Business News Industry People

Keychange sets out Pledge Action Plan encouraging “urgent and sustainable” change to achieve gender equality in the music industry

By | Published on Wednesday 15 February 2023


The Keychange initiative – the global movement that has been campaigning for and facilitating an important shift across the music community with the aim of achieving and ensuring gender equality – has published an update on its work and a four-point Pledge Action Plan to “encourage urgent, sustainable change throughout the music industry”.

Originally conceived by the PRS Foundation in the UK – and now run and supported by a number of organisations, with funding from Creative Europe – Keychange has instigated various projects and initiatives since 2015, including the 50/50 gender balance pledge.

A particularly high profile part of Keychange’s work, that pledge was originally focused on getting festivals and music conferences to commit to gender balanced line-ups, but subsequently expanded to encourage a wider range of music companies and organisations to work towards better gender equality in their operations.

In a new report on that specific work, Keychange states that “more than 600 music festivals and organisations around the world have now taken the Keychange Pledge, implementing sustainable structures and practices to provide more space and more opportunities for women and gender expansive creators and professionals throughout the music industry than ever before”.

“Each pledge is unique to the organisation making it”, it adds, “with areas of action, timeframes and targets identified by the pledge signatory at the time of joining the movement”.

The guide sets out the achievements of the organisations that have signed up to the pledge, but also collates the results of various recent research projects that demonstrate there is still a long way to go until we have a music industry with true gender equality.

It’s with that in mind that the new Pledge Action Plan has been put together with input from signatories to the pledge. That plan puts the focus on four specific objectives that will inform the future work of Keychange and the pledge signatories, as follows…

Beyond Gender: Working towards gender balance within the music industry requires actions that represent women and gender expansive people from all under-represented backgrounds. This requires a strong focus on intersectionality when creating pledges and monitoring progress, ensuring representation of and direct input from women and gender expansive people of all races, ethnicities, (dis)abilities and social classes, throughout all of Keychange’s activities.

Urgent Action: Encouraging the global music industry to create detailed, time-focussed, intersectional pledges to proactively bring about sector-wide change.

Global Community: Creating roundtables, workshops and conversation spaces for different sectors of the music industry to share best practices, information, and tips for development and progression.

Education & Activism: Keychange already provides guidelines, best practices and monitoring support to individual signatories. To extend this offering in the future, Keychange will work with partners and collaborators to create safer spaces and forums for activism; offer further training and guidance in the use of appropriate diversity language and practices; and collaborate with and signpost organisations offering training and development in diversity and inclusion practices.

Urging everyone in the music industry to get involved in this plan, Keychange’s Francine Gorman says: “It’s the responsibility of every single member of the music industry to insist upon and bring about urgent, progressive, lasting change”.

“Keychange is proving that targeted action to break down the systemic and cultural barriers preventing women and gender expansive artists and professionals from entering and succeeding in the music industry is working – so now is the time to take this even further”.

“From music schools and conservatoires including more women and gender expansive composers in curriculums, to radio stations improving representation in playlisting and staffing, to collecting societies and trade bodies increasing gender representation in their memberships, much needs to change – and now”, she adds.

“For this reason, we’re calling upon the entire global music community to join Keychange in taking urgent action towards a diverse, representative and sustainable music industry for all”.

You can download the report reviewing what the Keychange pledge has achieved and outlining the action plan here.