In the United States as in the United Kingdom, the music industry is in search of diversity

In the United States as in the United Kingdom, the music industry is in search of diversity

The music industry is looking to change records. After the shock wave of the protest movement #TheShowMustBePaused, industry professionals are launching numerous initiatives to support musicians from ethnic minorities.

UK organizations Sound City, Youth Music, sm-mgmt, CAPLL LTD have recently launched “Rip It Up”, a scholarship program aimed at promoting diversity and welcoming a new generation of talent into the industry. Ten young blacks, Asians or from other ethnic minorities will be selected to follow professional training for six months in order to find a place in the community. And all with the help of mentors such as Seye Adelekan of Gorillaz, Nova Twins, Vanessa Bakewell of Facebook, Liam James Ward of digital agency Be-Hookd Digital and Achal Dhillon of Killing Moon Records.

This initiative, supported by the Youth Music Incubator Fund, hopes to encourage more diversity and inclusiveness in the music industry in the UK. “Questions around diversity (or the lack of it) are ubiquitous – I don’t think anyone with a brain and having witnessed the events of the last twelve months in particular (of course, the question is as old as society – even) needs to be reminded or convinced that racial prejudice is indeed real. As music is at the forefront of cultural expression, it therefore suffers even more deeply from these problems, and even benefits from them when diversity is at the forefront of the strategy of music companies, ”said Achal Dhillon of the Killing label. Moon Records.

The UK Music organization addressed these questions through a recent report, for which 3,670 industry professionals were interviewed. Nearly 22% of them are black, Asian or from other ethnic minorities, compared to 17.8% in 2018. Despite this encouraging increase, professionals from ethnic minorities often struggle to climb the echelons in the sector. They represent 42.1% of apprentices or trainees, but only 19.9% ​​of senior managers.

In the continuity of #TheShowMustBePaused

In the United States, these disparities have been at the center of the protest initiative #TheShowMustBePaused, which Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang launched last June in reaction to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. The two women presented it as a call to the music industry, “which has profited predominantly from black art”, to protect and valuing the black community. Many artists and industry giants such as Warner, Sony and Universal joined the movement by putting their activities on hiatus for a symbolic day.

Eight months later, some players are continuing their efforts to promote more diversity in the industry. This is the case of the American Association of American Music (A2IM), which recently launched a new program to boost independent African-American-run music companies. They will join the A2IM network for free and receive tickets to attend networking events, such as Indie Week and the A2IM annual conference.

For its part, YouTube recently announced the creation of a grant program for black creators of its platform. It follows the launch of a $ 100 million fund, #YouTubeBlack, last October. More than 130 creators have been selected as part of the “#YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021” initiative, and will receive financial support to increase their influence on the platform. “These creators and artists have been striving for a long time and are known to their communities, but we are very excited to invest in them, and we believe that they can and will become essential names on YouTube,” said Malik Ducard, director of content partnerships for the platform, during a press conference.

The double punishment of artists from minorities

Among them are about twenty black artists, including nine women such as MC Carol, Yung Baby Tate and Tkay Maidza. Their position in the music industry is even more precarious than that of their colleagues, according to a study from the University of Southern California. If more and more women from ethnic minorities manage to climb the music charts as singer-songwriters, they struggle to appear there when they are producers. Only eight of them had this chance between 2012 and 2019.

“The music industry has all but erased women producers, especially women of color, from the charts. As producers play such a creative role, it is critical to ensure that women from all walks of life are considered and hired across the industry, ”said Stacy L. Smith, professor at USC and author of the study.

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