Behind the Boards: Where My Girls At?
By: Kelly Myers, Client Experience Specialist
When it comes to the music industry, producers are some of the most influential people in the lifecycle of a musical project. From mixing beats to helping a vision become a product, they are part of the mechanics behind some incredible music. An underrated topic when it comes to music producers is the lack of diversity that embodies them. While they range greatly in culture and ethnicity, men have been spotlighted far more than women when it comes to their role as producer. Even though the reason for this is controversial, women deserve to be spotlighted. There’s no doubt that there are more male producers in the music industry, but it’s time for women to be recognized for the work they create for some of the most popular artists today.
And the Grammy Goes to…
Producer of the Year is a significant Grammy award since it honors those who put in a lot of the hard work that goes into creating music over the course of a year. The only time women have won a Grammy for Producer of The Year was in the classical category, which was added in 1979. Three women have won under this category; Judith Sherman, Joanna Nickrenz and Elaine L. Martone. A year later a non-classical category was added, and while no woman has taken home the award yet, a lot of them have been nominated. Janet Jackson was the first to be nominated for her album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. Paula Cole and Mariah Carey are among other women who have been nominated in this category. Despite popular belief, there are many talented women producers who have worked on albums.
Missy Elliott: This is Not A Test!
Missy Elliott is a great example of a woman producer who has a lot of talent but hasn’t always been recognized for it. Not only is she a five time Grammy winner and six time platinum album artist, but she has also worked behind the scenes on a number of projects in popular music. Some notable contributions of hers are Mariah Carey’s “Babydoll”, Destiny Childs’ “Get on the Bus” and Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew.” She’s also produced for Beyonce and Whitney Houston. It’s no wonder why younger fans of these artists were confused about who she was when she stepped on stage during Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX performance. While it makes sense for young fans to know who the artist is a lot better than the producers, someone with that much influence on a project should be a trending topic in the music industry.
You might be aware of Timbaland and Elliott working together on popular tracks including “Pass That Dutch” and “One Minute Man” but a lot of people don’t know that Missy co-produced those, one of which was her own song. How does someone get less recognition over someone else when it comes to the production of their own song? She is simply frustrated by a gender bias and continues to speak up about the creative work she’s had a significant part in.
“People don’t know a lot of the records that I’ve written or produced” -Missy Elliott
Spotlighting Women Producers
Since you may not have heard about some of music’s most talented women, allow me to introduce them. Ebony “Wondagurl” Oshundrine has produced on Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album in 2013, Bryson Tiller’s True to Self album in 2017 and has made beats for Rihanna, Drake and Kanye West. Lauren Christy composed on three different Shakira albums and she is the only female Producer of The Year, Non Classical, nominee who wasn’t also the artist. Catherine Marks has produced for the Manchester Orchestra and Wolf Alice’s My Love is Cool album. These are just a few of the most popular women producers in the business right now, and I think they could be great role models for future producers with the same passion.
There’s no doubt that there are a lot of talented and noteworthy women producers in today’s music industry. With that comes a bit of responsibility of leading and inspiring more women to do the same. Having role models like Missy Elliott to encourage younger producers to keep creating will keep the momentum going and bring to light a more diverse music industry. One way to prevent more situations like Elliott’s and to bring more women producers into the forefront is through the power of technology. Metadata can be tracked, so that it’s easier for collaborators to stay on top of contributors’ credits. Jammber’s tools facilitate the administrative side of projects, and as a woman in music tech I see the potential for them to give even more ladies power to be recognized.