Has the music industry changed? A race ‘report card’ is on the way.


Last summer, as protests erupted over the death of George Floyd, the music industry began to take a look at yourself Regarding race – how it treats black artists, how black employees fare on music companies, how money flows equally throughout the business.

Prominent record labels, streaming services and broadcasters’ pledges Millions of dollars in donations, Called upon the task force and promised to take concrete steps to diversify its ranks and correct inequalities. Artists like The Weeknd and BTS Donated money to support social justice, and Erika Badu and Kelis Indicated his support for economic reforms in the music industry.

Everything seemed to be on the table. Even the term “urban” in radio formats and marketing, for some Racist euphemism, A symbol of pride to others and Adulteration – came under scrutiny. But there was still widespread skepticism about whether the business was actually committed to making enough changes, or whether its donations and lofty statements were more of a crisis.

Black Music Action CoalitionA group of artist managers, lawyers and others were formed last summer with a mission to keep the industry in mind. In June, it intends to issue a “report card” on how well the various music companies have made their promises and commitments to progress.

The report will describe what steps companies have taken towards racial equality, and track whether and where the promised donation has been made. It will examine the number of Black executives at major music companies and the power they hold, and how many Black people will sit on their boards. Future reports will give an in-depth look at the question of how the industry works equally, Binta Nambi Brown, co-chairman of the coalition and Willie Stiggers aka Prophet, said in an interview this week.

“Our fight is much bigger than just writing a check or not,” said Prophet, an artist manager who works with Asian dolls, Layton Green and other acts. “But the fact that you said you’re going to write a check, we want to make sure that the money was actually given and it went to a place that really hurt the nerves of the black community. “

The report, written by journalist and former label executive, Naima Cochrane, will be based on annual media studies by the advocacy group. Glad, Who track the representation of LGBTQ characters in film and television and give ratings to various companies behind them. It is expected to be released by 19 June – TwentiethAnnual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Of alliance public statement It has made it clear that it sees itself as a strict and carefree judge of the music industry, which has a dark history of exploitation of black artists because even black music has for a long time – and most Important product. Last summer, an online campaign called #Blackoutdesk Brought out Painful comment Even today, many Black executives feel marginalized, subject to white supervisors who hold more powers and make more money.

Brown, the label’s executive and artist manager, said the report’s goal is not punishment but encouragement.

“We want to do it in a way that is more carrot than stick, so we can continue to encourage good behavior,” she said. “We want to hold people accountable, not cancel them.”

Most major music companies have hired and promoted diversity executives Some top black officers There are still a handful of blacks at the upper levels of leadership, though at par with their white allies.

Several external studies have also been commissioned to examine diversity within the industry, one by the Annberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California and the other about the Recording Academy, Berklee College of Music, and Arizona State University. Women in music.

Yet there has been relatively little public discussion about looking at artists’ contracts, including those that are decades old, and treating any inappropriate terms.

One company, BMG, Thousands of contracts screened And it was found that, in 15 catalogs that own a roster with both black and non-black actors, 11 showed no evidence of racial harm. Of the four, the company found that “there is a statistically significant negative correlation between Blacks and achieving lower recorded royalty rates by 1.1 to 3.4 percentage points”. BMG has resolved to take action to correct that disparity.

In-depth issues about fairness in the music industry may well be covered in future reports by the coalition. For now, they are limiting their scope as to what promises are kept.

“Racism is a 400-year-old problem,” the Prophet said. “We didn’t think it would be resolved in 12 months.”



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