The Music Industry: It’s Still a White Boys’ Club…

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(Live Nation Entertainment Executive Leadership and Board of Directors, 2014.)


Blues was invented in America, and so was Rap.  Blues led to Rock n’ Roll; Rap transformed the entire landscape of modern pop music.  Simply stated, without the African-American influence, American music would probably suck.

So why, if the influence of Black artists on music is so massive, are there hardly any powerful Black executives in the modern music industry?

Why are companies like Pandora, Live Nation, Apple, Spotify, AEG, Warner Music Group, SXSW, Clear Channel Communications, and Universal Music Group dominated by white executives, often from privileged backgrounds and educations?

Why do executives like Troy Carter and Chuck D always feel like ‘token Black guys’ at major music industry events?

Sure, you can rattle off the names of hyper-successful African-American music industry executives like Jay Z,, and Carter, but those are exceptions that prove the rule.  Because after meeting with hundreds of music industry companies and probably thousands of executives, attorneys, technologists, and investors while running Digital Music News, I can safely say that bumping into a successful Black music industry executive is a rare event.

And it’s way worse on the technology and live concert side, i.e., the biggest growth areas of this industry.

Let me take it a step further: off the top of my head, I can’t name one Black executive from Pandora, Live Nation, Apple, Spotify, AEG, or SXSW, just to pluck from the above list.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but for the most part, they are not in prominent, influential positions at these companies.  And, sadly, there’s a distinct possibility there aren’t any influential Black executives on the payrolls at many of these enterprises.

But Spotify is Swedish, right?  That’s the country of origin, yes, but the US is their biggest and most important market.  And we have Black people here (but, not here).

Thank God this isn’t my father’s music industry, when the greatest, most creative Black artists toiled in poverty (while being mercilessly copied and exploited by white artists).  When famous African-American musicians battled a tricky maze of racism and violent threats while touring America.  When there were two types of radio stations, Black and white.

When someone like Jay Z couldn’t have possibly existed.

But comparing this industry to the industry of the 50s and 60s doesn’t really accomplish much.  We’re out of the dark ages, sure, but there isn’t a dark face in the boardroom to prove it.

And if only the most extremely talented, insanely intelligent, and amazingly lucky Black executives are making it, then there’s still a big problem.  In the music industry, in music technology, and America at large.

Written while listening to The Black Album by Jay Z.

Live Nation top executive team and board members. Top row (l to r): Michael Rapino (President, Chief Executive Officer and Director); John Reid (President, Live Nation Europe-Concerts); Alan Ridgeway (President, International and Emerging Markets); Ron Bension (President, HOB Entertainment); Jared Smith (President, Ticketmaster North America); Arthur Fogel (Chairman, Global Music and President, Global Touring); Simon Lewis (President, Live Nation Europe—Sponsorship and Concerts); Gregory B. Maffei (Chairman of the Board).

2nd row (l to r): Mark Yovich (President, Ticketmaster International); Joe Berchtold (Chief Operating Officer); Russell Wallach (President, Media & Sponsorship); James S. Kahan (Board of Directors); Eric Garland (General Manager, Live Nation Digital); Mark Campana (Co-President, North America Concerts); Bob Roux (Co-President, North America Concerts); John Hopmans (Executive Vice President – Mergers and Acquisitions and Strategic Finance).

3rd row (l to r): Michael Rowles (General Counsel and Secretary); Mark Carleton (Board of Directors); Peggy Johnson (Board of Directors); Jonathan L. Dolgen (Board of Directors); Ariel Emanuel (Board of Directors); Robert Ted Enloe, III (Board of Directors); Kathy Willard (Chief Financial Officer); Mark Shapiro (Board of Directors).

152 Responses

  1. Mr. Obvious

    As long as we are race-baiting, why not address why there are not many white guys in the NBA?

    This article serves no useful purpose other than to incite hate.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      The NBA is an incredibly bad comparison: unlike a high-paying, long-term executive job, you don’t need an expensive education (often $100k+ these days without an athletic scholarship) or an MBA to play in the NBA. The NBA meritocracy is based on your ability to play basketball competitively at a professional level, and help the team win games.

      Not only that, the NBA is viewed as a lottery ticket for countless lower-income kids growing up in poor, urban neighborhoods (just like, uh… rap). In better neighborhoods with better schools, more money and guidance, kids are actively encouraged to explore a wider range of options.

      Also, I’m no basketball fan (please chime in if you are), but I understand that as the popularity of the game has stretched outside of the US, the composition of the league is starting to change as well (more Europeans, Asians, etc.).

      • R.P.

        Dude, you got what you wanted: to start a debate. Unfortunately, this debate is completely unnecessary and quiet dumb, for lack of a better word.

        I’m in the hip hop industry and I can tell you from a latino point of view that we have faced the exact same kind of oppression you’re yapping about here, and not by whites. But, what’s the point? There are still some of us that breakthrough by form of hard work and accomplishments that can’t be overlooked.

        Instead of doing the easy job of looking at the negative, why not spotlight some of the minorities in the industry on your tabloid of a platform. Spotlights on some of these people may inspire others and show the rest of the nation that there is always hope, and that part of what makes America so great is that you really just never know what can happen by simply being around the right person at the right time.

        Look, you have some great articles on here once in a very blue moon, but what is the point of this one? To raise awareness negatively about an issue we’re all aware of? It’s 2014, I think most people, that read this at least, know what’s going on..

        Furthermore, I take serious offense to this statement: “Simply stated, without the African-American influence, American music would probably suck.”

        You are aware that Puerto Ricans, and other Latino people aren’t African American, and I hope you are also aware that they too contributed to the creation and rise of Hip Hop, specifically in the city that it was created in, or at least credited to: New York City.

        You should just delete this article and we’ll all forget about it. Or not..

        • P.R.

          civilization began in Africa. Africans we in the Americas BEFORE Columbus. we — Hispanics and Latinos included — are ALL descendants of Africans essentially.

          • R.P.

            Here we go. Wrong. He said African Americans. Not all black people are African American, and not all Latino people have African roots. Cite your sources and see for yourself while you attempt to do some research to prove your point.

            I know what you are saying, but why say it? To seem smart? How many Puerto Ricans haven’t heard that before? Come on, it’s 2014. Let’s not act like we all can’t Google and have more common sense here, please.

          • P.R.

            Please read books by Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Colubmus), Cheikh Anta Diop (The African Origin of Civilization) as starters.

          • Dubtafari

            Can we all now sing Kumbya & hold hand? Yeah right! Now promote that same crap to all of the senators & a congressmen which stated outrightly & in no uncertain terms, that they’re hope was to see to it that everything which the first BLACK (African-American) president did, failed & that he was not given a second term. Is it a coincidence that all of those senators & congressmen happened to be white?
            Give me a beak.

          • Dubtafari

            Chris Rock said it best: “it’s not Al Quada I’m afraid of, it Al Craker.

        • King X

          You should be just as upset as black people. I think there are even LESS hispanics in the executive positions than Black people. I am black and usually black and hispanics identify with each other with issues like this.

          • Dubtafari

            Malcolm X said it best: if a black man & an Hispanic man, went down south to protest & were confronted by the Ku klux klan; as soon as the klansman knew that the Hispanic wasn’t a black man after the Hispanic declared; ” “no comprehende “, the klanmen would leave the Hispanic alone & then preceded to lynch the black man. Except that in the 21st century, the high tech lynching is done through the judicial system. As well as the music industry. The alone Ranger & Tonto anyone ? Can you say Robin Thicke, Pharell Williams & T.I.
            Keem O Sabe
            Olay !!!

        • Paul Resnikoff

          “Instead of doing the easy job of looking at the negative, why not spotlight some of the minorities in the industry on your tabloid of a platform. Spotlights on some of these people may inspire others and show the rest of the nation that there is always hope, and that part of what makes America so great is that you really just never know what can happen by simply being around the right person at the right time.”

          Actually, that’s exactly what I don’t want to do, because it reinforces the misleading and destructive idea that, well, anyone can make it if they try hard enough! No matter how sh**ty your background! That’s a narrative we so deeply want to believe in, but it’s only partially true. The actual reality, which is depressing, is that the advantaged, upper-/upper-middle-class kid from the suburbs is about 100,000% more likely to live a healthy, productive, and financially sustaining life (and live to an old age).

          The reality is that stars like Jay Z are basically extreme lottery winners, one whose combination of extreme talent, intelligence, shrewdness and unbelievable luck resulted in the current success story. It’s the same with basketball and football stars. But there are thousands, tens of thousands of others who simply could not – and should not – be burning their resources on such limited opportunities. The only problem is that these are some of the only opportunities that exist.

          Actually, I strongly disagree with Jay Z’s attitude on this matter: he likes to visit impoverished neighborhoods (like Marcy Projects) to encourage others that are currently in the shoes he once wore that they can make it. Just like he did. But, isn’t that like the lottery winner touring his old, impoverished neighborhood to sprinkle some hope around?

          Sure, lotteries award winners based on random luck, not a mixture of talent, drive and luck. But the analogy resonates.

          • Sine Metu

            Of all the things to be upset with Jay Z over you chose that trifle? The man is rife with hypocrisy, apathy, misogyny, ‘creative’ repetition, soulless consumerism, opportunism (google ‘Occupy Wall Street Jay Z T-shirts’ and see exactly why so many bona fide activists are not fans of his).

            Instead of giving the man credit for exploiting ignorance for financial gain, maybe you should give it to people who actually deserve it (Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Q Tip etc.). People who chose to try and uplift humanity.

          • Dubtafari

            Even Now Reggae music is being promote & diluted by white privileged surfer dudes & the sons & daughters is fathers that happen to be CEO’s of fortune 500 companies. While till this day, countless thousand of Jamaican Artist, writers & musicians live in complete destitute & poverty from being tipped off & exploited by modern day music industry executives & piracy. Everybody wants their reggae without the suffering, Marcus Garvey, Rastafari or Haile Selassie but everybody want to get high & smoke weed. In Colorado, where it’s legal. Anyplace else, where there’s a large population of black people, it’s still illegal & a crime. Even in the birthplace of Reggae Music; Jamaica.
            Thank God for Matisyahu. He’s really “Chopping” those dreadlock Rastas “down” .
            “From the forrest itself, comes the handle for the axe” Matisyahu -Chop Em Down

          • Dubtafari

            Even Now Reggae music is being promote & diluted by white privileged surfer dudes & the sons & daughters is fathers that happen to be CEO’s of fortune 500 companies. While till this day, countless thousand of Jamaican Artist, writers & musicians live in complete destitute & poverty from being tipped off & exploited by modern day music industry executives & piracy. Everybody wants their reggae without the suffering, Marcus Garvey, Rastafari or Haile Selassie but everybody want to get high & smoke weed. In Colorado, where it’s legal. Anyplace else, where there’s a large population of black people, it’s still illegal & a crime. Even in the birthplace of Reggae Music; Jamaica.
            Thank God for Matisyahu. He’s really “Chopping” those,dreadlock Rastas “down” .
            “From the forrest itself, comes the handle for the axe” Matisyahu -Chop Em Down

      • King X

        There are plenty of White players in the NBA. a more fair comparison would be The Players = Musicians and the GMs/Owners = the music execs.

      • Paul Gill

        I don’t support this nonsense . There has been great musicians of both races . And that’s great we have all bennifited from it. I play bass and I learned from a Black Man who taught me for 7 years he loved me like his own son and Im white so no I don’t agree .And as far as the NBA the guys are hand picked for their talent and if you can see it your blind. These guy are truly best of the best .Its not color but it amazing amounts of talents and yes a lot of them are black they are very gifted when it come to sports. Why who knows but they are.And yes most of the legends have been Black in basketball.Look at Michel Jordan Magic Johnson Then how many Larry Birds are there not very many . So yes I don’t support this at all they just truelly gifted .

    • GGG

      The only reason these types of articles incite hate is because people like you come in and act like there’s no such thing as institutionalized racism and try to pull the silly reverse racism “waahhhh, white guys have it tough too!” card.

          • Mr. Obvious

            Just wondering since you obviously are saturated with the politically correct koolaid. Now, go sit in the corner and try to matter.

          • GGG

            Uh…nice try but nothing I said or argued is political correctness. It’s a fact. Also, seeing as you’re an adult that still uses the ‘koolaid’ argument to attempt to prove a point shows that nothing you can say to me will be remotely intelligent or anything besides a bunch of right wing platitudes morons use to try and sound smart.

          • P.R.

            GGG, don’t argue with fools! He’s only trying to maintain a status quo that benefits him and his kind. People of color are underrepresented in meaningful positions at these places because employment discrimination is still occurring and no one who has the ability to correct these historical problems, is doing anything about it.

          • Music2Tech

            GGG – Don’t feed the trolls.
            Paul – thank you for bringing attention to this.
            Everyone else – we wouldn’t be having type of conversation if it were about the absence of women engineers in tech. It’s simply about the domination of one group and the underrepresentation of another in this field.

    • Very Obvious

      Race baiting my black a$$! One of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood just lost a racial discrimination case. Of course, there were no Af. American Agents employed in their New York office, but most African American artists were signed from there. Study the Civil Rights Act you dumb, ignorant fu*@!!

      • Mr. Obvious

        I am SO surprised that a California Court issued a liberal decision.

        Nobody in America wants to be truthful and honest about the plight of blacks—because the truth would hurt. Meanwhile, white people love telling everyone how guilty they feel, and then the pompously stand up and scream racism with their brothers.


        • GGG

          It’s not about white guilt you dumb fuck. My ancestors came here after 1900 and were poor irish and polish; nobody remotely related to me was involved in the slave trade.

          It’s about not being an ignorant bigot like you and actually understanding what type of racism is most prevalent today. Not mobs going out lynching people, but a systemic, often unconscious discrimination.

    • King X

      Not many white people in the NBA? The Players are the same as the musicians (plenty of white players). Look at the list of Owners and GMs that is closer to this conversation than the players. How many GMs and Owners are white compared to the Black ones?

      • Mr. Obvious

        Blacks are the most racist people in America. They hate whites and demand free stuff from the gov’t—knowing that white people will wet their pants if someone calls them a racist.

        We’ve been trained to think this way for decades, and this forum is prima facie evidence of the successful propagation of a myth.

        If I were black, I’d friggn stop complaining and blaming everyone else.

        • P.R.

          Please read When Affirmative Action Was White. Whites have been receiving handouts for hundreds of years and I believe they receive more foodstamps and benefits than any other “race” in this country. Hahaha!!!!

          • Mr. Obvious

            Pew research shows that 31% of blacks receive food stamps and opposed to 15% of whites.

            It also shows that over twice as many democrats receive food stamps as republicans (believe me, I am no fan of either party).

            Got stupid response?

    • Mr Willis

      Are you talking about players or executives? There is a stark contrast between those two. And honestly what you are saying kind of proves the writers point. Just in the last decade has there been an increase in African American coaches, owners and executives. Its not always race bating its just stating the obvious Mr…? whats ur name again? Lol. There are very very few influential voices inside the music industry of african american decent and that becomes an issue when the mass majority of music being heard in the mainstream today does not properly represent the african american cultural experience.

    • Coop

      Because they play baseball, golf, wrestle, and hockey! Damn, you want basketball too?

    • ElegantGoose

      Well, Mr. Obvious, yes—let’s compare the number of black *executives and owners* in the NBA. Comparing the players in the NBA is only good if you’re comparing them to the musicians.

    • Warmachine

      That is a dumba$$ comment. This is not about jobs per se.
      It is about EXECUTIVE jobs. People in high places. Not how many minions there are.

    • Justo

      Yeah… thats the same comparison. All the black guys are on the court but it’s mostly white guys in the GM and ownership club.

    • DpBaby

      it is what it is. it’s not racist to point out the reality of a given situation.

  2. Anonymous

    “Thank God this isn’t my father’s music industry, when the greatest, most creative Black artists toiled in poverty”

    Yeah, today most artists are poor, regardless of color and gender.

    Thanks to piracy, the great equalizer. No gods were involved.

  3. Mr. Obvious

    It is WAY past time to stop blaming whites for the plight of blacks in America. They have authored their own misfortune and squandered unbelievable opportunity.

    “Why are companies like Pandora, Live Nation, Apple, Spotify, AEG, Warner Music Group, SXSW, Clear Channel Communications, and Universal Music Group dominated by white executives, often from privileged backgrounds and educations?”

    Perhaps they excelled in school, stayed out of jail, respected sobriety, and worked incredibly hard? Oh–forgot–that explanation does not fit the modern PC myths.

    • GGG

      Yep, everyone white person is a law-abiding angel and every black person is a poor scumbag.

      Fuck off, you’re a shitty human being.

          • Mr. Obvious

            And you have an Al Sharpton shrine in your public housing?

          • GGG

            No, actually I have an education and the intellect to understand that as a white male raised in an upper-middle class family I was born at an INCREDIBLE advantage over many, many people. Not to mention a nice NYC apt that probably costs more than your house. Or is it a trailer?

            But I’m sorry that you’re in-bred brain can’t handle understanding these things.

          • P.R.

            I hope that comment bragging about material possessions wasn’t directed towards me.

          • GGG

            First of all, I said I had a nice apt in NYC, not tons of material possessions. Maybe it’s filled with Kmart clothes and ramen noodles.

            Secondly, no, its clearly directed at Mr Obvious who seems to think anyone who supports minorities must be living in public housing. Or worse, he thinks I am a minority so assumes I live in public housing.

          • Mr. Obvious

            All that education got you nowhere–you are borderline illiterate. No surprise you live in NYC.

          • GGG

            Oh, I’m SO sorry for my computer autocorrecting to the wrong ‘your.’ That definitely means I’m illiterate.

            Go back to fucking your daughter you redneck piece of trash.

    • Caution

      Nowhere in this article is the author BLAMING whites for the lack of black representation on the corporate level, he’s just making a factual observation and opening it up for discussion. If anything it should motivate more people of color to put on their entrepreneurial hats take more business ownership in the music in which they’ve played a large role in originating and excelling in to this day

    • Anonymous

      “Perhaps they excelled in school, stayed out of jail, respected sobriety, and worked incredibly hard? “

      Like Mr. Dotcom — today’s new member of da club? 🙂

      • Mr. Obvious

        And, Dotcom has avoided jail by fighting extradition. So, he doesn’t fit my description entirely.

  4. Mr. Obvious

    It is the same reason why there are few black head coaches in the NFL….lack of success.

    But, if you want to wallow in white guilt and say it’s racism, go ahead—America has been wallowing since the 60’s. I prefer to be truthful.

    • P.R.

      Please read Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William Rhodes you dumb, blanco POS. i know you think you are so intelligent because you have been indoctrinated with a western way of thinking, but you are nothing but a fool. Go read a book and educate yourself. If one has to achieve their “superiority” through unlawful discriminatory and anticompetitive practices, then your superiority is nothing but an illusion…and a big, fat lie.

      • Mr. Obvious

        Sientese, comemierda. Sus huevos son pequenos, y su novia es fea.

      • Mr. Obvious

        The problem is that you are too weak to compete. So, you scream racism.

        I don’t give a crap who sits next to me at work if they pull their weight. But, I ain’t buying your truth–put that person next to me not because of their qualifications, but because they are black/brown/yellow/whatever.

  5. Ari Herstand

    Well put Paul. These companies need to get their acts together and expand their recruitment practices. A diverse employee base representing various cultures brings an insightful understanding and first hand knowledge base that is crucial for a healthy community.

  6. anonymous

    Thanks for writing this Paul. We definitely need more women and people of color at those tables

    • Mr. Obvious

      We need qualified people regardless of race or gender.

      Look where all the political correctness got Detroit….

  7. Albert Shanker

    Blues and Jazz Yes.. Rap is not music. it’s a social message using beats and stolen ideas from other talented musicians .black and white. You have been sold a cultural bill of goods.Rappers can not read ,write music or play musical instruments.Business that sells music or tech delivery systems mostly created and managed by whites currently ,is the results of hip hop on the black community. Next to zero upward mobility and a cultural that puts down education.

    • Me

      This couldn’t be more misguided. While you may not enjoy rap or hip hop, it does not mean it is not music. It doesn’t matter what instruments are played or how they are composed. It’s the end result is what matters. Besides, if borrowing (or “stealing”) musical ideas makes it not music, then by your reasoning, much of the catalogs of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, etc. would not be considered music. Also, not all of rap music is stealing. There are lots of artists that spend time crafting beats and writing songs. Your hyper-generalizations are pretty sad, and show that you’re pretty out of touch with the current musical landscape.

      And furthermore, your statement that “Business that sells music or tech delivery systems mostly created and managed by whites currently ,is the results of hip hop on the black community” really makes no sense at all.

      • Albert Shanker

        You go to the ice cream shop and buy a hot fudge sundae with 3 elements , ice cream, syrup,whip cream.
        You listen to music with the 3 elements of rhythm,harmony,melody. Rap replaces melody with a spoken word,that doesn’t satisfy ,just like losing the syrup,or whip cream and your sundae is incomplete .
        Listen to Geprge Russels “New York New York ,city so nice ,had to name it twice from the late 40’s with the spoken”rapped intro by Jon Hendricks” what’s popular isn’t always good.

      • Albert Shanker

        It makes complete sense. Tell me all the instances hip/hop and rap have elevated the African American community in any way.Just like the Grateful Dead left trails of destruction for mostly white people, the child of Woodstock nation I:e Hip Hop have sold a culture of misogyny homophobic,drug abuse etc. Nice change from the 3 cornerstones of HipHop, Beats,Grafitti,and Breakdancing, Sugar Hill studios burned down a few years ago. an obvious omen.

    • GGG

      The Roots play musical instruments. Better than many rock bands I see, as a matter of fact.

      Rapping is not an easy thing to do. I’ll give you $1,000 if you can rap a fraction as well as Biggie or Pac or Jay-Z or Nas or…

      Also, you forgot to tell the kids to get off your lawn.

      • Albert Shanker

        Brass Construction,Cameo,BT Express, Ohio Players,Earth ,Wind @ Fire,Barkays,Lakeside,Gap Band,James Brown. Check them out and tell me the Roots are anywhere near as funkyWhat’s popular isn’t always good.
        Rap ,Hip Hop started in the So. Bronx as a good time block party culture of Graffiti,beats and break dancing ,bastardized by west coast thuggery and sold to the world by I’m afraid to say (white record companies)

        • P.R.

          So i guess techno, electronica and all those other bs musical genres “created” by whites are not music either? Kanye shrug.

        • GGG

          Uhh…or both styles of music can be good…

          Or wait, rap can’t be good because funk is good? What kind of stupid argument is that? Bunch of morons on this site. Also, I don’t think you’ve ever seen the Roots, because they aren’t some hack band, they’re legit. Quit shitting on something you clearly have no knowledge of besides some wikipedia synopsis.

          • Albert Shanker

            Actually I know much more about Rap/ and Hip Hop then you think as a contributor to Beat Street,one of the first attempts to commercialize Rap,on a national level. Jeez ,Rap is over,Sugar Hill Studios burnt down to the ground,and so has Rap

    • R.P.

      Rap is not music? I know tons of producers who have composed, not pushed buttons, entire symphonies and orchestras to achieve their vision. I would call this slightly better than an electric guitar being picked at and some drums being pounded on. Look up Just Blaze’s “Return Of The Hustle” and the process he took to achieve the sound he wanted. RZA, a hip hop legend and sonic genius who is composing scores for some of your favorite Hollywood Blockbusters. Ryan Leslie composes. I mean, the list is endless yet because you may not like rap you put it down?

      As far as rappers not being able to read or write, what kind of ignorant human being makes such a bold statement with no facts? YOU do, obviously. Aside from some of these uneducated rappers you speak about actually having college degrees, you have people like Ryan Leslie who at the age of 19, graduated from Harvard with a degree in Government, concentrating in Political Science and Macroeconomics. This is additional to his music career and learning more about music than any Blues or Jazz artist ever. He studied chord progressions, voice leading, composition and sounds, the same way many of us have and are continuing to.

      I apologize for what I’m about to say, but you sir, are an idiot. I say that from a place of passion and love for an industry that has inspired me to appreciate all genres of music. Your statements were very unfair.

      • Albert Shanker

        You mention 3 guys that can possibly read and write music and score for realm instruments.That’s so laughable,

  8. cbyrd

    The census bureau puts the current black population at only 13 percent. I don’t feel that its absurd to think a business atmosphere would be dominated by the group of people that far dominate census statistics.

    • P.R.

      You clearly missed the point. No one is saying we should be OVERrepresented. The problem is we are UNDERrepresented and/or NONEXISTANT. Statistically, this creates an inference of discrimination. See e.g. International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States; Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

      • cbyrd

        Statistically, across the board, minorities have a lower level of education. Combine that with the fact that only 1 in 10 people is black, anyways, it stands to reason. I understand the point. Believe me I do. However, its not like music is an anomaly here. Across every industry, minority executives are not as well represented as whites.

        • P.R.

          Somewhat true, but to understand the reasons for those disparities, you would have to really understand global white supremacy. Back to the topic, what’s being discussed in this post IS and HAS BEEN a HISTORICAL PROBLEM in this country (e.g. discrimination in employment), so let’s not act like this is a new issue because Paul finally decided to write about it. It’s been more than 50 years since Brown v. Board of Education was passed. African Americans have only graduated from college in higher numbers since that time, so that’s not an excuse for why majority of executives and/or higher-status, higher-paying positions are OVERREPRESENTED by Whites/”Jews.” the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be strengthened to combat insidious and institutional racism.

          • Mr. Obvious


            Like being the perpetual victim? Clarence Thomas decided education was a better choice.

            You are pathetic.

  9. Spoken X Digital Media Group

    It’s a Ku Klux Klan industry and when they run into a black executive that don’t belong to any specified musical plantation family they get foul with the fair payment process. . .The ultimate tone going forward is pure obliteration and unprecedented destruction when you come face to face with the thieving bastards. . . yours truly $0.00 X

  10. The Truth Is

    The investors, shareholders, owners of the companies determine who gets hired. They usually do that believe or not based on who is most qualified and in my opinion that is based on business prowess. I can tell you when ads are placed or posted within for positions few non whites ever in fact bother to apply for high ranking positions in companies where I have been involved. A lot has to do with demonstrated capability and working your way up from the bottom. Hiring is done bottom up not top down. Simply put there has to be a on the way up group coming along and those start at the bottom jobs exist. All it takes is applying, working hard every day to get to the top. Reason smart owners want the most qualified people working for them color has nothing to do with it.

  11. P

    Someone like Jay Z couldn’t have existed decades ago? What about Sam Cooke? He was both great in both music and business, and started a record label and music publishing business. Ray Charles owned a lot of his copyrights. Both of them had crossover success on pop charts.

  12. DC

    As a young black manager in the business, I can speak from personal experience. First I would like to thank Paul for being brave enough to raise the issue. Secondly, people who accuse Paul of race baiting, are more than likely members of the dominant society and are using that accusation to dodge the issue at hand.

    First I will begin with urban/black music. When black people were actually running black music departments, the music, generally speaking, was of higher quality and so were the artists. When you begin to hand the music off to individuals who have no stake in the community of the people who are predominant creators of the music you begin to see a decline in the quality which is only natural.

    I’ve been in multiple mtgs at majors where white executives would go on and on about their critiques of an urban record, when they spend NO time in urban clubs (partly because they are uncomfortable with being around everyday black people) NO time in the communities, and only hold the title of A&R because someone “told” them that’s what they were.

    Now, what we have is people who look at the black/urban community as a herd of animals who can easily be figured out, and the urban depts that these people work in have attempted to develop “formulas” (no I’m really being serious here) on how to make an “urban” record, which is totally offensive to the creative process and the listeners.

    When black music was in its heyday (think Motown and Stax Records) creativity was a pure free flowing process that has been totally disrespected by non-black/urban executives with no connection to the people or the culture.

    What we are seeing here are the same discriminatory tactics that black people are still dealing with today outside the music business still being used within the music business.

    Instead of investing into fewer, more high quality artists, on the urban side what we are seeing today is the willingness to use black producers, to make black music, but to deliver that music to a non black artist so they can deliver it to a predominantly non black audience…..Ariana Grande, and Miley Cyrus have employed these tactics flawlessly.

    Unfortunately I, and many of my colleagues have determined that we must determine ways to distance ourself from dependence upon the major label urban departments until they begin to respect our culture and to respect us as knowledgeable talented individuals once again. How we will accomplish this while keeping the lights on is a much bigger issue.

    In closing, I would like to once again thank Paul for raising the issue, and to make clear to all readers that I am not anti white in any way, but the truth is the truth, and I won’t hide that to spare anyone’s feelings whether black, white, brown, or in between

    • Mr. Obvious

      This is one of the stupidest and most RACIST posts here. It’s a damn business, and you sell records any damn way you can. That takes business people, not music creators (for the most part).

      Whites did not respect black music? WTF? Are you a goddamn idiot? Ever heard of friggin Memphis or Muscle Shoals?

      You are a moron. And, a racist.

      • DC

        I’ve noticed that when people become irate and begin name calling its because the other party probably stuck a nerve.

        The problem with black and white relations is white people’s inability to imagine that maybe the world IS as lopsided as many times we claim it to be.

        You clearly are a member of the dominant society, so how could you possibly know if what I’m saying is accurate? You’ve never had to walk in a black man’s shoes, or have had to deal with white people who are running black music departments who are clearly unqualified.

        If everything I claim is wrong, and I am a moron or whatever it was you called me, then why is it that you see white people running black music departments but no black people running OR hardly ever working in rock, or pop departments?

        Is it because black people can only hear good records that are classified as urban? Is it because black people don’t like rock or pop music? No

        It is because there is a system that is in place that will continue to keep the balance of power on the side of the table of people who classify themselves as white.

        And yes you are correct, this IS a business…..and the rules of good business call for us to hire the person with the most expertise in the field who has the most intimate knowledge of the task at hand and job to be performed.

        People who are unfamiliar with the culture of urban music, urban people, and the creative process do not qualify as such. Therefore they should not be in positions that help to dictate the direction of the culture and music.

        The greatest signings in urban music history for the most part were either directly signed by, or developed and nurtured by members of the community who were connected to the culture. Thats fact, not my opinion.

        • Mr. Obvious

          Lord, you are hopeless. You will go to your grave blaming “the man.”

          What a waste of your life.

          • P.R.

            DC, don’t argue with this fool! There’s no hope for him and others like him.

          • Mr. Obvious

            I think I already said the same thing about you. Quit flattering me.

  13. Mr. Obvious

    Blacks have PLENTY of opportunity to be successful in business in America. The problem is capacity, and you indoctrinated sheeples only scream racism instead of addressing the root of the problem.

    • GGG

      Of course you use the word ‘sheeple.’ I’m surprised you can even answer the simple math questions to verify yourself. Probably use a calculator.

      • Mr. Obvious

        Do I need to start correcting and revising your posts to make them comprehensible?

        • GGG

          Nope, I’m posting perfectly fine. You just don’t have the mental capacity to do anything other than post the lamest right wing platitudes and some childish attempts at insults.

          You make YouTube comments look like Shakespeare.

          • DC

            Well said. Looking at other posts from Mr. Obvious makes it OBVIOUS that trying to have an intelligent discussion is a complete waste of time and energy.

            For all those who understand the true issue, lets continue to push for qualified people of color to fill positions of significance.

          • R.P.

            As a fellow manager, you should know that you can’t push or want something onto someone else more than they want to want to push for it, or want it, for themselves.

    • Nina Ulloa

      ^ & anyone who’s not a privileged straight white male has to put up with this popular sentiment every. single. day.

      • Mr. Obvious

        We’re all socialists now. And, you still are worse off.

        But, you are too uneducated to understand why–it ain’t the “privileged white male”, it’s your unwillingness to work and your perpetual jealousy of people who produce.

        This is not a new thing, donchaknow. Great civilizations eventually crumble due to the weight and demands of the unproductive. The US is no different, and this forum is a great example of the progress of the decay—-gimme,gimme,gimme.

        I hope the Chinese arrive soon.

          • Mr. Obvious

            Aren’t you late for an Occupytard rally? Rainbow Coalition? Karl Marx Society?


        • Nina Ulloa

          i work for this very website you feel the need to relentlessly comment on good sir.

          • Mr. Obvious

            You and your employer post a racist and controversial article, and you now complain that someone disagrees?
            Oh–I forgot–you are “journalists.” Political activism is your only goal, truth be damned.

            I suggest you get back to music and leave your sophomoric analysis of race relations to CNN and Al Sharpton. Remember–not all of your readers are flaming liberal socialists. Or, in this my case, ex-reader.

            Over and out.

          • GGG

            Not really controversial at all. It’s pretty much universally agreed upon that systemic discrimination is still an issue, and worth bringing up. Well, agreed upon by everyone who isn’t an uneducated fuckhead racist like you, that is. But please, just go on regurgitating whatever Rush and Alex Jones shit out to you this morning. I’m sure the guys you blow at the local truck stop will agree with you. It’ll be great small talk to fill the void before they hand you your five bucks.

          • Mr. Obvious

            Not really.

            Just admiring your vocabulary. I remember those speech patterns in 8th grade. Thanks for taking me back!


          • GGG

            Ha, you’re great. The guy who just says “got ____?” to everything is calling me out on wit.

            You really aren’t that bright are you? Try to be a bit more creative now! C’mon! I know you can do it!

            Or is it you just don’t understand my vocab? Did you need to look up ‘systemic,’ or ‘regurgitating?’ It’s ok, they’re like 4th grade words, so a couple years ahead of you. You’re forgiven!

  14. Alex Morelli

    Is this supposed to be a real article about the music business? I always had some doubts about the legitimacy of this company Digital Music News, but with an article like this? There is no more doubts. Are you really writing an article about this subject? Like if this would really have an influence on how the music industry performs and it’s perception in society. I don’t want to ever see the name of this company again. And it is not about being white or black. It is only because I don’t have the time to be reading garbage like this. I think a lot of people in here feels the same way.

    • GGG

      You could also just not click on an article about a subject you don’t care about. Unless your situation is different than mine, I’m 99.9% positive Paul doesn’t have a gun to your head forcing you to read every article.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      The Digital Music News support desk suggests you follow these steps to resolve the situation:

      (1) at the top of your browser, you will see a range of tabs.

      (2) identify the active tab, which is this page (ie, Digital Music News)

      (3) click the gray ‘x’ on the right side of the active tab

      (4) do not open a new tab that is pointed to the address

      (5) if you accidentally find yourself coming back to bitch about how Digital Music News is a piece of s**t publication in the comments section, repeat steps (1) through (4)

  15. Playa

    I wonder how many people that have posted comments have actually worked (work) in the music industry. Or did they just see an article on race and decide to chime in off color, off topic, and off the mark comments. I know I’ve spent the past 20 years of my life giving blood sweat and tears to this industry and it has not always been as nice back. I think I’ll get with some true colleagues and discuss this article.

    • Mr. Obvious

      20+ years as guitarist and engineer. Music publishing now. Once drank beer with Dexter Gordon and found him to be delightful.

      • GGG

        Haha, what are your credits? Or let me see, 20+ years…so…I’m getting the vibe of a 35 year old from a shitty, failed punk or metal band who now runs a $20 an hour studio and still can’t book the room more than once a week.

        • Mr. Obvious

          Let’s see…Dexter Gordon died in 1990, I was drinking beer before that date, the minimum age of drinking beer is 18. And you say I am 35?

          Got math?


    • Mr. Obvious

      Paul & Co. invited the discussion by posting this racist and inflammatory article. Not everyone rides the PC bus, some of us like the honesty express.

      Not popular these days, I know. America is an apologetic cesspool of pompous wussies who have no spines. And, the guys are even worse.

    • Mr. P

      Thanks Playa, we know what’s up. Unless you WORKED at a major, know what it was like day to day dealing with corporate you really don’t have the full picture. Again thanks Paul for a great article and for bringing light to this crucial subject. Preston M.

  16. Playa

    Personally, I’m a “suit.” Came up through the mailroom, to SVP status. This is a very long on going discussion that has been happening prior to the sale of Motown to Boston Ventures/MCA, back when Motown only had white sales executives because accounts like Waxworks wouldn’t let black executives or sales reps in the door. Interesting to see little (but much) has changed.

  17. I Love Music!


    Great article! You hit the nail on the head. I am currently a consultant. I deal with white arrogance daily. I have to deal with condescending attitudes, mis-education, and white executives shutting you out from playing in their sand boxes. I have also been told hey be color blind its all good. You addressed the elephant in the room, and I thank you for that. I would also like to see the music industry address greater diversity. Just take a look at the state of R&B music. Great artists and great music that suffers from the absence of Black music departments to propel the music forward and to push it across pop formats. And I am not talking about the pop stars like JayZ, Beyonce, and Rihanna. I am talking about great music and great artists like Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Ledisi, Erykah Badu etc. that can be worked at multiple radio formats like their counterparts like Lorde, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. There is nothing more dishearteningly when you see another white exec appointed over the urban department, or you watching the AMA’s and Justin Timberlake wins R&B album of the year or Macklemore and Lewis win rap album of the year. The culture and the people need to be examined from the hiring of executives, to black music being a priority in these systems, budgets being all things equal, etc.

  18. Mr. P

    To star let me run off a few names, Paris Ely (Motown, A&M Records, CBS Records), LaBaron Taylor Columbia Records,Ernie Singleton MCA Records, William Bunky Shepard Mowtown Records, Bill Haywood Polygram Records, Henry Allen Atlantic Records, Barry Gordy Motown Tecords, Attorney Larkin Arnold Columbia Records, Ruben Rodriguez Casablanca, Henry Jefferson Atlantic Records, Attorney Lee Young Jr Motown, Step Johnson A&M and Interscope Records. Jheryl Busby MCA records, and the list goes on… These men were all V.P.’s or Sr. V.P.’s at major labels. When I entered the industry as a 19 year old CBS records college rep., these men yielded power like U.S. Senators. What I know, how I approach and analyze problems was vested in me from the above mentioned men. Some of these men took me under their wing to mentor me and show me the ropes. This is not a debate or a Fox News face off, it’s a real reality of our industry. Once major label consolation happened positions held by these giants were not replaced but phased out. The movement to phase out Black Music departments was a reality that I witnessed. Call it what you want but between 1995 to 2005 the transition was complete. However unlike in politics where you can vote with the ballot, there was no election, no lobbyist, no public outcry. Imagine a world where you had no voice in political matters, a world where there was only one party, well this is the music world we live in now. It’s called the world of the music industry. As my career developed I could always call on my executive mentors for advice and guidance, but no more. All of the legacy African American executives have been cast out and spend their time re-living the days of old. Something is very wrong with this picture. When I go to Sony Music for top level meetings two of their most senior executives are past 75 years old, great guys but still 75 and white. Is there no place for the capabilities of some our our 60 plus African American retired executives. Is it a coincidence that R&B music sales are at an historic low, that not one R&B artist achieved a number one single. Look guys this is just bad for our industry, and has impacted our cultural landscape. In the past African American executives were more powerful than the artist, why are we even mentioning Jay Z ? Yes he has achieved wonderful things but back in the day we would have never this many artists running labels or artists occupying executive seats. Is this because they are easier to control, the men that guided my career were fire breathing dragons. I am very blessed to have had the insight to embrace technological advancements, the fact is my doing so saved my career. However the fact is that “Urban” music divisions formerly called Black Music Divisions have lost their way. Many of the Urban divisions are presently headed by EOTB, everyone other than Black. This is not to say that our other brothers and sisters that are white, Asian and Latino don’t have soul, that would not be true. However to gloss over, ignore, play the reverse race card about this new world order is blatantly wrong. There is nothing wrong with equal representation, there is nothing racist about giving young qualified people a chance to lead. I teach at the university level and I encounter legions of tech savy, ambitious African American students. I have gotten a few jobs at majors only to watch them very become disheartened. Only to see their counterparts get promotions while they perform multiple jobs for the major labels. There are many instances where labels have let go of the senior staff member in the region to work the college intern into the ground. Is this fair?I want to take my hat of to you Paul for having the courage to speak out and educate us about this dark secret of the industry. This needs and must change for the good of our industry.

    • Mr. Obvious

      I did not even begin to read this due to the length and the lack of paragraphs.

  19. Xavi'

    It’s simple. Dr Claude Anderson warned you people, however no one listened to him. It all comes down to group economics. Jews and Caucasians practice group economics, these companies and businesses started small in their “initial” phase just like any organic or inorganic entity. These companies didn’t start big, the grew big. Blacks somehow cannot conceptualise growth. As long as African Americans own nothing and refuse to practice group economics you have no right to complain about CEOS.

  20. rikki

    How about black people have a hard time speaking English? That ghetto Ebonics only goes so far.

  21. handsomerandyblackladbrad1953

    Versus,if African Americans received “slave reparations”(strange,but at 60,I’ve NEVER met a former slave),in six months the corrupt “black mis-leadership”,i.e.,Jerkson,Farr-A**-Clown,Dies-To-Be-Taken-Seriously,Hutch-
    A**-Hole,Far-From-Sharpton,etc.,will have siphoned it from the black lemming supporters.

  22. handsomerandyblackladbrad1953

    How ’bout leaving “urban” music for rock and Country,both of which are starved for black stud and babe stars?????

  23. Ray

    Digital Music News looks like a mostly white boys club too.