It seems like the short list of women producers people tend to talk about consists of producers who produced hits from over 10-20 years ago. These are producers like Linda Perry, Trina Shoemaker, Sylvia Robinson, and Sylvia Massy. These producers, however, were successful when then definition of “producer” was still quite a concrete term and when there weren’t as many complex subgenres of music.
In those days, job titles in the record industry were much more easily defined. Today, being a “producer” can mean many things. There are many circumstances where there is a big overlap between “producer”, “songwriter”, and “artist”. Someone can write the beat for a hip hop track, create the synths for an electro house track, write the lyrics for an R&B track, or help arrange all these aspects together into a finished product. Many artists are also their own producers. Many are also DJs or also create remixes.
We really have to consider these factors when we try to figure out why we aren’t seeing as many standout female producers:
1. The industry is gaining more and more niche markets and genres.
2. The definition of “producer” has become more fluid.
3. Anyone can produce their own music as a result of technological advances and collaborate easily with anyone because of the internet.
That said, there are many great female producers (many of whom produce their own material) in underground, subgenre, or niche markets in the industry. Here is Tokimonsta, a producer from LA featured in MTV Iggy’s article “16 Female Producers You Didn’t Know Are Running Things” (see previous blog post):
Maybe the title of that article is a little misleading, because I wouldn’t say any of these producers are really “running things”. Yes, they are producers of some really good music, but they haven’t really produced hits in popular genres. They very well could be, but do they want to? That’s a different story… well, this is one way to gain notoriety:
Apparently Diplo loves her.