New report shows music industry barely passes diversity test, changes are ‘superficial’

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Black Music Action Coalition Co-Chair Binta N. Brown.

Black Music Action Coalition Co-Chair Binta N. Brown.
Screenshot: Youtube

A little over a year ago, the music industry joined the swarm of corporate-led showcases during the Black Lives Matter uprisings in 2020, notably in response to the murder of George Floyd. Using the hashtags #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused, artists were encouraged not to release new music and to amplify the fact that musical societies – which have largely benefited from blacks – must be held responsible.

The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), which was formed last June to track the efforts of the music industry, released its first annual report titled Music Industry Action Bulletin, written by Naima Cochrane. The report consists of five sections and has the ultimate objective of providing “a 360 degree view of the industry and is recognized and respected as a standard and official tool of accountability”.

So how did the music industry do? Are they on the honor roll or in check? Overall, it seems they are as mediocre as the white males who run most of America’s industries.

Billboard also reports:

The fourth section reveals the ratings given by the BMAC to major labels, publishing houses, the Recording Academy, DSPs, live music companies and talent agencies to assess their efforts to foster lasting change between June 2020 and June 2021. These scores are assessments that BMAC performed in four areas: (1) initial company statements and commitments; (2) representation of the company at senior management level; (3) the executive and the monitoring of commitments and pledges; (4) additional actions and / or plans that lead to lasting and impactful changes in structures and systems.

Among the major label groups, none received an A in any of the four areas. For example, Sony Music got B’s for performance, performance / follow-up, and additional actions (including forgiveness of unrecovered accounts from artists signed before 2009), but a C in the initial company statement and the pledge for the lack of “public news on past disbursements by Sony US” through its global justice fund ahead of the third round of donations announced by the company in May.

Despite executive vice presidents and black presidents of its Warner Records and Atlantic divisions, Warner Music Group earned a D in corporate representation. BMAC noted, “According to Warner’s corporate structure included on its website, there are no black executives in the company who report directly to WMG Chairman Stephen Cooper, and none have the authority. and ultimate discretion. “

Ouch.

“As important as it is to hire executives from Black DEI, and as happy as we are to see these executives supported, it’s not enough,” BMAC Co-Chair Binta N. Brown said at Billboard. “Where are the Black COOs, the CFOs?” Where are the black executives endowed with real autonomy and discretion? We need to add more black people to boards and corporate governance. Live went a little way because in a year without touring, there had been no adequate data. So we’ll be looking to make sure there are black headliners, especially black women, an increase in the number of black site promoters and operators and the list goes on. “

In the midst of the uprisings of the black community, demonstrations of solidarity by “awakened allies”Seemed to consist only of empty gestures such as social media posts (those womp-womp Hollywood black boxes, for example) or flashy promises that have not been kept. Overall, Brown believes the real changes that have been made have been “on the surface.” “They seem to be just enough instead of manifesting deep internal and transformational change leading to real fairness,” she noted. “And so many notes just pass. In terms of justice, the average is not good enough.

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