On June 9, a week after the music industry observed Black Out Tuesday in the wake of global protests against racism, BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch issued a message on the topic of anti-racism to the company’s performers and their managers.
In that memo, Masuch said that his company was “mindful of the music industry’s record of shameful treatment of black artists”, and that BMG had “begun a review of all historic record contracts”.
He added that “if there are any inequities or anomalies, we will create a plan to address them. Within 30 days.”
In an update issued earlier this month, Masuch and BMG said they are making good on their pledge to deliver meaningful change at the company.
On July 17, in a note to the company’s 900 staff worldwide, Masuch announced action on three fronts to address racial inequality at BMG.
This included “driving diversity within [BMG], supporting and ensuring opportunities for people of color in the communities in which BMG operates, and investigating historic recorded music catalogues it has acquired which feature Black artists”.
In order to improve “representation of minority and diverse groups” at the company, BMG says that it now plans to “hard-wire diversity drivers” into its HR and recruitment processes, which include “holding managers responsible for the diversity of the teams they recruit and adding this to their annual objectives”.
Among other initiatives, BMG says it will define expectations for racial, gender, and minority representation for each of its operations worldwide. Unconscious bias training will also be introduced for all staff.
Meanwhile, a new global Diversity & Inclusion Council will be created at BMG, which the firm says will have an overview of and advise on all D&I initiatives in the company.
One of the Council’s first projects will be to assess plans for community outreach submitted by BMG’s operations worldwide.
In regards to the firm’s headline pledge – to review contract terms in the company’s historic acquired recorded music catalogs – Masuch revealed that an initial report has analyzed royalties paid to over 3,000 artists on more than 65,000 products/recordings based on around 100 m rows of data.
“Our initiative to examine our historical acquired recorded music catalogues for inequities and anomalies is an industry first,” he said.
“Over the past month, a work group drawn from our royalties, catalogue, finance, and legal teams has worked night and day to tackle this hugely complex task.”
“We have all been called upon to confront the awful reality of racial prejudice and disadvantage in the past weeks. The test of whether we really care is if we actually change our actions as a result and whether we do so for the long haul. I am committed to ensuring BMG passes that test.”
Added Masuch: “We have all been called upon to confront the awful reality of racial prejudice and disadvantage in the past weeks.
“The test of whether we really care is if we actually change our actions as a result and whether we do so for the long haul. I am committed to ensuring BMG passes that test.”
“I have been hugely impressed by the passion and commitment of so many of you – particularly in the US – in stepping up to this challenge.
He continued: “From Los Angeles, New York and Nashville to Sydney and Paris, London and more, from copyright and royalties and finance to production music, digital marketing and music publishing, hundreds of you have gathered to discuss the issues raised by racism.
“We have significantly advanced our knowledge through this process. It is a complex task and though we have a clear set of findings, I have given the team an additional two weeks to further check their results before we move on to the next stage, consulting with representatives of the Black and wider music communities. Once that is done, we will share our findings.”Music Business Worldwide