UK Music Futures Group members tackle key issues for the industry: Part 1

UK Music Futures Group members tackle key issues for the industry: Part 1

The UK Music Futures Group is made of young people from across the music industry.

The Futures Group meets to discuss key issues affecting the music business and feeds directly into the board of UK Music.

Here, as part of a series of articles, three members of the UK Music Futures Group address key issues for the industry…

Nikki Riggon, head of programme, Punch Records on gender diversity 

The landscape for women in music has been a considerable hot topic for some time. In my opinion it's clearly shifted in recent years, with notable strides made to increase presence and give recognition where it's due, however we still have some mountains to climb and substantial improvements need to be made.

Earlier this year, the MU welcomed recommendations made by the government in their Misogyny In Music report, while other recent reports from organisations such as Women In CTRL, UK Music and The Jaguar Foundation have also underscored the need for ongoing discussion and concerted efforts to encourage more females to work and thrive in the industry. 

These reports shed light on critical issues within the music industry, from the underrepresentation of female artists in festival line-ups to the concerning disregard for the safety of women in both the workplace and concert audiences. The findings carry significant industry and societal implications that warrant immediate attention and action. 

However, a positive shift can be seen in the rising representation of women across various roles within the music industry, from artists and producers to executives and engineers. The progress  has begun to have a ripple effect and is, slowly but surely, inspiring more women into diverse roles. 

There has also been an increase in initiatives aimed at addressing gender inequality. Funders often set aside money to contribute to change, mentorship programs offer guidance and support, and platforms dedicated to promoting female artists amplify their voices.

But systemic barriers persist, including sexism, harassment, and underrepresentation in leadership roles. Recognising intersectionality is crucial, as women from marginalised communities face unique challenges that must be addressed at their roots. Tackling these issues head-on requires a comprehensive approach that spans every level of the industry, from major to indie sectors, while also acknowledging regional disparities and even shaking our education system. 

While achieving true equality for women in the music industry is undoubtedly a big task, it is not insurmountable. As long as the conversation remains ongoing and efforts are made to address barriers, progress can be achieved.

Sanjeev Mann, aka Supermann On Da Beat, producer, creative director Hip Hop Scotland on disability access

There’s a number of reasons as to why disabled access in the music industry is an important issue. 

Firstly, there’s the physical access to grassroots venues both as audiences and performers which is causing issues especially for artists at the beginning of their careers making it much more difficult to progress in the industry. This leads to a lack of disabled artists in the industry, which has a knock-on effect, meaning a lack of role models for young people to look up to and believe they can do the same. 

In addition, the lack of disabled artists on stage has a negative effect on society's perception of disability. We need to make change by raising awareness and normalising artists from all parts of society to really push forward. Awareness and speaking about the issue in the mainstream is the first step. It will take time but I am confident we are on the right track. 

We also need to be consulting disabled artists in every process of adaptations, so we can ensure that the right changes are being made. We also need more diversity in job roles within the industry like A&R, promoters and labels to bring a new perspective and their experiences to the table, so the industry can learn about what we need. 

Casper James, project manager of TransForm Music, independent artist, live music promoter on support for the trans and non-binary community

Over the last couple of years, I have worked on my project TransForm Music conducting research into the experiences and needs of transgender and non-binary people who work in the music industry or attend live music in England and Wales.

For too long, transgender and non-binary people have been brushed over in equity and diversity investigations. Every single survey respondent participating in TransForm Music’s research expressed that they felt as though there was not enough support available for them in music

Aside from the glaring underrepresentation on and off stage within the industry, more explicitly, transphobic assault and harassment appear to be all too common for transgender and non-binary people working in and attending live music. We found that due to music spaces lacking policies and knowledge for best practice to respond to incidents of transphobia, many transgender people feel uncomfortable reporting incidents, or reported incidents are not being dealt with at all. 

As long as safety within music venues is a risk for transgender and non-binary people, we as an industry will struggle to see improved representation. Minimal safety measures create a barrier for transgender and non-binary people to continue returning to these scenes and spaces where they should be able to safely get their feet in the door and begin their musical journeys. Simply talking about inequality is not enough; proactive allyship consisting of real changes to policies and practices must be implemented.

Venues expressed to us that fear of doing the wrong thing for transgender people is often a preventative factor for them to take action against transphobia. In response, we conducted transgender and non-binary focus groups to strategise how music venues could tackle issues raised through our surveys in a way that would be valuable and conscious of the needs of the transgender people affected. 

These ideas for good practice, sourced from the community, have now been paired with our research findings and comprehensive information to create a go-to Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Guidelines booklet for music venues to use to take more confident approaches to improving inclusion in their spaces. 

The guidelines will be free and publicly available this summer, alongside the rollout of our free training courses for venues in Wales. 


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