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Equality orgs unveil ‘sobering’ music biz report

A new report has revealed the barriers to career progression facing Black disabled music creators and music professionals in the UK

Black Lives In Music (BLIM), which works for equal opportunities for Black people to work in the UK music industry without discrimination, and disabled music charity Attitude is Everything have unveiled the study, titled Unseen Unheard, which explores the experiences of Black British music creators and music professionals with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Based on survey findings extrapolated from BLIM’s landmark October 2021 report Being Black in the UK Music Industry, the report presents responses and insights from 99 music creators and 50 industry professionals, complemented with new interviews carried out by the organisation in 2023.

The report, which can be downloaded here, highlights intersectional bias facing Black disabled people in music. It found that 74% of Black disabled music creators felt there are specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity, compared to 58% of Black non-disabled creators who felt the same way.

In addition, only 38% of the 149 respondents felt that diversity and inclusion is an industry priority, while a snapshot of 33 Black disabled music creators who had applied for funding found that only 42% had been successful, compared to 54% of Black non-disabled creators.

“The Unseen, Unheard report is another first of its kind report which will aid in reframing the music industry”

“The Unseen, Unheard report is another first of its kind report which will aid in reframing the music industry,” says BLIM chief executive Charisse Beaumont. “The report highlights the intersectional barriers Black Disabled music creators and professionals face daily and what we as members of the music ecosystem can do to address these barriers.

“The landscape feels like it is changing in some ways. We have seen a reversal by organisations and the government of the commitments they made in 2020. However, what is encouraging is that we are seeing bold individuals and organisations who are resolute in demonstrating to the world that inclusion and authenticity is the New Normal.”

Beaumont continues: “In this report, you will read first hand accounts of the lived experience of Black Disabled people who have smashed through every barrier and stereotype to become senior leaders in the music industry. Together with Attitude is Everything, Black Lives in Music are on a mission for Black Disabled music creators and professionals to no longer be unseen and unheard but instead celebrated, uplifted and granted the same opportunities as others.

“Eradicating discrimination and creating platforms and pathways to showcase their talent and skills so they can thrive and have the careers they truly deserve. Let’s work together to create the truly inclusive music industry we all long for.”

“The industry’s response must only be to ‘do better’”

Other findings in the report include that 81% of Black disabled creators do not feel there is a clear career trajectory or path for them. Only 8% said they had felt supported through each career stage, and 73% of Black disabled music creators and professionals said they had seen non-Black contemporaries promoted ahead of them despite being less qualified.

Elsewhere, 70% of Black disabled music creators and professionals said that they have experienced racism or racial bias towards them, 22% have accessed counselling as a result of these experiences, and 91% of Black disabled creators and professionals said they felt unsatisfied with how they are supported by the industry.

In conjunction with the study, today also sees the launch of the organisations’ new Unseen Unheard podcast series, hosted by Attitude is Everything’s Joy Addo. Broadcast on the Black Lives In Music YouTube channel and across all podcast platforms, the series features in-depth interviews with Black disabled creators and industry professionals about their experiences of navigating the music business. .

“The Unseen Unheard report and podcast series marks the first major intervention generated by our partnership with Black Lives in Music,” says Attitude is Everything founder Suzanne Bull MBE. “It’s a rallying cry to the industry to listen to Black disabled artists and professionals and to respond to their experiences of race and disability-related barriers. And the industry’s response must only be to ‘do better’.

“The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which Black disabled talent is being held back”

“The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which Black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change. We need to see the ‘diversity’ conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the ‘diversity discussion’, but as the integral part of all conversations.

“This is the way that Black disabled people will be enabled to speak truth to power, showcase their skills and talent, and pursue ambitions free of the barriers which are artificially created for the benefit of no one within the industry.”

Unseen Unheard concludes by making a series of calls to action to talent development organisations, funders, industry support services, education providers and all industry employers under the headings: Representation, Consultation and Commitment.

Organisations are also urged sign up to Black Lives in Music’s upcoming Anti-Racism Code of Conduct and download and implement Attitude is Everything’s Accessible Employment Guide.

 


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AEG earns perfect score in corporate equality index

AEG has earned 100% on the 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the 20th annual scorecard on LGBTQ+ workplace equality.

The CEI, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, evaluates US companies on criteria including non-discrimination policies, equitable employee benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families, supporting an inclusive culture, and corporate social responsibility.

AEG’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria earned a 100% ranking, along with 840 other major US businesses, and the designation as one of the Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.

Jae Pi’ilani Requiro, VP of diversity, equity and inclusion at AEG, says: “At AEG, we are committed to fostering an inclusive culture throughout our global portfolio and believe that diversity, equity and inclusion in our workforce is paramount to our success.

“At AEG, diversity, equity and inclusion in our workforce is paramount to our success”

“I also want to acknowledge the great work of our Pride Employee Network Groups in the United States and Europe, whose unwavering commitment and passion continue to amplify AEG’s corporate initiatives to build a culture of belonging for our employees, fans and partners.”

Jay Brown, Human Rights Campaign senior VP of programmes, research and training, added: “When the Human Rights Campaign Foundation created the Corporate Equality Index 20 years ago, we dreamed that LGBTQ+ workers—from the factory floor to corporate headquarters, in big cities and small towns—could have access to the policies and benefits needed to thrive and live life authentically.

“We are proud that the Corporate Equality Index paved the way to that reality for countless LGBTQ+ workers in America and abroad. But there is still more to do, which is why we are raising the bar yet again to create more equitable workplaces and a better tomorrow for LGBTQ+ workers everywhere.”

 


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Tackling music’s diversity problem: IQ 92 out now

IQ 92, the latest issue of the new monthly digital IQ Magazine, bangs the drum for diversity in live, urging concert professionals to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to build a more inclusive business with opportunities for all.

Three months on from Black Out Tuesday, our cover feature sees executives of colour talk about their determination to make sure diversity stays at the top of the agenda in the live music industry.

Leading figures including Metropolis Music’s Raye Cosbert, Echo Location boss Obi Asika, ICM agent Yves Pierre and Live Nation’s David Carrigan weigh in on where the industry is doing well – and where there is room for improvement – as well as practical steps every live music professional can take to effect change, both in their own lives and in wider corporate structures.

Elsewhere in the September issue of IQ is a guide to the Interactive Festival Forum (iFF), which begins this Wednesday (2 September). A temporary, virtual replacement for the International Festival Forum, the event will feature the most packed programme ever for a conference devoted to the festivals sector, with networking aspects invaluable for strengthening professional relationships ahead of the 2021 season.

Leading execs of colour weigh in on where the industry is doing well, and where there is room for improvement

Tickets to iFF will be available before, during and after the event, with video panel sessions recorded to allow absent delegates to catch up. Registration is available via the IFF website.

Plus, in the spirit of the post-Zoom world in which we find ourselves, the final feature profiles some of the best livestreaming platforms and services that are defying lockdown and social distancing restrictions to help artists connect with their fans.

As always, most content from the magazine – including the regular news analysis, comment, new agency signings and more – will appear online in some form in the next month.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now.


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LN named top workplace for LGBTQ equality

Live Nation Entertainment has been recognised as a top workplace for LGBTQ equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) foundation, the educational arm of the United States’ largest civil rights organisation.

HRC works to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. For the second year running, Live Nation has earned the top score of 100 on the organisation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are accepted as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. Its equality index is the premier benchmarking tool for recognising companies that practise LGBTQ equality in the United States.

The CEI assesses equality across transgender benefits and wellness, domestic partner benefits, culture and engagement, corporate and employee policies, learning and development and public engagement with the LGBTQ community.

“Live music has a unique ability to connect and unite people from all different backgrounds, and we promote that same sense of community and belonging for our employees at Live Nation”

“Live music has a unique ability to connect and unite people from all different backgrounds, and we promote that same sense of community and belonging for our employees at Live Nation,” says Michael Rapino, president and chief executive of Live Nation Entertainment.

“We’re always striving to create a more inclusive and equitable culture, and are proud to be recognised by the Human Rights Campaign once again,” adds Rapino.

According to HRC president Chad Griffin, the companies that score best on the CEI are “not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the Unites States, they are applying these policies to their global operations.”

This has an impact on “millions of people beyond our shores,” states Griffin.

This recognition follows several third-party acknowledgments for Live Nation’s industry practices and workplace culture, from LinkedIn, Fast Company and Fortune.

Live Nation joins over 560 major US businesses to earn top marks on the equality index.

More information on the 2019 Corporate Equality Index and a free copy of the report can be found here.

 


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Merit: the real equality in live music

For some years now, there has been much discussion on the subject of gender equality in the live music industry, either on stage or off. In a perfect world – and in my personal imperfect one – equality applies to promotion and profit based on merit and merit alone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever else.

Understandably, those discriminated against in the past want to catch up and prove that they are equal to the rest, developing careers based solely on professional and artistic qualities, for which I’d offer a standing ovation (no irony whatsoever). But sometimes, things go a bit too far.

Having heard criticism at various international festivals, especially Southside, that line-ups are short of female artists, my first thought was, what if there are just not enough female artists that:

Undeniably, a festival promoter should book whoever they want, based on the quality of the music and the performance, with no regards to gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever else: ie on merit and merit alone. No act making bad music should be booked just to address balance – they should be chosen based on their music and performance.

Merit and merit alone – isn’t that what equality is about?

Similarly, everyone working on the business side of the music industry should be in positions based on their abilities. The overwhelming majority of people working for me, both full-time and freelance, are women, and this is because I see them as better qualified and more organised for the specific jobs they do. Merit and merit alone – nothing more.

The 21st century is discarding most stereotypes and the discrimination of the last 1,000 years, and the witchhunt for balanced gender, race, sexual orientation and anything else just for the sake of it has to go, too. Companies should not be ashamed of, or apologise for, having too few female employees – they should not hire people that are not good enough to do the position they are trying to fill.

Festivals should not be ashamed of, or apologise for, not having enough female acts, but they should apologise for putting together a line-up of artists who make bad music and don’t perform well.

Merit and merit alone – in the end, isn’t that what equality is all about?

 


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