Nielsen, GLAAD unveil new data on music artists' impact on anti-LGBT policy fights

GLAAD Vice President of Programs Zeke Stokes was alongside Nielsen's Director of Branded Partnerships for Music and Film, Matt Yazge, today in Nashville at the annual Music Business Association conference (Music Biz 2016) to unveil data from an upcoming Harris Poll that shows how the music industry is impacting LGBT lives and the movement for equality and acceptance. Perhaps most noteably, the poll finds that standing up for LGBT equality brings positive attention to musicians from fans.

The two presented the data during a session entitled, "Accelerating Acceptance: Music and the Importance of LGBT Fans," a first-of-its-kind session for the conference.

Musician protests, Nielsen finds, are considered the most effective avenue when it comes to raising awareness around LGBT issues, with 60% of respondents citing it as such. In addition, 64% of respondents cited Bruce Springsteen as a significantly influential musician, indicating that his decision to cancel a concert in North Carolina to protest the state’s harmful anti-LGBT law was a major factor in the chain reaction of cancellations the state experienced in its wake, even reaching beyond music. 

With musicians like Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato cancelling concerts in North Carolina to stand against the state's discriminatory HB2 law, awareness of such legislation has increased dramatically. Many musicians, including Mumford & Sons and Belinda Carlisle, have used their concerts to speak out against anti-LGBT legislation and to publicly advocate for full acceptance and equality.

The Harris Poll findings show that artists who protest discriminatory legislation have the support of a majority of Americans, with 60% saying they support artists who speak up about LGBT equality, 51% citing concert cancellations as an effective form of protest, and 50% saying they would attend a concert at another venue if an artist cancelled a show in protest. In fact, Western states are 23% more likely to listen to artists that protest and over 70% of American said they would be more or equally likely to attend an artist’s concerts, support artists, buy an artist’s albums, and listen to an artist’s music if the musician is standing against anti-LGBT legislation. 


Musicians are helping to build awareness about laws regarding bathrooms, therapists, services, and protections for the LGBT community, Nielsen finds. In the US, just under half of population is aware of laws against transgender people using the bathroom of their gender identity. The study reveals people in the South and those who identity as conservatives are generally more aware of the bills than others.

Nielsen cited previously released data that demonstrates how influential the LGBT community is on music. The gay community spends 48% more on music a year than non-LGBT fans of music. Specifically, LGBT fans are more likely to spend money on going to concerts, downloading music, and streaming music than non-LGBT fans. This new research shows how a musician's support for the LGBT community is not only an act of compassion, but also a worthy investment of their time and public platform.


This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 11 and 13, 2016 among 1,424 adults (aged 18 and over).

LGBT issues in general took center stage at the conference, as Music Biz President James Donio concluded his President’s Address at this morning’s Awards Breakfast & Presentations with a personal plea.

“As a gay man, I cannot help but think that I might not be delivering this speech today if new state laws that allow various kinds of discrimination against people for who they are, how they live, who they love, or what they believe – and that are being considered in far too many other states – were in place when I was building my career here,” said Donio. “Fortunately, I had some strong and enlightened advocates who guided and fostered my journey so I could have the chance to be where I am today. My fervent hope is that the journeys of those in the worldwide LGBT family can receive that same acceptance and encouragement, in the face of extremely troubling judgment and narrow-mindedness that I feel simply cannot be allowed to prevail.”

Music Biz 2016, taking place now through May 18 at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel in Nashville, is the music industry’s premier event, giving the commerce and content sectors a place to meet with trading partners, network with new companies, and learn about new trends and products impacting the music business. Registration remains open both online and on-site. For more information or to sign up for the conference, visit