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Music orgs mark a year since Blackout Tuesday

It was a year ago today that the international music industry paused operations for 24 hours, taking a stand against racism following the killing of George Floyd

By IQ on 02 Jun 2021

Black Lives Matter protesters in London, UK

Black Lives Matter protesters in London, UK

image © Alisdare Hickson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A number of music businesses and associations are marking the one-year anniversary of the Blackout Tuesday/#TheShowMustBePaused campaign, which turned social media dark on 2 June 2020 in solidarity with anti-racism protesters in the United States.

WME recognised the milestone yesterday (1 June) with a ‘day on’ of workshops and programming focusing on racial equality.

According to Deadline, the day – which was open to partners and clients of both WME and sister brand Endeavor Content – included a conversation between actor Michael B. Jordan, Endeavor chairman Patrick Whitesell and Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights group Color of Change, and a review of Leaving $10B on the Table, a study of Hollywood’s economic losses due to lack of diversity.

There was also a discussion about colourism in entertainment with YouTube channel The Grapevine and a film-focused workshop titled ‘Tools for Talent, Production Companies and Studios to #ChangeHollywood.’

Other booking agencies, including UTA, CAA, ICM Partners and APA, also similar events to mark the anniversary.

North of the border, Canada’s industry leaders will today sign the first ‘Declaration Against Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry’.

“The eradication of anti-black racism requires a commitment to anti-racism”

The initiative, coordinated by BDRB (Breaking Down Racial Barriers), CIMA (Canadian Independent Music Association) and Advance (Canada’s Black Music Business Collective), will host a virtual declaration signing event today for industry figures to make public their commitment to anti-black racism. The event will include speakers Andrew Cash (president, CIMA), Keziah Myers (executive director, Advance), Ian Andre Espinet (co-founder, BDRB), David ‘Click’ Cox (co-founder, BDRB), Shauna de Cartier (president, Six Shooter Records), Steve Kane (president, Warner Music) and Erin Benjamin (president/CEO, Canadian Live Music Association), as well as performances from Jully Black and Shantel May.

“To build an inclusive Canadian music and entertainment industry, it is critical to address the anti-black racism that exists in the systems and working environments within which black music professionals and creatives operate,” the declaration reads. “The eradication of anti-black racism requires a commitment to anti-racism – an active, conscious and ongoing effort to work against racism: to acknowledge; to atone; to create mechanisms that dismantle systems which perpetuate racism, and to create actionable solutions with measurable outcomes.”

Supporters can also sign the declaration here.

In Brussels, Impala, the association of independent music companies, is “asking as many businesses as possible to use the anniversary as an occasion to contribute to the debate” by responding to its diversity and inclusion survey.

“This work is very deep, and it has to be thoughtful”

Helen Smith, Impala’s executive chair, says: “Impala is marking the first anniversary of Blackout Tuesday by taking stock of what has been worked on in the last year and calling on independent businesses to respond to our survey so we can build a picture of the sector and map best practices for the future. As from today, members can also sign up to our next diversity and inclusion training. We also publish our practical guidance for members, both companies and associations.

“Last year was a day of reflection, let this year be a day of both reflection and action. Let’s build a picture of our sector across Europe and help it evolve.”

Elsewhere, Vice reports that the three major labels – Universal, Sony and Warner Music – have paid out some US$37m towards charities and other organisations campaigning for racial equality in the year since Blackout Tuesday.

That amounts to around 16% of the total $225m pledged ($100m apiece for Warner and Sony and $25m by Universal), though the companies did not specify a deadline for the money to be paid out.

“We’re talking about literally generations of racism and systemic racism and power dynamics. This work is very deep, and it has to be thoughtful,” says Warner Music Group’s Yvonne Moore.


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