a promoter’s view that bands should not highlight their diverse make up, and that doing so is a form of tokenism that will prevent them from being booked." /> a promoter’s view that bands should not highlight their diverse make up, and that doing so is a form of tokenism that will prevent them from being booked." />

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Standing Up For Diversity in Music Industry

MU members have raised concerns regarding a promoter’s view that bands should not highlight their diverse make up, and that doing so is a form of tokenism that will prevent them from being booked.

Empty stage in the dark with the microphone in the spotlight
Using a band’s diverse make up as a reason not to book them is discrimination. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Here, MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl outlines the Union’s position on this issue. 

Let us be very clear, using a band’s diverse make up as a reason not to book them is discrimination. It’s that simple.

The MU completely rejects the tokenism narrative that we so often hear in response to diversity quotas or when artists’ diversity is celebrated. This view implies that lack of representation has nothing to do with discriminatory behaviours and attitudes, or that bands that benefit from being diverse aren’t qualified or talented enough.

Naming a handful of bands that have diverse members is not proof that our industry is free from racism, sexism or any other form of discriminatory behaviour. We know the industry is overwhelmingly white, male and heterosexual. This must change, for the benefit of the live music industry, artists and audiences.
 


Creating change

We as an industry need to acknowledge this fact, examine our attitudes and beliefs, and work towards offering opportunities to a bigger pool of talent.

Celebrating and highlighting bands that are diverse is vital if the industry is to be truly representative and inclusive of all musicians. Having initiatives like Keychange that force organisations to look at their current practices and consider how they can improve on diversity are proof that change can and is happening.

One of the biggest attitudinal barriers the MU faces when tackling discrimination is the notion that race, sex, sexuality, gender or disability don’t matter, and that success is based solely on merit or talent. ‘If a band is good enough, they’ll succeed’.

To some people that may seem like a reasonable argument, but it doesn’t take into account cultural and institutional biases that have stopped musicians progressing their careers because of their race, sex, sexuality, gender or disability.

The MU looks forward to a time when musicians are judged solely on their talent and all have access to the same opportunities. Until then, we will continue to call out any organisation that discriminates against musicians because of their race, sex, sexuality or any other protected characteristic, and take action on behalf of our members.
 

Challenging discrimination

A global rise in far right populists, racist and homophobic world leaders and our newly appointed Prime Minister, whose track record on supporting minority groups is appalling, means now is the time to double down on our efforts to support minority groups, not to berate them for celebrating their diversity.

The MU has seen a rise in members reporting discrimination and it’s important that these issues are raised. Reporting discrimination means it can be challenged, and that those responsible can be educated.

The MU encourages musicians everywhere to celebrate what makes them different. Any members who experience discrimination of any kind should contact their MU Regional Office for advice and support. 

The MU is dedicated to representing the diversity of its membership. Find out more about the MU’s Equalities Committee, and its work celebrating diversity in the music industry and pushing for meaningful change. 


Published: 30/07/2019

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