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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Record Label Promotional Decisions and Artistic Personas: The Importance of Gender and Sexualization


Many scholars and commentators have acknowledged sexism in the music industry, but very little systematic research explores patterns of gender preference or discrimination in popular music worlds. Interviews and interpretive or ethnographic work suggests a gendered glass ceiling exists, supported by gendered stereotypes and practices, but little direct research exists on the behaviors of record label personnel. This paper fills these holes by examining the degree to which record label promoters favor men or women as a group, and whether or not it matters if these artists are sexualized. The analysis suggests that, counter to expectations, promoters favor women as a group, and that both male and female artists receive a promotional boost for emphasizing a sexualized persona that counts double for women, but that these patterns differ significantly within genres and by race.

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