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Music Sin Fronteras: a global girl group?

HYBE and Geffen Records “The Dream Academy Global Girl Group Audition Program” could be progress for women in music, or a embarrassment. I am betting on the former

I am not sure that this is progress, but it really, really could be.

In case you missed it, HYBE and Geffen Records have been running “The Dream Academy Global Girl Group Audition Program”. The purpose is to assemble a multinational all girl group that can record, perform, and otherwise become a global phenomenon, or at least a hit with a specific target audience. 

 I know, we have been here before with the industry-assembled Boy Bands: Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, One Direction, etc. And for the most part they worked – they excited the target audience (usually teens and pre-teens), made a lot of money for the companies behind them, made a little money for the artists, and a few of the guys went on solo fame.

If it works with the boys, why not with the girls? Afterall, all female musical groups have been popular at least since the Boswell Sisters  in the 1930s. The term “girl group” came into fashion with the wave of American female pop singing groups in the late 1950s and early 1960s. More recently, look no farther than Black Pink.

More importantly, Deezer and Spotify report that women tend to listen to mostly female artists and men stream mostly male artists.

Why is this important? Because a 2022 business survey found that women make up the majority of Spotify streamers,   56% to 44%. And a UK survey found that when concert tickets and merch sales are added to streaming and CD revenue, women spend more money on music than men.

Conclusion:  women spend more money on music than men and they spend it on women artists, therefore a global “girl group” should rake in the cash, especially if they are “Sin Fronteras” – from many countries each with a target audience.

The other conclusion you could raw from this is that an insanely popular global women’s group could move the needle ahead for women in the music industry.

Despite women’s dominance in the marketplace, they are crushed in the music business, and maybe the “The Global Girl Group” can help rectify this. Consider:  in 2022, only  30% of artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart were women, which was an improvement over earlier years, but still dismal.  A Global Girl Group could add a few more women to the list, but more importantly,  raise women’s profile in music …a lot.

The  Global Girl Group Audition Program shows that, while the industry has its head in its (male) ass, at least two big names are figuring it out.  And I suppose that the fact the largest and most profitable concert tour this year was led by a woman – Taylor Swift, ( Beyonce was not far behind), helped. The New York Times estimated that when she concludes her Eras Tour, Swift could bring in nearly $4.1 billion total- another reason to go global with the gals.

Alas, the dominance of women audiences seems to be waking up the accountants, but the image shapers have not gotten the full messge.  The marketing for the Global Girl Group Audition presents them as passionate, talented artists, but at the same time as sexy knock offs of J- and K- pop groups like Ready to Kiss – innocent young girls dressed to titillate, in front a male judge.  

Sorry guys – you need to watch the “Eras” film. If you want to sell music to the major buyers – women – mixing respect for talent with images of young teen-like girls in short skirts, knee stockings and the occasional bare midriff dance costume ain’t going to cut it. And pitting women against women in public “auditions” won’t either – this is not Top Chef for girls who sing and dance.  Stick with stories of passionate determination and superb talent and skip the  grammar-school mini skits. And let them speak out.

“The Dream Academy Global Girl Group Audition Program” is  –  or should be – a serious attempt to assemble the right group of talented women from around the world who can attract Taylor Swift-level audiences with a Swift-type message that works across borders. 

The women who spend so much money on music are not attracted to phony  “girl power”. They want strong, talented women who deliver the message that female entertainers are not there for men to fantasize over; they are there to show that women can and soon will dominate the music industry. “The Dream Academy Global Girl Group Audition Program” could be a milestone for women. Or it could be an embarrassment for women. HYBE and Geffen Records need to retool and make it a milestone. They got this far so I think they are smart enough to make it a milestone.

Patrick O’Heffernan



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (485 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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