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Inside Electronic Dance Music’s Gender Equity Problem

People dance during a concert of French electro band C2C as part of the 37th edition of 'Le Printemps de Bourges' rock and pop festival in the French city of Bourges.
People dance during a concert of French electro band C2C as part of the 37th edition of 'Le Printemps de Bourges' rock and pop festival in the French city of Bourges.

Electronic dance music has defined an entire generation of music lovers. In 2019, EDM’s global value was estimated at $7.3 billion dollars. It’s the fifth most popular genre on streaming platforms.

But as expansive as its reach has been, the path to success inside the scene is narrow. And overwhelmingly male. A record number of women made it onto DJ Mag’s Top 100 List in 2020: 13 out of 100 artists. 

Why has it been so difficult for women to rise to the top? And how are next-generation artists pushing for change? Those questions are at the center of a new documentary about the dance music scene, called “Underplayed.” 

From EDM.com:

Over the course of the documentary’s 85 minutes, its fundamental message is clear: In EDM, gender bias does more than just pervade all aspects of life for a woman—it has become inescapable.

“I feel like I’ve really had to prove myself more so than men, and I think a lot of women will tell you the same thing,” Alison Wonderland told EDM.com. “I had to work really hard for credibility as an artist.”

“It’s gatekeeping,” Tygapaw added. “It’s not one person. It’s a conversation that needs to start, and we need to continue it, and not shift from it and become complacent, because with complacency, it stays the same.”

Here’s our playlist of dance music’s heroines:

We meet the film’s director and two DJsprofiled in the documentary. 

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.


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