At PRS for Music, we recognise the need to encourage and facilitate open dialogue on diversity and inclusion issues. We are undertaking a comprehensive engagement programme, listening to our employees and members in order to understand how we can adapt and evolve – feeding their thoughts and ideas directly into our policies and strategies. We already had good foundations in place and that is owed to the dedicated and brilliant minds of our employees and the talented music creators we represent. Their constructive contributions have played a vital role in shaping our diversity and inclusion activity for many years.
PRS for Music is focused on making change happen, because more diverse organisations are more creative and make better decisions.
PRS for Music actively supports the UK Music Diversity Taskforce and its mission to make our industry a fair and inclusive space for everyone, at every level.
Change can be difficult, even when the change is very obviously necessary. It requires self-reflection, honesty and most importantly, action, to improve diversity and inclusion. We are on that journey at PRS for Music.
On 2 June 2020, the music industry came together in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by taking part in Blackout Tuesday – a moment when the whole industry paused to reflect on racial inequality – which stemmed from the ‘The Show Must Be Paused’ demonstration. This defined moment of reflection, education and connection was a catalyst, as it was across the whole sector, to look inwardly at what we could do to ensure our employees and members are part of a diverse and inclusive organisation.
With the guidance of our internal Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Taskforce, which has been running for several years, 2020 saw a concentrated period of engagement and learning.
Through internal focus groups with employees, our Black colleagues shared their experiences of what it is like to be a Black person in today’s society. These sessions were moving and humbling, and whilst we had already been focusing on fostering a more inclusive culture that champions diversity, it felt as though we had reached a level of connection with our colleagues that we never had before.
In addition, we held a series of 'listening circles', facilitated by an external company who specialise in this area, with members. During these sessions we heard views on how PRS for Music should improve its interaction with members from all marginalised backgrounds and why we must focus on the need for authenticity and greater transparency aided by better data on ethnicity.
Combined, these sessions generated an incredible amount of ideas and suggestions, which are now being reviewed by the D&I Taskforce and senior leaders. An immediate outcome was for members of our Executive Leadership Team to sponsor D&I working groups, to champion activity across our Black, Asian, Other Diverse Ethnicities, LGBTQ+, Disability, Gender and Mental Health communities.
Based on focus group feedback, our D&I strategy, and the personal experiences of our employees, Respect & Inclusion training tailored to PRS for Music was also rolled out in addition to our current unconscious bias training. This will help to provide our employees with enhanced tools to adjust and challenge any discriminatory thoughts and behaviours.
Our participation in industry events, talks in colleges and universities, and hosting our own events, provides us with important platforms to celebrate and promote our diverse membership. Achieving Equality: Breaking Down The Barriers of Stereotypes, Future of Women in the Music Industry and AIM’s Women in Music Conference are just some examples of panels we have taken part in over the years, in addition to our continued support of PRS Foundation’s Women Make Music fund which launched 2011 and the Keychange initiative launched in 2017. In 2018, we brought together 25 music creators for our first ever grime and rap songwriting camp and in 2019, in collaboration with Spotify, we hosted some of the very best creators in Black Music from across the UK for the inaugural Who We Be Songwriting Sessions. In 2020, we hosted a selection of virtual events, including PRS Presents LGBTQ+ and PRS Presents Black History Month.
We are also proactive in supporting new talent and guiding emerging songwriters and composers towards help that is available to them. Alongside our continued work with our partner charity, PRS Foundation, we also have relationships in place with socially conscious organisations including: AfroPunk, Amy’s Yard, Attitude Is Everything, Brighter Sound, Come Play With Me, Cre8ting Vision’s The Ultimate Seminar, Girls I Rate, Girl Grind UK, Jazz re:freshed, Key4Life, People Dem Collective, Saffron Records, Small Green Shoots, The Rattle Collective, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Urban Development, The Warren Youth Project , Women Connect and The Young Urban Arts Foundation
We are proud of our two charities, PRS Foundation and PRS Members’ Fund, who are committed to inclusivity and diversity in their organisations and through their timely development of talented music creators and vital funding support.
What does Diversity mean to us?
Hear from the President of the PRS Members’ Council, Michelle Escoffery.
Our commitment to UK Music's Ten-Point Plan
PRS for Music welcomed the UK Music Diversity Report 2020 and is incredibly proud to support and commit to the Ten-Point Plan, a much-needed and progressive course of action, devised to encourage and importantly, sustain diversity at every level.
PRS for Music is an active participant in the UK Music Diversity Taskforce and helped to shape the Ten-Point Plan that will hold us and other music industry trade bodies accountable for positive and sustained change. Work has already started in delivering against these commitments and measuring progress.
During 2020 we actively encouraged all employees to share diversity data with us, so we can accurately report on and track our development. The results of this can now be found in our first ethnicity pay gap report.
We are reviewing our recruitment and talent processes, steps have been taken to support the increase of women in senior roles, and unconscious bias training is now mandatory for all employees.
Newly approved governance changes following our AGM in August 2020 included maximum terms for Members of the PRS Members' Council, with the hope that this will encourage more diversity as we look ahead.
We have a duty to our employees and to the music creators we represent to instigate change, to nurture an inclusive environment, and to build an organisation that upholds the same values we want to live by.
There is still a long way to go, but we now have a clear road map ahead of what we hope to create for the future. We are committed to making a better PRS for Music.
Black Lives Matter
Like most of the global music community, we observed Blackout Tuesday on 2 June 2020, to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and to provoke discussion, debate and meaningful change.
Some PRS members shared words in support of #BlackLivesMatter and united with them in calling out racism. Watch their video messages below.
Black Lives in Music 2021 report
The results and findings of Black Lives in Music (BLiM) survey, which set out to capture data on the experiences of music industry professionals and creators, revealed a majority of those who took part have experienced direct or indirect acts of racism in the music industry. Key findings include:
- 86% of all Black music creators agree that there are barriers to progression. This number rises to 89% for Black women and 91% for Black creators who are disabled.
- 88% of all Black music professionals agree that there are barriers to progression.
- 35% of all Black music creators have felt the need to change their appearance because of their race/ethnicity, rising to 43% of Black women.
A listening circle is similar to a focus group and is a type of facilitated discussion with a group of people, aimed at collecting information about their experiences. Participants are asked to talk about what they know and think and sometimes answer specific questions about a topic.
We've held a number of sessions and the contributions have fed into our ongoing diversity and inclusion approach and strategy.
On 22 October 2020, we aired a special online version of PRS Presents Black History Month. The event featured performances from PRS members and artists who have been funded by PRS Foundation, as well as interviews and spotlights on important organisations.
PRS Presents LGBTQ+
In August 2020, PRS for Music and PRS Foundation brought you a special online virtual edition of PRS Presents to celebrate the diversity of our members and the LGBTQ+ community. Hosted by Sabrina Grant, we presented a full packed show including performances from PRS members and artists who have been funded by PRS Foundation alongside special contributions from Gendered Intelligence, Pride in Music, Lady Phyll (Co-founder and Executive Director of UK Black Pride) and Paul Kemp (Managing Director of Brighton Pride).
PRS Presents: Grime
On Thursday 22 September 2016, PRS Presents had an incredible Grime line-up that featured live sets from D Double E, Lady Leshurr and Elf Kid plus special guest DJ Melody Kane.
Who We Be sessions
In October 2019, PRS for Music and Spotify hosted an all-star Rap, Grime, R&B and Afrobeats line-up at RAK studios, featuring Big Narstie, Kamille, Nadia Rose, Maverick Sabre and more.
The Who We Be Songwriting Sessions gave some of the finest artists, songwriters and producers the unique opportunity to collaborate at the famous RAK Studios in London, across three days.
Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gap Report
On Monday 27 September 2021, we published our gender and ethnicity pay gap reports for 2021.
Black History Month on M Magazine
In October 2020, M Magazine published a special digital edition, made up of features produced as part of our Black History Month curation.
Guided by four wonderful Guest Editors - Stephanie Phillips, Jesse Bernard, Michelle Escoffery and Ben Wynter - we used this time to honour Black songwriters, Black music and Black culture, but also as an opportunity to reflect on the lack of Black representation in both the music and journalism industries.
Pride on M Magazine
In June 2021, M Magazine published a specially curated digital edition as part of its Pride 2021 celebrations. Created in collaboration with Apple Music host and Lead Cultural Curator, Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles, the 52-page magazine honours LGBTQ+ songwriters, music, and culture.
The collection of exclusively commissioned features explore the influence that LGBTQ+ culture has on commercial music, LGBTQ+ representation across the industry, and the responsibility the sector has to safeguard artists whose sexuality is commodified.
Keychange is an international campaign and network for gender equality, which aims to diversify the current music industry to create a more sustainable and stronger community for all genders. Founded in 2015 by Vanessa Reed, former CEO of PRS Foundation, Keychange launched in 2017.
Supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and led by Reeperbahn Festival, Keychange is now a global network and equality movement which includes partners and collaborators in 12 countries, a talent bank of over 100 handpicked artists and innovators, and over 350 pledge signatories from 40 countries including PRS for Music.