According to a new survey of 1,718 Black music creators and professionals within the UK music industry, racism is still a common experience. The study focuses on the effects of systemic racism on mental health and a pay gap that disproportionately affects Black women.

While representation for Black musicians and industry professionals has gone up in the UK, racism is persisting in their industry. 

The Black Lives in Music survey canvassed 1,718 people, 50% female, 46% male, with the remaining 4% made up of non-binary folks. Additionally, 60% of the respondents identified as music creators, while 40% were music professionals.

The survey’s findings revealed that 63% of Black music creators had experienced direct or indirect racism. These experiences included explicit racist language and different treatment as a result of their race or ethnicity. Furthermore, 71% of Black music creators experienced racial microaggressions, and 73% reported witnessing them. 

The numbers are even worse for Black music professionals within the UK. The survey found that 73% of Black music professionals had experienced direct or indirect racism, and 80% had experienced microaggressions.

Examples from the study include musicians repeatedly having to request other artists not to use the N-word. Similarly, jokes about skin color and “where people are really from” are persistent. 

The inequalities are also present on the economic side. White musicians earned £2,459 a month before COVID, while Black musicians only made £1,964 on average. On top of that, just 38% of Black music professionals earn 100% of their income from music compared to 69% for white music professionals.

That gap is wider for female music professionals. Only 40% of female black music professionals make 100% of income from music versus 73% of white female music professionals. 

With new data, there’s potential for change

With revelations regarding the prevalence of racism and gender coming to light in the UK, these findings will hopefully spur change. In the survey, 75% of respondents felt dissatisfied with how the music industry supports black professionals.

9% of survey respondents reported that they were satisfied with the support received. Chief Executive of Black Lives in Music, Charisse Beaumont, hopes the results make a lasting impression. 

“The data clearly shows change is needed across the entire music ecosystem, from grassroots education all the way up to record labels. I hope this report provokes change in the way we do our music business, which has greatly profited from Black talent.”

Charisse Beaumont

Black musicians and professionals in the UK are ready for change. The pervasive cultures of racism and sexism are still present for these musicians and music professionals. The gender wage gap has been coming into focus across multiple industries, and strides are being made, albeit slowly.

With more attention coming to the issue, strides towards equality within the industry seem more likely. With projects like Black Lives in Music, I hope this change comes about sooner rather than later. 

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