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UK Music report sets out ongoing diversity challenges in the music industry

By | Published on Tuesday 22 November 2022

UK Music

UK Music has revealed that the number of women working in the British music sector, including in senior roles, is increasing. Although female execs are more likely to leave the industry when they reach their 40s. Meanwhile, ethnic diversity has actually declined, possibly because employees from black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities were disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19.

This is according to the cross-sector trade group’s latest workforce diversity study, which seeks to track progress within the music industry to boost diversity and inclusion.

In terms of gender diversity, UK Music’s study reckons that 52.9% of the sector’s workforce identify as female, which is up from 49.6% in its 2020 survey. The number of women in mid-level roles has also risen, from 40.4% in 2020 to 45.1% in 2022, while those in senior roles has increased from 51.2% in 2020 to 53.3% in 2022.

However, the study notes, “it is still the case that more young women are accessing the industry at an early stage but start to leave the industry in their mid-40s. Women are well represented in the 35-44 age category (53.0%) but the 45-54 age bracket (44.3%) is the point at which female representation starts to drop, with the numbers reducing further for those aged 55-64 (33.3%)”.

One factor contributing to that trend is likely the specific challenges faced by parents and carers in the music industry, which tend to impact more on women than men. And the UK Music study reveals that “parents and carers are underrepresented in the music industry – 29.7% compared to 44% of UK working population”.

In terms of ethnic diversity, the number of people working in music who identify as black, Asian or another ethnic minority group is down slightly – according to the new UK Music stats – at 21% compared to 22.3% two years ago. There was an increase in the 25-34 age bracket – from 24.8% in 2020 to 26.3% in 2022 – though in entry-level positions there was a pretty significant decline from 34.6% in 2020 to 23.6% in 2022.

Just under a sixth – 14.9% – of respondents reported a disability, up from 12.2% in 2020, which – as UK Music says – “could indicate that more individuals with a condition are working within the industry or that a greater number of individuals are comfortable disclosing their condition”. Or possibly a bit of both.

Alongside the stats, UK Music has also published a new action plan to accelerate existing efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the music business. That plan is structured around “the five Ps” – those being: people, policy, partnerships, purchase and progress.

Commenting on the latest survey and report, the Chair of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce, Ammo Talwar, says: “Our 2022 survey shows how those from black, Asian and other diverse communities have been hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19. The drop in the percentage of employees in several sectors of the industry is further evidence of why we must not take our foot off the accelerator when it comes to driving positive changes on diversity and inclusion as swiftly as we can”.

“We need to create a consciously inclusive culture right across the music industry and right across the UK”, he adds. “Our hope is that the five Ps – our Music Industry Action Plan – provides a robust and clear framework that anyone can use to help deliver that change”.

Co-Chair Paulette Long adds: “As part of our work for this report, we carried out a series of round-tables to learn from the lived experiences of those from diverse communities working in the music industry”.

“Listening to them has informed key parts of the recommendations outlined in the five Ps”, she goes on. “The challenge for the music industry is how we use the plan to move beyond the work that is already under way with the industry’s membership organisations and ensure that it is rolled out into the wider music business and creative community”.

You can download the full report with all the stats and that action plan here.