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Music Industry Report Card: It's A White Man's World

A chart exemplifies the lack of diversity among music industry executives.
A new study shows severe underrepresentation for women and people of color in the music industry.
(USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
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Multiple studies have shown that there’s little diversity in film and television, both on camera and behind the scenes. Now there’s a new report about inclusion in the music business — and the news is just as grim.

Researchers from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative examined the demographics of more than 4,000 executives at 119 music companies, record labels, publishers and in radio, streaming, live performance and concert promotion.

And it’s not only a man’s world, but a white man’s world, especially in leadership positions at the biggest companies. More than 86% of the top executives at the largest music entities — carrying titles such as president or CEO — are men, and the same percentage are white.

The biggest three music groups — Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music — had the least diverse executive ranks. All 10 of the top non-white executives ran independent companies; just two were women and only three top executives were Black.

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That’s a huge gap between the executives who sell music and the people who actually create those songs: nearly 50% of popular artists are people of color.

The report acknowledged that while the music industry has talked about change, so far it’s little more than lip service.

“Commitments, statements, and charitable giving are all important ways for companies to take action to foster racial justice,” the study concluded. “However, change begins at home. To truly foster an equitable, inclusive industry, companies must look carefully at the way they recruit, hire, and promote.”