Deep Dive with Paulette Long OBE (Music Industry Consultant, Publisher and Director)

In our quarterly Deep Dive series, we speak with leaders in the creative industries to hear about how they use their position to advocate for change, the challenges they have faced, and the creative, personal and professional impact this has had on them. 


Our first guest is CLOCK Sector Expert Paulette Long OBE. Paulette’s illustrious 35-year music industry career spans music publishing, artist management, PR, and marketing. Paulette is a leading voice and passionate advocate for diversity in music, arts and culture. Here she talks about why a lack of diversity persists in the creative industries, the work she does to address this and how campaigns like The Show Must Be Paused are generating conversations that could achieve real change.  

A new report published by female-focused community CNTRL analyses gender and ethnic diversity in the UK’s music trade organisations. It reveals that women occupy only 27% of CEO positions, and there are no Black women in these positions. And only five Black women in positions at board level, out of 185 seats. And outside the senior level positions, two out of 118 are held by Black women. In 2020, why do you think this is still the case?                                 

I think there is a level of invisibility surrounding the problem. One being that this is an issue, the other being that career progression seems to be a big problem. Also, just the fact that there are so many small things that play a factor. But the fact is there is no real reason that it should be happening because it shouldn’t. I think the system also plays a huge factor. The system does what the system does. It replicates what is already there regardless of the job description, the interview process or who it is companies believe best for the role.

Tell us about any of your current projects or initiatives which aim to change the disparities we see in this report.

The work I do is generally about education. It’s about calling people to task, not just in the music industry, but in as many sectors as I can touch. Whether through UK Music or Arts Council England or newer groups like the All Black Coalition as well as setting up my boutique agency Zero 81.

There certainly seems to be a greater awareness of the issues revealed in the report. #theshowmustbepaused was started by two Black women in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other Black US citizens.  Their aim was to disrupt business as usual and amplify conversations around long-standing racism and inequality in industries that, as they say, profit from Black artists and their art. 

On the back of this, the global music and wider creative industries created the Blackout Tuesday campaign. It’s still early days but in your opinion, what has been the impact on the music industry and the wider culture?

I sense a shift I haven’t sensed in the last 35 years in the industry. There have been blips in the past, but all fleetingly brief. They come and go without much change happening. But I feel a real momentum this time around because more people are engaged, and more people are outraged. People are seeing for the first time where their biases have been and are recognising their privileges because conversations are happening and they are open. I think the conversations happening this time around are going to bring about lasting change. They are helping people understand how to be better.

In 2011 you were elected by the PRS for Music board of directors to serve as their Deputy Chair (Publisher). The first female and the first Black candidate to occupy that position. How have you ensured you have a seat at the table, to coin a phrase from the report, and what advice would you have for other women in the industry?

I speak with my voice, and I bring a different perspective to the table. I’m not trying to be a major, I’m not trying to be legal and I’m not trying to be a financier. I come with my voice, my experience and my knowledge. That’s what I bring to the table. I also try to continue to highlight the disparities with diversity and try to continue the conversation surrounding it. It’s something that I’m always a big part of too because it’s also my own lived experience, so it’s close to my heart

If you work in the creative industries and would like to transform your professional experience into a formal high-level qualification, please click here. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.