Racism in the Music Industry

By Tina Zhao:

How many songs and music artists do you listen to daily? For me, I listen to all different genres. I listen to Korean pop, Chinese pop, hip hop, rap, R&B, and more! I love all different types of music, and I can listen to any types of music.

There seems to be a trend that different genres are segregated or has a stereotype with white artists in rock, pop and country, when Black artists are focused mostly on R&B and hip-hop. For example, Frank Ocean once told the Quietus “‘If you’re a singer and you’re black, you’re an R&B artist. Period.” There have been Black artists such as Kenneth Gable, who helped create an association to help black artists branch out more into the music industry. However, many Black artists are criticized and mocked for trying to branch out into predominantly ‘white’ genres. Part of the reason why this is a problem is because of the stereotypes that Black artists face. One example is when DAWN, a Black artist stated that “‘Being black and having a certain tone or look automatically makes people think you belong in one thing.” Major labels have spoken up about this issue, and have vowed to have more Black artists and give more opportunities. However, these labels seem to only state these vows and not do anything about it. Another problem within the music industry is that there are not enough Black executives who can make decisions and changes in their record companies. Because of this, many Black artists are afraid to speak up about the balant discrimination, in fear that their record labels may be taken away. In the face of evident adversity and difficulty, what’s the next step?

The next step is change. The music industry needs more initiative to hire POC executives. With this, POC executives can become a voice to Black artists and help solidify change. In addition, the music industry also needs to stop the prejudice when POC artists try to branch out into ‘white music genres’. We, as listeners, also have to get rid of the notion that POC artists can only make music for a certain genre. With these issues solved, the music industry will be accepting of everyone, and we will be able to make change for the better.

Younger, B., Yoo, N., Conteh, M., Adjei-Kontoh, H., Pierre, A., Hogan, M., & Callender, B. (n.d.). Black Musicians on Being Boxed in by R&B and Rap Expectations: "We Fit in So Many Things". Retrieved September 06, 2020, from

Leight, E. (2020, August 13). The Music Industry Was Built on Racism. Changing It Will Take More Than Donations. Retrieved September 02, 2020, from

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