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New study exposes systemic and institutionalised racism in British music industry

BLiM
(Image credit: Black Lives In Music)

A new study of Black music creators and music industry professionals has exposed systemic and institutionalised racism in the UK music industry, with 3 in 5 (63%) black musicians revealing that they’ve experienced racism directly or indirectly. In addition, 88% of all Black music professionals agree that there are barriers to progression within the industry.

Published by the Black Lives In Music organisation, the damning report issued today, October 13, is based on the findings of a survey of almost 2000 individuals working in music in the UK, and highlights a range of discriminatory acts and “sometimes hostile working environments” in the business.

The survey found Black artists granted less studio time than their white counterparts, refused event performance opportunities and being told to change the type of music they create. Black female artists in particular have been told by management companies and labels that they need to assimilate to white/euro-centric standards as they do not know how to market a Black female artist.

Key findings in the report include:

86% of all Black music creators agree that there are barriers to progression. This number rises to 89% for Black women and 91% for Black creators who are disabled.

88% of all Black music professionals agree that there are barriers to progression.

Three in five (63%) Black music creators have experienced direct/indirect racism in the music industry, and more (71%) have experienced racial microaggressions.

35% of all Black music creators have felt the need to change their appearance because of their race/ethnicity, rising to 43% of Black women.

73% of Black music professionals have experienced direct/indirect racism in the music industry, and more (80%) have experienced racial microaggressions.

31% of all Black music creators believe their mental wellbeing has worsened since starting their music career, rising to 42% of Black women
.

36% of Black music professionals believe their mental wellbeing has declined, rising to 39% of Black women.

38% of Black music professionals earn 100% of their income from music compared to 69% of white music professionals.

57% of black music creators have seen white contemporaries promoted ahead of them despite being more qualified.

In a statement on the report, Charisse Beaumont, the Chief Executive of Black Lives in Music, says: “You cannot change what you cannot measure. 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 is a first of its kind report which holds a mirror up to the UK music industry showing what it actually looks like. The disparities Black creators and industry professionals are faced with is rooted in traditionalism and systemic racism.

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. 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. The data clearly shows that change is needed across the entire music ecosystem from grass root education to 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 report can be read in full here.

In response to the report, Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, says:
 
“We fully support the report’s recommendations and are committed to playing our part to bring about transformative change in the music industry. Our thanks go to Black Lives in Music and all the respondents for providing details of their experiences. This report is an important step towards our shared goal of an inclusive industry that’s free of prejudice and discrimination, where there’s equal opportunity and treatment, and we create positive and lasting change for Black music creators.”