Tracing the history of American music reveals a fundamental reality about representation in the music industry: Black contributions to the industry have been and continue to be undervalued.
Black creatives and professionals’ rich contributions have undeniably shaped the music industry into what it is today. They have created styles of music, the culture, the trends, and the success of this business — yet too often are left unheralded and excluded from the rooms in which the most important decisions are made. To honor and amplify Black people’s past, present, and future contributions, the music industry must tear down the barriers to full participation and equitable treatment. This moment offers an unparalleled opportunity to change patterns of exclusion and degradation and take action toward progress. #ChangeMusic is our first step.
The #ChangeMusic Roadmap is a Color Of Change initiative in partnership with the Recording Academy that provides a call to action across the industry so that every individual involved, regardless of status, can make a difference. Whether it’s demanding change or acting as a decision maker, we can all work together to move the music industry towards racial justice. Developing a sustainable roadmap is crucial to that pursuit.
This work expands on the #ChangeHollywood Initiative, a collaboration between Color Of Change and Michael B. Jordan that provides concrete steps that individuals and organizations in Hollywood can take to move the industry toward racial justice. Following this model, #ChangeMusic supports autonomous progress within the music industry. Together these efforts have the power to shape our culture and the ways people think about race in our country as a whole.
To work to increase the number of Black people and other underrepresented groups in key roles in the Academy, our affiliates and across the broader industry (i.e. voting members, musicians, producers, recording engineers and other recording professionals). This requires efforts that will not only increase greater equity through diversity and inclusion but will also ensure representation of Black people and people of color in decision making positions. By doing so, we shift the culture of the industry at large.
To ensure greater equity by increasing representation of Black people and other underrepresented groups in critical roles throughout the broader music industry. Achieving this goal first requires a commitment to full transparency, which begins with data outlining the number of Black people and people of color in crucial roles to determine where there is underrepresentation. Further, this greater transparency must include an intersectional analysis of data that takes into account gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and age where possible to effectively address true diversity and inclusion.
To identify and dismantle systemic barriers to representation and equitable treatment of Black people and other under-represented groups across the industry. This too requires a commitment to transparency and self-examination by those who currently hold power in the industry to identify the key shortcomings in the industry’s treatment of Black people.
Adopt this roadmap as an industry wide tool to assess and commit to real diversity and inclusion. Promote it wherever you have influence.
Fund anti-racist trainings and fund independent racial justice workplace and organizational audits.
Commit to adopting specific recommendations from trainings and audits, such as pay equity and other anti-racist workplace policies and practices, and promote them across the industry in general.
Disclose information about staff diversity as well as reporting on equity and anti-racist workplace measures.
Advocate for disclosure across all the organizations with which you are associated or have influence. True diversity must include increasing the number of people with executive decision making ability, budgeting and hiring authority, as well as authority throughout the production or management process regarding the hiring of consultants and vendors.
Establish proactive recruitment, support, retention and training measures for Black people at all levels including specifically, women and LGBTQIA+ Black people.
Critically examine the treatment of Black artists. Revisit legacy contracts for any inequities or anomalies.
Increase the number of Black people in leadership in your organization: board members, voting members, executives and senior leaders.
True diversity must include increasing the number of people with executive decision making ability, budgeting and hiring authority, as well as authority throughout the production or management process regarding the hiring of consultants and vendors.
Increase the number of Black vendors, contractors and crew for industry-related services and projects, especially for industry sectors that have traditionally excluded Black people.
Conduct a third-party and public facing diversity audit that represents all levels of staff (board, leadership, managers, non-managerial employees, vendors, contractors, and crew).
Annually report pay disparities as it relates to race and gender. If discrepancies are found, build a comprehensive plan to build towards pay equity.
Generate a report at least twice a year of funds allocated internally and externally for DEI initiatives.
Examine contracts and ensure a transparent and fair royalty distribution plan for artists.
Contract with Black-owned and Black-led businesses, and maintain a roster of local Black businesses.
Partner with brands that are in alignment with anti-racist social justice values and invested in supporting Black communities.
Commit to supporting programs and community initiatives that elevate, support and empower Black communities.
Give employees paid time off for participating in national elections and encourage civic advocacy and participation.
Commit financial and social capital to thwart inequity in the civic process including non-partisan organizations advocating for voting rights and voter registration and educating on the legislative process.
Elevate policy issues on local, state and federal levels that affect the industry at large and provide action steps.
Align with and support the current calls around reexamining the role of police in Black communities and addressing structural issues in the criminal justice system.
When possible, hire independent security firms for security at events and on sets. Assess relationships with police unions.
Where you can use your voice, work to adopt transformative changes in the criminal justice system, and to shift investments to Black communities.