Music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang created the #TheShowMustBePaused initiative in response to the murder of George Floyd, and on June 2, 2020, it became a pivotal moment in the music industry. MU observed #TheShowMustBePaused in solidarity with our Black members and communities around the world.
At the time, MU reiterated its commitment to addressing racism in the music industry, reassessing how we engaged with our members and the music industry about racism and of its impact on the musicians who are its victims. In an ideal world, this process would happen organically, and we appreciate that Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang have started this initiative and intend to honor it by continuing the work of fighting racism in the music industry.
Since then, MU has remembered #TheShowMustBePaused and other similar events by educating staff and members, supporting others in the music industry trying to bring about positive change, and supporting our black, Asian and global majority members by amplifying their voices and keeping them at the center of our anti-racism work.
Actions carried out in 2021
To mark the one year anniversary of Blackout Tuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused in 2021, MU and Love Music Hate Racism have teamed up to host an online panel reflecting on how the industry has changed since then. Chaired by Chardine Taylor-Stone, then Vice Chair of MU’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, the panel discussed the work that organizations and initiatives such as Power Up, Black Lives in Music, Women In CTRL, Black Music Coalition and Girls I Rate were doing to fight racism and encourage a more diverse music industry.
MU supported the Power Up initiative, which was set up and managed by the PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group and the Black Music Coalition and was announced this year as the recipient of IMPALA’s Changemaker Award in recognition of its work on diversity and inclusion. . MU continues to support and work with other organizations dedicated to addressing racially-driven inequity in music careers, such as Black Lives in Music, who are working to address the inequality of diversity in the music industry by supporting people of color. at all levels of the sector to achieve their aspirations. These initiatives are doing a great job changing lives as well as the industry.
In late 2021, MU, in consultation with its EDI Committee, also launched the MU Equality Action Plan designed to both guide and hold MU accountable to its commitment to addressing discrimination at work. regard to musicians.
Some of this work has resulted in updated recruiting and audition guidance to help improve orchestra diversity, anti-racism and unconscious bias training for staff and members, and generating EDI data and quality research to draw an accurate picture of the diversity of musicians. in the UK are challenging perceptions of who we can expect musicians to be and who should be included in conversations about the music industry.
Humbly to represent our committed and brilliant members
Recently, MU has helped its members put forward exciting motions at Trades Union Congress and Scottish Trades Union Congress conferences, calling on them to decolonise music programmes, as well as lobbying the government to flag the gender pay gap, more funding specifically to equip mental health. services to provide culturally appropriate care, mandating the teaching of black history, and a much more diverse teaching workforce.
MU is honored to represent these engaged and brilliant members who share their experiences and insights with us, and both shape who MU is and help change the music industry.
Members who learn with us by attending our events, organizations and initiatives who use their knowledge and insight in the industry, and members who participate in the union, either by attending MU network meetings for members affected by racism, represent MU committees or share our work with their peers.
Putting members at the center of our work
Naomi Pohl, General Secretary of the Union of Musicians, said:
“Our Black, Asian and Global majority members deserve a union that is committed to being anti-racist, that can represent them and be part of change in the music industry.
“Our incredible EDI Committee and member networks are at the heart of this, ensuring that we put our members at the center of our work and that real change is achieved, driven by the people affected.
“We know that addressing racism in the music industry means making sure it’s at the heart of everything we do and listening to our members, and we’re committed to that work. MU is proud to contribute to the rich history of fighting racism in the music industry alongside our members and the partners we work with.
The MU is fully committed to playing its role
John Shortell, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at MU, said:
“We are proud of the work we have done so far with our EDI committee and network for members experiencing racism to fight racism and make the music industry and UM a more inclusive place for black, Asian and world majority musicians.
“Working with our Black, Asian and Global Majority members and partners, such as Black Lives in Music and Power Up, helps ensure that we are an anti-racist union and that our work incorporates anti-racist values. We still have a long way to go and there is a lot to do, but MU is fully committed to playing its part in creating an anti-racist music industry.
Bringing about meaningful change will always take time
Aliye Cornish from the MU EDI Committee said:
“The EDI Committee at MU undertakes work to protect and advance the rights of all its members in the industry, and has been an active voice in a variety of campaigns from local to national forums. The work of the EDI Committee is informed by a number of networks which focus discussion on specific issues affecting members of particular groups, eg women’s network, people experiencing racism.
“A new commitment to monitoring data allows UM to see how its membership is diversifying as the industry strives to be more open and inclusive. Making meaningful change will always take time, but UM is fully committed to its work in this area.”
A catalyst for working consciously and conscientiously to operate in an anti-racist way
Linton Stephens, chair of the MU EDI committee, said:
“As human beings, we are not always good at accepting change. So inevitably, the change happens slowly, like water dripping its way through a complex rock formation. But every once in a while changes come crashing in like waves hitting the shore. This wave came two years ago as the world witnessed the heinous murder of an unarmed black man. It was a wake-up call to people everywhere.
“Blackout Tuesday signaled a movement for businesses, industries and individuals, to outwardly express their commitment to take action to address the racial inequalities that have been allowed to exist.
“A year later, I am happy to say that this event was the catalyst in many ways for the Musicians Union (and beyond) to work consciously and conscientiously to operate in an anti-racist way. And more than that, to scrutinize discrimination of all kinds, micro and macro, and work to eradicate it completely from the workplace.
“Of course, there is still a lot of work to do, but looking back, we are immensely proud of how far we have come and, through the Equalities Committee, that golden thread weaves its way through everything we do to that we always work to do and be better.
Check out our advice center for musicians facing racism and join the NMWER network here.
Other UM Resources
Learn more about how to get involved in the work of UM
Nate Holder explains how to decolonize music education:
Joanna Abeyie explains how to be anti-racist:
We mark the United Nations Anti-Racism Day 2021 with a video on the fight against racism