opinion

BRIT Trust Diaries: Sybil Bell looks ahead to Independent Venue Week's 10th anniversary edition

Independent Venue Week (IVW), the UK’s annual seven-day celebration of independent music and arts venues, has revealed their next 10th anniversary ambassadors, with Young Fathers and Adwaith to represent Scotland and Wales respectively.  Both will join Radiohead’s Philip Selway in ...

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin: 'Inclusion has to be led from the top'

Following the publication of the UK Music Workforce Diversity survey results, CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin reflects on the findings and sets out the mission to create an industry that is open and accessible to all… At UK Music, we believe it is fundamental that everyone should have the opportunity to forge a successful career in our industry, regardless of their background. That is why diversity and inclusion are such a key priority for us.  Spearheaded by our pioneering Diversity Taskforce, UK Music has put this at the heart of what we do, collecting data on diversity biennially since 2016 to identify the emerging trends and work out where we need to do better. This year, we have gone deeper than ever before, not just trying to gather as rich a dataset as we can, but also digging below the surface to try and understand the disparities we often see across the industry. Because it’s not good enough to simply observe a disparity – we want to understand why it exists in the first place and work out what we need to do to address it.  The findings revealed in our Diversity Report 2022 have been incredibly revealing. For instance, take the statistics around ethnicity. Like many other sectors, the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on those from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities.  However, when we dig into the data and look at the longer-term trends around career progression, it becomes clear that the biggest challenge when it comes to Black, Asian and ethnically diverse representation isn’t simply one of attracting ethnic minorities into our industry – it’s in keeping them and making sure they can progress.  Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities are better represented in younger age brackets and lower career levels when compared to their overall representation, but under-represented among older ones. This means there needs to be as much focus on talent development and retention across the sector as there is on recruitment. It’s therefore essential that we ensure workplaces are inclusive and welcoming to people from all backgrounds, and that we continue to stamp out racism and discrimination wherever we find it. Meanwhile, women are increasingly leaving the industry in their mid-forties. There could be a several reasons behind this – and one of the factors that we don’t talk about nearly enough is the impact of the menopause.  So, for the first time, UK Music has collected data on women’s experience of the menopause and the impact it has on their work. The reasons are disturbing, and raise difficult questions for us all, especially employers. While almost half of women who have experienced the menopause have had their work affected by its symptoms, more than three quarters of these women have not taken time off work to manage their symptoms.  As a result, many women we spoke to have reduced their hours or moved to part-time work, while others have stepped back from senior roles or not taken a promotion offered. Some have even left their jobs or retired completely. Most shockingly, only 7% of women who have taken time off work because of the menopause have told their employer the reason. Of course, no one should ever feel pressured to disclose, but it is worrying that we have a workplace culture where 93% of women experiencing the menopause do not feel comfortable or confident enough to tell their employer.   If you break a leg and need to take time off work, you would tell your employer why and hope that they would make reasonable adjustments to support you – the same should be true of any condition that is significantly impacting you at work. It’s essential that we ensure workplaces are inclusive, and that we continue to stamp out racism and discrimination Jamie Njoku-Goodwin This theme of unwillingness to disclose is also starkly evident when it comes to disability. More than one in 7 of those working in the industry have a disability, and for 90% of those people that disability is not visible.  However, half of all those people with a non-visible disability don’t tell their employer about it. Like the findings around the menopause, this speaks to a worrying culture on non-disclosure.  Again, no one should ever feel compelled or pressured to reveal personal health details – but we should aspire to an industry-wide culture where everyone feels comfortable and secure to have these conversations with their employers. This is made even more important when you consider one of the starkest findings from today’s report: that two-thirds of those who have a disability feel they have to compromise their health for work. Any responsible employer should be horrified that any of their employees are compromising their health and wellbeing to do their job. That a third of all employees say this is the case, and two thirds of all disabled people, is unacceptable. As our report shows, there is more we can all do. It’s fashionable to talk about “bottom-up” solutions rather than “top down” ones. But when it comes to inclusion, this has to be led from the top – by employers and by leaders of organisations across the sector. It's critically important we all do what we can to cultivate a positive and open working environment and create a genuinely inclusive environment where people from all backgrounds can succeed. To this end, we have sought to build on the success of our ground-breaking Ten Point Plan by developing a toolkit that can be applied across the industry, by organisations both large and small who want to drive meaningful change. The Five Ps: The Music Industry’s Action Plan sets out how we can take action to boost inclusion across a range of areas: from the people we employ and support, to the internal policies we implement, the partnerships we build, the purchase processes we rely on, and ultimately to the progress we drive, track and share. Boosting inclusion is mission critical to the future success of our sector. Whether it’s businesses and organisations who need the broadest range of talent to draw on, or individuals who want to forge a successful career in our industry regardless of their background, it’s in all our interests to make sure the music industry is genuinely open and accessible to all. We still have a way to go, but UK Music is committed to achieving this – and this report sets out the path. Read the full UK Music Diversity Report here.

Digital Discourse: Sammy Andrews' guide to Black Friday and making the most of Q4

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Well, you better be. Q4 is fully upon us and I am dedicating my column this month to helping you navigate the incoming barrage, as well as to helping preserve the sanity of your marketing teams. We are all very familiar with the Q4 consumerism clusterfuck, but in the digital age there is so much to take advantage of, even if you haven’t pumped out a new album, greatest hits or box set. At Deviate Digital, we’re hired by artists, managers, promoters, labels and brands to manage e-commerce campaigns, especially around peak traffic periods, and there is so much potential to boost sales across recorded music, merch and ticketing if you take the time to set it up properly.  Ideally, any set-up needs to be done 60-90 days in advance, but if you’ve left it too late, there are still plenty of things you can do to ensure a great sales period. (But next year maybe put a reminder in your diary for September or October to get your plans together!) Competition is fierce, and you can expect the cost of any paid media to rocket during, before and after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, as well as in the lead-up to Christmas. But let me be the first to tell you that simply slinging your marketing team a new asset and a link to your shop two days before is not going to cut it. They’re also not going to thank you for sending the billionth email they receive in the days leading up to these events with last minute requests. The entire Western world is competing for our attention online during this period and we have to make sure we navigate it appropriately. For instance, it can be tempting to assume that a Black Friday strategy should be purely about driving sales – but don’t forget everything you know about the way your users behave online. While one person may make a split second purchase based on an impulse or an ad, another will spend hours researching, comparing and browsing before buying.  It’s worth creating funnels early to catch all consumer types. If you have an artist or event with a high traffic site or social it’s also well worth putting a Black Friday post, landing page or banner on there in the run up. Create those funnels well ahead of the game. While things change daily (read: hourly) in the digital space, it’s 100% worth reviewing your past performance for ads and audiences around peak periods. There may well be an opportunity to up-weight bids more aggressively around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which can lead to bigger returns. If you’re intending to sell across Google, in order to highlight specific offers within the Shopping Network you can use Merchant Promotions to distribute online offers across different Google properties.  The entire Western world is competing for our attention online during this period and we have to make sure we navigate it appropriately Sammy Andrews Also, top tip: if you are running shopping feed ads make sure you’ve removed any out of stock products. If these are still promoted within the shopping feed it’s for sure going to impact cost, reduce customer satisfaction and hinder account optimisation. It’s crucial that you set up the promotions feed in advance of this period as it can take a few days for Google to accept enrolment on to Merchant Promotions. And let me reiterate: do not leave any of this prep too late. Do not email your marketing department a day before expecting them to perform miracles if you haven’t given them enough time. Are you running other ‘business as usual’ or ‘always on’ ads during this period? Consider whether you need to switch them off. They’re going to cost loads more, and you’re suddenly competing with an influx of advertising from thousands of brands into the space. Unless you are happy to take the financial risk or you are sure of cutting through the noise, consider switching them off until the madness subsides, to allow any specific promotional ads to thrive. Utilise those mailing lists ahead of time. Think back to the amount of bullshit mailers you had to delete from your inbox last Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Let your fans know in good time that you’re planning a promotion, give them a peek of what will be on offer to lock them in early. You can also use this data to target ads to exactly the right people at the right time as well as relying on your data directly to do some of the heavy lifting. If you are mailing out on the day itself, subject lines are the be-all and end-all of your email strategy during such a fight for inbox attention, so take the time to craft creative, well-written variations that you can test and learn from. If you’ve not cut through in the way you’d hoped, try extending your promotional period to mop up any residual sales that may be left on the table. There are a lot more tips I could give you, but I’d be talking us out of a job. The big one you really need to know is preparation. And what we all need to be aware of this year is the state of the economy, if we still have one by the time this goes to print. If you have taken the time to read your data properly and know your audience, you’re unlikely to fuck this up. Just make sure your offers and products are well matched, good value and considerate to the financial positions of those buying.

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