US-based campaigning organization the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) has published its latest ‘Music Industry Action Report Card’ (MIARC) as part of its work to hold companies and digital services alike to account for their progress on fighting systemic racism. 

The three major labels are graded on corporate commitments; senior-level representation; internal culture and business practice; and transparency and public accountability. Sony Music (A, B+, B and B+ respectively) and Warner Music (A, B, B and B) score fairly well, although Universal Music (B-, B+, C+ and C) has more work to do in BMAC’s view. 

Digital services are also graded in the report, with Amazon Music rated Excellent, and YouTube Music, Spotify and Pandora rated Satisfactory. Apple Music gets a ‘Needs Improvement’ rating, albeit with an asterisk indicating that this is partly because BMAC encountered difficulties finding the necessary information. 

The report goes into much more detail on these and other industry entities including the Recording Academy, Live Nation and AEG. 

As for an overall verdict: “The outlook of the 2022 MIARC is not negative. Why that phrasing? Because it’s not ‘all good,’ either — but change is a process,” explained the report. “For the most part, companies that outlined measurable goals and plans in 2020 or 2021 have either continued in forward progression or at least held the line.” 

The report does identify three areas where it wants more action. First, a “transparent, industry-wide review” of recording and publishing contracts. Second, more efforts to support and promote Black professionals in the live music sector. And third, the US radio industry is put “on watch” for its “often arbitrary and outdated music standards” around genre lines and airplay choices. 

“We will continue to emphasize that this is a long game,” noted BMAC in its conclusion. “There will always be other pressing areas of the business that require attention, but that’s why we’re looking for action plans and steps that are incremental and sustainable rather than quick fixes or gestures.”

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