Survey reveals 85% of Global Majority musicians have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the industry

17 percent of Global Majority respondents also expressed scepticism about remaining in the industry within the next five years.

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Data from the 2023 Global Majority Insight Report by Help Musicians, Musicians’ Union, and Black Lives in Music (BLiM) reveal that 85 percent of musicians from the Global Majority have encountered or witnessed some form of discrimination in the industry.

The report highlights various challenges faced by musician from the Global Majority – defined as those identifying as “Black, Asian, Mixed/dual heritage, or other ethnic group” in the Musicians’ Census – including a lack of reliable income, insufficient mental health support, limited networking and relationship-building opportunities, obstacles in career progression, as well as persistent discrimination.

Among those who reported experiencing racism, 81 percent of Global Majority musicians noted its significant impact on their career progression, with 16 percent also facing socioeconomic discrimination.

Survey responses reflected the frustration of individuals like a Black male in the classical field who struggled to attribute “odd circumstances” in his career to anything other than discrimination based on his skin colour.

The wage disparity between white musicians relying solely on music income and their Global Majority counterparts is also evident, with an average gap of £1,000. On average, Global Majority musicians earn £17,745 annually. A notable 35 percent of respondents say they cannot sustain themselves or their families through their music careers, while nearly a quarter reported being in debt.

17 percent of Global Majority respondents also expressed scepticism about remaining in the industry within the next five years.

Additionally, the report sheds light on educational disparities, revealing that 52 percent of white musicians possess music-related degrees, while only 37 percent of Global Majority musicians hold similar qualifications. This discrepancy contributes to unequal career opportunities within the industry.

The Global Majority Insight Report is the second part of the 2023 Musicians Census, following the first part released in September, which found that nearly half of UK musicians earn less than £14,000 annually.

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary said: “We know from working with members that musicians from the Global Majority’s skills and experiences are often overlooked, dismissed or devalued. This report further confirms that and shows us in detail, that racism and discrimination exist in every corner of the music industry. These are not one off or isolated experiences; the information musicians shared with us show systemic issues within the music industry that cannot be ignored.”

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