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MU and Black Lives in Music Write to Mayor of London Over Racial Profiling at Live Events

The MU is deeply concerned that claims of racial profiling of musicians by the Met Police have once again surfaced.

Published: 18 May 2023 | 10:32 AM
Black male rapping with microphone in camo jacket and glasses with a small crowd in the background.
Black artists still face enormous challenges, including racism and discrimination, whilst trying to pursue a career in the music industry. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The MU and Black Lives in Music (BLiM) have contacted the Mayor of London in response to recent reports of racial profiling at live music events and the profiling of music genres of Black origin.

In the past the MU have had constructive conversations about the use of Form 696 (an event risk assessment form for promoters and licensees, aimed at shows featuring DJs and MCs which included clauses for the style of music being played and the ethnicity of attenders) and were pleased to see the Met engage in a dialogue that ended the use of the form.

It’s therefore deeply concerning that claims of racial profiling of musicians have once again surfaced, and are being used to pressure venues into cancelling shows by predominantly Black artists and artists who perform music of Black origin.

Black artists still face enormous challenges

Black artists still face enormous challenges, including racism and discrimination, whilst trying to pursue a career in the music industry. Research from BLiM revealed that Black music creators have experienced direct/indirect racism in the music industry, and more (71%) have experienced racial microaggressions. 86% of all Black music creators agree that there are barriers to progression. This number rises to 89% for Black women and 91% for Black creators who are disabled.

The music industry is working together to tackle these issues and the recent reports about racial profiling are in direct opposition to the work that the music industry is engaged in. The MU and BLiM condemn all forms of racism, including the reductive act of racially profiling musicians and stereotyping musicians and audiences on the basis of genre.

We ask for the current approach to be revised

Whilst we fully appreciate the Met’s role in ensuring the safety of the public, ‘the voluntary partnership approach’ that was implemented to replace Form 696 is having a disproportionate and detrimental impact on the careers of Black musicians and the music venues that programme these artists.

The MU and BLiM have asked that the current approach be revised and have requested dialogue with the Mayor of London and the Met Police to a discuss an alternative approach that is fair, transparent, free from bias and does not disproportionally impact Black musicians.

The MU will continue to act to tackle racism in all its forms

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary, said: “The MU will continue to act to tackle racism in all its forms, and challenge reductive behaviours like those being perpetuated by the Met. When we know that Black musicians face such disproportionate barriers in live performance, as well as in their career progression, maintaining access to venues of all scales and sizes is crucial in creating development pathways.

“We are concerned that race and genre are being conflated in order to discriminate against musicians who already face significant barriers in their musical careers.”

Roger Wilson, Director of Operations at Black Lives in Music, said: “Live music should not be used as a device for the police to criminalise the Black community.

“Black Lives in Music are working in collaboration with the Musicians Union and the music industry to level the playing field of opportunity within the sector. Our combined efforts to help enable Black musical talent to take a step forward are under threat with the latest efforts by the Met to control promoters and venues while, effectively, placing a muzzle on the mouths of Black artists. We ask the Met to review this aspect of its policing as a matter of urgency.”

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