Monday, October 25

Grime artist Saskilla criticizes the music industry for lack of change | Race

A prominent grime artist and presenter has condemned the lack of significant change in the music industry since last summer’s anti-racist protests and criticized record labels for profiting from black stars, but still failing to invest and retain black talent. behind the scenes.

There was a wave of anger in response to George Floyd’s death in a wide section of British society, especially within the music industry. Many artists and labels participated in #BlackoutTuesday, a social media campaign led by two black music executives in which people posted black squares in solidarity with blacks.

A year later, Saskilla investigates what significant changes have been made in the music industry as part of the BBC documentary Do Black Lives Still Matter? in the first episode of the series on Monday, June 28 at 10:45 p.m. on BBC One.

“Everybody promised black people that we are going to do this, that we are going to do that too, but was it this talk? What change is really happening for the next generation? “Saskilla said.

“Actually, no significant change has occurred. What has happened is a lot of conversation to try to change things. “

The documentary spoke to black industry personnel, some anonymously, and musical acts like Nova Twins and Kid Bookie. Saskilla repeatedly heard that blacks were not being given the opportunity to advance or were being pigeonholed.

The documentary cites data from the 2020 Music Diversity Report Survey, which found that ethnic representation within companies increased from 15.6% to 22.3% between 2016 and 2020. The survey showed, however, that staff Black and ethnic minority accounts for 42% of income. level positions and only 21% of mid-level positions. The program suggests that the lack of retention and promotion of staff is due to structural racism.

“You are using the youth of the people, you are using the resources of the people, you are using the real connection of the people to the streets, because it is the black youth that brings you the black music that is the number one music in Britain. right now, “Saskilla said. .

“They bring you all these things for free in the music industry, then you throw them away in the first two years.”

He believes the lack of black people in key positions on record labels is intentional. “They don’t want to empower black people. Unfortunately, as blacks, we are the show, not the business, ”Saskilla said. “You’re seeing all these black people, all this representation, but then at the end of the day, that guy that is hiring them for these shows is not black, the guy that is doing marketing is not black, none of these people who understand the scope of what a black artist is is actually black behind the scenes. “

The three-part series also explores what change has occurred in soccer and within domestic brands. “I heard from England U21 assistant coach [Michael Johnson] saying, ‘I have applied between 40 and 50 jobs. I have all the qualifications under the sun. There are men on television less qualified than me. I went to college and got everything I need. ‘

He added: “I never thought I was going to start discovering all this dirty laundry from Britain. The dirty clothes that no one talked about last night. It’s the most awkward conversation, because we all love soccer in our nation. But are we ready to say that we are racist? “

Several labels within the music industry committed funds to enhance diversity, but Saskilla cautioned that it is unclear where this money is going and if it is making a difference.

“There has to be more transparency because what always happens is that the music industry doles out large sums of money and says, ‘Yes, we’re going to fix the problem.’ But they are the problem and they don’t take responsibility for where the money goes. “

Give an example. “Yes, I am going to invest 50 million to fix this area, but I give 50 million to the garbage dump. But it does not deal with the electricity in the area, it has nothing to do with sanitation in the area, and it has nothing to do with the roads in the area. If 50 million go to the landfill and have new garbage cans, drivers, and cars, what the hell is that doing for the community? This is what the music industry and all these people are doing and why transparency is needed. “

Still, he is hopeful for a change. “The conversation to try to change things has begun, we cannot say that nothing has happened. Because in certain places, especially in this documentary, it has forced changes in many of these large corporations that we are talking about because something has been highlighted ”.

Join a Guardian Live discussion looking at the global impact one year after George Floyd’s murder. Featuring Oliver Laughland and a panel of global activists including Rokhaya Diallo, Gacheke Gachihi, and Rina Odula. Wednesday June 30 at 7pm BST | 20:00 CEST | 11 a. M. PDT | 2 pm EDT. Book tickets here

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