INTL: BMG Takes Action on Racial Inequality
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BMG is making good on CEO Hartwig Masuch’s pledge to deliver meaningful change in the wake of Blackout Tuesday and the shocking killing of George Floyd.
In a note to the company’s 900 staff worldwide, Masuch writes, “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.”
Masuch announced action on three fronts to address racial inequality – driving diversity within the company, 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.
To deliver a step-change in the representation of minority and diverse groups within the company, BMG will hard-wire diversity drivers into its HR and recruitment processes.
This will include holding managers responsible for the diversity of the teams they recruit and adding this to their annual objectives.
Among other initiatives, BMG will define expectations for racial, gender, and minority representation for each of its operations worldwide and introduce unconscious bias training for all staff.
BMG will also create a new global Diversity & Inclusion Council, which will have an overview of and advise on all D&I initiatives in the company and provide a voice for the broad range of communities that make up BMG direct to executive management.
One of the Council’s first projects will be to assess plans for community outreach submitted by BMG’s operations worldwide.
Said Masuch, “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. 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.” In total, the groups have submitted more than 60 different suggested action points.
Finally, Masuch gave an update on the company’s much-heralded review of contract terms in its historic acquired recorded music catalogues.
“Our initiative to examine our historical acquired recorded music catalogues for inequities and anomalies is an industry first,” he writes. “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.”
He revealed that the initial report analyses royalties paid to over 3,000 artists on more than 65,000 products/recordings based on around 100m rows of data. Royalty accounts have been analyzed in multiple ways including by label, by genre and vintage.
“We have significantly advanced our knowledge through this process,” writes Masuch. “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.”
Masuch described the package of measures as “an opportunity to make a long-term step-change in the way we address issues of race and inequality”.
But he also cautioned, “We need to approach the task with humility. This is an issue far bigger than BMG and we should not pretend we have all the answers.”
July 17, 2020 4:00pm ET by Pressparty