UNSTOPPABLE C.E.O BEN WYNTER LAUNCHES NEW ‘POWER UP’ INITIATIVE TO TACKLE ANTI-BLACK RACISM WITHIN THE UK MUSIC INDUSTRY

January 2021
Shaped by 80 Black music professionals, PRS Foundation’s new programme offers targeted support to remove barriers for Black music creators and industry professionals, and calls for tangible action from the music industry

PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development have today announced the launch of ‘Power Up’, a brand new ambitious, long-term initiative designed and steered with over 80 Black music professionals, aimed at supporting 40 Black music creators and industry professionals per year with grants and industry-wide support as well as addressing anti-Black racism and disparities in the music sector. Set up and managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group and the Black Music Coalition, the initiative brings together several music industry partners across all sectors to accelerate change. Supporters include AIM, the BPI, the FAC, Ivors Academy, the MMF, the MPA, MPG, The Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music and the PRS Members’ Fund who bring added-value support to power up participants.

  • Keith Harris OBE, MD Keith Harris Music Ltd. (Artist Manager, Consultant)
  • Paulette Long OBE, Westbury Music (Music Publisher, Consultant, Dep’ Chair, UK Music Diversity Task Force.
  • Ammo Talwar MBE, Punch Records & UK Music Diversity Task Force Chair
  • Sheryl Nwosu, Lawyer and chair of the Black Music Coalition
  • Mulika Sannie, Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, Kobalt
  • Jackie Davidson, JD Management
  • Ben Wynter, Co-Founder of Power Up, Founder Unstoppable Music & AIM Entrepreneur and Outreach
  • Char Grant, A&R Director 0207 Def Jam, Founder of The Debrief & Black Music Coalition Executive Committee Member
  • Natalie Wade, Small Green Shoots
  • Lorna Clarke, PRS Foundation Trustee
  • Les Spaine, CEO Spaine Music Company
  • Danny D, Tim & Danny Music (Stellar Songs, Delirious Blacksmith Records)
  • Taponeswa Mavunga, Director of Africa, Sony Music.

More than 80 Black music executives and creators have come together to contribute and steer ‘Power Up’. Senior Power Up Manager, Yaw Owusu set up and chaired seven focus groups covering Recording and Publishing, Live, Platforms, Gender, Sexuality, Enterprise and Regionality.

Power Up’ aims to break down barriers to create a fairer, more equitable music industry, to achieve better representation in all sectors of the UK music industry, and to amplify the work of Black creators and industry professionals, through two strands, the Power Up Participant Programme and the Power Up Movement. The Power Up Participant Programme is a long-term network addressing barriers facing 40 Black participants (20 Black music creators and 20 Black executives and industry professionals) each year. Participants will be at crucial career stages, working in any genre or sub-sector, and will be in need of support to progress, powering up through:

Co-Founder of Power Up, Ben Wynter said: “I am proud and excited that after a long six months, Power Up is finally able to launch. Having been on the receiving end of unconscious bias and the structural and systemic anti-Black behaviour that occurs within our industry, I know first-hand just how important Power Up is. Following on from Black Out Tuesday and seeing all of the posts of solidarity, I realised that there was an opportunity to seize the moment and put something in place that would encourage the dialogue to last beyond the 2020 BLM movement and have a lasting impact over the next decade and beyond. Step forward Power Up!

Rather than finger point and fight the industry, I wanted to be able to work with, help, encourage and guide the industry into a more inclusive, representative and equitable music industry. This is why industry participation in Power Up is so important.

With the participant programme the aim is to Power Up 40 Black creators, executives and industry professionals annually to break through the glass ceilings and reach their full potential. Whilst through the Power Up Movement there is an opportunity to influence policy, break down barriers, accelerate change and influence the future of the music industry. For me it was essential for the programme to be led by Black professionals who understand the nuances of anti-Black behaviour which is why we have had more than 80 Black music industry professionals help to guide this programme and a steering committee consisting of successful Black professionals to help shape decisions and policy. I am hugely excited to launch this programme and discover the ways in which Power Up will move the needle on anti-Black behaviour and shape the future of the UK music industry.”

The Black Lives Matter movement highlighted the need for conversations around the structural and systemic anti-Black racism that occurs in today’s society. #TheShowMustBePausedUK in June 2020 led to more open discussions within music which brought to light the many barriers that face Black talent, including structural and systemic racism and injustice, everyday prejudice in the workplace, marginalisation and underrepresentation, economic inequality, and inequitable financial benefit.

The UK Music’s 2020 Diversity Report found that only 7.8% of the music industry workforce surveyed identified as Black (35.05% of Ethnic Minority respondents). In a survey conducted by PRS Foundation, out of 400 Black applicants to a 2020 deadline, 78% said they had experienced racism within the music industry. 90% agreed that there is a lack of visibility of Black industry professionals in senior roles, and 69% agreed that music funding is less accessible for Black talent.

To bring about meaningful and lasting change, public solidarity is not enough. It must be followed by commitments, accountability and action.

‘Power Up’ was created to address the barriers that face Black music industry creators, professionals and executives in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. PRS Foundation is proud to champion inclusion and diversity in the music industry with the Power Up movement being just one of many actions of commitment they are taking to stand up against injustice and support the Black music community.

You can watch back the Power Up launch premiere documentary “Time To Power Up” below:

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