USC Annenberg study explores ‘diversity desert’ of US music industry


“Diversity on the charts, but not in executive ranks of music companies” is the top-line finding of the latest report on music industry diversity by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. It’s a study of 4,060 executive positions across 119 companies including labels, publishers, streaming services, the live industry and radio.

Breaking the data down: 13.9% of CEOs, chairmen and presidents across 70 major and independent music companies were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, with 4.2% Black and 13.9% women. Meanwhile, 18.8% of executive board members were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, with 8.5% Black and 30.8% women.

“Underrepresented and Black artists are dominating the charts, but the C-suite is a diversity desert,” said Stacy L. Smith, who co-authored the study. “The profile of top artists may give some in the industry the illusion that music is an inclusive business, but the numbers at the top tell a different story.”

More findings: “For women, as power increased, the percentage of women in executive roles decreased significantly. However, this trend was primarily driven by white women’s presence in the executive ranks,” explained the study. “More than one-quarter (26.9%) of all executives were white women, with only 8.4% underrepresented women, which includes 3% of executives who were Black women.”

You can read the full report here, including its recommendations on what music companies can do to continue the process of what co-author Carmen Lee described as going “beyond identifying the lack of diversity and extend it towards understanding inclusion and belonging in the workplace”.


Image by bbernard /

Written by: Stuart Dredge