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Black Lives in Music - Response to Misogyny In Music Parliamentary inquiry



Report published today by the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee (WEC)

The first inquiry of its kind, WEC warn that urgent action needs to be taken to tackle ‘endemic’ misogyny faced by women in the music industry

Dr. Charisse Beaumont of Black Lives in Music gave evidence at the inquiry based on their groundbreaking Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1

Black Lives in Music (BLiM) gave evidence at the Misogyny In Music inquiry in 2023, the first inquiry of its kind. Set up by the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC), who today release their report.

Women pursuing careers in music face “endemic” misogyny and discrimination in a sector dominated by self-employment and gendered power imbalances, the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) has warned.

 

BLiM Chief Executive Dr. Charisse Beaumont responds to the report:

I'm deeply moved by the findings of the WEC Misogyny in Music Report. It validates our experiences, particularly those of Black women in the music industry. The data mirrors the challenges we face and amplifies our voices, calling for an industry where everyone, regardless of background, can flourish. Black Lives in Music fully support the recommendation for the music industry to collaborate with Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) to tackle bullying, harassment and discrimination, and we eagerly anticipate the launch of our survey investigating bullying and harassment in the music industry next month.

We at Black Lives in Music are profoundly grateful to everyone who shared their experiences for the 'Being Black in the UK Music Industry' report. Your courageous voices were instrumental in the WEC Misogyny in Music inquiry and continue to form our strategy for industry wide change.

However, it is crucial that our voices not only be heard but also acted upon, the government expects the music industry to act on all of the recommendations in this report and so do the industry workforce and creators, particularly recommendations points 43 and 44 which are in our forthcoming Anti Racist Code of Conduct. It's essential that together we foster an industry that is safe, respectful, and empowering for all.”

 

Some of WEC’s recommendations include record labels with more than 100 employees committing to regular publication of statistics on the diversity of their rosters and workforces in terms of gender and ethnicity, organisations in the music industry providing mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion training, and that the Government bringing section 14 of the Equality Act into force and considering whether an amendment is best for those facing intersectional inequality.

Last year, Dr. Charisse Beaumont was invited to the first day of the Misogyny In Music hearing after Black Lives in Music released the results and findings of their survey in October 2021 - Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1 - which set out to capture data on the experiences of music industry professionals and creators, and which included specific focus on misogyny in the music industry affecting Black women.

Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1 is the largest survey of Black musicians and music industry professionals conducted in the UK to date. The survey, which partnered with Opinium Research, revealed a majority of those who took part have experienced direct or indirect acts of racism in the music industry. The survey also found some stark data identifying a link between this discrimination and mental wellbeing, especially among Black women.

42% of Black women surveyed said their mental health had worsened since starting a career in music and 16% had sought counselling due to racial abuse. Citing various reasons, from the barriers to progression and overt racial discrimination, the report also found that Black women earn 25% less on average than their white female colleagues, and 46% earn less than half their revenue from music, creating extra pressure to find other routes to supplement their income.

During the first day of the Misogyny in Music inquiry, Dr. Charisse Beaumont gave evidence across multiple areas. Firstly, that Black women feel the need to change themselves in order to be accepted within the music industry.: “Out of about 900 women, 70% felt that they needed to change something about themselves to assimilate and be accepted into the music industry, and 43% of Black women had changed something about themselves to be more accepted. One of the comments we received was ‘I wanted to change my name and lighten my skin to be more appealing, to be accepted and fit in and have more opportunities’.”

Beaumont commented on pay disparity between Black women and the rest of the music industry, citing that: “Black women are discriminated against twice. Number one, they're females, number two, they’re Black. That has an effect in terms of their pay - Black women are paid less, 17% less than Black men, 25% less than white women, and 52% less than white men in the industry.”

When discussing whether women face barriers to progression, Beaumont spoke about the lack of female producers within the industry: “There is a low level of female participation. If we're looking at producers, only 2.6% of producers are female. Female producers struggle to find their way to make it in the industry. They study it, they understand it, they are qualified, yet they can't seem to get into the room because of that male white male gaze, because they're seen as not technical.”

Adding to this, Beaumont looked at racism as another roadblock women face: “Barriers to progression could look like racial comments and racial microaggressions. 80% of Black women have experienced racial microaggressions, and 77% of Black women that we surveyed have experienced indirect racism.”

Beaumont brought up the importance of Black women in management in the music industry, citing the success of Little Simz: “There are women in leadership roles, who are now supporting independent artists, who are taking control of their brands and seeing women from a different perspective. Little Simz, a rapper, completely authentic, beautiful, dreadlocks - she's gone on to win a Mercury Music Prize, she's won a Brit Award. The person that's in charge of her career is a Black woman. And that's because she understands the culture, she understands Simz’ stance, and most importantly, she knows how to market and make someone a success.”

The music industry is like the Wild West. There is no central place to report bad behaviour.” Beaumont said on the problems surrounding women speaking up, and the issues themselves being efficiently dealt with. “There could be more sign posting, more obvious ways of showing that there's going to be a consequence to the perpetrator, and that you're going to be protected and safe.”

Closing with Black Lives in Music’s approach to diversifying the music industry, Beaumont explained: “We work with the senior management level, CEOs, to actually help them reach their EDI objectives. We look at governance, marketing and comms, recruitment, retainment and staff, and actually diversifying. Also working on programmes to tackle the grassroots aspect, ensuring there’s pipelines so that young people can get a quality education. We work with Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people, ensuring that they have the chance to fulfil their aspirations in the music industry. In terms of EDI programmes, it's not a tick box exercise, and we're seeing some great headway in terms of diversifying our industry. But we are one organisation - there’s a lot that still needs to be done.”

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