Blissful Style

Most-Streamed Artists of 2020 — Gender-Balanced

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Though this beleaguered year 2020 is not yet over, Spotify has released its Top Artists of 2020 USA list. Great songs, but I was quick to notice that the list is 82% male. That is not fair, that is not merit-based, and that did not happen by accident. There is no difference between female and male brains, and there’s nothing about the vagina that makes women inferior singers or songwriters. So what gives?

The answer is that there is sexism both in the music industry itself and among male listeners. Only about 22 percent of signed music artists are women, and women make up only 12 percent of songwriters and 2 percent of producers. Women in the music industry face sexual harassment, overt sexualization, and discounting of their work and skills. Okay, so that’s bad. But why aren’t 22 percent of the most-streamed artists female then? Why only 18 percent? Well, it turns out that men listen to 94 percent male artists , mostly because they don’t want to be perceived as too feminine (shame of being perceived as feminine is misogynistic because it is contempt of femininity in at least one context; any man who debates this is kidding himself). Compare this to the listening patterns of women: 55 percent male artists. (I myself listen to 53 percent male artists, mostly because I succumbed to a couple of curated lists by Spotify, and curated lists by streaming services skew male. That’s why I have 100+ playlists entirely of my own making.) Women are more balanced listeners because we have lived without gender privilege and therefore don’t live in fear of losing it (or let it cloud our perception of the world).

So, now that we’ve gone over how unfair this world is, and how terrified men are at being discovered to like the same things we women like, and to have personalities even the slightest bit like ours (how flattering), let’s imagine a better world. A fair world. A world where a woman has no more obstacles to Spotify streaming success than a man does. A world that reflects the scientific absence of a relationship between brain and gender, as well as the scientific absence of a relationship between penis and musical ability, or vagina and musical ability (or Adam’s apple, breasts, facial hair, ovaries, testicles, what have you and musical ability). Drawing from the Top Female Artists playlist, and using a random number generator for fairness, here goes!

1 ) Dua Lipa

Future Nostalgia - Wikipedia

2 ) Gunna

Gunna: Wunna Album Review | Pitchfork

3 ) Mac Miller (RIP)

Mac Miller: Circles Album Review | Pitchfork

4 ) Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World 2 - Wikipedia

5 ) H.E.R.

I Used to Know Her - Wikipedia

6 ) Taylor Swift

Evermore (Taylor Swift album) - Wikipedia

7 ) J. Cole

KOD (album) - Wikipedia

8 ) Jhené Aiko

Chilombo (album) - Wikipedia

9 ) Billie Eilish

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? - Wikipedia

10 ) Roddy Ricch

Roddy Ricch: Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial Album Review | Pitchfork

11 ) J Balvin

J Balvin - Colores.png

12 ) Melanie Martínez

Melanie Martinez - K-12.png

13 ) Eminem

Eminem in a suit with a red background

14 ) Kehlani

Kehlani - It Was Good Until It Wasn't.png

15 ) Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny - El Último Tour del Mundo.png

16 ) Rihanna

Rihanna - Anti.png

17 ) Doja Cat

Doja Cat - Hot Pink.png

18 ) Post Malone

Post Malone - Hollywood's Bleeding.png

19 ) Pop Smoke

ShootForTheStarsAimForTheMoon.png

20 ) Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande - Positions.png

21 ) Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga - Chromatica (Official Album Cover).png

22 ) Luke Combs

Luke Combs - What You See Is What You Get.png

23 ) Kanye West

Kanye West - Donda With Child.png

24 ) The Weeknd

The Weeknd - After Hours.png

25 ) Future

Pluto x Baby Pluto Cover.png

26 ) Summer Walker

Summer Walker - Over It.png

27 ) Juice WRLD (RIP)

Juice Wrld - Legends Never Die.png

28 ) Camila Cabello

Romance (Official Album Cover) by Camila Cabello.png

29 ) Lil Baby

Lil Baby - My Turn.png

30 ) Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion - Good News.png

31 ) Drake

Scorpion by Drake.jpg

32 ) Halsey

A photo of a woman's face with thick blue glittery makeup around her left eye

33 ) Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts.png

34 ) Travis Scott

JackBoys - JackBoys.png

35 ) Trippie Redd

Trippie Redd - Pegasus.jpg

36 ) Katy Perry

Katy Perry dressed as a sad clown wearing a giant bow, with the album title written under.

37 ) Lana Del Rey

Del Rey holding out her hand on a boat around a man

38 ) DaBaby

DaBaby - Blame It on Baby.png

39 ) Khalid

Khalid - Free Spirit.png

40 ) YoungBoy Never Broke Again

YoungBoy Never Broke Again - Top.png

41 ) Beyoncé

Beyonce - Lemonade (Official Album Cover).png

42 ) Lizzo

Lizzo - Cuz I Love You.png

43 ) Justin Bieber

A red-filtered shirtless Justin Bieber turning to his right with the album title "Changes" stated on the album cover

44 ) BTS

BTS - Be Cover.png

45 ) XXXTENTACION (RIP)

Bad vibes forever xxxtentacion.jpg

46 ) Selena Gómez

Selena Gomez - Rare.png

47 ) Nicki Minaj

Minaj posing on a fallen tree trunk in front of a setting sun, wearing pasties and Egyptian head beads.

48) Cardi B

Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy.png

49 ) SZA

SZA sits on grass, facing the camera. Behind her are various computer monitors and keyboards in a pile.

50 ) Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato - Tell Me You Love Me (Official Standard Album Cover).png

That’s a good group, right? Happy listening!

But wait, Spotify made a playlist to recognize top female artists, and another one to recognize top male artists, so isn’t that fair? Well, no. It’s better than nothing. But lists and articles that focus exclusively on women in music aren’t enough to change the dynamics of the industry, or male listening habits. They aren’t enough to generate equal revenue for female and male artists. And in fact, they create this illusion that female artists are profoundly different from male ones (you know, different beyond being shorter on average and having higher voices, and the aforementioned penis-vagina thing). They also create an illusion that, because female artists are so different, they can only succeed in female-only spaces — that is, that there is something about female artists that makes them less successful in a male-dominated industry. When the truth is, there is something about male artists that makes female artists less successful in a male-dominated industry, and that something about male artists is what makes the industry male-dominated at all. That something, of course, being the active exclusion, hostility toward, belittlement of, and harassment of female artists, songwriters, and producers.

So what’s needed isn’t a room off to the side for women. What’s needed is to treat the women in the industry with respect, the same level of respect given to men, so that more female artists are signed by record labels and put their music out to the world. Respectful treatment and earnest promotion of female artists, and an absence of double standards in media coverage, would send a signal to male listeners that female artists are good and should be taken seriously, and therefore that liking them is something to be loud and proud of.

When half the artists, songwriters, and producers are female; when half the award winners are female; when every Spotify playlist is half female; and when female artists receive as many streams and the same amount of sales as male artists; that is when we will know this problem is over.

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