Survey shows 86% of Black musicians experience barriers to progression within the industry

The Black Lives in Music study is the largest ever to highlight the experiences of Black industry professionals within music.

Survey shows 86% of Black musicians experience barriers to progression within the industry

A survey has shown that 86% of Black musicians have struggled to progress their careers in the music industry because of their race. Titled Being Black in the UK Music Industry Pt. 1, the survey was set up by the Black Lives in Music organisation, it is the largest survey ever created that documents music industry professionals and creators.

The results show that 63% of Black music creators have experienced direct or indirect racism within the industry; the rate of racial microaggressions rose to 71%. 35% of those surveyed said that they felt the need to change their appearance due to their race or ethnicity, and that number rose to 43% in Black women specifically.

Black Lives in Music chief executive, Charisse Beaumont stated: “You cannot change what you cannot measure. Nearly 2000 people responded to our survey on ‘The lived experience of Black music creators and industry professionals in the UK music industry’. That is 2000 people hoping for genuine change.

“This report is the first of its kind and holds a mirror up to the UK music industry showing what it actually looks like. The disparities Black creators and industry professionals are faced with is rooted in traditionalism and systemic racism. The report highlights racist culture and behaviours in the workplace, financial barriers and lack of investment in Black music creators, and industry professionals unable to reach their career goals.”

The CEO of music charity Help Musicians, James Ainscough said: “Thanks to Black Lives in Music, the data in this report proves that the individual stories we hear from professional musicians cannot be explained away as rare, one-off incidents but are illustrative of significant, widespread problems that we must all work together to address.” 

He added, “It is clear there is more that Help Musicians should do, collaboratively, to create lasting change within the music ecosystem and we look forward to engaging with the BLiM team to work out where we can be most impactful. It is a privilege to be a major funder of BLiM and we hope that the creation of this report will help us, and others, make a difference to improving the lives and careers of Black musicians.”

Black Lives in Music launched back in March, the organisation’s key goals are to spark meaningful change, open doors for musicians at a grassroots level, support and empower Black artists, and advocate for more equality in the music industry.

new research study has also been launched to explore mental health interventions for young people that have been affected by racism, and will attempt to provide more equality for POC musicians across multiple genres. This research will be funded by Sony Music’s Social Justice Fund, in a partnership between the mental health charity Mind, race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust and Sony Music UK.

Header Image Credit: Pixabay


Ash Edmonds

Ash Edmonds Kickstart

A graduate of Music Journalism from BIMM Brighton – where he now lives – Ash has been writing about everything creative for the past few years. An avid audiophile, he spends a lot of his time searching streaming platforms, record stores and live shows trying to find his next musical obsession.

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