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Keychange: 500 music organisations commit to gender equality

EBU Music, part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is the 500th signatory of the groundbreaking Keychange gender pledge joining The Southbank Centre and BBC Proms in commitment to gender equality.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 29 Jun 2021
  • min read

Keychange has announced a monumental milestone and impact on gender equality in the music industry and beyond.

500 music organisations from all over the world have now signed the Keychange Pledge. The pioneering international Keychange campaign invests in emerging talent whilst encouraging music organisations to sign up to a gender pledge to achieve at least 50 percent representation of women and gender minorities in an area of their work. 

The 500th signatory is EBU Music - part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the world's foremost alliance of public service media organisations. EBU Music acts as a platform for the exchange each year of around 3,000 concerts, making it the world’s largest provider of live music. It is set to collaborate with Keychange to promote positive action towards better gender representation in music broadcasting, and throughout the EBU network. 

Vanessa O'Connor, Director, Member Relations & Communications, EBU, said: ‘The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is working hard to ensure our organization and activities properly reflect the diverse communities we serve and the world they live in. It takes time but making this commitment visible is an important step. I’m delighted that we will be partnering with Keychange once more after our joint initiatives earlier this year to highlight the stark disparity in gender representation in the music industry. Signing this Pledge cements our commitment to increase visibility of these issues and amplify the voices of the many music bodies who are also signing in support of urgent and necessary change,’

Merle Bremer, Project Lead, Keychange, said: ‘Keychange has been instrumental in highlighting the explosive nature of gender inequality in music for the past four years. With a strong and ever-growing network, we have managed to raise awareness of the problem while implementing concrete actions. We are very proud that more than 500 organisations have joined the Keychange movement and we are particularly pleased that EBU Music have joined Keychange as a signatory.’ 

EBU Music joins a rich and diverse network of global Keychange signatories including Barbican Centre (UK), BBC Proms (UK) Bella Union (WW), c/o pop festival and convention (DE), Canadian Music Week (CA), CNM (Centre National de la Musique) (FR), Eurosonic Noorderslag (NL), EFG London Jazz Festival (UK), European Music Council (EU),The Icelandic Opera (IS), MaMA Festival (FR) Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (AU), Melt! Festival (DE), Royal Opera House (UK), Southbank Centre (UK), SPOT Festival (DK), Musicians’ Union (UK). See the full list of organisations here. 

Keychange supports each signatory on their path to change, encouraging signatories to evaluate their current work, while opening the door to the new opportunities and talent that come from an equitable industry. Signatories also become part of Keychange’s wider network of signatories - a like minded global support network, all working towards a collective ambition of a more representative future for music. Join the global movement and tip the scales of progress by signing up for the Keychange Pledge.

As Keychange celebrates this milestone, it is clear that there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the music industry.  Findings from an authoritative new study published June '21 entitled ‘Inclusion in the Music Business: Gender & Race/Ethnicity Across Executives, Artists & Talent Teams’ by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative showed that across 70 major and independent music companies, 13.9 percent of top executives are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, 4.2 percent were Black and 13.9 percent were women. The figures point to slow progress in the music industry in 2021.

Keychange Pledge Coordinator Francine Gorman responds: ‘By keeping the conversation fully on the agenda of all music sectors, we’re challenging the music industry to take responsibility for the existing inequality, and to action changes to achieve a more representative industry in the future. Keychange creates innovative frameworks for women and gender minorities to be present at any level and all areas of the music industry, to ensure that gender representation is a factor in all decision making. The implications of this are huge and varied. Through cumulative and sustained positive action, Keychange and its pledge signatories affect positive change which leads to cultural shifts, and ultimately systemic change. Right now, the music industry is on an upward trajectory of positive change but is still very much working towards a cultural shift.’

Furthermore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and minorities worldwide cannot be overstated. The findings outlined in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 in March 2021 were shocking and stark: ‘Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity as closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.’

Joe Frankland, CEO, PRS Foundation said: ‘The widening gender gap is a real blow for the whole industry - governments need to act decisively to put this in reverse. More than ever, industry specific initiatives such as Keychange have a vital role to play in holding space and opportunities for the underrepresented. We call on music organisations to play their part by putting gender equality centre-stage and embedding it into the cultural recovery. We will drive momentum with the Keychange Pledge, committing new signatories to better gender representation across the globe. As an industry, if we choose to leverage the power of the whole workforce, we will be far better placed to contribute to a dynamic cultural economy. Keychange will do what it takes to help music organisations navigate this important journey.’