Moving towards a more diverse music industry

The Brit Awards have followed the Oscars in overhauling their processes, following criticism for a lack of diversity among those who win awards and those who award them. As welcome as this is, the importance of diversity to the creative industries should not end on stage.

I was proud and pleased, therefore, to work with UK Music to improve understanding of diversity within the music industry workforce. This inaugural diversity survey took data from almost 3,000 staff from major and independent record labels, music publishers, managers, producers, royalty-collection societies and the live music industry.

The results present a mixed picture. For example, while between the ages of 25 and 34, women account for a healthy 54.5% of the workforce, this drops to 41.4% in the 35 to 44 age range and to 32.7% between 45 and 64. Equally, the survey finds 23.7% of BAME workers aged 25-34 are in senior roles, but, again, as we move through the age range, the picture becomes less diverse. Between the ages of 35 and 44, 11.7% of senior workers are BAME, and from 45 to 64, this figure falls further to 7.6%.

Perhaps things will look different in a few years. The cohort of female workers at all levels of the industry and BAME workers in senior positions will have aged and, hopefully, stayed in the industry; making the industry more diverse throughout the age range. Time will tell whether this will improve organically with unchanged policies, or whether it will require more active interventions, such as mentoring for BAME workers and better support with childcare responsibilities. Either way, the industry is becoming more pro-active, with the UK Music Diversity Taskforce tasked with tracking progress and endeavouring to improve opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds to forge a career within the industry.

You can’t improve what you can’t measure, goes the famous Peter Drucker line. For the first time, the music industry can measure how diverse it is. This is an important step forward.