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Black Lives In Music highlights systemic racism in UK music industry

By | Published on Wednesday 13 October 2021

Being Black In The Music Industry report

Campaign group Black Lives In Music has published a new report highlighting systemic racism in the UK music industry. The report – ‘Being Black In The UK Music Industry Part 1’ – is based on a survey of almost 2000 black musicians and industry professionals, revealing significant barriers to progress, particularly for women and disabled people.

Among its key findings, the report states that 86% of black music creators and 88% of black music professionals believe that they face barriers to their progression in the industry due to the colour of their skin. And 63% of music makers and 73% of professionals surveyed said that they had experienced direct or indirect racism in the industry.

As a result, 35% of music makers said that they felt the need to change their appearance in order to progress in their careers – rising to 43% for women. More than a third of all respondents said that being in the music industry had brought about a negative effect on their mental health.

“You cannot change what you cannot measure”, says Black Lives In Music Chief Executive Charisse Beaumont. “Nearly 2000 people responded to our survey on ‘the lived experience of black music creators and industry professionals in the UK music industry’. That is 2000 people hoping for genuine change. This report is the first of its kind and holds a mirror up to the UK music industry showing what it actually looks like”.

“The report highlights racist culture and behaviours in the workplace, financial barriers and lack of investment in black music creators, and industry professionals unable to reach their career goals”, she continues. “The report also spotlights black women being the most disadvantaged across all areas of the music industry and how all of these factors affect the mental health of black creators and industry professionals”.

“This is data, you cannot ignore it”, she states. “The data clearly shows that change is needed across the entire music ecosystem from grass root education, all the way up to record labels. I hope industry leaders read this report and hear the voice of those who spoke out. I hope this report evokes change in the way we do our music business which has greatly profited from black talent. We are looking forward to working with all music industry leaders to ensure that we can achieve change, together”.

The beginning of that work will be a weekly series of webinars, titled ‘Being Black In The UK Music Industry’, discussing the contents of the report and the issues surrounding it. The first, ‘Black Women In Music: Does The Industry Take Us Seriously At All?’, will take place tonight at 6pm UK time. On the panel are musicians Chelsea Carmichael, Estée Blu, Kima, Loretta Andrews and Michelle Escoffery. Sign up to watch here.

You can download the full ‘Being Black In The Music Industry’ report here.