Campaign group Black Lives in Music (BLIM) has launched an industry-wide anti-racism code of conduct, set to be adopted in spring 2023 with the backing of industry bodies and the UK’s Independent Standards Authority. BLIM CEO Charisse Beaumont explains why it is so urgently needed.

At Black Lives in Music, we receive nearly a dozen calls per week from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people facing discrimination in the music industry. It always surprises me as it is never micro aggressive, although that is bad within itself. The comments I hear are truly shocking, especially for 21st century Britain. References to slavery and jokes about calling colleagues ‘master’, to hate email from colleagues with reference to skin colour and being called the ‘N’ word or monkey. This is evidence I am reading, or listening to, within this past year and it is coming from people who work in the music industry or music education. We hear new evidence daily.

This is not new to Black people. In October 2021, Black Lives in Music published the Being Black in the UK Music industry report which stated 63% of music industry professionals have experienced direct or indirect racism and 71% have experienced racial micro aggressions. Some 88% of music industry professionals and creators agree that there are barriers to career progressions.

We are launching an industry-wide anti-racism code of conduct. This code is the result of roundtable meetings with more than 90 national and international senior leaders in the music industry.

The outcome brought consensus on ideas and actions, including an industry-accepted anti-racist code of conduct. We have partnered with the Independent Standards Authority to provide a mechanism for complaint, mediation, investigation, and support to victims of discrimination, bullying and harassment. It is important that we crush racism in the music industry.

Black women are the most disadvantaged in the UK music industry. We recently gave evidence at the Misogyny in Music inquiry at Parliament to address some of the issues Black women face. For example, Black women are paid 17% lower than Black men, 25% lower than White women and 52% lower than White men. We are calling for ethnic and gender pay gap reporting across all organisations.

Racism is the undercurrent of the lack of colour in professional ensembles, senior leadership in organisations and the reason why there are issues of accessibility to quality education.

Lastly, 36% of Black music creators believe their mental wellbeing has declined since starting their music career, rising to 42% of Black women. We are bringing these issues and our work to government with the aim to apply pressure from the top.

An anti-racism code of conduct is necessary and much needed. Discrimination is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed and requires a hands-across-the-table approach.

Change takes time but if we work together we can create a music industry.