A new report by Black Lives In Music (BLIM) and live music accessibility charity Attitude is Everything (AIE) has revealed the barriers to career progression facing Black disabled music professionals in the UK.

The report found that 74% of Black disabled music creators felt there are specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity, compared to 58% of Black non-disabled creators who felt the same way.

According to the report, titled Unseen Unheard, 91% of Black disabled creators and professionals are unsatisfied with how they are supported by the music industry.

The findings are drawn from BLIM’s Being Black In The UK Music Industry survey from 2021, alongside a series of new first-person interviews. The new report presents responses and insights from 99 music creators and 50 industry professionals. It features new interviews carried out by BLIM in 2023, including a foreword by the Association of Independent Music (AIM) senior events manager Esta Rae.

Both BLIM and AIE have pledged to collaborate further and have issued a series of calls to action to the music business under the headings of ‘Representation, Consultation and Commitment’.

Other findings from the report include:

  • 38% of the 149 respondents felt that diversity and inclusion is an industry priority.
  • A snapshot of 33 Black disabled music creators who had applied for funding found that only 42% had been successful, compared to 54% of Black non-disabled creators.
  • 81% of Black disabled creators do not feel there is a clear career trajectory or path for them. Only 8% said they had felt supported through each career stage.
  • 73% of Black disabled music creators and professionals said they had seen non-Black contemporaries promoted ahead of them despite being less qualified.
  • 70% of Black disabled music creators and professionals said that they have experienced racism or racial bias towards them. 22% have accessed counselling as a result of these experiences.

Unseen Unheard culminates with a series of calls to action to talent development organisations, funders, industry support services, education providers and all industry employers.

BLIM chief executive Charisse Beaumont said, “The landscape feels like it is changing in some ways. We have seen a reversal by organisations and the government of the commitments they made in 2020. However, what is encouraging is that we are seeing bold individuals and organisations who are resolute in demonstrating to the world that inclusion and authenticity is the new normal.”

AIE founder Suzanne Bull MBE said, “The report’s sobering findings highlight the many ways in which Black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change. We need to see the ‘diversity’ conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the ‘diversity discussion’, but as the integral part of all conversations.”

On the back of the findings, BLIM and AIE have launched an Unseen Unheard podcast series, hosted by AIE’s Joy Addo, which will be broadcast on the Black Lives In Music YouTube channel and across all podcast platforms.

AIM senior events manager Esta Rae said, “If you look around the industry there are many disabled people thriving within their roles – it is possible. Radio presenters, content creators, events managers, producers, engineers, radio broadcasters, photographers, the list is endless. But this report shows that many more out there feel that they cannot progress and that they are not recognised as talented artists or industry professionals with vast potential to contribute to this industry we all love. If the correct support was given across the board, it would fill a huge gap in terms of what the industry is currently missing out on.”

The full Unseen Unheard report can be found here