UK music industry to install anti-racism code in 2023

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A new code of conduct aimed at eliminating racism in the music industry will be introduced next year. Designed by Black Lives in Music (BLIM), the UK Music Industry Anti-Racism Code will cover a range of issues including pay, inclusion and general safety for POCs in the industry.

The Independent Standards Authority backs the code and will offer protection to everyone working in UK music, from artists working for big companies to technical staff. This will compel labels and other businesses to commit to a safe working environment for all, with a full focus on inclusion. This will be achieved through training, data collection and rock-solid accountability processes.

The code originated in a 2021 BLIM report which found that 63% of black music creators had experienced racism in the industry, with a figure of 73% for professional black musicians. These figures included 1,718 artists, staff and other creatives who revealed they had experienced bullying, harassment, microaggression and racist language. Duly, 36% of professionals said it contributed to a decline in mental well-being.

Elsewhere, black musicians have also described being stereotyped in genres such as hip-hop and R&B, as well as structural barriers blocking BAME from leadership positions in the industry.

“The music industry has a hole in terms of choosing black artists and making investments; the same type of music is put out by black people when in reality we make all types of music,” explained BLIM general manager Charisse Beaumont (per The Guardian). “But this space is not created for us. And why is that? Because decision makers at the top are not diverse.

It was noted that after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many labels and music organizations pledged to have anti-racism strategies in place, but almost nothing materialized. Beaumont continued, “We get maybe a dozen contacts a week from people who are discriminated against. A lot of people we talk to in the music industry and in music education say not much has changed.

Other parts of the code emphasize the need for equal contracts, funding and compensation, as well as adequate opportunities for career progression.

Beaumont announced the code during the Wednesday (October 26) parliamentary inquiry into misogyny in British music. According to data from BLIM, women, non-binary people, and people with disabilities experience the most discrimination in the industry. Black disabled musicians are “literally invisible”, according to Beaumont, with black women being “most disadvantaged” due to sexual abuse and disproportionate salaries.

Beaumont then turned her attention to women in technical roles in live music. “The number is quite low because there’s a general consensus that it’s a dangerous environment,” she said. “Some of the sexual harassment and abuse that takes place is reported, but not believed. In a male-dominated environment, women are often very afraid of reprisals, such as losing their jobs, so they don’t say anything.

On the need for regulation like there is in other industries, Beaumont concluded, “Right now it’s like the Wild West. Unlike finance, schools and food, the creative industries have no accountability and no permission.

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