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Yourope releases diversity and inclusion toolset

Yourope has developed and released the 3F Diversity & Inclusion Toolset for the European festival sector.

The toolset, which is free to use for any festival or cultural event, is a curated collection of resources that can help festival organisers make their event more diverse and inclusive for fans, artists and staff.

It forms part of the European festival association’s three-year project, Future-Fit Festivals (3F). Resources include guides, tests, checklists, interviews, databases, other toolkits, roadmaps, reports, games and action plans.

Chapters are dedicated to: Accessibility & Inclusion, Anti-Racism Work & Diversity, Gender & Sexual Equity, Consciousness & Responsibility, Allyship and good-practice stories. The team has also assembled a glossary. In addition, there is a ‘Diversity Mission Statement’ that festivals are free to copy and adapt to their own event. The toolset can be found here.

“When we talk to festival organisers about diversity at their events, we sometimes hear that they would like to do more, but they don’t know where to start. They’re afraid of doing something wrong, saying the wrong thing, and the potential backlash that might cause, so they don’t touch the topic,” says Yourope’s Katharina Weber, contributor and editor of the toolset.

“If your festival is already doing great, but you’d like to get inspiration and ideas to do even better, this is for you”

“With this toolset, we give festival organisers a chance to fight this insecurity. It’s a place to start their diversity journey. Our project team did the research and assessed many resources on accessible, diverse and equal events, so festival organisers don’t have to do it. On top, we hope to inspire them with our stories about good-practice examples from festivals that show how more diversity and inclusion can be achieved.”

The toolset is the result of a collaboration of experts from the Yourope network such as Roskilde Festival (DK), Primavera Sound (ES), Flow Festival (FI), Höme – Für Festivals (DE), Open’er Festival (PL) and OpenAir St.Gallen (CH), supported by an advisory board of external experts from different countries and backgrounds. Their tasks were to check the team’s unconscious biases and to ensure that the texts are representative of the groups of people this toolset is dedicated to.

“Something stuck with me after a short conversation with the awareness team at Reeperbahn Festival in 2023,” adds Yourope board member Marta Pallarès, head of press at Primavera Sound and co-developer of the toolset. “They handed me a little sticker, a perfect form of a circle made with these words: ‘It’s a process it’s a process it’s a process.’ And indeed, making our festivals better, safer, more diverse and more inclusive is a process: the more you know, the more you realise the things you still don’t.

“And if you are just getting introduced to these concepts, finding where to start can feel overwhelming, even if you might sense that the moment to begin is now. This is the main goal of our toolset: if your festival is already doing great, but you’d like to get inspiration and ideas to do even better, this is for you. And if you want to start somewhere but you don’t know how, this is for you as well.”


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‘The people want it’: All Things Go on diversifying lineups

Independent, female-driven US festival All Things Go is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary this September, with its organisers highlighting how curating a diverse event has paid off.

Speaking with IQ, co-founders Will Suter and Stephen Vallimarescu and brand partnerships and advocacy manager Carlie Webbert discuss the evolution of the DC-based festival. Launching in 2014 as the one-day All Things Go Fall Classic, organisers began curating female-led programming to highlight festivals’ gender imbalance in 2018, with that year’s edition curated by singers Maggie Rogers and LPX.

Since then, the festival has boasted a majority of female and non-binary performers, with the 28-29 September event to be led by Laufey, Bleachers, Hozier, Reneé Rapp, Janelle Monáe, Conan Gray, and Chappell Roan. It marks the third consecutive sellout for the indie event, with 40,000 fans to attend across two days. Last year, the late-summer event expanded from one day, with the 2023 edition headlined by Lana Del Rey, Maggie Rogers, boygenius, and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Gender-balanced festival lineups are rare, with 90% of headline performers being male across 50 European festivals, according to a study by IQ and ROSTR. Across complete lineups, only 35% of artists were female and 1% were non-binary. Attendees have lovingly received the event, dubbing it “Gay-Chella,” “All Things Gay,” and “Lesbopalooza”.

Once you prioritise inclusion, your community will be stronger because you platform voices that usually don’t get the stage,” Webbert says.

Thirty-six artists will perform across multiple stages at ATG’s Maryland amphitheatre base, its biggest edition yet, including Maren Morris, Remi Wolf, Ethel Cain, and Julien Baker. Alongside the music programming, organisers will continue their one-night panel series, the Creator Summit, bringing together leaders in music, media, activism, and technology.

Here, the All Things Go organisers answer 10 questions in celebration of its 10th anniversary.

“Music is a powerful vessel for creating change”

This year marks your 10th anniversary. How are you planning to celebrate the accomplishment this year, and what are you proud to have accomplished over the past 10 years?

Will Suter: We’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary with our biggest lineup to date! We’ll have 36 artists performing over the two days at Merriweather Post Pavilion, in addition to a few surprises along the way. We’re proud to have created a robust community of music fans who circle ATG on their calendar every year and keep coming back — in addition to the new festival fans who might be experiencing the event for the first time.

This year’s edition takes place roughly one month before the presidential election in the capital. What plans do you have to intertwine social activism within the two-day schedule?

Carlie Webbert: Music is a powerful vessel for creating change. For the past few years, we’ve worked with advocacy organisations to ensure we do our part in platforming important causes. Last year we worked with Spotify EQUAL and The Ally Coalition to create a physical activism village on site with six non-profit organisations that were set up for fans to interact with. This year we’ll be working with Propeller, Calling All Crows, Headcount, Peta, Reverb, and more to drive awareness for those organisations along with raising funds. Ultimately, the advocacy arm of the festival will continue to grow and given how engaged the fans at ATG are, we are excited to see the impact that comes from it.

The cost of two-day general admission passes started at just under $200. With the cost of living and live music rising, how could you keep ticket prices down and why is it important to your team to keep the event affordable for different budgets?

Stephen Vallimarescu: Despite costs increasing substantially over the past few years, we strive to keep ticket prices as accessible as possible — and often lower than industry averages. As an independent music festival with a thriving community, we are constantly polling fans to understand what we can do to ensure a better fan experience, which includes affordable pricing and payment plans that start around $35.

All Things Go has openly called attention to putting women and non-binary individuals on the stage, but how is the organisation supporting and engaging those groups working in roles behind the scenes?

CW: Two of our longstanding partnerships are with Women in Music and Amplify Her Voice. These collaborations help us prioritise inclusion month after month. Women in Music supports us in organising the Creator Summit, a panel series held the night before our festival. This event highlights leading women in music, media, and technology. Through our partnership with Amplify Her Voice, we launched a program last year that provided hands-on backstage experiences to over 20 young women and at last year’s festival — an incredibly impactful opportunity for seeing first-hand what happens behind the scenes.

What’s the most memorable bit of feedback you’ve received in the 10 years of programming?

WS: In 10 years of programming, every year has brought new hurdles and new opportunities. We realised a few years into the festival that we need to really listen to and trust our fans. We take our post-festival fan survey very seriously and have launched a few iterations of an ATG fan club to really connect with those fans year-round. It’s ongoing feedback, year after year, on how we can improve our lineups in addition to the overall experience at the festival from the people who are buying the tickets.

“At the very least, ensure you book 50% female or non-binary acts — there is so much talent out there across genres”

Your planning process begins before the previous year’s edition takes place. Can you speak about keeping up with trends in your lineup curation process and how you are set to deliver your biggest offering yet?

WS: The planning process never really ends for the festival. We’re constantly discovering and listening to new music from emerging artists in addition to setting calendar milestones for established artists’ album releases, shows/tours and other festival appearances. The more we’re able to consume and monitor, the better — and it feels like there is more quality across music being released and live shows performed than ever before.

How would you describe the atmosphere of the festival to those who’ve never attended?

SV: The atmosphere at All Things Go is a reflection of our vibrant community, made up of both dedicated fans and boundary-pushing artists. It’s a unique and indescribable energy that covers the festival grounds. Most artists have commented on stage about the distinctiveness of All Things Go compared to other festivals. Our fans are united by a deep love for live music and a common ethos. We stand for something meaningful, and we strive to curate a festival experience that minimises scheduling conflicts and emphasises special moments that fans will remember forever.

In 2023, you hosted the first Creator Summit and brought together voices from the entertainment, music, political, and activism realms. Are there plans to continue this event, and can you highlight any major takeaways from last year?

CW: Yes! The Creator Summit is a significant part of our festival weekend, providing festival attendees with the ability to hear impactful voices from music, media and technology. The event provides a meaningful platform for engaging dialogue for our fans.

Your lineup has been female-driven since Maggie Rogers curated an all-female festival in 2018. Many festivals are still struggling to offer a diverse and balanced bill — what do you have to say to them?

CW: I would say, “Come on! The people want it!” We’ve sold out three years in a row, very fast, with a mostly female lineup. At the very least, ensure you book 50% female or non-binary acts — there is so much talent out there across genres. Once you prioritise inclusion your community will be stronger because you platform voices that usually don’t get the stage.

Describe how you’d like to see All Things Go evolve in the next 10 years.

SV: We aim to further support the next generation of artists and fans by championing their creativity not only through our annual festival but also through our expanding digital platforms. We’re allocating more and more resources to avenues such as newsletters, podcasts, and technology-driven initiatives. Our goal is to enable our community to connect and engage with each other seamlessly, regardless of where they live and beyond the festival weekend.


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UK music biz now majority women, report finds

UK Music has published the results of its 2022 Workforce Diversity Survey, which reveal an increase in the number of women in the business and a decrease in ethnically diverse communities.

A total of 2,980 people from the music industry’s workforce (not creators) responded to the trade body’s survey, which was conducted in summer 2022.

It found that more than half (52.9%) of individuals working in the UK music industry in 2022 identified as a woman, up from 49.6% in 2020. However, the findings do show that women start to leave the industry in their mid-forties.

In addition, the survey reveals that parents and carers are underrepresented in the music industry (29.7% compared to 44% of UK working population). Of the 68% respondents with no care responsibilities, the majority are female, pointing to a loss of female talent when they become mothers or carers.

There has also been a loss of ethnically diverse communities compared to the 2020 survey results. Just over one-fifth (21.04%) of individuals working in music identify as Black, Asian or from an ethnically diverse background. This is down from 22.3% two years ago.

Just over one-fifth (21.04%) of individuals working in music identify as Black, Asian or from an ethnically diverse background

Meanwhile, just over 14% of the industry reported a disability, up from 12.2% in 2020. According to UK Music, this statistic could indicate that more individuals with a condition are working within the industry or that a greater number of individuals are comfortable disclosing their condition.

For the first time, UK Music has used the survey to collect data relating to women or menstruating persons experiencing the menopause and the impact this could be having on their career.

More than one in ten (11.2%) respondents said they have experienced menopause/perimenopause. Almost half (47.5%) have had their work affected by its symptoms, yet three-quarters of these individuals (76.6%) have not taken time off work to manage their symptoms.

In addition to publishing the 2022 survey results, the UK Music Diversity report also sets out a new music industry action plan, dubbed The Five Ps, to accelerate positive change by boosting diversity and inclusion in music businesses.

“We must not take our foot off the accelerator when it comes to driving positive changes”

The plan focuses on people, policy, partnerships, purchase and progress and outlines suggested policies drawn both from UK Music’s survey findings and the lived experiences of those from diverse communities via a series of round-table events.

The 15 recommendations in the plan include: cultivating a transparent, safe and consciously inclusive culture for all staff; increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups; working towards a five-year EDI strategy and vision; incorporating EDI into every part of an organisation or businesses structures; publishing data on gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps annually in larger employers; and ensuring there is a strong EDI mindset at the heart of all tendering and procurement processes.

“Our 2022 survey shows how those from Black, Asian and other diverse communities have been hardest hit by the impact of Covid-19,” says UK Music Diversity Taskforce chair Ammo Talwar MBE.

“The drop in the percentage of employees in several sectors of the industry is further evidence of why we must not take our foot off the accelerator when it comes to driving positive changes on diversity and inclusion as swiftly as we can.

“We need to create a consciously inclusive culture right across the music industry and right across the UK. Our hope is that the Five Ps – our Music Industry Action Plan – provides a robust and clear framework that anyone can use to help deliver that change.”

Read the full report here.


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New Bosses name one thing industry must change

Alumni from IQ Magazine‘s most recent class of New Bosses have identified areas of improvement for the international live music business.

A handful of the next-gen leaders shared their thoughts during Meet the New Bosses: The Class of 2021, at last month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Theo Quiblier, head of concerts at Two Gentlemen in Switzerland, believes the one thing the industry needs to get better at is normalising failure.

“We are in a fantastic industry where everyone is signing the new top artist or selling out venues or sealing huge deals with festivals but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well’ – as simple as that.

“I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well'”

“As a promoter, I could say, ‘Oh, I work with this top band,’ and people think, ‘That’s amazing, he must be rich,’ and, in reality, it’s your biggest loss of the year. We need little reality checks, and to say ‘I’m doing my best but I’m not the best’. Sharing insecurities is great because failure happens to everybody.”

Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Wasserman Music (formerly Paradigm UK), called for better pay for junior staff so more people can viably start their careers in the industry.

“Fair salaries for junior staff and internships so that it enables people in those positions to live in the cities in which they work,” comments Noseda-Littler. “By providing a free internship or a low paid job, you’re cutting off so many people who don’t have the ability to still live with their parents or be subsidised by their parents. And then you’re just reducing the number of people you can recruit and missing out on potentially really ambitious and amazing people.”

Anna Parry, partnerships manager at the O2 in London, echoed Noseda-Littler’s thoughts, adding that companies also need to improve their recruitment strategies in order to reach a more diverse pool of talent.

“This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head”

“Companies really need to put more effort into understanding why people aren’t applying for these jobs, and then they need to create a lower barrier of entry for those types of people,” says Parry. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh okay, well we posted the job on a different forum than we usually would’. It’s going to take a lot more of that to actually make a difference. We need to focus on that because it’s important our industry is representative of the artists we represent.”

Age Versluis (promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands) on the other hand, is petitioning for a four-day workweek: “This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head. Since Covid, we’re seeing a lot of people burning out and having trouble getting to that fourth or fifth gear.

“We forget that moving shows for two years to the same months is quite stressful. I think we could use some extra ‘me’ time.”

Tessie Lammle, agent at UTA in the US, echoed her peers’ points, adding: “I was going to say diversity or work-life balance but Theo’s point is huge. I think the younger generation is getting much better at [sharing insecurities].”

Each of the panellists appeared as part of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses 2021, an annual list celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business. See the full list of the distinguished dozen here.


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Top agents call for action on diversity

Top agents called for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry during last week’s ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag).

Hannah Shogbola (UTA), Natasha Gregory (Mother Artists), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent International) and Whitney Boateng (WME) came together for the all-female Agents Panel – hailed as “a long-overdue milestone” by moderator Maria May (CAA).

“We are representing the change we want to see,” said May during her opening gambit for the digital session. “I believe the music industry has a duty to continue to strive forward post-pandemic be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in.”

However, WME’s Boateng says there’s a “lot more work that needs to be done in the industry”. “It is still predominantly old white male and it has been for years,” she added. “Change has to come from the top-down and it has to be more than black squares.”

UTA’s Shogbola agreed: “If you are looking around your office and it does not reflect the society that you live in and the roster that you look after, then there is something categorically wrong.”

Black squares were posted on social media as part of the music industry’s Blackout Tuesday movement, a protest against racism and police brutality in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

“As a black woman within this industry, it’s frustrating that even 15-20 years into my career, it takes the death of somebody like George Floyd for our industry to finally open its eyes,” said Shogbola.

“The industry has a duty to be even more progressive, more inclusive, and representative of the world that we live in”

Boateng pointed out that it’s not just racial inequalities that the industry needs to fix but also disparities around sexuality and gender, with the panel unanimously agreeing that diversity on line-ups is still “not good enough”.

“It’s so important that when anybody is going to a show, they feel like it’s a safe and inclusive space for them,” said Dunstone.

Elsewhere during the panel, Mother Artists’ Gregory says that flexibility towards employees’ work hours will also be a key feature in a more equitable post-pandemic industry.

“Working 9–5 is not equality because everybody has a different situation, a different experience and different needs,” argued Gregory. “Being an agent is not a 9–5 anyway so just put trust in your team – working hard is a given in this industry.”

Dunstone agreed: “Adaptability and flexibility are massive takeaways from the last two years. Hopefully, we’ll pick and choose the bits of [pandemic life] that worked for us.”

The 36th edition of ESNS took place under the banner ‘Building Back Better, Together’ and focussed on getting the industry back on its feet after two years of the pandemic.

The hybrid conference and festival wrapped on Friday (21 January) and Dago Houben, director of ESNS said that “despite the fact that there is definitely screen fatigue, we were able to perform our platform function for the national and international music industry.


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OVG: “We’ve been on a different ride to our peers”

While many live entertainment businesses have spent the pandemic stopping and starting, Oak View Group continued to fire on all cylinders. The global sports and entertainment company has forged ahead with constructing its new arenas and making the most of its unique position to respond to the ‘new normal’ in real-time…

What has the pandemic looked like so far for Oak View Group (OVG)?
JK: OVG is the largest sports and entertainment venue company in the world but none of our venues are open yet. So, we’ve been on a really different ride to our peers in the industry. They’ve been in batten-down-the-hatches mode whereas we’ve been in full-on construction mode on six buildings throughout this whole thing, and those processes haven’t stopped at all.

Has that put OVG in a unique position to respond to the pandemic in the design and build phase?
JK: Yes. We have been able to do a lot of thinking about what we need to change as a result of the pandemic. For example, speeding up the road to paperless. We were looking at it much more from an environmental standpoint but then we saw it from a sort of sanitation standpoint – customer touchpoints are really necessary now. We also looked at all of the catering and how we could minimise touch – and make food more grab and go.

“We’ve had the luxury of being able to react in real-time to [the pandemic]”

Also, readjusting the airflow and ventilation and making sure that our metrics are all in line with the new research that is coming out on airborne transmission. Making sure the materials are anti-bacterial, that doors that might have opened and shut maybe just stay open. We’ve had the luxury of being able to react in real-time to these things.

How has OVG supported its employees during this tumultuous time?
AJ: I’m really proud of the way OVG has decided to support the employees throughout the pandemic, not laying people off, letting them keep their benefits, bringing people back as things opened up and it became safe to do that. From an onboarding perspective, we’ve been trying to make employees in remote places feel like a part of it by, say, sending them swag because they’re just sat at their dining-room table, and not at an OVG office.

We’re hoping that we’re going to have 100% of employees back in the office by the fall, based on what’s going on with the pandemic. We want to make it a very festive environment that says we’re glad that we can spend time in each other’s real presence, but at the same time there’ll be protocols in place, not to prohibit or make anyone’s job more difficult, just to keep them safe.

“OVG is lightyears ahead of our competitors in terms of gender diversity”

As OVG expands internationally, what’s your strategy for creating diverse teams?
AJ: We’re making sure that we go about hiring with intention. Whether that’s reaching out to HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) or diverse professional organisations to ensure that we have a larger slate of people that we can consider for the roles that we’re looking to fill. For example, we’re supporting diverse students to do an MBA in Sports and Entertainment Management at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics. So we can start building that pipeline to venues like our Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and get people back into this industry to get a more diverse interview.

Why is making diverse hires good for business?
JK: OVG is lightyears ahead of our competitors in terms of gender diversity. One of the reasons it’s so important is to do with the fan experience. If there aren’t people designing a fan experience with everybody in mind, then it’s going to fall short for big chunks of the population and people aren’t going to feel welcome. It’s just as important from a customer service point of view too; if fans are being greeted by a wall of people who are different from them.

Just look at the UK’s events research programme that our almost completely white male government is putting forward. They’ve picked cricket, football, Formula One racing, Wimbledon and the snooker championships. There are virtually no women and virtually no people who aren’t white in any of the event research programmes and that kind of gender and racial data gap is what creates a crap experience for most of the population.


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Impala hires diversity trainers Vick Bain and Arit Eminue

Impala, the umbrella body which represents music companies and associations across Europe, has appointed UK-based equality campaigner Vick Bain and Arit Eminue to provide diversity and inclusion training to its members.

Bain, who has been confirmed for ILMC session Gender Equality: The Next Level, is a diversity trainer, campaigner and PhD researcher, as well as a qualified equality, diversity and inclusion consultant.

Last year, she officially launched the F-List, a directory of UK female and non-binary musicians to be used by promoters, festival bookers, commissioners, music supervisors.

Arit Eminue of Diva Apprenticeships has also been appointed, alongside Bain, to provide diversity training for Impala’s 5,000+ members on a three-year contract.

“This is an exciting opportunity to spread awareness and knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the music industry”

The pair have already held two training sessions for Impala’s diversity task force. The first training session for members is set for 27 January.

The appointments follow Impala’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter, published last October, which lays out 12 commitments towards promoting diversity and inclusion among independent music companies. This includes making diversity and conscious inclusion training available twice a year to all members.

“Working with Impala and its membership across Europe is an exciting opportunity to spread awareness and knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the music industry,” says Bain.

Arit Eminue added: “I look forward to helping Imapala’s members achieve their diversity and inclusion goals and providing practical tips on how they can drive change. So much can be done by making simple changes to start with.”


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Diversity: Change is coming

Wow – what an incredible year it’s been. I vividly remember my first time going up to bat for UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce, as their new chair, feeling intimidated and overwhelmed in the Universal Music Group’s boardroom. The mighty UMG – home to Island Records, Polydor, Virgin – had agreed to host our inaugural session right where the big deals were done; the Rolling Stones, Sam Smith and Stefflon Don probably all inked deals or demo-ed LPs right here.

We’re in the same space discussing diversity in the music industry, with all the trade bodies and all the major labels around the table. I was nervous, even with vice-chair and veteran of the music world Paulette Long to back me up and keep me in check. But we didn’t know that when we left the room, the world was about to turn upside down.

This is March 2020. Parts of the UK are celebrating our exit from the EU with post-Brexit parties and a sense of euphoric win. Something else that’s in the air is Covid-19, but despite footage of super hospitals being built in China, it’s not yet being taken seriously here. Just a few months later; George Floyd is brutally killed beamed directly onto our phones.

The outcry over the murder of George Floyd once again highlighed injustices in the law, amplifying the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement. Theirs would soon become the strongest voice for global justice, equality and equity. It resonated with our UK youth like never before; modern, contemporary, organised and effective at all levels. Statues got dismantled, hashtags became “must”-focussed – #rhodesmustfall and #TheShowMustBePaused backed by the Black Music Coalition in the UK and black music executives globally. Furlough was introduced and the music industry began its journey into the abyss.

It’s not just “more brown faces in the board rooms”; it’s more diversity of thought and practice

Globally, the major labels moved quickly. New investment came in to support black talent, the term “urban” finally got thrown out and “white privilege”, “systemic racism” and “unconscious bias” were the new words in the music ecosystem. Letters were written to key UK music industry players, which had raked in profits from black artists and black culture for decades but had always overlooked the structural and systematic racism. “Enjoying the rhythm and ignoring the blues,” said BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo.

There were difficult debates, decisions and discussions for all of us. From the CEOs of major record labels to promoters and artists not from minority communities; questions of privilege (perhaps “white”, perhaps “gender”, perhaps “place”) were being asked. How much of their success in the music industry was down to privilege, family networks, not undiluted raw talent? More importantly, how do we create better opportunities and better representation for the rest of us? Modern day, diverse citizens should be everywhere across the music industry, not just as performers, not just as interns, but at executive and CEO level, smashing the glass ceilings of back rooms and boardrooms.

Black artists have always raised their voices for while others have stayed silent; Howlin Wolf spoke about the Mississippi Blues, Jazz and Be Bop defied Jim Crow’s America. James Brown post-Watts Uprising shouted “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”, Hip Hop hit back at Reaganomics. In the UK Steel Pulse was talking about Handsworth Revolution, Bashy heralded serious emotions about Black Boys. Stormzy raps on Grenfell and Dave just echoes what James Brown knew all those years ago; Black is Beautiful.

Now was the time for the music industry to stand up and back a radical, sustainable plan to repair the diversity deficit and back our black artists, black workforce and a modern diverse music ecosystem. At UK Music, the taskforce was already nine months deep into our flagship workforce survey. Now, this could go out against the backdrop of #theshowmustbepaused and #blackouttuesday; receiving unprecedented support from all the trade bodies – BPI, MU, PPL, AIM, MMF, FAC, IVORS, MPG, MPA and PRS. The uptake surpassed the 2018 survey by over 33%.

If diversity without action is just a dream, action without evidence is a nightmare

This was and is the only survey to look this deeply into representation in the UK music workforce, auditing levels of diversity, social mobility, the protected characteristics, retention and access at all levels, right across the music business. This included studios, management agencies, music publishers, major and independent record labels, music licensing companies, the live music sector: the total UK music ecosystem.

But what can be done with just data? To really put evidence to work, codesign across the music industry is required to deliver an action plan that is respectfully collaborative, holds senior executives to account and changes the culture with visible metrics and targets. It’s not just “more brown faces in the board rooms”; it’s more diversity of thought and practice, with sustainable ways to move progress forward with pace.

If diversity without action is just a dream, action without evidence is a nightmare. Our ten-point plan is drawn from the 2020 survey, based on new metrics, fresh evidence and lived experience of diversity in the music industry today, here in the UK. It is the accumulation of months of work across the total industry ecosystem – we consulted, we watched, we listened, we gathered data and now there is a strategic plan that has been co-signed by every single major music trade body. And some of it is really simple, common sense stuff, ensuring ordinary people in the music industry are allowed to execute extraordinary work.

Dialogue with diverse voices – with people who don’t look like you, talk like you and hang out in places like you

As the chair of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce, I know we are responsible to make change happen, and we must be held accountable to ensure actions are sanctioned, strategy is developed and systems change. The ten-point plan closely aligns with the demands of Black Music Coalition, Women in Ctrl, PRS Foundation and all the other campaigning music companies to ensure justice and equality with a sharp focus on race and gender.

The ten-point plan has some really simple stuff that some would say is just common sense. Advertise to a broader audience base for new recruitment, listen to diverse staff members, update and implement stronger diversity targets. There are also deep, long-term drivers around the gender and race pay gaps, around governance and ultimately putting new voices into key decision-making rooms. Some say follow the money, we say: dialogue with diverse voices – with people who don’t look like you, talk like you and hang out in places like you.

We want to bring people with us, because we know diversity is stronger, better, smarter and more sustainable when “done with”, rather than “done to”. But at the same time, there are some drivers, some values that are absolutely no compromise. The ten-point plan demands sharp actions at pace with respect. It’s going to be a long complex journey. Without the tragic death of George Floyd and the uprisings afterwards, without #TheShowMustBePausedUK, without #BlackOutTuesday, the UK music industry wouldn’t be at the watershed moment I believe it is today. Change is coming.

It’s simply time to act.


Ammo Talwar MBE is UK Musics diversity taskforce chair and Punch Records CEO. This article originally appeared on the Punch Records website.

UK Music reports progress with diversity in industry

Representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities and women has increased at almost every level in the industry since 2016, according to a new report by UK Music.

The trade body revealed the findings of its 2020 Workforce Diversity Survey in its UK Music Diversity Report, as well as a ten-point plan to tackle racism and boost diversity in Britain’s music industry.

The survey’s most notable findings include an increase in minority ethic employees between 16-24, up from 25.9% in 2018 to a record 30.6%.

The number of people from minority ethnic professionals at entry-level has also risen from 23.2% in 2018 to new high of 34.6% in 2020, though representation is worse in senior positions at just 19.9% – one in five posts.

Elsewhere, the proportion of women has increased from 45.3% in 2016 to new high of 49.6% in 2020. However, the number of women in the 45–64 age group has dropped from 38.7% in 2018 to 35% in 2020.

“Against a backdrop of global change the diversity taskforce has been carefully listening, challenging and working behind the scenes to help shape a transformational and game-changing ten-point plan,” says UK Music diversity taskforce chair Ammo Talwar MBE.

“If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too”

“This plan is data driven and evidence based with metrics and lived experience. It’s the accumulation of nine months’ work across the whole music industry to support yet hold the industry to account. No tokenistic statements, no short-term wins but a truly collaborative long term plan that reboots the sector and ensures diversity is front and centre of all major decisions.”

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says: “As an industry, we are united in our determination to lead the way on improving diversity and inclusion in our sector and across society. This report consists of a frank and candid analysis of the current situation our industry faces, and a bold and ambitious ten-point plan for how to achieve the positive change we all want to see. It’s relevant not just to the music industry, but to organisations everywhere.

“If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too. This ground-breaking report is an important step towards achieving that.”

The trade body’s ten-point plan to improve diversity makes a number of commitments including maintaining a database of people responsible for promoting diversity across UK Music; removing the word “urban” to describe music of black origin, using genre-specific terms like R&B or soul instead; and ending the use of the “offensive and outdated” term BAME in official communications.

UK Music has conducted a diversity study every two years since 2016, which collates data from across the music business including studios, management agencies, music publishers, major and independent record labels, music licensing companies and the live music sector.


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Diversity: ‘Change needs to come from the top’

Black music professionals are calling on the industry’s behemoths to help diversify the industry from the top down.

In IQ‘s recent feature, Opening Doors, several key industry figures called on the industry’s power brokers to reflect on their responsibility to effect change.

“We have to hold companies and senior management accountable. It takes a long time to change culture, but that can be accelerated if the desire for change also comes from the top,” says Natalie Williams, former head of research for UK Music.

“If you’re a senior executive, then maybe you should look at yourself and the friendship circle that you have – if that’s not diverse, then you could be part of the problem.

“Ninety per cent of people do not think they are part of the problem, so they end up passing the buck to their HR department,” she added.

While ICM Partners agent Yves C Pierre says “The pool of people put in power need a diversity check from within, because we can see they’re great at buying IP but I think that’s the easy route.

“The power brokers need to step out of their comfort zone and confront the task of changing what’s become the norm internally from the inception of the business model.”

Read the entire feature here.


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