Systemic Racism in UK Music Industry Negatively Impacts Black Musicians, Survey Reveals

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A new survey has shed light on the systemic racism present in the UK music industry, particularly affecting Black female artists. The Black Lives in Music Survey, described as the largest poll focusing on the experiences of Black musicians and industry professionals, highlights the challenges faced by Black individuals in the industry. The survey, based on data gathered earlier this year, reveals that over half of the 1,718 performers, creatives, and industry staff surveyed have encountered direct or indirect racism, including pressure to conform to preconceived notions about their music. Sixty-three percent of Black music creators reported experiencing direct or indirect racism, with 71 percent reporting microaggressions.

The survey also indicates that 88 percent of all Black music professionals believe there are barriers to career progression. Black women face pressure to alter their appearance and often fear earning less than their white counterparts, contributing to a significant earnings disparity. The survey highlights the frustration expressed by Black artists who feel overlooked and struggle to gain opportunities in the industry. Commenters pointed out that when they raise these concerns, they are often labeled as outspoken, aggressive, or ungrateful. This perpetuates a culture that diminishes their voices and limits their progress.

The survey includes accounts of radio producers dismissing Black male artists due to their association with rappers and discouraging remarks about an artist’s appearance or age. Black Lives in Music CEO Charisse Beaumont emphasized the significance of the report, stating that it reveals the realities of the UK music industry. The findings expose the racist culture and behaviors present in the workplace, financial barriers, lack of investment in Black music creators, and the hindrance of career advancement for industry professionals. The report also highlights the disproportionately disadvantaged position of Black women across all areas of the music industry and the detrimental impact on the mental health of Black creators and industry professionals. The data presented in the report demands attention and action to address these longstanding issues.

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