Despite progressive movements to address the streaming industry’s “value gap,” the gender pay gap and a lack of diversity in board rooms across the creative sector, structural racism “continues to be prevalent” across the music industry, a new U.K. report has found.
Prejudice continues to be an issue – both implicit and structural – according to the inaugural Black Lives in Music report, which warns that discrimination is having a knock-on effect to the mental health of potentially thousands of Black music creators and industry professionals.
Inspired by the Blackout Tuesday campaign, BLiM sought to find proof of inequality in the U.K. music industry.
In March 2021, the organization commissioned a study that surveyed 1,718 Black artists (60%) and industry professionals (40%).
The report is a grim read.
According to its findings, 73% of Black music professionals have experienced direct or indirect racism in the music industry, and the figure climbs to 80% for those who’ve experienced racial microaggressions.
In a case study published with the report, Hakeem Stevens, Owner of Access All Areas, music lecturer at University of West London and a former music executive, recounts a label executive arguing over the phone with a Black artist, who admittedly had a reputation for being difficult.
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“But there’s no justification for what he did next. (The executive) slams down the phone and says ‘fucking’ and then uses the N-word,” he wrote.
Among some of the other insights that jump off the page:
-40% of Black professionals have felt the need to change their appearance because of their race or ethnicity, rising to 44% of Black women.
-White music industry professionals were found to earn more than Black professionals for their work within the industry pre-Covid (£2,459 vs £1,964 per month)
-Nearly half (45%) of Black professionals feel their abilities and contributions aren’t recognised, and three quarters (75%) of those industry respondents are dissatisfied with how the music industry supports Black music professionals.
– Over one-third (36%) of Black music professionals believe their mental wellbeing has declined since starting their music career. White professionals also highlighted this, the report points out, which suggests the need for for a sector-wide mental health and well-being support program.
Based on its findings, the resulting effect on the wellbeing of those concerned can “be no surprise,” explains Roger Wilson BLiM, Director of Operations.
“It’s testimony to the determination of Black music artists and their love for creativity that their talents continue to shine through. Despite the knockdowns, Black music creators and professionals in the U.K. stand up again and again.”
With its newly published data and insights, BLiM will continue its campaign for equity and to support the empowerment of Black musicians and professionals to realise their aspirations.
“Change must achieved,” comments Charisse Beaumont BLiM, Chief Executive, “but this can only happen if it is done together.”
Download the report in full here.