Black Music Action Coalition’s ‘Report Card’: Major Labels Move to Diversify; Publishing, Live Entertainment Show Little Improvement

Today, the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) unveiled the second edition of its Music Industry Action Report Card (MIARC) which observes dozens of organizations in multiple categories — labels, publishers, streaming services, live entertainment and touring, the Recording Academy and more — and how market leaders (and/or those most closely affiliated with Black/urban music, creators and audiences) have taken action to elevate black employees and donate to racial justice initiatives.

“Racism, a 400+-year-old disease, will not be cured in 24 months. However, through music’s reach, power, and influence, our industry can set a new standard of inclusion, diversity, and equity,” writes Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-founder/co-chair of the BMAC, in the report card’s introduction. “Our goal is for the MIARC to inform critical changes in the music industry that increase equity and inclusion across areas.”

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The report card makes its assessments of the Recording Academy and music groups using a letter grading system from A-F in four categories: corporate commitments, partnerships and giving; company representation on a senior level; internal company culture and business practices; and company transparency and public accountability. Other sectors of the industry are assessed on a scale of E-U (excellent to needs improvement), based on all four categories combined.

Results for the second report card — which observed the United States from June 2021 to 2022, showed some signs of improvement in music groups — with several achieving Bs and As. The only exception was a pair of Cs for Universal Music Group, which the report points out was likely a reflection of 2022 being UMG’s first year as a publicly traded company. They also made note of Capitol Music Group’s “cultural blunder” with signing and dropping AI act FN Meka, described by the coalition as “a digital composite of almost every Black rap stereotype packaged in a racially ambiguous character, created by a non-Black team and company.”

All of the listed streaming services earned “satisfactory” and one “excellent” went to Amazon Music “for its visible representation among senior staff and its partnerships, especially in comparison to Amazon corporate.” Still, much of the industry — most prevalently in agencies and live-entertainment companies — “needs improvement.”

“During this report’s evaluation period, the Big Three music groups all released some
version of long term plans and commitments across various areas of business, people and
culture, as did several digital/streaming service providers (or their corporate parent companies),
and most companies have continued the work they began in 2020,” he report’s introduction reads. “However, there are still sectors of the business that need review (royalties and publishing) and a dedicated focus to increasing Black representation in executive and employee ranks (live entertainment).”

The report also calls for more transparency in recording and publishing contracts and highlighted the need for more diversity in radio. On the opposite end, BMAC praised organizations like “Diversify the Stage and Roadies of Color United” for addressing the lack of Black professionals in live touring.

For more information and to view the report card, see here.

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