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News July 26, 2021

Despite diversity in the charts, US music biz still run by white males

Senior Journalist, B2B
Despite diversity in the charts, US music biz still run by white males

The end-of-the-year charts over the past nine years might show a greater amount of diversity, but the industry behind it is lagging.

A study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative looked at more than 4,000 executives across 119 companies and six categories in the music industry.

These were music groups, labels and publishers, radio, streaming and live music or concert promotion.

The study looked at the representation of women, Black people and underrepresented ethnic or racial groups in senior executive ranks.

In the US population, half are women, 14% are Black, and 40% identify with an underrepresented racial/ethnic group.

In 70 major and independent music companies, 13.9% were women who occupied CEO, chair, and president roles.

13.9% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups and 4.2% were Black.

There were 10 underrepresented CEOs running independent companies. But only two were underrepresented women and only three were Black.

At board levels of nine major companies, 30.8% were women, 18.8% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups and 8.5% were Black.

It was in live music and concert promotion where women had the greater representation among senior management teams at 41%.

It was followed by radio (33.2%) and publishing (31.9%) and just 23% in radio and streaming.

Among senior management teams for music groups like Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, women make up 32%.

“For women, as power increased, the percentage of women in executive roles decreased significantly,” the report said.

“However, this trend was primarily driven by white women’s presence in the executive ranks.”

More than one-quarter (26.9%) of all executives were white women, with only 8.4% underrepresented women, which includes 3% of executives who were Black women.

Record labels were the only category where the percentage of Black executives (14.4%) reached proportional representation with the US population.

In every other category, the percentage was less than 10%.

This was 7.4% in streaming, 7.2% in music groups, 6.1% in publishing, 4% in radio, and 3.3% in live music and concert promotion.

“These figures are startling, given that Black artists were 37.7% of all artists on the popular charts in the last nine years,” according to the report.

Stacy L. Smith, associate professor of communication and one of the authors of the report, said underrepresented and Black artists are dominating the charts, but the C-suite is a “diversity desert”.

“The profile of top artists may give some in the industry the illusion that music is an inclusive business, but the numbers at the top tell a different story.”


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