In a groundbreaking report, the Musicians’ Union (MU) and Black Lives in Music have lifted the curtain on the harsh realities faced by musicians from the Global Majority in the UK. The newly released Musicians from the Global Majority Insight Report unveils a troubling realities of discrimination, mental health struggles, and economic disparities experienced by Global Majority musicians within the music industry.
The report’s stark revelations shed light on the persistent issue of discrimination, with a staggering 85% of Global Majority musicians reporting either witnessing or directly experiencing some form of discrimination. The toll of this discrimination is evident, as almost a third of respondents reported struggling with poor mental health, attributing it to the various barriers hindering their careers, including financial obstacles (53%) and a lack of industry connections (34%).
The report delves into the financial landscape, exposing an annual income gap of nearly £1,000 between white musicians and their Global Majority counterparts, underscoring the existence of an ethnicity pay gap within the industry. The majority of Global Majority musicians, earning an average of £17,745 annually from music, also face significant challenges such as a lack of sustainable income, with half of them citing it as a barrier to their career progression.
One of the most alarming findings is the prevalence of racism, with nearly half of the respondents reporting instances of racial discrimination. Despite the substantial impact on career progression (81%), a mere third of those affected chose to report such incidents. Additionally, 16% of those reporting racism also faced discrimination based on their socioeconomic background.
Naomi Pohl, General Secretary of the MU, emphasised the urgency of addressing these systemic issues, stating, “No one should have to work in environments where they are subject to racism, lower pay or denied career progression because of their ethnicity. This report must act as a call to action for the whole music industry to work together to stamp out the racism and discrimination musicians from the Global Majority are experiencing.”
The call to action extends beyond awareness. The Musicians’ Union and Black Lives in Music are urging the industry to invest in and support Global Majority musicians. Moreover, they are collectively advocating for organisations to commit to Black Lives in Music’s upcoming Anti-Racism Code of Conduct and toolkit to foster a culture of genuine equity and inclusion.
Clarisse Beaumont, Chief Executive of Black Lives in Music, echoed the sentiment, stating, “There is no place for discrimination in any industry, especially the music industry which is fundamental to all of society. Therefore, we welcome the recommendations from this report and look forward to a hands across the table approach to implement them effectively; together, let’s create a music industry where everyone, regardless of their background, can thrive.”
The report is part of an ongoing series, each focusing on a specific aspect revealed by the Musicians’ Census. Sarah Woods, Chief Executive of Help Musicians and Music Minds Matter, acknowledged the compound impact of discrimination and career barriers on musicians’ already challenging careers, urging those affected to seek support through help lines provided by Help Musicians.
As the music industry confronts these findings, it stands at a crossroads, challenged to address deep-seated inequalities. The Global Majority Insights Report serves as a wake-up call, urging not only acknowledgment but a commitment to tangible change. The revelations demand a united effort from industry stakeholders, with a shared commitment to creating an equitable and diverse music industry that allows every musician, regardless of their background, to thrive. The Musicians’ Census has provided the evidence; now, the focus must shift to implementing the solutions that will reshape the landscape of the UK music scene.
The full Global Majority Insights Report from the Musicians’ Census 2023 is available to read on musicianscensus.co.uk