Bella Union sign up to Keychange 50/50 Pledge
Bella Union are pleased to be the first independent label to be signed up to the Keychange initiative, as announced yesterday by the PRS Foundation in the press ( The Guardian, Music Week, etc), a pledge to strive for 50-50 gender parity in our industry.
The international initiative – led by PRS Foundation and supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union – was launched in 2018 to empower women to transform the future of the music industry.
The Keychange pledge has since seen more than 180 festivals sign up and commit to programming gender balanced line-ups by 2022. Today’s announcement sees the pledge expand to include conservatoires, orchestras, broadcasters, concert halls, agents, labels and any music organisations seeking to achieve a better gender balance in the industry.
Below are some words from Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde with regards to the partnership…
“A few years ago when the Keychange initiative took shape, even though it was focused on festivals, I thought it would be interesting to check myself and my own company. Anyone aware of my own personal music career which to date spans a ridiculous 44 years, can see at a glance the major influence a huge number of great women have had on me. I was thinking of where it started and of course Mum may seem an obvious place but bringing up 4 children with a musician-husband working weeks at a time away from home is a remarkable achievement that I am still in awe of. After that I’d say in my impressionable teens The Slits, Siouxsie, Patti Smith, Tina Weymouth, all blew my mind in various ways, up to the point i joined Cocteau Twins with Elizabeth Fraser and life would never be the same again. Looking at our roster in 2017 as Keychange was launched, more out of curiosity than anything we were pleased to see that without realising it, we already had a clear 50-50 gender split among the artists. A couple of years later and a recent check last week showed a further rise in our artist roster numbers but still a total 50-50 mix. It’s beautiful happy accident of course that we appear to have arrived at this point with such a balance, with no prior thought processes, but this natural blend feels to be the point most note-worthy. If we are to encourage other businesses within our sector to embrace a gender balance, what better way than to show by example that it should be entirely natural and comfortable. In our office we have 2 women and 2 men, our management side is split 50-50 and our vinyl shop staff in Brighton is split 4 women and 4 men. We are proud of our team, and we celebrate our attributes and our differences as things of beauty and positivity. It seems from the inside looking out that while a lot of women enter the label business, not enough are being offered the senior positions and we are still being dominated by a surplus of white middle-aged males. Now I am indeed a white middle -aged male myself but I wholly rely on my wife and management partner Abbey to help US make the right decisions in business, and I fully rely on Anika and Danielle from our UK label office to effectively run over half of the artists’ campaigns.
Some people will fight any external pressure to re-evaluate their long-established structures because let’s face it, change is slow in this business. Many will do anything to avoid looking at ways of doing things differently.
Signing up to a commitment to become gender balanced can only be a positive step forward. We have to move past these prejudices about women. I heard one label boss a few years ago say at a conference about a female colleague “She’s great but she’s bound to get pregnant soon and leave us in the lurch”. This attitude needs to be challenged, and if this initiative brings more talented women into our companies then i have no doubt that those companies will be all the richer for it, and ultimately stronger the next challenges have to be to promote more women to management and leadership positions within our companies. For sure, men do have an important role to play in providing the right support in this, but thankfully in the independent sector that i traverse, i can see a younger generation of men understanding these issues and helping in advancing the arguments.”