diversity roundup

It’s that time of year again! Good King Wenceslas is mulling his annual pizza order; Chris Rea is checking his tyre pressure and loading presents into the boot; and Music Ally is continuing our list of 2022 roundup articles!

Today’s focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion within the music industry, and some of the key reports, research and talks that we’ve covered this year around this topic.

A warning up front: this isn’t a feelgood roundup. The stories linked to below offer lots of material on the problems that remain to be tackled: racism, sexual harassment and abuse for example.

These aren’t necessarily easy reads, but they’re important ones: a spur for the work that needs to be done to become the industry that we want to be. Read on, and find our other 2022 roundups here.

01 USC Annenberg’s ‘Inclusion in the Recording Studio?’ report

The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has been studying diversity within music for several years, and its latest report at the end of March zeroed in on the artists, songwriters and producers featured in Billboard’s Hot 100 end-of-year chart. Its conclusion on gender diversity was clear: “For women in music, the last decade has been one of insignificant change in the recording studio…”

02 The Recording Academy’s ‘Women in the Mix’ study

This was another US-based study published in March by The Recording Academy, Arizona State University and Berklee College of Music. Based on surveys with more than 1,600 women and gender-expansive people in music, it found that 84% had faced discrimination and 56% believed that their gender had affected their employment in the industry.

03 UK Music’s ‘Workforce Diversity Survey’

UK Music is the umbrella body for the British music industry, and for several years it has been studying diversity within that industry. Its latest report found progress for women – now 52.9% of the industry including rises at mid and senior levels – but a concerning decrease in the percentage of industry employees who are Black, Asian or from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

04 Black Lives in Music boss talks anti-racism and diversity

One of the standout sessions at the FastForward London conference in September came from Charisse Beaumont, chief executive of Black Lives in Music. She announced plans for an industry-wide anti-racism code of conduct, and challenged the industry to move faster. “In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of talking. A LOT of talking. Movement but no change… We’ve had our protests. That was really great for the reckoning, but just because the protests have finished, it doesn’t mean racism has gone.”

05 TuneCore and Believe’s ‘Be The Change’ report

2022 was the second year for the ‘Be The Change’ report commissioned by TuneCore and Believe from Midia Research to explore the challenges faced by women in the music industry. It was another study with some blunt conclusions: “A sobering picture emerges of lack of real change since 2021, and little progress with the challenges that women face.” For some more context, read our report on TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson’s changemaker keynote at the NY:LON Connect conference in January.

06 Impala’s reports on diversity and inclusion in independent music

European indies body Impala has also been researching diversity and inclusion among its members, publishing a pair of reports this year: one in May and one in October. They were helpful snapshots of where the independent community is at on these issues, from diversity policies to training and areas for improvement.

07 The Protect Black Art campaign’s open letter

Led by industry executives Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald, Protect Black Art is a movement challenging the growing use of rap lyrics in criminal cases. “More than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry,” explained an open letter published in November, and backed by labels, streaming services and artists.

08 The Black Music Action Coalition’s country criticism

‘Three Chords & The Actual Truth’ was a report published in June by the Black Music Action Coalition, training its lens on diversity within the country music sector. It aimed to tackle assumptions that “there isn’t enough Black talent, there isn’t a Black country audience, and the existing country core won’t embrace Black acts”, noting that in fact “when data has included Black listeners, it has not only consistently pointed to a Black audience, but a growing one”.

09 Diversify The Stage’s founder on widening the industry pool

Noelle Scaggs founded the Diversify The Stage movement informed by two decades as a professional artist, and a lack of diversity within the live music industry. At NY:LON Connect in January she outlined how community can create change. “It’s about creating resources, it’s about creating awareness, self-assessment, and then a collective motion towards this change… If we have more widespread communication and activity, we’re going to get to a good place faster… a place where we can say this is not just lip service.”

10 ISM’s ‘Dignity at Work’ report

British industry body the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) published its ‘Diversity at Work’ report in September, based on a survey of 660 people in the music sector. Again, the findings were unsparing: 66% of respondents said that they had experienced some form of discrimination while working in music, including many freelancers who were unable and/or unwilling to report it.

11 Australia’s Music Industry Review

Talking of unsparing reports, the ‘Music Industry Review’ published in Australia this autumn warned upfront that “the content of the report may be distressing”. It laid out “widespread risk, inequality and discrimination for many” and concluded that “women and diverse, marginalised groups are more likely than men to suffer sexual harassment and bullying”.

12 Finland’s ‘Yhdenvertaisuus Musiikkialalla’ report

This could be seen as a companion report to the Australian study, conducted by a group of Finnish music industry bodies to survey more than 1,000 artists and industry folk. 84% of women said they had experienced inappropriate behaviour, from comments and sexual harassment to pay inequities and exclusion from informal work discussions.

13 The Musicians’ Union talks misogyny in music

The UK’s House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee is holding an inquiry into ‘Misogyny in Music’, and in October the Musicians’ Union published its response to the inquiry, based on a recent survey of members. It outlined the challenges faced, but also a number of recommendations that the MU thinks would change things for the better, from improving anti-harassment and discrimination policies to extending protections to freelancers.

14 GLAAD’s warning to social media platforms

Not specifically a music story, but certainly one relevant to artists and fans alike. LGBTQ organisation GLAAD published its second ‘social media safety index’ report in July, rating platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok on safety, privacy and expression for LGBTQ people. Spoiler: none of them scored highly.

While you’re here…

– Listen to our recent Music Ally Focus podcast with Janelle Mitchell and Esteé Blu talking about representation in the music industry.

– January’s NY:LON Connect conference we co-run with Music Biz has sold out of in-person tickets, but virtual tickets are still available. Check the lineup here!

– The Knowledge is Music Ally’s free weekly newsletter, arriving in your inbox every Friday with news, analysis and marketing tips. Sign up for it here!

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