There has been so much going on in the digital landscape of late, many things have perhaps not had the attention they deserve. While the wars are very much raging in the streaming world, there is much-needed innovation taking place ...
Black Lives In Music launched last month with details of a groundbreaking survey that the organisation plans to change the music industry forever. Here, writing exclusively for Music Week, CEO Charisse Beaumont sets out the organisation's mission and underlines the severity of the issues facing Black professionals across the business...
With the UK government’s recent announcement denying institutional racism calling the evidence “flimsy”, never has it been more important to use data and evidenced based research to amplify the voices and experiences of Black musicians and professionals in the UK music industry.
We have recently launched the Black Lives In Music survey, which is a groundbreaking exercise and is key to understanding the issues of diversity in our industry. Some of the issues addressed in the survey include discrimination, mental health and wellbeing, economics, education and the talent pipeline. We have are aligned with music industry partners such as Help Musicians, the Black Music Coalition, and PRS Foundation’s Power Up. We urge all Black musicians and professionals to take part in our survey by visiting blim.org.uk/change. We need everyone to be a part of it; your story could change the music industry.
Black Lives in Music (BLIM) aims to address the lack of diversity at all levels and in all areas of the music industry in particular jazz and classical music. We are currently working in solidarity with over 40 like-minded groups and organisations to make change happen – together. We will recommend effective diversity actions and initiatives that cover areas of recruitment, governance, learning and training for staff at all levels. We also aim to provide groundbreaking data through two annual, national surveys on the lived experience of people of colour in the music industry and on diversity in organisations.
The Black Lives In Music Taskforce is comprised of the most esteemed executives in the UK working for diversity and equity in music including Paulette Long OBE, Yvette Griffith, Shabaka Hutchings, Orphy Robinson OBE and more.
Black Lives in Music aims to address the lack of diversity at all levels and in all areas of the industry
One of the reasons we started Black Lives In Music is hearing many stories of Black musicians struggling with issues where systemic racism was at the root of the problem.
There are many barriers Black musicians face in the music industry, especially Black students in music education. One student in particular comes to mind, when they felt as though were not being taught properly and given the same treatment as their fellow students. This went on for some time and despite voicing their concerns the student was consistently gaslighted and ignored. They are now in therapy as this affected their mental health because they felt their treatment was racist.
Another was after watching Former X Factor contestant Misha B’s video on instagram after saying she was left suicidal and suffering from PTSD after experiencing racist treatment on the show.
Entry into orchestras and professional ensembles is also an issue. There are many Black musicians who never win an audition even though they are top players. Many Black musicians go through blind auditions only to reach the final when they (and their race) are revealed, and they don’t get into orchestras.
This is rife across the industry even in commercial music where the feedback Black musicians receive is, ‘they don’t have the right vibe or look’, or they are the subject of micro aggressions such as, ‘I bet you can’t read music’, or, ‘you are Black therefore you’ve haven’t received a formal education, you must have learned how to play in the church or something?’ They are excellent Black musicians who have studied just as hard as everyone else. But they are not given the chance because they are Black. After being consistently told you are not good enough or you do not belong, it can affect your confidence and mental health.
Black Lives In Music exists to bring these issues of discrimination to the forefront, confront and eradicate the systemic racism that is in the music industry. We use data to inform, advocate for equality and create opportunities so all musicians can thrive.
We use data and insights to campaign for equity and we support the empowerment of Black musicians to realise their aspirations. If true equality is going to be achieved, then we must work together.
Musicians and music professionals get involved by completing the survey at blim.org.uk/change
Organisations align with us to help unify the music industry by signing our charter at blim.org.uk/charter
The Black Lives In Music film series celebrating Black Music and Culture featuring Zeze Millz, Sheku Kanneh Mason, Jake Isaac, Ayanna Witter Johnson and more drops online and on Spotify on April 6.
Charisse BeaumontCEOBlack Lives In Music
Grammy Award-winning musician and founder of Creative Passport, a new service that helps artists maximise their online presence, writes for Music Week about the importance of taking control in the digital age…
The year 2020 was a before-and-after defining period for musicians and the music industry, well let’s face it everyone on the planet. Specifically for us, the far-reaching devastation of the live music scene and the forced move of everything to ‘online’. This brought challenges musicians the world over are still trying to navigate. With independent musicians being hit disproportionately hard and with in person events set to be one of the last things to open back up, we still have some way to go before we can return to normal.
As 2021 gets underway, those who work in and around live music are breathing a cautious sigh of relief, as we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel for performing physically in public again. However, we can’t yet plan as we still don’t know if our concerts will be insured, if Covid related cancellations will remain, and what challenges post-Brexit touring will bring.
Even with the online opportunities that presented themselves as a result of Covid, there is a big difference between being established online and needing to operate there exclusively. There has been a huge amount of content made and an exhausting number of streamed concerts played in the last year, making it almost impossible to shout above the noise without marketing savvy paid teams. Plus, the range of platforms that artists are expected to be present on added further pressure. Many of us set up GoFundMe accounts or the like for direct payments. We cobbled together our own solutions as little was already available off-the-shelf, and there were some great examples of this despite the difficulties involved.
On the flipside, a big stretch of investment and development has been done in the online space, with many new platforms emerging to check out and sign-up to. Endlesss, an online social music-making app, unleashed an incredible tool to musically converse and collaborate across the globe, keeping up the creativity and fun amongst the sludge. Clubhouse is seeing many musicians share ideas and workarounds, tour managers globally discussing the latest lift of Covid restrictions or rooms of people jamming on what NFTs could mean for the future of music.
Despite all of this, maintaining a presence on social media, streaming services, third-party platforms and potentially your own owned space makes it difficult to keep control of your information. There are so many platforms and so much opportunity but, in most cases, the information provided is wrong, unverified or incredibly difficult to find. Put simply, up until recently the 360 view of who you are online as a creator – your digital identity – did not exist. And I don’t want to spend a moment more of my most precious resource in life, my time, hunched over maintaining profiles or updating latest news, verifying again who I am or editing another biography.
Even when live shows return, the importance of an online presence will remain vital
It’s time to get organised. To get our information in one place and let it do the work for us on our own terms. So should any human or machine need to know anything about us can, we can ensure they get what they need when they need it. Logins, identifiers, facts, acknowledgments… You name it. Let’s make it easier to be discoverable, to widen our reach and give whoever it may be, no excuse not to pay us. At the moment, the process is quite frankly, exhausting.
Just because artists and industry professionals have the tools and platforms to build themselves a comprehensive online identity doesn’t mean they should have to. Setting one up is time consuming, and maintaining it is a constant drain on time and energy and impacts the time that we want to spend creating and/or performing. Even when live shows are once again a possibility, the importance of an online presence will remain vital to anyone looking to make it as a creator – we need to prepare for that future as much as possible today and we need to be ahead of the curve, making it easy for services to do the right thing and innovate with ease.
For the last few years, we’ve been working on a verified digital ID that allows you to control all information about yourself and your works online – a tool where artists upload and manage verified data about themselves, which can be accessed by the music industry and other potential partners. This means biographies, images, skills, official links, hardware and software specs, interests, and even music industry identifiers such as ISNI/IPI numbers are all found in one place.
Put simply, data is Queen. Yet getting creators to recognise and embrace the importance of data is an enormous task, but it is one that needs to happen to enable future sustainable growth for the global music community and their industry. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless when we individually get our bits right. As creators, we are the biggest force in the industry, but we can’t show ourselves or really be useful at the end of a mismatch of linked-in profiles, emails of friends of friends or DM-ing a Twitter account. We need to shape up and build the missing foundations for our times. Now it is clearer than ever yet we are sinking in admin. We need come to the party and do our bit. This is how we can turn everything around - one music maker at a time and every bit of the community and wider industry will be better for it.