Music industry executives are predominantly white and male, report finds
After a year of introspective public exhibits regarding diversity and inclusiveness in the entertainment industry, a new USC study on the race and gender of senior music executives shows just how much work remains to be done.
The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, released Tuesday morning, explains how the music industry remains stratified in its executive and professional ranks. This is in stark contrast to the major streaming and popular music streaming rankings, which are regularly dominated by black and female artists.
The study interviewed a broad spectrum of 4,060 executives from 119 music groups, record labels, music publishers, concert promoters, radio companies, streaming services and other large independent music companies. He revealed that among senior executives at 70 major music companies, 86% were men and 86% were Caucasian. In those 70 companies, there were only three black executives and two women of color. In nine key companies (Live Nation, AEG Presents, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Cumulus and Audacy), each CEO was white and only one was a woman. Looking at executives ranked vice president and above in these 119 companies, only 19.8% were from under-represented minority groups and only 7.5% were black.
The music divisions of big companies like Apple, YouTube and Amazon were also predominantly white and male.
Live music and concert promotion companies had the lowest percentage of under-represented executives of color (12.5%) and had no black executives. They had the highest percentage of women in leadership positions, at 40.6%.
“Some large companies need an overhaul of their internal culture. There may be things that are going well, but there are also many that are wrong, ”said Stacy L. Smith, co-author of the study. “When it comes to an inclusive work environment, they need to signal to talent that organizations will foster inclusion and belonging. It is really clear that a lot of things are not working.
The study found that some avenues in the music industry, such as A&R and management, came close to proportional representation: 34% of A&R representatives were from under-represented groups, including 21% black. It also revealed that over 80% of under-represented artists had at least one manager, agent, or publicist from an under-represented racial or ethnic group, while three-quarters of white artists had no members of the under-represented team. Most non-black artists (87.5%) had no black representative.
“The people who work most closely with artists are the most inclusive, and this is a strategy organizations need to think about,” said Katherine Pieper, co-author of the article. “It’s happening in labels and some management companies, but we have to move it to other places like agents and public relations.”
In a segment of the study that included bands, labels, publishing, radio, streaming and live music, women of color held only 3.2% of leadership positions, a a figure which, according to the study’s authors, was indicative of the different experiences of minority women. in the music industry compared to its white peers.
“We’re still surprised, but we shouldn’t be, at the lack of black women in the entertainment industry, be it film, television and music,” Smith said. “There is a whole group of talented and motivated individuals, but regularly, in all spaces, in all sectors, women of color are excluded.”
Assumptions about who is considered for leadership roles need to be reconsidered, Smith said.
“There is no reason not to have multiple candidates who resemble the world we live in. It’s important to cast a wider net,” Smith continued. “But that doesn’t always touch the prejudices of an organization. There must be criteria up front, you can’t write criteria just to match the person you want to hire. Organizations must face their prejudices.
A key step, according to Smith and Pieper, is that superstar performers can quickly take initiative on this and structure their stage returns and co-worker choices with those goals in mind. If the industry is slow to diversify, talent can push it in better directions.
“Caucasians don’t seem to think this job is as important, and that’s where this shift needs to happen,” Smith said. “If Taylor Swift or Adele is playing in a venue, they can state that among the people providing services in those venues, they want to see more minority-owned and female-owned businesses as suppliers. It can change the business ecosystem overnight.
In 2018, USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative published a study on the diversity of Grammy nominees, indicating that 90.7% of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male. He also tracked appalling numbers for Latin portrayal in Hollywood films and how the lack of diversity has cost the film industry billions of dollars.