On Tuesday, New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) announced that it will be awarding $500,000 in grants to local female musicians. Anne del Castillo, the recently-appointed MOME commissioner, shared the news at the New York Music Month conference, as Billboard reports.
According to MOME, $500,000 will be given to fund projects made by artists who identify as female, as well as projects engineered, produced, written by or otherwise led by women. The grant, which goes up to $20,000 per project, can specifically be used to fund an EP, album, or video. Said funds can then go towards covering the likes of equipment rental, booking studio time, producing music videos, and mixing and mastering albums.
Administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts, the fund is part of the newly-renamed NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre (formerly known as the NYC Women's Film, TV and Theatre Fund). The fund launched last year to help assuage gender-based inequality across the arts, including film, television, and theatre, and is now adding music to its slate.
A grim report from USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative from earlier this year helped catalyze the move, as del Castillo noted during the conference. The study, called "Inclusion in the Recording Studio?", broke down statistics of women's representation through analyzing hundreds of popular songs. In analyzing an estimated 700 songs, the authors found that women were underrepresented in virtually every part of music production: Only 12.3 percent of popular songs have been written by women from 2012 on, women constituted a mere 17.1 percent of the year-end charts in 2018, and across 400 popular songs, men outnumbered women producers by a ratio of 47 to 1.
The artists, producers, and songwriters surveyed in the report cited stereotyping and sexualization, working in a male-dominated industry, and financial instability among the prevalent hurdles for women working within the music industry.
"In that space, we want to make sure that a female-identified creative has a writing credit, an engineering credit, a producing credit or a lead artist credit," del Castillo tells Gothamist, "So that it’s...clear that they have a real decision-making role and agency within the project that we’re funding."
Del Castillo notes that creative projects led by women also statistically tend to have more women represented on their respective staff. "Those are some of the things we were thinking about when we’re trying to figure out the best way to invest city funds in supporting the development of female-identified artists," she says, "And creating economic opportunities for them in those respective spaces."
To be eligible, prospective grant winners must submit a minimum of 3 songs, or 30 minutes of material. Applications open on July 10th, and del Castillo says the deadline will be in October. Winners will be selected in March of 2020.