Demand for under-represented acts isn’t going away.
The pressure to diversify lineups is coming from multiple angles: public expectation is growing for programmers to book more inclusively, and talent themselves are increasingly using inclusion riders in their performance agreements.
As an Agent or Manager, your job is already to bring an artist’s intentions to fruition. But you can also help guide them strategically toward deals and opportunities that will put them on the right side of history without compromising their earnings.
What can you do?
Hold Up The Mirror.
How diverse is your artist roster?
How diverse is your own team? Who are you hiring?
How often do you consider taking on acts from a different demographic?
Don’t rely on the genre crutch. Yes, there are certainly some genres that have stronger representation for women, queer folks, and BIPOC… but women and POC also make drum & bass and hard rock, women and queer folks also make hip hop, etc.
So are you engaging them?
Examine Your Assumptions.
- Why do you think the genres you’re active in are so homogenous? Is one kind of person simply inherently more talented? Or is it more likely that there are conditions that encourage or discourage certain kinds of people from participating?
- Ask yourself what your purpose as an agent or manager is: Are you here to make money? To connect people to new music? To build community? All of the above? Then ask yourself what kind of responsibility you have as a gatekeeper of culture.
Maybe one of your artists has raised the idea of an Inclusion Rider.
Maybe you want to implement Inclusion Riders for your agency or management group, and you want to bring your artists along with you on that journey.
Maybe your artists are a unique position to leverage whatever they want and are active in other social change areas (e.g. zero waste initiatives).
Whatever the reason, both agents and managers have a powerful role in leveraging performer power.
- Support, guide and articulate your artist’s values and priorities.
- Think strategically about brand alignment and where the pendulum is swinging on issues of social change.
- Help them navigate an Inclusion Rider, including setting a limit on how flexible they want to be with it.
- Help implement Inclusion Riders if an act requests it.
- Consider proposing an Inclusion Rider to acts who don’t use them.
- Be the first to ask “Who else is on the bill?” and start the conversation.
- Diversify your own books and familiarise yourself with diverse support options so that when a promoter says “there isn’t anyone,” you can help.
- Make a conscious effort to roster acts that include talent from under-represented groups.
- If you’re not finding fresh talent in the usual places… make an effort to look outside those circles.
- If you’re only being approached by the same kind of performers, make yourself known and accessible to the communities you’re trying to reach by being visible and public about your intentions – speak on panels, be vocal on social media.
Support the Talent Pipeline.
Offering opportunity to acts from under-represented groups is one way to support the talent pipeline, but there are other ways that you can help.
- Ensure you aren’t falling victim to unconscious bias by limiting the expectations of success you have for acts who look different from the rest of the genre.
- Support artist development initiatives.
- Get involved in mentoring or internship programmes that specifically target underrepresented groups.
- If you can’t provide work experience, you may be able to contribute in other ways – e.g. providing space, equipment, networking connections, etc.
START THE CONVERSATION
Be the first one to ask “Who else is playing?” and get tips for starting a dialogue.
THINK ABOUT VALUES
Help with thinking about values and priorities.
PUT IT IN THE CONTRACT
Get friendly with how Inclusion Riders work and how you can use them.
See who’s already using these tools and affecting change.