Posted On: Feb. 18, 2023
Keychange presents Pledge Action Plan and next steps towards achieving gender balance in the
global music industry
Keychange at Reeperbahn Festival photo credit Robin Schmiedebach
Today, Keychange the pioneering international initiative for gender equity in the music industry, shares an update on the progress of the Keychange Pledge and reveals its Pledge Action Plan outlining next steps. Featuring feedback provided by more than 200 global pledge signatories over 5 years, the Pledge Action Plan has been created by Keychange based upon data analysis provided by Erasmus University Rotterdam. The action plan highlights progress made, challenges faced, and the next steps required for Keychange to continue its work in reaching gender equity in the music industry.
2017 saw the launch of the Keychange Pledge and its flagship “50/50 by 2022” campaign. Music festivals and conferences were invited to take a pledge to achieve 50/50 representation across their stages by 2022. The Pledge evolved in 2018 with an invitation to all music organisations to pledge to achieve at least 50% representation of women and gender expansive people in one or more area (s) of their work, by 2022 or in a self-determined time frame.
Five years of engaging global music organisations in gender balance frameworks, Keychange can now reveal some key takeaways from the research:
What gets measured gets done. 2021 - 64% of signatories already achieving or surpassing their pledge targets. More than 200 signatories from around the world shared data around their pledge progress, demonstrating that by the end of 2021, 64% of reporting pledge signatories had already achieved or surpassed their pledge of at least 50% representation of women and gender expansive artists and professionals. Further signatories are working to self-defined timeframes (all within 5 years of signing the pledge) and making significant advances towards achieving their pledge targets.
Keychange is a Global Movement: Gender inequity is a global issue which requires action on a global scale. The Keychange Pledge is open to signatories from all countries, and with 222 out of 613 signatories, the UK currently has the highest number of Keychange Pledge signatories. Germany follows with 57, and Canada with 41 signatories. Over 160 signatories have joined the movement in Keychange’s further partner countries of Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Norway, Iceland, France, Spain, Poland and Ireland.
The Keychange movement is increasingly attracting engagement from around the world, with signatories from Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Nigeria and beyond now contributing to the international Keychange Pledge network, each taking individual actions to address gender inequity within their work.
Targeted Action Works. Diverse gender representation is key to creating a sustainable future for the music industry, and with greater diversity comes greater success. Keychange Pledge signatories, EFG London Jazz Festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag, EBU Music, SACEM, Tunecore and Wide Awake Festival share their perspectives on the benefits of prioritising gender-balanced workforces, rosters and line-ups and why it’s good for business.
Further signs of progress: the expansion of the Keychange Pledge to the wider music industry is the right direction and the next priority for the movement. As of 2022, 40.5% of the 613 Keychange Pledge signatories are festivals, 9.1% are Associations (organisations, trade bodies), 8% are management and/or booking agencies and 6.9% represent concert halls and venues.
Keychange now operates in all corners of the music industry but in order to create authentic lasting change, gender equity urgently needs to be deepened in every sector. Actors from the broader music ecosystem for example agents, managers, publishers and labels, conferences, concert halls, conservatoires, universities, schools, charities and trade bodies, broadcasters, publications, organisations with youth groups and education programmes, awards ceremonies and beyond need to embed a culture of gender equality in their specific areas of work.
Keychange Pledge - 4 Point Action Plan
Next steps for The Pledge: Keychange will develop new frameworks, targeted campaigns and global reach to support its signatories in achieving their pledged ambitions via a new 4 point plan focussed on development and an industry-wide call to action under the following headings:
Beyond Gender: Working towards gender balance within the music industry requires actions that represent women and gender expansive people from all under-represented backgrounds. This requires a strong focus on intersectionality when creating pledges and monitoring progress, ensuring representation of and direct input from women and gender expansive people of all races, ethnicities, (dis)abilities and social classes, throughout all of Keychange’s activities.
Urgent Action: Encouraging the global music industry to create detailed, time-focussed, intersectional pledges to proactively bring about sector-wide change.
Global Community: Creating roundtables, workshops and conversation spaces for different sectors of the music industry to share best practices, information, and tips for development and progression.
Education & Activism: Keychange will develop new guidelines, best practices and monitoring support to individual signatories.
Read the full Keychange Pledge Action Plan
The Keychange Pledge Action Plan has been developed by Keychange, based on analysis from Erasmus University Rotterdam of information shared by Keychange Pledge Signatories. The full report will be made available on the Keychange website in the coming weeks.
The launch of the Pledge Action Plan coincides with a busy schedule of Keychange activity in Brussels on Wednesday 15th February. The Keychange Advocacy Event will be held at the Grands Carmes community space followed by a special Keychange Presents live event featuring alumni from the Keychange Talent Development Programme: British alternative-soul singer, Tawiah and Swedish dream rock quartet, The Hanged Man.
The two shows will take place at the Keychange Pledge signatory and partner venue Ancienne Belgique - one of Belgium’s best concert halls and coordinator of Liveurope, the live music platform for new European talent. More information and free tickets here.
Ancienne Belgique also plays host to the first Full Network Meetup of the Keychange Talent Development Programme on the 14th & 15th February. It is curated by Sarah Bouhatous, programmer and co-ordinator at the Scivias platform, which works for greater inclusion in music in Wallonia-and-Brussels and will be attended by the 2023 cohort of 74 artist and innovator participants from 12 countries across Europe and Canada. Listen to the artists via the
Keychange Soundcloud Playlist and find out more about each of the 2023 cohort via the Keychange database of artist and innovator participants.
Targeted Action Works: perspectives from Keychange Pledge Signatories
“Being involved in Keychange has absolutely had a positive effect, namely on our staff who all feel enthused to meet the pledge as part of our own internal gender equality agenda. We have created work that specifically engages women and gender minorities, largely through our Creative Engagement programme. Our partners have also given positive feedback about our gender equality agenda, particularly our funders, who have seen evidence of the strong representation in our programme.” - EFG London Jazz Festival
“We actively communicate our Keychange Pledge towards our audience and partners. This undoubtedly has a positive impact on our positioning as a sustainable event.”
- Eurosonic Noorderslag
“To be the 500th signatory (since June 2021) of the Keychange gender pledge made it clear to the EBU radio organisations and the wider music world that we are actively part of the movement. It helps to communicate our engagement for a gender-balanced environment in the music industry. To be an official partner of Keychange enables us to raise the visibility of gender-related questions among our member organisations and can also be a good support when it comes to addressing gender questions with them and other music partners.”
- EBU Music
"SACEM is proud to support the Keychange Pledge and to be part of this international movement working towards greater gender equality in the music industry. For several years, SACEM has been committed to providing concrete solutions and strengthening the position and representation of women in the music industry. As a collective management organisation that carries out a social protection mission for its creators, it is our duty to set an example and push hard to gain greater visibility for women and all gender minorities. Thanks to the Keychange Pledge, we can now go even further to develop a more just and inclusive music industry."
- Serge Perathoner, Chair of the SACEM Board of Directors
“In any company, innovation is born out of the free exchange of diverse ideas. When you have a company made up of people from diverse backgrounds, that exchange occurs more naturally and you’re able to speed up the pace of progress and innovate. It’s important that companies proactively work towards greater intersectional representation to ensure that every voice is heard and that employees’ contributions are valued. I think it’s undeniable that more diverse workplaces foster a more welcoming environment where employees are provided with the support they need to be successful and innovative.”
- Andreea Gleeson, Chief Executive Officer, TuneCore
“Gender representation has been a core part of the Wide Awake booking process ever since our debut. We want our festival to become a home for young people with a range of progressive outlooks and the Keychange Pledge keeps us aware of our responsibility to make gender diversity a fundamental pillar of Wide Awake. A more diverse line up leads to a more diverse and ultimately larger audience and we’re extremely proud to have Caroline Polachek headlining this year along with more female artists high up on the bill. We’re aware we still have many areas in which we can improve and we’ll continue to do that year on year but we hope that by supporting Keychange we can help to make its agenda commonplace across the industry.”
- Jamal Guthrie, Partnerships & Marketing at Wide Awake Festival
“It’s the responsibility of every single member of the music industry to insist upon and bring about urgent, progressive, lasting change. Keychange is proving that targeted action to break down the systemic and cultural barriers preventing women and gender expansive artists and professionals from entering, and succeeding in the music industry is working - so now is the time to take this even further.
From music schools and conservatories including more women and gender expansive composers in curriculums, to radio stations improving representation in playlisting and staffing, to collections societies and trade bodies increasing gender representation in their memberships, much needs to change - and now.
For this reason, we’re calling upon the entire global music community to join Keychange in taking urgent action towards a diverse, representative and sustainable music industry for all.”
- Francine Gorman, Keychange
Join Keychange, and be part of this vital movement for change