Since the 1950’s the music industry has spiralled out of control to become the billion dollar industry we know today. But it’s fair to say that the whole picture would look very different had it not been for these girls, the women who changed music.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and has also been named the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. When she burst onto the scene in the 1960s she changed the shape of the industry all together. She made women want to sing.

Her music also played an extremely important part in the American Civil Rights movement, and she became a symbol of black American pride. Her sound and presence reflected the ideals of the nation and she’s been a source of inspiration for more than 50 years.

Other women have taken up what Aretha started. Without her music we wouldn’t have stars like Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and Alicia Keys.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith - Godmother of Punk Music

If there was one genre you wouldn’t expect to have been influenced heavily by a woman it would be punk rock. But Patti Smith was there from the start, and her debut album ‘Horses’ (released in 1975) has been named one of the most important artists of all time by magazines like Time and Rolling Stone.

She has been nicknamed the “Godmother of Punk”, but her influence stretches even wider than this. Michael Stipe, the lead singer of R.E.M, has cited her as one of his greatest influences and even Madonna has hailed the role Smith’s music played in her rise to stardom.


Madonna - Midlife

Nobody has reinvented themselves more times than Madonna. She is the top selling female artist of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records and Time Magazine included her in their list of the most influential women of the last century. She’s a pretty big deal then.

Madonna’s influence has been extraordinary. She almost single-handedly changed pop music by breaking down boundaries with her sexual imagery as well as challenging traditional social and religious conventions. She’s undoubtedly been the greatest female influence on pop music.

The Spice Girls

Spice Girls

The Spice Girls may not enjoyed as much critical claim as the other woman on this list but they’re just as important to the music industry. They sold more than 75 million records across the world, making them the top-selling female group of all time. The music was good, but the merchandising was even better.

For the first time pop stars were used to sell anything and everything. Their faces could be found on soft drinks, crisp packets, lunch boxes and t-shirts. The five girls were also media icons in the 1990s and always seemed to be on television, whether it was in Britain or in America. They were a money making machine, and have changed the way musicians interact with the press and media for evermore.


Amy Shaw loves to read and write about women who changed the world. She also enjoys searching for the best womens gifts for Find Me A Gift, the gift ideas people.