Yesterday’s third track in the NY:LON Connect conference we co-run with Music Biz focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the music industry, starting with a keynote session involving Binta Brown, founder of Omalily Projects and co-founder of the Black Music Action Coalition, and Paulette Long OBE, deputy chair of UK Music’s diversity taskforce.

“I’m looking for legacy changes, and everything I’m involved in at the moment, if I can’t see the legacy – a breaking down of the systemic issues within organisations and the culture – then I really don’t want to be part of it,” said Long. “This is a moment in time when we can definitely bring about change, but it’s been a long time in coming… This is a moment when we have to find our brothers and sisters of all creeds and colours to get on board and make sure we smash this thing up.”

Brown agreed. “I think about permanent change. I don’t want this cycle of making a little bit of progress and then swinging way back in the opposite direction,” she said, adding that the goal is “not just inclusion, but participating in the economics: participating in the value that’s being created. Being equitised in what we’re creating and what we’re building. I’m not interested in band-aids or temporary fixes.”

Brown also addressed the challenge of “a presumption of scarcity” where white executives in the industry feel threatened by calls for diversity, equity and inclusion, because they think it will mean they are pushed out.

“We need to switch to a presumption of abundance, where there is space at the table and the pie can grow,” said Brown. “A lot of people are still operating from a space of fear and scarcity. ‘If those people are getting that opportunity, it means I am not getting those things’.”

Long agreed. “It’s such a nonsense thought process to think I’m here to replace you. If you allow me to do what I do, then your organisation can grow and there’s more space for others,” she said, before Brown continued.

“I don’t want to replace you! I know I’m talented, I know that when we’re there, there’s more opportunity for more people. We should not be seen as a threat or something that’s going to be taken away, but as something that’s going to enhance the value of the enterprise… The idea that there is not enough space for everyone who is talented is the reason our business is not as big as it could be… if we got rid of some of the things that make us think we have to see things in a smaller way to protect our turf, maybe it could be a larger industry with more people participating in the value. Imagine that!”

There was lots more in this session and the follow-up panel. We’ll have full writeups of both in our NY:LON Connect post-show report, which will be published next week. Today is day three of  the event, with an international focus on Germany, Brazil and Indonesia. See the full agenda here.

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you understand what’s required for artists to thrive in new international markets!

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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