Don’t be fooled by the Grammys

The female-dominated Grammy winners mask an industry that is failing women

Aleah Morrison-Basu

Composer and Co-Founder Zelig Sound


If there was one message to take away from this year’s Grammys it’s that women rule, with Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, SZA, and Miley Cyrus taking home the major awards. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the gender balance behind the scenes in the industry, where, as a recent study has shown, just 5% of music producers are women.

This lack of representation in the music industry was further highlighted in a recent parliamentary report which showed that misogyny and abuse is still rife in this 'boys' club'. Women seeking careers in music continue to face unjustifiable limitations in opportunity, lack of support, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

As Catherine Marks, who co-produced the recent UK No 1 album from Grammy-winners Boygenius, told the Guardian recently, even when women manage to break into the industry at entry level they don’t get the support they need. “There’s still a perception issue that impacts their ability to find management and get introduced to decision makers in the industry,” she said.

Even after I established myself as composer and producer, I found myself questioning my abilities in a way I know a man in the same position would never do.

Aleah Morrison-Basu, Composer and Co-Founder of Zelig Sound

This perception issue is something I’ve had to deal with throughout my career. I’m currently COO and co-owner of a music and sound design studio Zelig Sound, throughout our whole 14 years of operations especially in the early years (when I was composing more regularly), in meetings people assumed I was the admin-producer (scheduling etc) and that my male co-founder Matt was the creative and running it. I’m not composing as much these days but I still find people are potentially less receptive of my creative opinions vs. male colleagues and it’s frustrating having the memories of those encounters influencing my perception of those factors regardless of their validity. 

Closing the representation gap  

The lack of representation of women goes right back to the education system. When I did my degree, I was one of the very few girls taking music technology, and in my early career when I was teaching music technology there wasn’t one female student in my class. Things have progressed a little since then, but the figures are still abysmally low. Ofqual recently revealed that between 2018 and 2022, only 24% of A Level Music technology students were female. So much more has got to be done so that school-age girls start to see music technology as a viable career option for them.

Along with tackling the industry’s entrenched gender discrimination and introducing support for women to help them advance, the confidence gap between men and women in the industry has also got to be tackled. Even after I established myself as composer and producer, I found myself questioning my abilities in a way I know a man in the same position would never do - and I’ve spoken to many female peers in the industry who have the same experience.

There are pioneering groups and initiatives out there driving change, including Move The Needle In the US and We Are The Unheard in the UK. There are also hugely inspiring high-profile women, from Susan Rogers, who was the sound engineer for Prince, to Lady Gaga, who have blazed a trail. And Mandy Parnell, the brilliant mastering engineer.

But ultimately the support and encouragement for women in music needs to start in our educational system. The UK government needs to rethink pushing STEM subjects at the expense of creative arts and give women the access to music technology in schools in order to stimulate their interest in both composing and creating music with modern tools such as Logic, Ableton, Fl Studio, Pro Tools, Sibeluis, Musenote and an array of hardware tools. Only then will the playing field start to level.

Guest Author

Aleah Morrison-Basu

Composer and Co-Founder Zelig Sound


Aleah Morrison-Basu is a London-based Composer and Co-Founder of Zelig Sound. She has composed scores for commercials, brand films, short films, feature films, TV series and interactive theatre.

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