The Student Voice of Coastal Carolina University



Finding the words

Female songwriters in a male-dominated industry

Only one nominee for Songwriter of the Year was female at the 2024 Grammy Awards. 


On my trip to Nashville this past summer to collaborate with other songwriters, I was the only female in the room. It was only me and three 50-something-year-old guys writing these songs.  


When I asked them how they usually write a country song for artists, they said they have a list of things to include such as; beers, trucks, dirt roads and blonde girls with blue eyes. I thought they were joking, yet they had written for names as big as Garth Brooks and Morgan Wallen. 


Based on what I have seen and experienced, I believe smaller female artists go underappreciated for their work.  


Bre Kennedy only has 206,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, yet when I got the chance to talk to her in Nashville, she was down to earth, kind, and an amazing singer and songwriter.  


Isabel Pless, who has less than 48,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, writes like I have never seen before. Her lyrics connect with the listener in an intimate way, something I thought was impossible to do.  


Even though we have many female artists in today’s industry, most of the popular songs you hear on the radio were written by a man. 


Joni Mitchell was the first to be a battering ram in the testosterone-heavy field of songwriting back in 1964. Since she quit school and moved to Toronto to pursue folk singing, she has written 310 songs, been nominated for 18 Grammys and has won 10. 


Mitchell’s first win was in 1970 at the 12th annual Grammy Awards. Through her years of writing some of the most influential songs of their time such as, “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Both Sides Now” and “Our House,” she has yet to win Songwriter of the Year. However, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997, paving the way for future female singers and songwriters. 


For example, Lizzy McAlpine has been recognized for her gut wrenching, emotional songs such as “Ceilings” and “Older.” “Ceilings” went viral on TikTok last year and has since amassed over 476 million streams on Spotify. Yet, Lizzy has still not won any awards for her songwriting. 


Every year, it seems the Songwriter of The Year category is dominated by men. Since 2000, 16 out of 24 years the writers of the Song of the Year have been male. 


Be mindful of who you listen to and support female songwriters. 

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