Male singers are paid a total of US$9,300 per month for performing in Thailand, and in some cases, as much as US$22,000 per month.
That means, as the Economist reported in May, male singers have to make up about three-quarters of a performer’s income.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Gender and Family Development, male performers in Thailand earned an average of US $22,890 per month in 2016, up from US$15,000 in 2015.
Male singers also make up a significant share of the top income bracket, with one in five of them earning over US$70,000.
But in 2018, male Thai singers made up just 0.6% of the workforce.
The country’s government plans to raise the minimum wage from US $7.60 per hour to US $9.40 in 2020, and to $11 by 2020.
“The reason that male singers are so much more valuable than female singers is because they’re not paid in line with the number of women in the workforce,” says Chai Sengkwanchai, a researcher at the University of Bangkok’s Centre for Gender Equity and Social Justice.
“Male singers are still very much at the bottom of the pyramid.”
“In some ways, they’re better than the female singers because they do more work,” he adds.
But the male singers who make the cut in Thailand are far from the only ones earning money.
Many Thai singers are women in their twenties, and their earnings have remained relatively flat for decades, according to Chai.
In a report released in May by the Institute of Gender Studies at the Bangkok University of Science and Technology, he found that only 5% of male singers in the country are earning a living wage.
In addition to the low wages, Chai says that male performers are also less likely to receive professional development and mentorship than their female counterparts.
“The reason for this is that the male performers aren’t really trained,” he says.
“They’re not as good at their craft, they don’t know how to get paid the way women are.”
Chai, however, does not believe that the gender pay gap is permanent.
“There is no reason to think that the female performers will get paid less than the male ones,” he tells Quartz.
“It’s just that the pay gap isn’t the same.”
Chao Jiyat, the former female singer of the country’s most popular band, the National League for Democracy, says she feels her male counterpart in the band was discriminated against in the recording studio.
The singer, who is now an artist, says that while the band made money, they didn’t get paid enough to live on.
In the past decade, the industry in Thailand has changed significantly.
The industry has grown significantly over the past few years, with a total value of USTKK (US$6.2 billion) estimated at US$11.3 billion in 2020.
“But it’s still not enough,” says Yao Leng, a musician and former member of the National Party.
“I’m still struggling with the gender issue, and it’s not helping me to achieve the goals I want to achieve.
I feel like my voice is being erased.
The male performers just aren’t getting paid the same as the female ones.”
In fact, according a recent study by the World Economic Forum, male vocalists in Thailand earn less than female performers, earning between US$1,500 and US$3,500 per month on average.
But for Chai, the gender gap isn of particular concern for male musicians.
“When it comes to the gender balance in the music industry, the male musicians are always overlooked,” he said.
“And this is the reason why male singers need to have more professional development.
Male musicians need to be paid the right amount of money.
But they’re still not getting the attention they deserve.”