In what may be the first report of its kind, the music industry is shown to be overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, and fails to reflect population demographics at practically every level of management.

A new report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has examined the make-up of top executives and management teams throughout the music industry and — unsurprisingly if you’re paying attention — found diversity to be extremely lacking.

The new report called Inclusion in the Music Business: Gender & Race/Ethnicity Across Executives, Artists & Talent Teams was undertaken to “map the diversity of the U.S. music business across different positions of power.” The authors examined ranks and titles of 4,060 executives spanning 119 companies “in the music space,” which they defined as music groups, labels or label groups, publishing companies, radio companies, streaming companies and live music and concert promotion.

Fewer than 10% of industry executives at any level are Black.

Starting at the very top: among the 9 major music companies, every single one of the top executives were white. Eight of those 9 were male. (The 9 companies in question which dominate the industry are SME, UMG, WMG, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Cumulus, Audacy, Live Nation and AEG Presents.)

Taking in a wider scope is not much better. Of the leaders of 70 major and independent companies, 86.1% were white, and an identical number were male.

“All 10 non-white top executives ran independent companies,” the authors noted, “and only 2 were women of color. In total just 3 top executives were Black.”

And it gets worse. Examining all 4,060 industry executives across 119 companies, the authors found “inertia at every level of the hierarchy” for underrepresented and Black executives. “Fewer than 10% of executives at any level were Black.” Of particular note is this staggering ratio: there are 17.7 white male executives to every 1 Black female executive:

“The music labels were the only sector where the percentage of Black executives (14.4%) reached proportional representation with U.S. Census (14%). In every other sector, the percentage was less than 10%: 7.4% in streaming, 7.2% in music groups, 6.1% in publishing, 4% in radio, and 3.3% in live music and concert promotion.”

Speaking to Variety’s Jem Aswad, one of the report authors, Annenberg founder Stacy L. Smith says the report “makes it clear that these companies have a real workforce crisis on their hands. Who is consuming their content, who’s graduating from colleges, who’s interested in working in music — those folks don’t look like the people at the top.”

The full report can be read at


Comments are closed.