Grammy Award-winning producer Pharrell Williams is calling out the music industry for its lack of diversity at the top.
During an interview with Bloomberg TV, the 48-year-old singer-songwriter did not hold back on his analysis of the $12.2 billion corporation. The music veteran highlighted the shortage of leadership and gatekeepers who resemble him. He also called out the lack of ownership.
“There’s not enough Black leadership. There’s not enough leadership from people of color,” said the Virginia native. “But there’s also not enough ownership — there just isn’t. As much as the music industry has given me when you really love something or love someone, you can be honest about the things that could be better. I gotta say that the ownership with people of color; it’s just not been the same. And that’s something we’re working on now.”
When the topic of non-fungible tokens was brought up as a means to break industry traditions, the N.E.R.D co-founder noted that, while he embraced the growing crypto trend, it would take much more to overcome the obstacles Black people face in the business.
However, he did praise the efforts that already have been made by this generation, which successfully has established ways to bypass industry roadblocks. “They’re essentially socialists by nature; they share everything. They stand for something. They’re no longer doing the deals that a lot of the older generations would fall for in the past,” the longtime musician told the outlet. “And there are good people in the industry who know these things, and they’re making these changes now as we speak.”
Williams long has advocated for the advancement of Blacks and Latinos. In 2020, the philanthropist launched his Black Ambition nonprofit initiative to strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps resulting from limited access to capital and resources.
Speaking at a press conference, Williams said he was inspired to start the program to give underserved communities a chance at the podium. “We need a voice. We have the smallest slice of the American pie in terms of ownership,” he said.
He added, “Because we don’t have enough of the market share, our kids end up having issues with disproportionate access to health care and disproportionate access to education. And as a culture, we have disproportionate access as it pertains to legislation and representation.”