Shocker, There's an Extreme Gender Pay Gap at Major Music Labels in the U.K.

Illustration for article titled Shocker, Theres an iExtreme/i Gender Pay Gap at Major Music Labels in the U.K.em/emem/em
Photo: Brian Ach (Getty Images for Warner Music Group)

Anyone who follows or participates in the music industry probably understands what a crass and unjust enterprise it all is—and if they don’t, they definitely should. An immediate example: at the highest levels of influence among pop and hip-hop artists in the United States, gender representation was especially poor in 2017 and continues to look bleak. But, of course, it’s just as bad in the U.K., according to some new statistics about pay distribution among major label employees.


Thanks to a recent UK regulation that requires companies with 250 or more employees to publish their gender pay gap information, Warner Music UK, Universal Music UK, and Sony Music UK all reported their stats on Wednesday.

Here are some of the more alarming nuggets (via Music Business Worldwide):

  • At Universal Music UK, 70 percent of the top-earning quartile are men.
  • The average hourly pay across all Universal Music UK employees 29.8 percent lower for women than men.
  • While bonus pay was given to 74 percent of male employees and 74 percent of women employees, women executives were paid 49.2 percent less on average than male counterparts.
  • Sony Music UK had similar numbers: 63.3 percent of employees in the top quarter were men, with 22.7 percent lower average hourly pay for women across the entire company.
  • Among all Sony Music UK employees 45 percent are women.
  • Warner Music UK had the most disparate numbers by far, with 74 percent men in the top quartile, and women executives making 82 percent less than their male counterparts during bonus season.
  • Warner also sported the worst average hourly pay gap (49 percent lower for women across the company) and the lowest percentage of women working in the entire company (42 percent).

Number after number is a pretty impersonal way to communicate that shit sucks, but compared to the BBC’s controversial pay gap of nearly 10 percent—which is still beneath the U.K. national average of 18 percent—it’s an especially outlandish inequality. The company-wide hiring numbers, which come close to a 50-50 gender split at each label (save for Warner, which is way worse) indicate that it’s an issue of mobility and representation of women at the most influential positions. That’s not the whole story, either, if the bonus gap at the executive level still exists.

Executives from each label attached statements with their data submissions, indicating that, yeah, maybe it’d be a good idea to accelerate inclusion at all levels within their companies. But like everything else in the music industry, it’s a slow drip and an even slower process to work its way down to the very artists whose careers are in their hands.

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