Titled Inclusivity & Accountability: Bringing Measurable Change for the Music Industry, the 2018 Global Forum at Canadian Music Week brought together, artists, academics and advocates working to make the music industry more reflective of, and accountable to, the wider community.
The event began with a keynote by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Founder and Director of the the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the leading think tank in the world studying issues of diversity and inequality in entertainment through research, advocacy and sponsored projects. Following extensive work in the film and television industries, including pioneering the popular “inclusion rider,” the group is now bringing their renowned work to the music industry. At the Global Forum, Dr. Smith discussed the striking findings of their preliminary music industry study Inclusion in the Recording Studio? Based on the extensive data they have gathered, the group plans to roll out practical solutions “so that the needle will move quickly, so that everyone who has the talent has the ability to participate not only equitably, but in safe work environments, so that they might thrive.”
Following Dr. Smith’s keynote, a diverse panel of artists and advocates discussed initiatives currently underway, and other possible solutions, to improve inclusion across various parts of the music industry. The panel featured Lido Pimienta, Polaris Prize-winning musician, curator and visual artist; JUNO-winning rapper, producer and youth advocate TONA; chief executive of PRS Foundation and the Keychange initiative, Vanessa Reed, and; JUNO-winning Quantum Tangle member, producer and solo-artist Greyson Gritt. The discussion was moderated by Samantha Slattery, Chairperson and Founder of Women in Music Canada.
Watch the full panel discussion below.
Sometimes, even with the artist community, it feels like there’s a constant tug of war between power and then opportunity. What ends up happening is that the people who are trying to capitalize and obtain the power – I’m going to refer to it as a meritocracy – because the people who are actually in control of things in this industry, especially in Canada, are the ones that are making the decisions. In our communities that we come from, there’s already a lack of opportunity. There’s already an imbalance of education as well, and even job opportunities. When people come in it feels like they’re kind of parachuting in to our communities and not integrating with us the way they need to. And it feels like a photo opportunity. You know, what are you really trying to accomplish as far as integrating artists? Is it more about filling a quota in the stats sheet? Or is it really about pushing the needle with your job description and what you’re doing? – TONA
Your point about respect is something that audiences have obviously been talking about a lot now. At least in the UK, we’ve been hearing a lot more from audiences than artists about some of the struggles they have. So, obviously sexual assault of women at festivals, and accessibility for anyone who’s got any kind of disability. There’s some interesting not-for-profit grassroots movements which have really been helping with that. There’s an organization called Attitude is Everything, which has got lots of venues and festivals to sign up to different kinds of charters ensuring that people of all backgrounds can access these brilliant festivals and stages. And then there’s an initiative called Girls Against, which has been working with festivals to start tackling the issue around sexual assaults. But I mean there’s still a long way to go, but it’s interesting that those first steps often come from the grassroots, not-for-profit, voluntary sector, and then it starts to be normalized, and eventually it will become something that hopefully will be part of everyone’s practice. But I think audiences and artists talking about the challenges together could be interesting. – Vanessa Reed
Instead of men having their own conversations and starting their own initiatives and being like ‘yeah we need this too and we’re going to work with women’ it’s often this polarized response, ‘well you want that, but what about us? You shouldn’t have that unless we have it.’ And it ends up being this thing of ‘choose your side’ instead of everyone working together and recognizing you need this and I need this. And so I think about two-spirit people and transgender people, and we need that too, but I don’t want it to be in response to ‘what about me’ and to take resources away from that. I definitely believe women need more representation, always, and I would love to see more things of like 100%. It’s been 100% men for how long? Just to be equitable, you’d almost think it’d need to be 500 years of Indigenous and racialized folks, and women for about another 500 years first, and then we can talk about having half and half, right? – Greyson Gritt
Another approach that was just brought to my attention recently as well, and I believe it’s Harris Institute, has consciously hired back female students as professors, and originally it was about four or five years ago he said, there was about 5% female students – so we’re not even getting them into the pipe, it’s not that we’re losing them – and since adjusting his professor dynamic, it has gone up to 20% female students now in a very short period of time, so to your point, I think when people see people that they can relate to doing things that would maybe traditionally be white men doing them, I think it’s really important to be able to showcase everybody being able to do all those things. Just seeing it seems to make a huge impact on people actually following through. – Samantha Slattery
The best music right now is being produced by women. It just happens to be the case. The stuff that excites me, I listen to it once and I look at the credits and I look at who’s behind it and it just happens to be a woman. So I wouldn’t even call it that I get out of my way. It just happens. Brilliant women who are in music and in the music industry and in sound and sound engineering are there, and available and ready. And if I’m going to pay anyone, that’s the people that I’m going to pay because it’s just natural to me. It’s not even a question to me. – Lido Pimienta
A selection of tweets from event guests is below and photos from the 2018 Global Forum can be viewed on Music Canada’s facebook page.
— ᴋᴀᴛʏ ᴠᴇɴɴᴇʀɪ (@KatyVenneri_x) May 10, 2018
— Sarah Avarell (@sarahavarell) May 10, 2018
Grateful to hear from a fabulous panel about inclusivity & accountability in the music industry #CMWGlobalForum @GreyGritt @LidoPimienta @isatona @vanessa_prsf @WomenInMusicCA via @Music_Canada pic.twitter.com/FLth2AmDTW
— Allegra Swanson (@ayoungvoice) May 10, 2018
The #CMWGlobalForum panel discussed inclusivity and gender parity in music. The music industry is seeking solutions and taking action to become more reflective of and accountable to the wider community. #CMW2018 pic.twitter.com/gXx8P7UqXD
— Mississauga Culture (@SaugaCulture) May 11, 2018
— Midnight Shine (@midnightshineon) May 10, 2018
Was glad to hear Greyson Gritt of @Quantum_Tangle speak at #CMWGlobalForum on ways festivals can be more inclusive to Indigenous artists & fans. @CalgaryFolkFest's IAG sounds like a great way to help best practices become the standard. https://t.co/qEdyMuEik6
— Quentin Burgess (@teamquentin) July 30, 2018