as increased competition among content creators in the music industry — artists and bands as well as record labels. This change is evident in the “long tail” and “superstar effects” hollowing out the middle class of artists as well as lowering barriers to entry. It is well documented that women are still under-represented in many fields of the modern economy. Given this background, how do female pop artists fare in the music industry over time? This research utilizes a sample of the Billboard Hot 100 charts from the 1990s and 2000s and finds that female artists are dramatically and consistently under-represented on the pop charts. Though the percentage of female solo artists is nearly 50%, female artists still account for less than a quarter of the total artists who make the charts. At the same time female solo artists and groups with at least one female artist are remarkably more productive at producing pop hits than male solo artists and groups with no female artist involvement. This, perhaps, represents an opportunity for entrepreneurial female artists in the future as production and consumption bottlenecks are dismantled in a superstar-dominated culture.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/bmr.v3n4p51


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Business and Management Research
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