Dice HQ

What we’re doing to help combat racism in the live entertainment industry

Words by Sophie Braham

Systemic racism affects all areas of society, and our industry is no exception. DICE’s New Market Lead Sophie Braham shares our findings from think-tank sessions with artists, promoters, venues and agents.

Last year, one of our partners, Jamal Guthrie from LNZRT, published a piece on Racism in the Music Industry. It highlighted some of the many problems within the industry that desperately need addressing. 

Andrew Foggin, our Global Head of Music, and I sat down to figure out what we could do to help, which included setting a goal to create a global network of actively anti-racist venues.

We co-hosted think-tank sessions with Jamal and his partner at Route, Georgia Hardy, to encourage and facilitate open conversations with people throughout the industry, from promoters to artists to venues. As a result of the sessions, we were able to identify some of the main issues that need significant improvement and create suggestions for how we can make meaningful change. 

At this point, it’s important for me to highlight that we’re not the experts here – but DICE cares deeply about the issue of racism in the music industry and we want to share the steps we’re taking to tackle it. This is a summary of the feedback and research we’ve collated, which we are also sharing with partners to support their growth.

As
a
result
of
the
sessions,
we
were
able
to
identify
some
of
the
main
issues
that
need
significant
improvement.

1. Equality policy (otherwise known as an anti-harassment policy or statement)

For those who don’t already have one, we’re encouraging venues to publish an anti-harassment policy around their space and on their websites. This will help people feel more confident in sharing any negative experiences they’ve had with the venue if they know it will be well received – it’s a simple way of promoting safe spaces. Here’s a great example from one of our partners in New York, Elsewhere. 

To make it even easier for our partners to implement anti-harassment policies, we created a template for venues that lets fans know staff are trained to remove individuals who discriminate and what to do if they see or experience anything untoward.

We’re also working with our Product team to figure out how we can best amplify these policies across the DICE platform, and improve the feedback loop. 

2. Staff accountability

In addition to this, we’re encouraging our partners to include these policies in their contracts with all their employees, including security and door staff, to help ensure accountability across the board.

For our UK partners, we’re also recommending they work with a platform such as Route during the hiring process – particularly for entry-level positions. We want to make sure job advertisements are reaching all communities in order to better diversify the staff within our venues. 

In
order
to
promote
safe
and
inclusive
spaces,
it’s
important
to
have
good
representation
when
it
comes
to
the
artists
playing
the
venues.

3. Diversifying events 

In order to promote safe and inclusive spaces, it’s important to have good representation when it comes to the artists playing the venues. To help improve this, we’re looking to start collecting data around the diversity of events. We believe there’s a smart and non-intrusive way of doing this, which we’re working to figure out with our Product and Data teams, as well as the rest of the DEI squad. 

Once we’ve collected the data, we’ll be able to share insights with our partners to highlight where and how they can improve the diversity of their events.

4. Equal artist experience 

Part one: booking venues

We’re aware of the difficulties that Black and Brown artists and promoters face when booking venues. Often hire rates are increased due to the presumed need for ‘extra security’, sometimes there are last-minute cancellations because of fears around the audience that the artist or promoter will attract. This can be due to prejudice held within venues, but more often it’s a result of pressures from the police and/or local communities.

“I have been on email threads and in meetings where increased hire costs for promoters have been mooted for shows based on the race of the artist. This essentially amounts to a tax on Black people playing Black music, under the thinly veiled excuse that ‘certain genres’ need extra security on hand, because they ‘attract trouble’.

“If people who are labelled as troublemakers in wider society by our national institutions on a daily basis, are then labelled as trouble within the music community before they’ve even entered a venue, who is making trouble for who here? The fuse has been lit in an office somewhere and ignites weeks later when an audience member is slightly abrasive or rude to a bouncer or member of staff who has already been forewarned of potential dangers.” – Jamal Guthrie, Racism In The Music Industry.

We want to encourage more conversation around this issue within the industry, to make sure that it stops happening. We also want to support our venues by bringing them together to discuss best practices for how to manage those conversations with police and local communities.

I’ve
been
in
meetings
where
increased
hire
costs
for
promoters
have
been
mooted
for
shows
based
on
the
race
of
the
artist.
This
essentially
amounts
to
a
tax
on
Black
people
playing
Black
music.

Part two: riders

In one of our think-tank sessions, we heard feedback about the important role a rider can play for an artist, and their subsequent experience at their own show. 

Often (particularly in the UK) a rider consists of a six-pack of beer – traditionally the preference for straight white men.

This may seem like a small thing, but acknowledging and improving areas like this, which are so often overlooked, has the potential to create a more inclusive environment and feeling of belonging for a wider group of people.

We see this work as the start of a collaborative process between us and our partners. DICE is incredibly fortunate to work with so many amazing venues, promoters and event organisers who are committed to giving fans the best experience possible and doing everything they can to cultivate safe and inclusive spaces.

We will continue learning and working together with our partners and creators to make further improvements wherever possible.

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