Execs Talk Breaking Down Barriers, and the Ones That Remain, at Billboard's Pride Summit

At Billboard's inaugural Pride Summit in Los Angeles on Thursday (Aug. 8), six LGBTQ-identifying executives from Billboard's list of 40 industry-shaping LGBTQ execs sat down with Billboard's Ian Drew, consumer editorial director, for a panel entitled Pride In the Corner Office. At one point, the conversation turned to the barriers to diversity that technology has torn down in the music biz – and the ones that still need to be.   

"Barriers are down, absolutely," says Eliah Seton, president of independent music and creator services, Warner Music Group. "Nothing separates the fan from the artist, and streaming has done that, technology has done that…. New, unique voices an old school executive might never have thought to back will be backed by the fans. It's an amazing innovation."  

Even with that progress, Cindy Nguyen, senior artist brand strategist, Create Music Group, notes that entrenched industry powers can still get in the way of authentic representation. "As we heard on the Emerging Artists panel earlier, it's not all sunshine and rainbows – [artists] might feel discouraged from coming out." To counteract that, Nguyen says "the staff has to reflect that community."

"The way to fix these issues is make sure the people working at our company represent all these perspectives and there's space for everybody," says Jess Caragliano, co-founder/CEO, Terrorbird Media/Terrorbird Publishing.

Seton also pointed out that there's more to it than just hiring a diverse staff – they need to be given a seat at the table. "Diversity without inclusion could have a counter effect," he opined.