More minority ethnic staff being employed in music industry, study shows

The report from UK Music still shows a lack of representation in higher-paid jobs

A new study has shown a significant increase in the amount of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff employed in the music industry.

Since 2016, there has been an increase from 15.6% to 22.3% of minority ethnic employees in the industry, according to a new report from UK Music.

Despite this change, representation in higher-paid jobs is at a worse level, with only 12.2% of jobs paying over £100,000 a year held by non-whites, and 27% by women.


Of lower paid jobs, with salaries of under £15,000, 59.4% are held by minority ethnic employees, and 33.6% by women.

The female representation in the industry has remained largely the same between 2016 and 2020, with the figure standing at 49.6%.

live music
A crowd at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London in 2018 (Picture: Ollie Millington/Redferns)

UK Music has set out a 10-step plan to improve diversity in the industry, which includes removing the word “urban” in favour of genre-specific terms, spending a percentage of their annual recruitment budget on creating a diverse pool of candidates for jobs, pledging to increase diversity in management roles, and ending the use of “offensive and outdated” term BAME in their communications.

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too. This groundbreaking report is an important step towards achieving that.”


New pledges of greater diversity within the UK music industry were made following the music industry blackout which took place on June 2 in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. NME participated in the blackout.

Later in June, music industry executives requested the removal of the “urban” descriptor in an open letter to labels. “The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of Black people for many generations but overall, we feel it has failed to acknowledge the structural and systematic racism affecting the very same Black community and so effectively, enjoying the rhythm and ignoring the blues,” the letter read.

The GRAMMYs announced this year that it would no longer use “urban” in its awards categories, while outlining an “ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape”.

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