Women’s Voices — A Data Story
This post is part of a series about the women behind ‘Women’s Voices’, an in-app story created by Deezer for International Women’s Day:
Part. 1: Women’s Voices — A Product Story
Part. 2: Women’s Voices — A Brand Story
Part. 3: Women’s Voices — A Data Story
Part. 4: Women’s Voices — A Product Design Story
Part. 5: Women’s Voices — A Product Marketing Story
My name is Inès and I started my adventure at Deezer as a Data Analyst and Storyteller in January with this challenging project: Glocal (= global x local) Social Stories for International Women’s Day.
What is important to me about this specific day is that it invites people from all backgrounds, genders, cultures and ages to consider what concrete actions they can take to make the world more equal. Telling people where we stand is certainly a first step because sadly, not enough people are aware of the current situation of women in the world. Once informed though, we have to act. This is the direction Deezer chose to take for this campaign — celebrate, advocate and encourage action, which is why I believe in this project and contributed to the best of my abilities.
My role within the Business Analytics team, with my manager Mark Tyley, was to collect the proper data about women in music from our internal database and find insights that are worth sharing, while putting a human perspective to the data. We didn’t want people to simply read some numbers and forget about them the second they close the app. The challenge was to make sure our community understands our powerful message: female representation in music needs to keep improving, and we all have the power to take action at our own level in this fight.
We brainstormed about how we would tackle the subject in a series of workshops with several teams at Deezer, using many design thinking processes. We eventually all agreed that, in line with the International Women’s Day 2021 campaign theme — #ChooseToChallenge, we would call out gender inequality by communicating statistics on women’s underrepresentation in the music industry — but not only. We also decided to highlight the improvements already made and celebrate the careers of some of the greatest female artists of all time. Paying tribute to Björk, Cher, Aretha Franklin and SOPHIE — to name a few — is a way to give voice and visibility to minorities who made history and still are powerful sources of inspiration.
Another key decision the team made was to dedicate stories to local artists, which illustrates our will and commitment to be close to local, unique markets. It was actually interesting to analyze the data per country, and see how trends can sometimes be global, sometimes specific to certain areas of the world. I particularly enjoyed the French local story about Yseult, who is to me one of the most inspiring and promising artists of the French music scene because of her voice, lyrics and music choices, but also because I like the way she speaks her mind and doesn’t let herself be pushed around.
Extracting and analyzing data was a challenging task technically speaking. Yet it was rewarding — and kind of reassuring — to find out, for example, that the most streamed song in 2020 came from a woman (Tones and I), and that even in the music genres in which women are the least represented (Electro and Rap), some female artists are still leading by example with stunning performances in charts (like Cardi B, FKA twigs, Yaeji or Suzane).
Besides gathering information about the streaming performance of top songs, I got to explore women’s impact in the whole audio industry. Global and local data on playlists, podcasts and audiobooks specifically were needed to illustrate press releases about our International Women’s Day campaign. So I was, for instance, asked to retrieve the top 200 female authors for audiobooks in Germany, and the top 5 most streamed ‘Women of’ playlists for PR and editorial purposes. You can find the request I made for the latter below:
Statistics help people believe what is actually happening. Storytelling helps people understand these stats and feel concerned by them. Whether you are the crazy streamer who listened to Dance Monkey a thousand times, or simply the latest user who added Yseult’s newest album Brut to their favorites, be glad because all contributions, even the smallest ones, participate in women’s empowerment.
I personally don’t think of my favorite “woman’s voice” as being my favorite singer or podcaster, but rather as my favorite artist as a whole. Usually, female artists are considered activists only when they sing explicit feminist lyrics. But to me, having a voice, in this context, is the power of sharing one specific message. You don’t necessarily need to use your tongue and words to convey an idea. I listen to a lot of instrumental music such as electro, jazz and ambient, and when I see female producers release amazing EPs and albums while leading a label or working under several aliases, I feel so admiring. The music industry is rude when you’re a woman. You have to work harder, put up with sexist judgments (in particular figure-related comments) and constantly suffer the comparison with other women. So I think you can make an impact in the industry just by the act of making your art, even if you only use a modular synth or a drum set. And when you are brave enough to dedicate yourself to the music genre whose top charts only include 4% of women (i.e. Electro), you deserve to be seen as someone who takes part in women’s empowerment.
Finally, as I feel famous female icons had enough coverage on International Women’s Day, I would like to share the work of a less known DJ and producer that I have listened to quite a lot recently: elkka. She produces absorbing music between house, electronica and percussive beats, and is supported by many influential artists like Four Tet and Caribou. Her artistic universe is fascinating and I would recommend having a listen to her EP Everybody is Welcome, as well as her latest release I. Miss. Raving. On a side note, she also runs the record label called “femme culture”, which champions women, non-binary people and the LGBT+ community.