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Australian women screen composers

APRA AMCOS members as a case study

At the time of commissioning the report, APRA AMCOS membership data showed that only 21.7% of our members identify as female. The percentage of royalty payments made to female members fluctuated between 15% and 21% between 2007 and 2016, with no clear trend apparent.

Given this ongoing underrepresentation of female creators, a group of APRA AMCOS members were chosen. They formed the basis of a study to find out why this is the case, and what strategies could be developed to increase women’s participation in the music industry.

Screen composers were chosen as their membership was even more polarised in terms of gender representation than the wider membership. Only 13% of registered screen composers were female.

The aims of this research were to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the pathways to participation available to women who work in film and television music composition in Australia, including any barriers they might face; and
  2. Develop an overview of educational institutions that provide training in this area and understand the role these institutions play in the development of women’s careers.

The results of the Australian women screen composers research

The research showed female composers are less likely to:

  • be making a sustainable career from their craft,
  • be given fair opportunities for work despite being more educated,
  • win professional accolades.

They're also more likely to experience sexism.

Redressing the imbalance

To redress the imbalance, we immediately committed to the goal of doubling annual female membership applications within three years, a year on year increase of 25% new female members. From October 2017, actions were taken to invest in programs:

  • Mentorships for Women in Music

In line with the research recommendations, at least half the mentors are men, and funds are allocated to cover mentee's travel and living expenses. In some genres, the mentee is offered a three month work placement. APRA AMCOS will be working in partnership with individuals and industry organisations to ensure a broad outreach to women.

A further financial investment will be made in technical skills training and toward building confidence and networking skills through a series of national events and masterclasses. These have included EQUALIZE and sessions with Coach Viv.

  • 40/40/20

We are committed to execute a 40/40/20 measure on membership programs. This will ensure that within the medium term, at least 40% of the judges involved in APRA's suite of awards are female; a minimum 40% threshold will be applied to the Ambasssadors' program, SongMakers and SongHubs; at least 40% of the presenters and performers at all awards events and panelists on our national event series will be female. And we will also address female representation in terms of topics specific to career development.

An update on our commitment

By setting benchmarks, creating new initiatives, and becoming partners on existing and new programs, we have seen notable gains but continue to work in this space to reach a more balanced membership.

From our 2017 statement: To redress the imbalance APRA AMCOS is immediately committing to the goal of doubling annual female membership applications within three years, a year on year increase of 25% new female members.

While we haven't achieved the initial goal, we have seen positive uplift in the percentage of female-identifying members elected in the subsequent three years.

In the year before our initiative, newly elected female-identifying members accounted for 25.8% of all newly elected members. In the three years since, newly elected female-identifying members accounted for 30.7% of all newly elected members.