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Bertelsmann : BMG Lauded For Anti-Racism Commitment

07/08/2021 | 01:01pm EDT

News | BMG | Berlin, 07/06/2021

BMG Lauded For Anti-Racism Commitment

The Black Music Action Coalition's inaugural 'Music Industry Action Report Card' lauds BMG for, among other things, its initiative to review the contractual terms of Black artists in acquired music catalogs and to correct inequities in royalty payments. It says BMG can serve as an example for the entire music industry in this regard.

The Black Music Action Coalition's inaugural 'Music Industry Action Report Card' lauds BMG for, among other things, its initiative to review the contractual terms of Black artists in acquired music catalogs and to correct inequities in royalty payments. It says BMG can serve as an example for the entire music industry in this regard.

The death of the Black American George Floyd as a result of police violence in the U.S. last year sparked countless debates and initiatives worldwide about social discrimination and systemic racism. BMG, too, has stepped up its efforts to combat discrimination against people in society at large, while at the same time also taking measures in-house. Among other things, the music company is investigating whether it has acquired music catalogs whose contractual terms discriminate against Black artists. The aim is to eliminate any such unequal treatment and set an example for the music business in this respect. BMG has now been lauded for this commitment, as the music company announced - in the inaugural 'Music Industry Action Report Card' from the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), an advocacy organization dedicated to combating systemic racism in the music business.

The report was published a year after music and film industry companies declared 'Blackout Tuesday' on June 2, 2020, to send a signal against racism, discrimination, and police violence. Music companies in the U.S. launched the initiative '#TheShowMustBePaused,' with the participation of BMG artists and employees, among others. The TV production company Fremantle also published posts in connection with this. Just recently, BMG presented a stocktaking of the company's various actions to combat racism at a virtual meeting of employees. In its report, the BMAC examined the progress made in advancing racial diversity in the music industry during a year of #TheShowMustBePaused. The organization lauds BMG for reviewing historic acquired recorded music catalogs for possible unequal pay, for example, and for taking the initiative to effect genuine change 'that hopefully set a precedent for others to follow.' The report goes on to say: 'companies will need to join the conversation in a more substantial way soon, as examining deals is an essential part of addressing ownership and equity.'

'We can do better'
'Gathering, understanding and sharing data describing historic inequities in the music business is a core activity of the Black Music Action Coalition, which was formed to advocate for an end to structural and systemic inequality in the music business and broader society,' BMAC Co-Chairmen Binta Niambi Brown & Willie 'Prophet' Stiggers following the presentation of the analysis. 'We welcome this initiative by BMG and believe if all other labels were to follow suit, this could be a game changer for Black artists throughout the industry. We cannot fix what is wrong if we do not investigate and hold ourselves accountable for whatever the results may be.' They said that BMAC looks forward to continuing to work with BMG and every other music industry participant with the aim of recommending strategies and best practices to create a fair, just and equitable industry that respects the humans, who are at its core. 'Black artists and creators must be paid fairly if we believe genuinely that Black life matters,' concluded the two co-chairmen.

The BMAC report card also quoted BMG COO Ben Katovsky saying: 'We acknowledge that the totality of the Black music experience cannot be captured in a numerical study, but we wanted to forensically address racial disadvantage in its most tangible form - the payments artists receive from their labels ... We have found a number of both Black and non-Black artists with terms in contracts signed decades ago which we feel are not appropriate. While these legacy contracts may have been entered into willingly, are fully legally enforceable and we paid the previous owners full market value for them, we feel we can do better.' The BMG release closes with the words: 'And BMG intends to continue its efforts to make good on that claim.'
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Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA published this content on 06 July 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 08 July 2021 16:23:57 UTC.

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