For established acts:
Participate where there is good representation.
Advocate where there is not.
Hold Up The Mirror.
Who are you most often sharing stages and lineups with?
Who’s working on your stage? Who’s working on your tour?
What does diversity and inclusion look like in your own camp?
If you’ve got a team of people who work with you as an artist, be proactive about getting diversity onto your own team.
- Hire for diversity, create a culture for inclusivity. If you’re having trouble finding people in your usual circles, make a conscious effort to look outside of them. Cast the net wide.
- Put a Crew Inclusivity Rider into your contract that highlights your desire for a touring or show crew with broad representation.
Advocate: Inclusion Rider, Inclusion Rider, Inclusion Rider.
Your Inclusion Rider can be as stringent or as light-touch as you want; it can range from questions about diverse programming to ultimatums and quotas. It’s up to you to decide where you land and how you implement on a case-by-case basis.
- Discuss with your team and/or bandmates what version or form you want your Inclusion Rider to take.
- Consider an Inclusion Rider that also covers production and technical crew; encourage promoters to think about who’s working on and behind the stage.
- Talk to your agent and management about how you want them to enforce the Inclusion Rider or approach conversations with buyers and promoters about it.
- Talk to your peers; see who else is thinking about one or using one and find out their experience. You might be surprised.
Find Support Acts Yourself.
Often the response from promoters, when asked to get some diversity on a bill, is to say “there isn’t anyone.”
The majority of the time, this simply isn’t true. But it’s a result of under-represented groups being historically excluded from scenes and music spaces, and consistently being overlooked by gatekeepers.
This is usually not intentional on the part of a promoter; you just can’t see what you’re not looking for. And if you have suggestions about support you’d like to see, that can be a very helpful tactic.
- Seek out acts that you like and who fit your live shows so you can suggest them for support.
- Put a call out on your socials, make it publically known you want to know about new and diverse talent.
- Do some good old fashioned internet digging. You can start with an artist database.
- It may require some wading through mixes but this is anecdotally one of the most effective ways to get better representation on shows that you’re invoved in.
Support The Talent Pipeline.
- Look for opportunities to mentor and encourage emerging artists. This could be of your own accord, or as part of an existing program.
- Offer to help with artist development initiatives, for example as a teacher, speaker, or ambassador.
- Support crew development initiatives however you can – talk to your team about offering internship placements for aspiring crew.
Consider Your Audience.
Thinking about who your audience is, and who you want your audience to be, may also encourage you to put in place a Venue Safety Rider.
Safety riders require or encourage certain measures be in place at any venue you play, for example gender-neutral bathrooms, response plans for sexual harassment, harm reduction measures, etc.
A Safety Rider can help make your shows comfortable, welcoming spaces for more diverse audiences and encourage new fans to participate and engage with your music.
For emerging acts:
Put yourself out there.
- Reach out to promoters and bookers of all sizes. There’s a misperception that promoters chase down all of their talent. The reality is that in many cases – especially when booking support – they’re being approached by acts either directly or via agents and management.
- Anecdotally, promoters have shared that when they do public call-outs for support submissions or contest entries, the responses rarely include acts from under-represented groups. Back yourself.
- Reach out to headline acts (or their management) directly when you think you’d be good support for them. You don’t need to wait until a tour is announced; get on peoples’ radar early, and make it super easy for them to find out everything about you (i.e. don’t make someone have to search for your music or information).
- Add yourself and your peers to any databases of under-represented acts in your region; make it easy for someone who’s curious about you to find out who you are and what you do.
- Find out about mentorship programs and guidance available for navigating the business.
Add an Inclusion and/or Safety Rider.
Artists of all tiers can use their riders as a tool to prompt conversation about diversity, inclusivity, and representation… even if you’re just starting out.
Obviously the less established you are, the less leverage you have in a relationship with a promoter or venue. However using a light-touch version of an Inclusion or Safety clause can contribute to the growing awareness of the live industry’s diversity problem.
Conversely, a balanced lineup and an inclusive venue may be non-negotiable for you from the get-go, in which case you can use the Inclusion Rider contract language to weed out who you want to work for and with.
Riders are, in most cases, subject to a varying level of negotiation between promoter and act/agent. This applies to hospitality, backline, LX, you name it. It’s up to you as an artist to decide how you want to implement your Inclusion Rider and how much flex you may have on a case-by-case basis, or if it’s a hard line in the sand.
What Can I do?
PUT IT IN THE CONTRACT
Inclusion Rider templates, modifiable and with a spectrum of options. Suitable for all tiers.
DISCOVER WHO'S OUT THERE
A good starting point for finding new diverse acts. Add your own projects for visibility.
See some examples of who’s already using these tools and affecting change.
SUPPORT THE TALENT PIPELINE
Offer your own support to mentoring programs. Access learning and development initiatives.
VENUES & SAFER SPACES
Make your shows inclusive by asking questions about venue safety and culture.
THINK ABOUT YOUR VALUES
No really… think about them. What are they, how do they work with your brand, and which promoters, acts, and venues do you want to be aligned with?