The evolution of podcasts: ‘I hope that the industry diversifies’

“I remember looking for podcasts hosted by Black people. I think I found four in the UK!” Renay Richardson is the CEO of podcast production company Broccoli Content, and also a prime mover behind the ‘Equality in Audio Pact’, an initiative encouraging the industry to tackle “the lack of opportunities for minority talent both in […]

Shesaid·so launches Patreon to ‘stay alive and independent’

We’ve written regularly about the activities of Shesaid·so, the community for women and gender minorities in the music industry, which was founded nearly six years ago. Now it has announced plans to launch a new community ‘hub’ for its members, and also a Patreon campaign to raise ongoing funding to support that – including from non-members. “With your […]

Spotify faces internal unrest over Joe Rogan’s old podcasts

Signing podcaster Joe Rogan to an exclusive deal certainly gave Spotify’s share price a boost, but it’s also created some internal headaches for the company. Vice has a story about some recent internal meetings with staff at Spotify to discuss concerns about the back catalogue of The Joe Rogan Experience. And no, this time it’s not […]

UK study explores class imbalances in the creative industries

A report published by the UK’s Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre yesterday suggests that more needs to be done to open up these industries – music included – to people from working-class backgrounds. “Echoing wider research, we find widespread and persistent class imbalances. Those from privileged backgrounds are more than twice as likely to […]

Techstars Music goes virtual and promises founder diversity

The Techstars Music accelerator has announced its plans for 2021, including the addition of Amazon Music as a new ‘member’ partner. The program will also run entirely virtually for the first time when it kicks off on 16 February 2021, including its selection process, which is underway now. Its managing director Bob Moczydlowsky is also […]

Campaign aims to support Deaf and disabled people in UK music industry

British organisation Attitude is Everything focuses on accessibility in the live music sector. Now it’s launching a new campaign called ‘Beyond the Music’ which aims to create more opportunities for Deaf and disabled people in the music industry. The campaign will be “supporting Deaf and disabled people to gain the necessary skills, experience, support and […]

WMG appoints head of global equity, diversity and inclusion

Warner Music Group’s push for diversity and inclusion across its company has a new boss. Dr Maurice Stinnett will be WMG’s new head of global equity, diversity and inclusion, having joined from a similar role at BSE Global, owner of NBA team the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center venue. Stinnett certainly has seniority: he’ll […]

Music Ally Report :: Q2 2020 Edition

Our main feature explores the evolution of live music, as we look towards a time when concerts are able to resume safely. What have we learned from the livestreaming boom during the Covid-19 lockdown, and what are the prospects for ‘hybrid’ online/offline concerts in the coming months? We’ve also got a feature recapping two thought-provoking […]

Spotify research explores dearth of UK podcast diversity

We reported recently on production company Broccoli Content’s launch of an ‘Equality in Audio’ pact to change the lack of diversity in the podcasting industry. Spotify was one of the companies signing up – admittedly after a bit of public nudging from Broccoli Content boss Renay Richardson – and now the streaming service has published some research that shows […]

Live Nation to double Black US leadership representation by 2025

The latest music company making promises about how it plans to make its senior management more diverse is Live Nation. “We commit to increasing diversity at every level of our company. This will start at the very top with our Board of Directors, where we plan to nominate more Black, indigenous and people of color […]

Penguin Random House reveals its ‘accelerated inclusion plan’

As the guests on the recent #TheShowMustBePaused edition of the Music Ally TV Show made clear, music companies promising to address a lack of diversity in their businesses is good, but the proof will be in what they actually do to make that happen. With that in mind, see what book-publishing giant Penguin Random House UK […]

Recording Academy stresses diversity of its new members

US industry body the Recording Academy has faced a lot of criticism about the diversity of its membership in recent years. It’s hoping to win some praise for its 2020 intake though. More than 2,300 new people have been invited to join, and while the big names include John Legend, Ozuna and Yolanda Adams, it’s the demographics […]

Recording Academy teams with racial justice org Color of Change

US industry body the Recording Academy has announced a partnership with racial justice organisation Color of Change, including making a $1m donation to it. The pair will be working together on initiatives including creating a Black music advisory group for the Academy; a membership campaign to sign up more Black voting members; and an industry-wide […]

Youth Music launches £2m Incubator Fund for 18-25 year-olds

British charity Youth Music is launching a £2m ‘Incubator Fund’ that aims to help 18-25 year-olds – particularly those from under-represented groups – get into the music business. The fund itself is for music companies, offering grants of between £5k and £30k to spend on wages and support for these young people. Youth Music is especially […]

The Royalty Network debuts Black Empowerment Thru Music scheme

Music publishing company The Royalty Network has launched an initiative to help emerging Black musicians, producers and songwriters build contacts and careers in the music industry. Called Black Empowerment Thru Music, the scheme will include offering free studio time at the company’s Los Angeles facility; financial support for organisations; grant matching; mentoring; webinars; donating instruments to […]

Spotify pulled into debate over ownership of ‘The Nod’ podcast

In the music industry, arguments over creators and ownership tend to focus on master recordings and publishing rights: how musicians can retain them from the start, or get them back later in their careers. Interestingly, there’s a similar debate starting in the podcasting industry.  As The Verge explains, it’s not just about the rights, but […]

UMG expands partnership with USC Annenberg diversity initiative

“Black artists consistently top the popular music charts, but African-Americans and other people of colour are not adequately represented in decision-making roles in the music business,” is the first line of a press release from… the biggest label group in the music business. So what is Universal Music doing about this disparity? Having already pledged a $25m ‘change […]

Rostr report claims music managers’ rosters are still male-dominated

Last December, Music Ally wrote about a report from startup Rostr analysing its database of music management companies and their artists. Now it has repeated the trick for 2020. Its report, which is free, is based on more than 3,000 management firms’ data, and ranks them by roster size, Spotify audience and YouTube subscribers. It also looks at […]

Pandora launches Qmunity music station for Pride 2020

June is the annual Pride month celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, although due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s celebrations will by necessity be much more digital. Music streaming services are joining the party with playlists and other activations, as usual. In the case of Pandora, that includes launching a new radio station called Qmunity. Sponsored […]

ASCAP launches paid internship program for Black students

US collecting society ASCAP has launched a new paid internship program for students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Five students will work for ASCAP (remotely) during July and August, with plans to repeat the scheme every summer in future years. “We have a responsibility to seek to nurture talent and empower the next […]

Spotify reveals its playlist plans for Black Music Month 2020

June is Black Music Month in the US (or African-American Music Appreciation Month if you prefer: it was renamed by President Barack Obama in 2009, but its previous name is still often used). Spotify has revealed its plans for the month, including its previously-announced plan to devote its entire ‘New Music Friday’ playlist to Black artists for […]

#TheShowMustBePaused next steps: ‘Potentially a moment for real change’

Friday’s Music Ally TV Show focused on the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign, and the next steps that the music industry needs to take as a result. Our panelists were Mulika Sannie, Keith Harris and Estée Blu. Sannie is VP of business affairs at Kobalt, and also founded the UK Black Music Lawyers Network in 2018. Harris is […]

Broccoli Content CEO challenges Spotify to sign Equality in Audio pact

We wrote about the Equality in Audio Pact earlier this month. Launched by podcast producer Broccoli Content, it was a list of five pledges that audio production companies could make, including paying interns; hiring LGBTQIA+, black people, people of colour and other minorities for projects that aren’t just related to their identity; releasing race pay gap data; […]

#TheShowMustBePaused: next steps, Stormzy, YouTube and more

One of the key points about the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign last week was that it was not a single day of action, but rather the springboard for much, much more. Today, there’s a lot to report on in that regard, within both the music and tech worlds. Start by reading Billboard’s interview with Brianna Agyemang and Jamila […]

Facebook criticised for removing anti-racist skinhead artists

Some racists are skinheads. Many skinheads aren’t racists – in fact, many are among the most committed anti-racists. This is hardly a secret, but Facebook got a blunt reminder this week, after mistakenly removing the accounts of hundreds of anti-racist skinheads, as well as pages devoted to ska and reggae music, and the organisation Skinheads Against […]

UK groups call for anti-racist training and ‘urban’ removal

A group of Black executives working within the British music industry have published an open letter, through the Black Music Coalition and The Show Must Be Paused UK groups, with five “immediate calls to action” for the industry. They include mandatory anti-racism / unconscious bias training for non-Black staff at music companies; a specified annual budget […]

#TheShowMustBePaused latest: Sony Music, #ArtistsForBlackLives and more

Something that came through very clearly about last week’s #TheShowMustBePaused day when music companies of all kinds paused their regular work to respond to the protests about racism and police brutality was that it couldn’t just be about one day: it was about paving the way for a host of actions and changes over the […]

Amber Grimes and Nicole Wyskoarko talk leadership, support and diversity

Nicole Wyskoarko is EVP of urban operations at Interscope Records, and Amber Grimes is SVP of global creative at Capitol Music Group. Their joint keynote for the Midem conference, a video interview conducted by Billboard’s Gail Mitchell, was published this morning. It addresses topics including the current Black Lives Matters protests following the killing of […]

‘Equality in Audio Pact’ challenges companies to change

Last October, we reported on the latest podcasting joint venture by Sony Music: British company Broccoli Content, led by producer Renay Richardson. Its shows include ‘Anthems’, ‘Money 101’ and ‘Your Broccoli Weekly’, with a mission to tackle “the lack of opportunities for minority talent both in front and behind the mic”. Now the company has launched an […]

Spotify ‘Sound Up’ podcast program returns for third year

Spotify’s ‘Sound Up’ program aims to help people from underrepresented backgrounds take their first steps into the podcasting world. 60 people have so far gone through its program in the US, UK, Germany and Australia, with more than 20,000 having applied over the first two years of the scheme. Now Spotify is launching the third […]

shesaid·so and YouTube Music team up for mentorship schemes

shesaid.so – the organisation pushing for gender equality in the music industry – is launching new virtual mentoring schemes for women and gender minorities in Italy and France.  The schemes will be supported by YouTube Music, and will recruit 12 mentees in each country who will them be paired with either a local or international […]

Anti-LGBTQ+ song removed from music streaming services

Malaysian rock band Bunkface have a song called ‘Akhir Zaman’ [‘The End of Times’] which included homophobic lyrics like the line “LGBT can go to hell” (or “LGBT can go die”). The band had released a statement denying that this was hate speech, suggesting instead that they were protesting against the movement for LGBTQ+ rights in […]

Songtrust boss hopes for gender parity in A&R signings by 2030

Songtrust president Molly Neuman has been one of the key champions for diversity and inclusion in the music industry. In an op-ed piece for Variety, she has outlined some ways she thinks the music industry can do better over the coming years. It includes a rousing call to rightsholders across the industry, and an accompanying target. […]

Music streaming services support International Women’s Day

This Sunday (8 March) is International Women’s Day, and as has become traditional, the big music streaming services are all celebrating the occasion. Spotify will be launching a new ‘Women’s History Month’ hub on Sunday, with all-women playlists and podcasts, as well as IWD-themed takeovers of some of its popular playlists. Apple is hosting a […]

Study suggests country radio listeners DO want more women

Country radio stations in the US have been criticised strongly in recent times for their male-dominated playlists. A study published earlier this month by SongData’s Jada Watson showed why: women accounted for just 10% of daily spins and slots in Billboard’s year-end country airplay chart. But now a separate study commissioned by country media brand CMT suggests […]

Music, gender representation and the ‘pipeline problem’

The lack of women nominated in some of the key mixed-gender categories at last night’s Brit Awards was a talking point even within the awards itself. Now Vick Bain, the former CEO of songwriters body BASCA (now the Ivors Academy) has published some thoughts on the issue of diversity in music awards ceremonies and festival lineups that […]

Reading/Leeds Festival under fire for male-dominated lineup

The UK’s Reading and Leeds festival made its first major lineup announcement for the 2020 edition yesterday, and is already coming in for criticism on the grounds of diversity. The three main headliners are all men (Stormzy, Rage Against The Machine and Liam Gallagher), and of the 18 artists so far announced for the festival’s main stage, […]

Keychange initiative reveals its 2020 participants

The Keychange initiative – led by Reeperbahn Festival, PRS Foundation and Musikcentrum Öst – is about getting companies and events in and around music to sign up to a 50/50 gender balance pledge by 2022. As part of this push, it has revealed the 74 artists and industry professionals (drawn from 12 countries in Europe and North […]

Recording Academy’s interim boss promises to make changes

With the Grammy Awards now done and dusted, organiser the Recording Academy can turn its attention fully to dealing with the fallout from the last two weeks – a boss on administrative leave; allegations from both sides that need to be investigated; and calls from outside for the organisation to speed up its promised reforms. The […]

She Is The Music campaign signs up 19 big supporters

Nonprofit organisation She Is The Music is campaigning to support women in the music industry, as well as to increase their numbers. Its focus so far has been on songwriting camps, mentorship programs and a global database of professionals, and now it has some heavyweight backing – including funding – from a range of companies in and around […]

Recording Academy diversity task force renews call for change

And so the saga continues… In December, the US Recording Academy’s task force on diversity and inclusion published a report offering 18 reforms and recommendations for change at the body. In the wake of the last week’s ructions at the organisation, the task force has now issued a statement expressing its “shock and dismay” at the allegations surrounding the […]

Oprah Winfrey pulls sexual-misconduct documentary from Apple TV+

In December, it was announced that Apple TV+ had bagged the rights to a documentary about sexual misconduct in the music industry, focusing on a then-unnamed executive (since confirmed as Russell Simmons) and presented by Oprah Winfrey. The documentary was being produced by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Now the deal has hit the rocks […]

Shesaid·so and InChorus reveal first bias-reporting data

In September, InChorus Group and Shesaid·so teamed up to launch a global survey of bias and harassment within the music industry. Now they’ve published some of the first results, based on the first 172 respondents. The survey focused on incidents of bias, harassment and microaggressions experienced at work in the music industry. According to InChorus and Shesaid·so, […]

TikTok criticised for limiting reach of people with disabilities

After all the recent controversies around data privacy and censorship, TikTok’s leadership won’t have enjoyed seeing this intro to a story on news site Netzpolitik. “Leaked documents reveal how TikTok hid videos of people with disabilities. Queer and fat users were also pushed out of view.” The story concerns a list of ‘special users’ whose posts’ […]

Capitol Royale roundup: empowerment, hacks and A&R’s evolution

On Saturday and Sunday (November 16-17), Capitol Music Group held its 2nd annual music and tech festival, Capitol Royale, at its Los Angeles headquarters. The theme for this year was ‘Music on the Move’, with workshops, hackathons, panels, and social events revolving around the ever-changing landscape of music and innovation. Kicking off on Friday was […]

Most Wanted: Music report – Scott Cohen, diversity, Africa and more

In Berlin, talk around music usually takes two paths: techno or the blockchain, and both involve a lot of earnest nodding. At the Most Wanted: Music 2019 conference, conversation was nudged towards the creation of new value streams, pushing for meaningful diversity, and embracing change in an age that demands it. The post Most Wanted: […]

MOBO Help Musicians fund for talent diversity enters third year

The UK-based MOBO Help Musicians fund is now in its third year and has seen the available funding behind it grow from £40k to £60k. It is a partnership between the MOBO Trust and Help Musicians UK and is designed to support musicians from diverse backgrounds – underwriting all areas of creativity – from vocal […]

Tina Tchen appointed as new president and CEO of Time’s Up

US advocacy group Time’s Up, which was set up to tackle sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace, has a new boss. Tina Tchen, the organisation’s new president and CEO, is already known to the music industry, too: since last March she’s been working as chair of the US Recording Academy’s task force for inclusion, having […]

Spotify opens a studio in Brazil for female artists only

Spotify has opened a new recording studio in São Paulo, Brazil, with a very specific focus: women. It’s called Casa de Música – Escuta as Minas (translation: House of Music – Listen to Women) and has already been used by artists including Bibi Caetano, The Mönic, Souto MC, and Luana Marques. Here’s how Spotify described the new […]

Reeperbahn Festival day two: Gender equality, secondary ticketing and more

With digital now firmly driving the music industry, the second day of the conference at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival saw a lot of chatter about the industry’s resolutely-analogue elements: human beings. From gender equality in terms even the least humane person can understand, to where bots meet humans, and how smaller, people-centric businesses can survive […]

Martina McBride criticises Spotify again over playlist algorithm (and Spotify agrees)

Earlier this month, we reported on country star Martina McBride’s anger at Spotify’s recommendation algorithm, after its first 135 suggestions of tracks for a ‘country music’ playlist she was making were all by men. Spotify’s head of artist and label marketing in Nashville, Brittany Schaffer, seemed to have smoothed over the waters with a coffee […]

Flagship country streaming playlists outdo radio for diversity

Does country radio in the US have a diversity problem? The debate has already been rumbling for a while, but a new research study puts some numbers to the lack of women on mainstream country radio – as reflected by Billboard’s official Country Airplay Chart between January 2018 and July 2019. “This study’s findings are not surprising: […]

LGBTQ brand Gay Times is the latest Apple Music curator

The latest guest curator on Apple Music is Gay Times, the European LGBTQ media brand. It’s making a series of exclusive playlists for the streaming service, while the companies are also collaborating on a joint advertising campaign in the UK featuring artists including Kim Petras, Girli, Vincint and Alma, which ties in with this month’s […]

Shesaid·so reveals plans for ‘female-first’ music conference

Music industry women’s network Shesaid·so is celebrating its fifth anniversary by announcing a new conference called MEETSSS. The organisation is describing it as “the first female-first, music-forward conference” created for its community, with the event to be held in Portugal on 3-6 October this year. “The event will embody shesaid·so’s core brand values: collaboration, diversity and […]

UK survey reveals ‘hidden barriers’ for disabled musicians

A new report aims to shed more light on the “hidden barriers” encountered by artists with ‘access requirements’ – a term covering a range of impairments and health conditions. The report is the work of British music-charity Attitude is Everything, which interviewed 96 musicians, songwriters, DJs and producers from the UK about their experiences. Half […]

Incoming Recording Academy boss promises ‘new perspective’

Deborah Dugan has been confirmed as the new president and CEO of the US Recording Academy, replacing outgoing boss Neil Portnow. Dugan has promised that she is keen for the organisation to use its platform “to affect positive change” – including around diversity in the music industry, an issue which saw Portnow cause controversy last […]

Lizzo and Jameela Jamil talk body positivity on Instagram

Actor and activist Jameela Jamil has interviewed Lizzo – creator of some of the greatest singles of 2019 so far – about issues around body positivity on Instagram. Jamil has been using her social media presence to call out advertisers and creators of “quick diet” “remedies” who use body shaming to sell their dubious products. […]

Spotify’s Austin Daboh says playlists need more diversity

Should some of Spotify’s big playlists be more diverse in terms of the artists featured on them? Yes… says Spotify’s head of music, culture and editorial in the UK, Austin Daboh. He was talking at radio DJ Annie Mac’s London conference on Friday about diversity. “I think it starts from the team. On my team […]

UK’s Musicians Union launches mentoring scheme for women

The UK’s Musicians Union (MU) is the latest industry entity to launch a mentoring scheme for women. It’s working with SheSaid.so, the group which has already been active in this field. In the MU’s case, its scheme will see 20 women chosen: 10 mentors and 10 mentees, who’ll meet every month, while also attending bi-monthly […]

InChorus Group to measure bias and harassment in the music biz

Startup InChorus Group is launching a platform that it hopes will help to measure incidents of bias and harassment within the music industry. The company wants to help people report “microaggressions” within their workplaces, before providing those companies with anonymised feedback – the idea being that people can blow the whistle on such behaviour without fear of […]

Happy International Women’s Day 2019

It’s Friday 8 March, which means it’s the annual International Women’s Day. Expect plenty of activity from pretty much every digital music service, with curated playlists and other content galore. Which is great, albeit also may raise questions about how today’s celebration can be carried through to the playlist-curation and artist-partnership decisions taken by these […]

Amazon gets artist-curated International Women’s Day playlists

This Friday (8 March) is International Women’s Day, which has become something that pretty much every music-streaming service throws its weight behind in some way, particularly curated playlists. Amazon Music, for example, has roped in a bunch of ‘guest curators’ from the artist world this year, and it’s a super selection: *takes deep breath* Jess […]

Spotify publishes diversity stats for Norwegian popular music

As part of the by:Larm festival last week, Spotify published some stats on the gender diversity of the 50 most-streamed songs in Norway last year. Spoiler: the stats were pretty discouraging. “Of 203 songwriters behind the 50 most streamed songs of 2018, only 11,3% were women, and only one of the 83 producers behind the […]

Gender gap in UK chart hits has grown over past decade

Ariana Grande may be setting the US charts alight, but there’s  a less-positive story about how women are faring in the UK charts, published by BBC News. “Three times as many male as female pop stars appeared on last year’s biggest hit singles… Ninety-one men or all-male groups were credited on the Official Chart Company’s top […]

Abbey Road Red seeks more diversity in startup founders

Abbey Road Studios wants to recruit more teams with women founders to its Abbey Road Red startup accelerator, according to the studios’ MD Isabel Garvey. “We are acutely aware that we have no female founders, and very few women in our founder teams, and we are trying to be a little more diverse,” said Garvey, […]

Campaign for producer and engineering inclusion launches in US

This time last year, the US Recording Academy was facing strong (and deserved) criticism for poorly-worded comments by its boss Neil Portnow about how women needed to “step up” in the music industry. 12 months on, the Academy is offering something more constructive: a ‘Producer and Engineering Inclusion Initiative’ which aims to increase the opportunities […]

Report 420: #2019Goals. The music industry’s key challenges this year… and how we can tackle them

Welcome to the first Music Ally Report of 2019. We’re taking a look at some of the key challenges that lie ahead for our industry this year – and how they might be tackled. From diversity to startups via fake music and taking a bite out of radio, we hope it’s a constructive take on […]

Spotify bars ads from right-wing organisation PragerU

Thought for the day: “Women want real men, men they can count on and yes, look up to. No amount of feminist theory will change that.” Or here’s another one: “Intersectionality is a form of identity politics, in which the value of your opinion depends on how many victim groups you belong to.” And just […]

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