Billboard got hauled over the coals in February when it ran its Power 100 List, spotlighting the most powerful people in music – which ended up being dominated by old white men. So for its rundown of the 30 most important music business managers this week, it’s learned its lessons.
Hmmmm. Of the 30 names in the list, only two are women. Oh, and 27 of the people on the list are Caucasian. Oh dear. The publication explains the process here: “To compile this list, Billboard surveyed industry sources, including executives who rank in our annual Power 100 list, asking their choice of the top players in the money-management field. For large firms, we feature the partners most frequently cited by those sources.” This is a fixable problem and the first way to do that is to not rely on a voting pool from a power list that was previously blasted as being too shallow. Billboard needs to spread the net wider than it does and ask a more diverse range of industry sources to contribute. This is something the Brits addressed in the aftermath of criticism after this year’s awards where it was seen as too white. It took the criticism on board and did a demographic survey of everyone who votes in the different categories and will use this to ensure it is much more representative in the future. As long as publications and organisations continue to run these sorts of narrow polls, they will be called out. And the calling out is getting increasingly louder. To fall short once and then, when called out, promise to do better is something we can work with. To fall short repeatedly and appear oblivious to criticism is a whole other kettle of wrong. To reinforce a male and Caucasian hegemony is doing the music industry a massive disservice. It IS more diverse than this – and can be more diverse still. But it is up to Billboard and others to properly reflect this and prove to the next generation of executives that it is not a (white) boys’ club.