Home / Blog / Events / IT2023 / #IT2023 The Friday Takeover Panel powered by the Rio Ferdinand Foundation (RFF) x Warner x Music Against Racism (MAR)

#IT2023 The Friday Takeover Panel powered by the Rio Ferdinand Foundation (RFF) x Warner x Music Against Racism (MAR)

#IT2023 On the Friday afternoon, we invited the audience to attend a panel discussion, looking at how music can tackle racism and racism and division with the industry.

Ray BLK, Artist, actor & UD ambassador
Joe Kentish, President, Warner Records UK
Paul Samuels, Founder and chair of Music Against Racism
Paul Hill, Education Co-ordinator at Show Racism The Red Card
Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, UD Chair
Jermain Jackman, Singer, songwriter, author & activist
Host: Esi (DJ & Presenter, Kiss)

Friday encouraged the audience at Talent House to take a break from the industry info and have a look into the seriousness of racism within the music industry. Lead by Esi (KISS FM), we give you a recap of some of those all important quotes from the panel.

"I mean, there's just so many challenges that any large institution faces at tackling racism and I think we have to be realistic about what is able to happen and at what speed. I also think we have to be optimistic. I think when, whenever you work within a big institution like I do, working within a big company is a choice. I don't have to be there, so my thing when I go through the door isn't to be like, "This is all terrible, so watch the place burn," my thing is to be like, "This is an opportunity. I kind of have a belief that most people that I work with want the best and want a more fairer, equitable place for everyone, for women, for people of colour." Joe Kentish, President, Warner Records UK

"I feel like the issues I face as a Black artist is the fight to be understood, the fight for people to understand why your story is important, why your genre is important, for the people who it speaks to, for the people that you represent. So when you come into a building that is predominantly white middle class, they just don't understand why this story that you have to tell is important and why you have to represent the people who you're gonna be speaking to. I feel like the disconnect is just not understanding the importance or understanding the demographic as well, so even in the decision that's made about marketing or singles or whatever - people in the buildings - because they're not from the same cultural background - they don't understand why it's necessary to do something that's culturally impactful as opposed to just a hit." Ray BLK

"When I first started, people told me not to sign Black records. I was in a meeting and they said, "There's no point in signing any Black music because Black people don't buy records," but that was 25 years ago. I'm not saying we are there, but it's definitely exciting for me to see how the building has changed and it's becoming much better, we're getting there." Paul Samuels, Founder, Music Against Racism (MAR)

“We’re looking at the experiences of Black artists. I remember a label meeting, where I was picking my lead girl for my music video, and I was looking at all the images. I was like, “Where’s the Black women?” After that meeting, somebody came up to me and said, “Jermaine, you need to remember what country you’re living in…” And that was the conversation that happened to my face. Imagine what’s happening behind my back. It reminded me I need to be steadfast. I took up all the pictures and I said, “Well, come back to me when you have some Black women. If you go look at my first music video, it’s a Black woman,” because you have to be steadfast and you have to be strong if you really want to bring about system change.”

Jermain Jackman

“Racism’s like mould. You have to scrub it off, otherwise it grows and you have to keep at it.”
|Lord Victor Adebowale CBE


On the panel…

ESI: I think the panel that I hosted was so informative. I learned a lot personally. There were amazing people on the panel from record labels, from organisations, society. We had a representative from football, from Music Against Racism and we had Ray BLK as well, so I feel like there was a lot of different perspectives and I learned a lot, a hundred percent. 

JOE: I just spoke on a panel about music’s role in the eradication of racism. It was a long panel, it got spicy. It was really interesting. Had lots of different viewpoints, had lots of great questions from the audience, which shown how engaged they’d been. It was a fantastic panel and I think everyone – including a panelist like me – got loads out of it. 

One thing to take away…

JOE: One thing I want the audience to take away from the panel – or at least from me – is that major labels like the one that I work for, the wider music industry is a place where there can be a career for you [and] is a place where you can excel. It’s a place where different skill sets are really valued and it’s a place where experiences and skills that they have are really needed. 

ESI: I think one thing that the audience can take away from the panel today is just knowing that change starts with us and there’s so much that we can do. One of the panelists spoke about being impatient and really being impatient for change – keep driving it forward, whether it’s at home, whether it’s in schools, whether it’s in your industry and college – it is important to just keep going. 

Find out more about the Rio Ferdinand Foundation‘s work here and Music Against Racism here.

Words & photography: Kat Friar

Photography: Saadiq T

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