UK Music highlights need for more Black and ethnically diverse employees in top music jobs

The move builds on UK Music’s call last October for the music industry and others to follow the lead of UK Music and its members by dropping the outdated term ‘BAME’ in favour of language that more accurately reflects people’s heritage.

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

UK Music has released new data about the ethnic backgrounds of those working in the UK music industry. 

UK Music said the sector’s work on equality, diversity and inclusion had successfully boosted representation of Black, Asian, and other ethnic minorities at almost every level. 

However, UK Music warned the increases in the number of workers from Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority communities joining the industry at entry level were not reflected at more senior levels. 

The findings are revealed in new analysis of UK Music data about the ethnic make-up of the music industry.

The data highlights where more needs to be done to ensure diverse communities are well represented at every level of an industry that sustains almost 200,000 jobs.

The call comes as the music industry marks the anniversary of #BlackoutTuesday and the death of George Floyd a year ago, which triggered worldwide protests and urgent demands to tackle racism. 

The UK Music data from survey respondents revealed the following key points about the make-up of the UK music industry workforce: 

  • People who identified as Black or Black British represented 12.6 percent of the workforce at Entry Level but lowers to 6.4 percent at Senior Level.
  • People who identified as Asian or Asian British made up 6.8 percent of the workforce at Entry Level - dropping to 4 percent at Senior Level.
  • People who identified as Mixed represented 8.1 percent at Entry Level, falling to 5.3 percent at Senior Level.
  • Those who identified as White accounted for 65.4 percent at Entry Level and 80.1 percent at Senior Level. 

A total of 19.9 percent of those at Senior Level in the music industry identified as Black, Asian, or as from another ethnic minority group. 80.1 percent identified as White.

Overall, 34.6 percent of respondents at Entry Level identified as Black, Asian, Mixed or from another ethnic minority group - compared to the 65.4 percent who identified as White. 

The new data builds on UK Music’s Diversity Report 2020, which revealed 65.4 percent of respondents at Entry Level identified as White - and 80.1 percent of respondents at Senior Level identified as White. 

The release of the latest information follows the publication last year of UK Music’s Ten-Point Plan, developed by our Diversity Taskforce, which sets out a clear way forward to boost diversity and inclusion. 

UK Music Diversity Taskforce chair, Ammo Talwar MBE, said:  ‘This data is really important as it’s the first time that UK Music has broken down different ethnic groups into sub-groups of Black, Asian, and Mixed Race - rather than using that outdated and disrespectful catch-all term ‘BAME’.

‘It shows the value of dropping the phrase ‘BAME’ when talking about different communities because now we have far more clarity about the different ethnic groups who make up the music industry.

‘Our UK Music Diversity Taskforce has a clear strategy in our Ten-Point Plan that we hope will lead the way for other organisations and other sectors to adopt.

‘We are determined to make the urgent changes needed to properly represent and support the communities and audiences we serve.’

UK Music chief executive, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said: ‘I know just how hard the industry is working when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion. These are challenges not just for the music business, but right across society.  

‘For our business to reflect modern Britain and our audiences, we need to keep striving to ensure diversity runs right through every level and sector of our industry.’

UK Music head of diversity, Rachel Bolland, said: ‘This latest data builds on our UK Music Diversity Report 2020 and provides important evidence about the make-up of the music industry. 

‘We hope it will help inform the important work the industry is already doing when it comes to key issues like the ethnicity and gender pay gap.’

UK Music Taskforce deputy chair, Paulette Long OBE, said: ‘This new data gives us a much needed breakdown of career level by ethnic group. We were already aware anecdotally of issues among certain ethnic groups in the industry and this data gives us the evidence of the gaps facing those from Black and other communities, who are trying to make their way in the music industry. The Ten-Point Plan recommended dropping BAME and this data gives us vindication that it was the right thing to do. Next up for the Ten-Point Plan is ethnic pay gap reporting for the sector.

‘There remains a systemic inequality that needs to be addressed and we are only at the start of a journey to bring about the change we need. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us that needs to be focused and continuous, in order to get a deeper understanding of underlying issues and really make an impact. Only those committed to this journey will make headway in bringing down those barriers.’