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Home > Power Up Evidence of Need

Evidence of Need

Through ongoing conversations, Focus Groups and our Executive Steering Committee, more than 80 Black music executives and creators have come together to steer the Power Up programme which at its core responds responds to significant barriers facing Black music creators and Black industry professionals in music. Those barriers include:

  • Structural and systemic racism and injustice
  • Everyday prejudice in the workplace
  • Marginalisation and underrepresentation on stage, in studios, in the media and in every genre and sub-sector of the music industry
  • Lack of visibility, particularly in senior roles, at executive level, in Board rooms and for Black-led companies and organisations
  • Economic inequality
  • Inequitable financial benefit – the mainstream popularity of Black music in the UK means the music industry is profiting from Black music and Black culture which has a significant impact on the commercial music industry and pushes boundaries in all genres. The Black community receives a disproportionate share of the financial rewards of Black music’s success.

UK Music’s 2020 Diversity Report

UK Music’s 2020 Diversity Report shows that a high concentration of the UK music industry workforce is based in London and the South East (see below). Knowing that 22.3% of the UK music industry workforce identifies as Black, Asian and ethnic minority, and based on the below ethnic group breakdown, we know that:

  • Only 7.8% of the UK music industry workforce identified as Black
  • 5% identified as Asian
  • 8.4% identified as Mixed race/Mixed heritage
  • 1.1% identified as ‘Other Ethnicity’
  • 75.4% identified as White

The underrepresentation behind the scenes in the music industry is stark when considering diverse populations across the UK and particular in the context of a high workforce concentration in major cities including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

In June 2021, to mark the anniversary of Black Out Tuesday, UK Music announced more detailed ethnic group breakdowns and highlighted the need for more Black and ethnically diverse employees in top music jobs. The data revealed the following key points about the make-up of the UK music industry workforce:

  • People who identified as Black or Black British represented 12.6% of the workforce at Entry Level but lowers to 6.4% at Senior Level
  • People who identified as Asian or Asian British made up 6.8% of the workforce at Entry Level – dropping to 4% at Senior Level
  • People who identified as Mixed represented 8.1% at Entry Level, falling to 5.3% at Senior Level
  • Those who identified as White accounted for 65.4% at Entry Level and 80.1% at Senior Level

There is a significant drop in representation as the workforce ages and people from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background are underrepresented at higher career levels.

  • The report also demonstrates income disparity, with only 12.2% of the UK music industry workforce earning over £100,000 being from an ethnic minority background
  • The income threshold where those from an ethnic minority background goes from being over to under-represented is only £45,000

PRS Foundation Survey

In a survey conducted by PRS Foundation, out of 400 Black applicants to our targeted Sustaining Creativity Fund round for Black creators impacted by Covid-19:

  • 78% said they had experienced racism within the music industry…with 100% of Classical applicants saying they have experienced racism
  • 90% agree that there is a lack of visibility of Black industry professionals in senior roles
  • 66% agree that Black talent is underrepresented on stage, in the studio and in the media
  • 76% agree that there is a lack of record label and music publisher investment in Black talent
  • 85% agree that the Black community receives a disproportionately low share of the financial rewards for Black music’s success
  • 69% agree that music funding is less accessible for Black talent
  • 66% agree that there are fewer talent development opportunities for Black music creators
  • 46% of surveyed applicants based outside London strongly agreed that music funding is less accessible for Black talent

Black Lives in Music 2021 Report

In 2021, our friends at Black Lives in Music conducted an extensive survey and published a pioneering report which can be downloaded here.

The ‘Being Black in the UK Music Industry’ 2021 report includes crucial survey results to outline the personal experience of Black music creators and industry professionals. The survey engaged with nearly 2,000 respondents.

Key findings include:

  • 86% of Black music creators and 88% of Black industry professionals agree that there are (racial) barriers to progression
  • 31% of Black music creators and 36% of Black industry professionals believe their mental health and wellbeing has worsened since starting their music career
  • Only 38% of Black music professionals earn 100% of their income from music (vs. 69% of White music professionals)

The report further breaks down the complex racial barriers and anti-Black racism which is rife in the sector while also breaking down intersectional barriers and suggesting indsutry-wide solutions. Power Up is proud to support the report and to work closely with the Black Lives in Music team to push for meaningful change.

Power Up Focus Group findings

The Power Up team also consulted with over 80 executives and music creators in developing the programme.

Some common racial disparities specific to the Black experience in music included:

  • Pigeonholing of Black creators or professionals based on genre or background – creating barriers to career progression and diversifying experiences
  • A lack of equal opportunities and disparity in expectations of Black colleagues vs. their non-Black peers
  • Underinvestment in Black talent and under-resourcing of Black Music and Black-led projects
  • Limited senior leadership roles and opportunities
  • Lack of visibility in all areas of music
  • Even starker underrepresentation of Black women, gender minorities, LGBTQ+, and those based outside London

Full takeaways and recommendations will be published as part of our Power Up Movement work.

Racial disparity within the charity and funding sector

Arts Council England’s Creative Case Data Report for 2018-19 showed that only:

  • 10% of Chief Executives
  • 15% of Board Members
  • 11% of Senior Management roles

at National Portfolio organisations are held by people of Black or minority ethnic origin.

“Structural racism is encrypted in the very fabric of our society, our history, our institutions and our policies.” Runnymede Trust, 2019

As outlined by the organisation Charity So White, “racism affects who works in the charity sector, who gets funding, what issues are prioritised, how strategies are developed and who is prioritised for support… Racism affects the lived experiences of populations deemed unworthy, flawed and dangerous. These lived experiences matter and we believe that people with experience of racism must be central to the work of anti-racism.”

According to MeWe360 founder Kevin Osborne’s open letter to Arts Council England:

“…[ethnic minority]-founded organisations are systematically under-funded because they are pitted against the interests of the major museums, galleries, theatres and opera houses….The average grant of our largest institutions is four times that of 12 of the UK’s best “BAME”-founded organisations combined. To pick one example (out of many), the ENO grant of £12.38m p.a. would pay for 25 Akram Khan Dance Companies; or 29 Phoenix Dance Companies; or 49 Punch Records; or 56 Ballet Blacks; or 59 Tomorrow’s Warriors; or 63 organisations like MeWe360.”

Osborne’s follow-up blog states:

“In cash terms, just £13 million (2.6%) of regular funding from the major arts funders goes to “BAME”-led organisations; this would be £70 million (14%) if funding were distributed in proportion to the “BAME” population.”

This does not cover the situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but across the board there is significant ethnic underrepresentation in funding for organisations as well as a lack of data broken down beyond “BAME” (recognised by PRS Foundation as an outdated label) into different ethnic groups. 

Representation within the music funding world for artists, musicians and music creators is slightly more representative but there remains a lack of consistent, broken down data and as our own survey shows, 69% of Black respondents agree that music funding is less accessible for Black talent.

And disappointingly, during the pandemic, hardship funding available from several sources has not necessarily been as representative as project funding. We know through our own Sustaining Creativity Fund deadlines 1 and 2 that due to concerningly low demand only 13% of grantees were Black (vs. our 2019 project grants average of 18%), leading us to launch a targeted third round for Black creators impacted by Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter trauma.

The Wider Charitable and Foundations sector

  • 99% of the UK’s Foundations’ Board Trustees are White (according to the ACF)

And according to ACEVO who surveyed ethnic minority people working within the charity sector, was a significant feature of their charity life:

  • 68% of respondents said that they had experienced, witnessed or heard stories about racism in their time in the charity sector
  • 50% of respondents felt that they needed to ‘tone down’ behaviour or to be on their ‘best behaviour’ in order to fit in

Economic Inequality

As a funder, PRS Foundation is increasingly concerned about economic inequality, tackling infrastructure and access issues within the talent development pipeline, and ensuring that funding support gets to those who need it most at the right time.

It is therefore important to be aware of racial disparity and economic inequality, and Power Up encourages more open conversations to tackle these issues for those working in music. Examples of economic inequality facing the Black community in the UK include:

  • The ethnicity pay gap (e.g. median hourly pay in England and wales is lower for Black people than for White British people – source, which is starker for over 30s. And only 11% of companies have published ethnicity pay reports. We believe they should become mandatory for sizeable companies)
  • Rates of employment (e.g. Black people had the highest unemployment rate of all groups – source – and were most likely to have household income below £400 per week, and second most likely to claim income-related benefits – source)
  • Household ownership (e.g. the percentage of households that own their own home is 40% for Black Caribbean households and 20% for Black African households vs. the English average of 63% – source)

Access to Finance Barriers

We know talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Through our Power Up Focus Groups, we’ve heard that access to finance is a huge barrier to progression, with many experienced Black managers and Directors telling us that securing credit has been a struggle for decades when comparing their experiences to their White peers.

The self-employed make up a massive 72% of the music industry, and it comprises a proportionately high number of SMEs, micro businesses and sole traders^.
Minority ethnic-led firms are significantly more likely (2.217 times) to be discouraged from borrowing than their counterparts^^. Given reports that micro-businesses, the self-employed and businesses aged five years or younger are all more likely to experience discouragement, we can conclude that Black-led music businesses and future entrepreneurs face significant barriers to accessing finance.

From a Covid-19 perspective, 87% of ethnic minority-led micro and small organisations do not have sufficient reserves to last more than three months, and therefore risk closure^^^.

^ UK Music ‘Music by Numbers 2019’ Report
^^ Enterprise Research Centre Exploring the success and barriers to SME access to finance and its potential role in achieving growth Research Study 2016 (p.31).
^^^ From a survey of 137 ethnic minority-led micro and small organisations by the Ubele Initiative

Institutional racism and everyday prejudice

And institutional racism at every level of the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts Black people in the UK. The 2017 Lammy Review showed that Black people made up 12% of the UK’s prison population. 51% of under-18s locked up in prison are from ethnic minorities. And you are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are Black than if you are White (there were 4 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 11 per 1,000 Asian people, 11 per 1,000 people with Mixed ethnicity, and 38 for every 1,000 Black people).

Beyond those stark facts, available evidence of Black people’s experience of everyday racism, prejudice and injustice only just touches the surface. A recent YouGov poll found that two-thirds of Black Britons have had a racial slur directly used against them, or had people make assumptions about their behaviour based on their race. Three quarters have been asked where they’re “really from”, and Black Britons are equally likely to have experienced racism in the workplace as on the street. Through the Power Up Movement and Power Links we wish to gain a deeper understanding of anti-Black behaviour and everyday prejudice in the music industry.

Population stats

The England and Wales 2011 Census data* shows that the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million^, of which:

  • 86% were from White ethnic groups
  • 7.5% were from Asian ethnic groups
  • 3.3% were from Black ethnic groups (including 1.8% identifying with the Black African ethnic group, and 1.1% with the Black Caribbean ethnic group, and 0.5% identifying as ‘Black other’)
  • 2.2% had Mixed ethnicity (including 0.3% identifying as Mixed White/Black African and 0.8% identifying as Mixed White/Black Caribbean)
  • 1% belonged to ‘other ethnic groups’

The data showed that from 2001 to 2011, the proportion of the population identifying is Black grew from 2.2% to 3.3% and that the percentage of the population from a Black African background doubled from 0.9% to 1.8%. More recent ONS listed data sets found here estimates that the population in England and Wales in 2016 had increased to 58.4m and that  by ethnic group in 2016 show that 3.37% of the population were from Black ethnic groups.

*This is the latest available official population data for England and Wales. According to the Scotland Census in 2011, African, Caribbean or Black groups made up 1% of the population (with higher proportions of ethnic minorities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee). According to the Northern Ireland Census of 2011, 0.2% of the population was Black or Black British. Discrepancies between ethnic identity language across the 4 UK nations makes arriving at suitable UK population statistics unreliable

Comparing representation within the music sector to population statistics should therefore factor in the likely increase in Black ethnic group population size as well as factoring in the high likelihood (based on available data) that the music industry and other creative industries should be more representative of ethnic minority groups since workforce hubs are within major cities.

Regional ethnic diversity and urban populations

According to further data from the England and Wales 2011 Census*, the most ethnically diverse region in England and Wales was London, where 40.2% of residents identified with either the Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic group.

13.3% of London residents identified as Black and a further 5% identified as Mixed ethnicity

81.5% of the general population lived in an urban location, and the ethnic groups most likely to live in an urban location were Pakistani (99.1%), Bangladeshi (98.7%), and Black African (98.2%).

A case for positive action in service provision

As per the Equality Act guidance for charities, positive action is a means by which service providers can help people who are disadvantaged or under represented to achieve the same chances as everyone else. The positive action must be proportionate.

Positive action can include providing additional or bespoke services, separate facilities, accelerated access to services, targeting resources or induction or training opportunities to benefit a particular disadvantaged group.

Deep and ongoing consultation with music creators and music industry professionals, and a wealth of evidence on underrepresentation and structural and systemic racism and injustice in music means that Power Up has been designed to take positive action based on evidence that:

  • Those who identify as Black suffer a disadvantage linked to that protected characteristic
  • Black people working in music have a disproportionately low level of participation in the type of activity (i.e. arts and charitable funding, grants and capacity building programmes in music)
  • Black music professionals need different things from other groups

Power Up has been designed to tackle barriers specifically facing the Black music community, those who identify as Black and those with Black heritage. Although there is not one ‘Black experience’ in music, we recognise many of the systemic barriers and everyday racism and injustice in the workplace are specific to those describing themselves as Black. Power Up supports career progression and helps to fill gaps at senior career levels and at crucial career tipping points. This requires targeted grant support, capacity building and the development of a network to tackle specific barriers facing Black people. And this goes beyond other funding and talent development opportunities offered by PRS Foundation.

Power Up action is intended to:

  • Enable and encourage Black people working in music to overcome or minimise disadvantages that result from anti-Black racism and racial disparity
  • Encourage Black participants and the wider Black music community to participate in this type of activity
  • Meet the different needs of Black music creators and industry professionals

It is also important to PRS Foundation and to Power Up partners that the programme and this positive action takes a proportionate approach to increase participation, to meet different needs and to overcome disadvantage. Power Up aims to break down barriers to create:

  • A fairer, more equitable music industry for Black creators and industry professionals
  • Better representation in all sectors of the UK music industry
  • To support innovative and exciting Black talent to create exceptional new music in all genres and at all career levels
  • To amplify the work of Black creators and industry professionals to accelerate change

These aims cannot be achieved through non-targeted support which would be a lot less effective and might cause greater disadvantage to other groups. A range of other opportunities to achieve similar aims in the wider sector are not working fully, and meaningful, lasting change is not being achieved elsewhere. And the Power Up Participant Network is unique in the sense it brings together Black industry professionals and Black music creators. Solving underrepresentation on one side of the music industry has a positive knock-on impact on the other side, and a collaborative peer-to-peer network helps to create that change.

It is clear to PRS Foundation and from all evidence and consultation that Power Up is needed to shift the dial and to achieve our aims as an inclusive, proactive and collaborative funder of new music and talent development.