Universal Music Group forms ‘NFT supergroup’
Universal Music Group (UMG) is capitalising on two of the biggest trends of the last year – NFTs and the metaverse – with the formation of a new ‘NFT Supergroup’.
The multinational music cooperation is collaborating with collector Jimmy McNelis to convert four of his ape NFTs into a band called Kingship.
McNelis, an early buyer of Ethereum, acquired hundreds of ape NFTs from the creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which gave anyone who bought one of the apes full commercial rights to use the image.
McNelis was later approached by Universal’s 10:22PM record label, a “next-gen Web3 label” which was set up by former Sony exec Celine Joshua.
Joshua pitched him on the idea of creating a new group and picked four characters that she thought would work as a band before signing the ‘metaverse group’ to the label.
10:22PM is now working with a team of crypto artists and animators to turn the two-dimensional apes into three-dimensional beings.
One of the band’s members, the golden ape, is currently valued at over $300,000 USD
One of the band’s members, the golden ape, is currently valued at over $300,000 USD. McNelis has a collection that he estimates is worth more than $100 million.
The company will record music for Kingship that it releases on streaming services and the band will perform and participate in video games, virtual-reality applications and across the constellation of digital experiences known as the metaverse.
Joshua and her team are going to create these characters stories’ from scratch. They will put together a marketing campaign to introduce the apes to potential fans, explain how they met and describe who they are. “It’s just like just like the way we introduce new artists to the world,” she told Bloomberg.
Kingship is just one of the ape-themed virtual bands to follow in the footsteps of Gorillaz, an English virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett.
US music producer Timbaland is also cashing in on the trend, starting new company Ape-In Productions that will also use Bored Ape Yacht Club characters to form a music group.
Timbaland’s group, named TheZoo, features six Bored Ape characters – such as Lincoln Aperaham and Safari Ferrari – and will release their first song ‘ApeSh!t’ on Wednesday, according to Variety.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Universal IPO sounds high note for music shares
Universal Music Group (UMG) share price rocketed on its first day of public trading, putting the company’s valuation at €45.9bn ($53.8bn) – a third larger than the €33.5bn ($39.2bn) reference price former parent company Vivendi placed on the firm.
The appetite for UMG shares – JP Morgan describes UMG as a “must-own asset” and “undervalued” – continues a run of positive reactions for investment into key multinational music businesses.
In the live sector, Live Nation shares are currently trading at $86.98 (€74.22), not far from an all-time high of $93.44 in June, putting the company’s value at $19.56bn (€16.69bn). CTS Eventim shares, meanwhile, were trading at €61.66 ($72.31) each, valuing the Germany headquartered firm at €5.75bn ($6.74bn). Both listed companies have seen their share price weather the pandemic as investors bet on solid future returns.
“The long term deals with their artists and with streaming services give investors an easy-to-understand asset they can invest in”
In comparison to UMG, previously-floated Warner Music Group shares were $44.03 (€37.54) each, valuing the company at $22.6bn (€19.27bn).
According to music business economist Chris Carey, CEO Media Insight Consulting, the enthusiasm around UMG’s offering also comes down to the simplicity of the business model of record labels and publishing.
“Investors can put a value on predictable income,” he says. “The long term deals with their artists and with streaming services give investors an easy-to-understand asset they can invest in.”
As it sought to take advantage of the recorded music industry’s revival of fortunes due to increasing streaming, Vivendi distributed 60% of shares in UMG to its own shareholders, leaving it with 10%. A Tencent consortium owns 20%, Pershing Square Holdings Ltd owns 10%, and French businessman Vincent Bolloré’s Bolloré Entities owns 18%. The company was floated on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange.
Insiders say the rise in valuation was expected, as many felt Universal Music Group was undervalued.
While the majority of Vivendi’s business is in major brands in publishing, magazines, TV and film, and gaming, it’s maintaining an interest in the live sector through its ticketing company See Tickets, and promoter and booking agency Olympia Production.
UMG owns merchandising brand Bravado, and runs livestream events through VenewLive, a co-venture with UMG, Big Hit Entertainment and YG Entertainment. It says it ran hundreds of livestream events during the pandemic and plans to expand the brand further in the future.
Universal’s record labels include Capitol Music Group, Interscope Geffen A&M, Motown Records, Def Jam Recordings, EMI Records and Polydor. Its global publishing catalogue contains close to 4million titles, by artists such as ABBA, Adele, The Beach Boys, Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Bob Dylan and U2.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Tomorrowland launches record label
Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, has launched Tomorrowland Music, a new record label which will be distributed worldwide through Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, a division of Universal Music Group (UMG).
The Berlin-based label will be led Alexander Neipp, Daniel Schmidt and Magnus Textor (Virgin Records) and Tina Adams (Virgin Music Label & Artist Services). Its first release, out tomorrow (27 August), will be ‘You Got the Love’ by Never Sleeps, a new project by Afrojack and Chico Rose.
Michiel Beers, CEO and founder of Tomorrowland, says: “Creativity is something that can’t be stopped at Tomorrowland. I’m very proud of how resilient our team was to find new ways of bringing Tomorrowland into the reality of the last period. We have taken the extra time to focus on projects that were on our list for a long time and one of them was definitely launching our own Tomorrowland Music label.
“Michel Van Buyten, music manager of Tomorrowland Music, will work closely together with artists to help create strong stories around their releases. With the combined forces of our dedicated label team, Tomorrowland Media House, and the different Virgin Music teams worldwide, our aim is to introduce fans in every corner of the world to the most exciting projects in electronic music.”
Tomorrowland, which has been held in Boom, Belgium, since 2005, was cancelled in 2021 for a second year running after local authorities pulled its permit, citing concerns over Covid-19.
“I’m confident the new label is going to be a special place and a great home for artists”
A digital festival, Tomorrowland: Around the World, took place on 16 and 17 July, featuring music from Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero and Charlotte de Witte.
Frank Briegmann, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Central Europe, comments: “Over the past 15 years Tomorrowland has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading festivals and electronic music brands by consistently expanding and evolving their relationship with music fans. Today, Tomorrowland is one of Europe’s most innovative music brands, respected by artists and loved by the millions of people who have attended their events around the world.
“We are delighted to have partnered with them to support the launch of their new label venture and to have created a uniquely flexible model utilising our expert and proven teams at Virgin Records Germany, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services teams around the world, and other flagship UMG labels worldwide to help drive success and create global hits for Tomorrowland. We look forward to a very successful partnership together, and to further enhancing our ability to provide partners, labels and artists with new and innovative ways to achieve global success.”
“Joining forces with Tomorrowland Music feels like love at first sight,” adds Magnus Textor, head of A&R for Virgin Records Germany. “It’s great to see that we share the same passion for electronic music and artists. Everyone who has ever been to Tomorrowland or even just seen one of their event films has experienced their dedication. Therefore, I’m confident the new label is going to be a special place and a great home for artists.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Universal Music, YG invest in livestreaming service
Universal Music Group (UMG) and K-pop label YG Entertainment have invested in KBYK Live, a livestreaming company backed by BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment.
The investment from YG – home to Korean superstars including Blackpink, Big Bang and iKon – and UMG will go towards expanding KBYK Live’s VenewLive, bringing both companies’ rosters of artists to the platform, which boasts augmented reality (AR), multi-view and 4K streaming capabilities. KBYK Live was established after Big Hit and tech start-up Kiswe partnered last summer.
The technology behind VenewLive was demonstrated at BTS’s record-breaking Bang Bang Con: The Live and Map of the Soul: One in June and October respectively. The former drew in a peak concurrent audience of 756,000, while the latter was viewed by nearly a million people worldwide.
The shows also offered a variety of premium features, delivering a full stage production from multiple angles in 4K resolution, with live chat and synchronised light sticks.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater”
“VenewLive has already livestreamed several large-scale performances last year and provided unique immersive fan concert experiences that can be offered through our cutting-edge technologies, including six-angle multi-views, 4K resolution and various interactive features,” says KBYK Live CEO John Lee. “Our technology will be the basis for enabling fans to feel closer to artists, and help artists express their energy on a digital stage.”
“We are excited about this investment as our company, with many artists competitive on a global stage, has secured a high-quality platform with leading technologies,” adds YG Entertainment COO Sung Jun Choi. “We will continue to do our best to provide more interactive experiences and new services to global fans.”
Boyd Muir, executive vice-president and CFO of Universal Music, says its unspecified investment into KBYK/VenewLive will allow the company to “evolve the opportunities and live streaming experiences for UMG artists and their fans today and into the future”.
“This past year has shown that the need for reliable and innovative livestreaming has never been greater,” he adds. “VenewLive offers some of the most creative and memorable opportunities for today’s artists to globalise their art and performances, tailored to enhance the community and fan experience.”
Pokémon enlists Katy Perry for 25th anniversary
Pokémon, one of the most popular children’s entertainment franchises in the world, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the help of Universal Music Group (UMG) artists including Katy Perry.
The franchise, which initially launched in Japan as Pocket Monsters before heading to North America and rebranding, produces video games and animation but is best known for its trading card game.
The classic game, in which players adopt the role of a Pokémon trainer and use those Pokémon to fight their opponents, has sold over 30 billion cards in 13 different languages and, in 2017, accounted for 82% of the trading card market in Europe.
“Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like Katy Perry”
The company – founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures – will mark a quarter-century with a ‘global music celebration’ dubbed P25 Music, which will feature new songs from ‘rising artists and award-winning superstars’.
“Of course, every party needs a great playlist, and to that end, we’re teaming up with UMG and some of the biggest names in music to create a global music celebration dubbed P25 Music,” reads a statement from Pokémon. “Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like pop icon Katy Perry. More details, including additional performer surprises, will be announced throughout the year.”
Where u were directly affects where u are now… ♥️
Meaning… I can’t believe I used to trade my POGS for @Pokemon cards at lunch in jr high & now I get to be part of the #pokemon25 celebration… let’s just say I’m feelin pretty⚡️electric⚡️bout it 👍🏻🤠 https://t.co/iyT2auQOn9 pic.twitter.com/16dSnRofg7
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) January 13, 2021
“Pokémon has been a constant in my life from playing the original video games on my Game Boy, to trading Pokémon TCG cards at lunch, to the adventures of catching Pokémon on the street with Pokémon GO. I’ve even visited the Pokémon Café in Japan while on tour!” says Perry.
Perry’s collaboration with the franchise comes nearly a decade after her iconic appearance in The Sims 3, for which she recorded a garbled version of her hit ‘Last Friday Night’ in Simlish – a fictional language used by The Sims.
Gidi’s Chin Okeke named MD, UMG Nigeria
Chinedu Okeke, founder of promoter Eclipse Live and executive producer of ‘Coachella in Lagos’, Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival, has been named managing director of Universal Music Nigeria.
Reporting to Sipho Dlamini, who has been also promoted to CEO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, Okeke will oversee the expansion of Universal Music Group (UMG)’s operation in both Nigeria and other English-speaking west African countries.
The hiring of Okeke is one of a trio of new appointments for UMG in Africa, with Elouise Kelly also joining as COO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, similarly reporting to the newly elevated Dlamini.
The leadership appointments cement UMG parent Vivendi’s focus on growing its activities in Africa, which also include similar initiatives in French-speaking west Africa, where the company has built a string of entertainment venues and cinemas.
UMG, the world’s largest recorded music company, is itself active in Nigeria, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco and South Africa.
“There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world”
“There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world,” says Dlamini, “as it continues to influence and inspire culture and creativity while reaching a wider audience globally each day through streaming.
“I am delighted to welcome both Elouise and Chin to the UMG family; their unique skills and experiences will only help to further establish UMG as a bedrock within the African music community that will continue to put the interests and opportunities for artists first and help elevate African talent to new levels of success at home and abroad.”
Adam Granite, UMG’s EVP of market development, adds: “I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to further develop our domestic infrastructure and label rosters within Africa. Most integral to achieving our long-term ambitions is to build a strong leadership team on the ground, with deep foundations in each country, to help grow a dynamic ecosystem for all to benefit in the future.
“Over the past few years, Sipho has shown great leadership, commitment and vision for music in Africa, helping UMG to introduce new talent to audiences around the world and identify opportunities to lead the industry in licensing and supporting new platforms to reach African music fans.
“Elouise and Chin both bring welcome new skills, proven entrepreneurship and important leadership experience that will only serve to bolster UMG’s position as the market leader across Africa.”
Global Citizen concert raises $6.9bn to tackle Covid-19
International advocacy platform Global Citizen has raised almost US$7 billion in pledges from governments, corporations and philanthropists following its Global Goal live music event and summit.
Global Goal: Unite For Our Future was broadcast on Saturday (27 June), with performances from Miley Cyrus, who covered the Beatles’ ‘Help!’ in an empty Rose Bowl Stadium; Jennifer Hudson, who sang ‘Where Peaceful Waters Flow’ from a boat on the Chicago River; and Coldplay, who dedicated their performance of ‘Paradise’ to Elijah McClain, a young black man who died in police custody in Denver last year.
Justin Bieber, Shakira, Usher, Christine and the Queens, Chloe x Halle and J Balvin were among others to perform in the virtual concert, which was produced by entertainment giants including Live Nation, Scooter Braun and SB Projects, Roc Nation, Universal Music Group, Maverick and Hamish Hamilton’s Done+Dusted.
The summit and concert aired in over 180 countries and was streamed global on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The event raised $1.5bn in cash grants and $5.4bn in loans from the European Investment Bank in partnership with Global Goal co-organiser the European Commission.
“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era”
The money is to be used to fund research for Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines and to ensure fair access to medical help for all, in a bid to combat the disproportionate impact of the disease on marginalised and disadvantaged communities, as part of the World Health Organisation’s Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator plan.
The event came as the follow-up to Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home concert, which generated almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 solidarity response fund in April.
“Global Goal: Unite for Our Future was launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are proud to join the European Commission, and over 40 governments from around the world, to ensure Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines would be made available for everyone, everywhere,” says Global Citizen CEO, Hugh Evans.
“The $6.9bn that was pledged today to support the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities is an incredible next step on our journey out of the Covid-19 era, but there is more still to be done as no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Black music executives set out standards for industry
A collective of Black music executives in the UK has sent a letter to heads of companies including Live Nation, Universal Music Group and Spotify, laying out five “immediate calls to action” to tackle structural and systematic racism within the music industry.
The letter builds on Black Out Tuesday last week, which saw the global music business down tools in solidarity with anti-racism protestors in the US and in order to reflect on what steps need to be taken to address racism in the industry and wider society.
Following on from the demonstration, which was promoted through the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, executives from Metropolis Music, the Music Managers Forum (MMF), Ministry of Sound, Sony Music, UMG, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, and more, have come together under the #TheShowMustBePausedUK initiative and newly formed Black Music Coalition to call for immediate changes at the UK’s biggest live and recorded music companies.
“The music industry has long been a microcosm for [racial] injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead”
Directed to “chairman, CEOs presidents and music industry leaders”, the letter calls on companies to implement mandatory anti-racism/unconscious bias training; commit money each year to Black organisations, educational projects and charities in the UK; implement career development for Black staff to ensure greater representation at senior management level; replace the term “urban music” with “Black music”; and establish a dedicated equality and diversity task force.
“It is a widely shared belief that the music industry has long been a microcosm for these injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead, companies which we are a part of,” reads the letter.
“Your public statements of support throughout the recent times were impassioned and we appreciated them, but we now want to drive forward tangible changes, giving power to that show of support.
“We expect that these long overdue steps will be implemented in a comprehensive manner to translate your empathy into a legacy of lasting change and we look forward to working with you to ensure that this happens.”
The letter can be read in full below, along with a list of signatories:
Dear Chairmen, CEOs, Presidents and Music Industry Leaders,
The past few weeks and months have been filled with visceral and overwhelming emotions of frustration, grief and sadness following the violent and untimely deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in America and what the circumstances of their deaths repeated to us about the position of Black people, the value of Black lives and livelihood and of the pervasive stain of racism in our society.
As the Black community mourned, many of us working in this and other industries tried to adopt our usual coping mechanism of suppressing our trauma caused from witnessing the disregard for Black life, but this time was different, we found and find ourselves unable to do so.
For far too long, the global Black community have faced racial injustice, inequality and disenfranchisement across all aspects of society and here in the UK, is no different.
As Black British people, we know of and have seen members of our community overpoliced, brutally treated and die at the hands of institutionally racist police forces and recount for example the deaths of Sarah Reed, Rashan Charles, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg and many more. Simply put, the UK is not innocent.
Further, we are all facing an unprecedented global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus yet still, it is Black and Brown members of society who are being disproportionately affected e.g. Public Health England COVID19: Review of Disparities in risks and outcomes study shows that Black males in the UK are 4.2 times more likely to die from a Covid- 19 related death than white males. Throughout this public health crisis, racism also continues to rear its head; we witnessed a blatant indifference to Black lives most recently, in the case of Black front-line key worker Belly Mujinga, who was made to work in a public facing position despite her bosses being aware she had underlying health conditions, consequently died from Coronavirus having been assaulted by a white male. The investigation into her case was swiftly closed by the police and only reopened following immense public pressure and a peaceful protest in London.
The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of Black people
These situations illustrate the ways structural and systemic racism creates poor outcomes for Black people and the Black community at large.
The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of Black people for many generations but overall, we feel it has failed to acknowledge the structural and systematic racism affecting the very same Black community and so effectively, enjoying the rhythm and ignoring the blues. We feel that as an industry, we cannot continue to benefit and profit, whilst continuing to ignore the issues of the community we benefit and profit so much from, issues which affect far too many of our artists in one way or another.
In the US, Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas launched #TheShowMustBePaused initiative and their mission was clear – to give us all a moment; a moment to pause, to exhale and find some solace. Here in the UK, the message resonated with many of us Black executives and as a result we launched #TheShowMustBePausedUK, coming together to discuss what permanent change we needed to bring about within our beloved industry.
Coming together and talking about the events outlined herein and our shared experiences, caused us to relive the many instances of injustice, racist comments and marginalisation across our lives including in our experiences within this industry. It is a widely shared belief that the music industry has long been a microcosm for these injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead, companies which we are a part of. As a result of the passionate and thought-provoking conversations over the last week; the consensus is clear – the time for change is NOW.
The consensus is clear – the time for change is NOW
As the leaders across the UK industry, who stood in solidarity with us for #BlackOutTuesday, publicly declaring your support and commitment to change, here are our immediate calls to action:
- Mandatory Anti-Racism/Unconscious Bias training across each respective company for all non-Black members of staff, led by Black Educators in the field and complimentary counselling and holistic services made available for Black members of staff with immediate effect.
- For each company to commit a specified annual budget to financially support Black organisations, educational projects and charities across the UK e.g. The Black Curriculum.
- Career development implemented for Black staff across all business areas including long standing consultants in order to develop the next generation of leaders. To address, challenge and change the lack of Black staff at Senior Management level and no Black female President/Chairwomen across the industry.
- Following statements from major labels and management companies, the term “Urban music” is to be removed from your company verbiage and replaced with “Black Music”.
- Establish a dedicated internal task force to review, and with the remit to drive and challenge both the Equality and Diversity aims within your business structure, and the advancement of Black executives across your business including equal pay, mentorship and career progression.
Your public statements of support throughout the recent times were impassioned and we appreciated them, but we now want to drive forward tangible changes, giving power to that show of support.
We expect that these long overdue steps will be implemented in a comprehensive manner to translate your empathy into a legacy of lasting change and we look forward to working with you to ensure that this happens.
The Black Music Coalition, The Show Must Be Paused UK, and on behalf of Black executives from Warner Music Group, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, BMG, Live Nation UK, Spotify and MMF.
Music business steps up after Black Out Tuesday
After the events of Black Out Tuesday, which saw music companies worldwide down tools on 2 June in solidarity with anti-racism protestors, a number of firms have announced details of follow-up initiatives intended to deliver lasting change in both their companies and across the wider music business.
As previously reported, both Live Nation, which donated to the Equal Justice Initiative, and Warner Music Group, which established a US$100 million fund to donate to charitable causes, are backing up their words with concrete actions – but they’re far from alone, with other live and recorded music businesses similarly making good on Tuesday’s promises.
London-based booking agency ATC Live, whose roster includes Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Johnny Marr and Metronomy, on Wednesday published a list of eight changes it is making to ensure its agents “do better as a team” in future.
They include committing to improving diversity among its staff and artist roster; matching donations made towards charitable causes by employees; and encouraging artists to use their public platforms as a means of promoting “positive change”.
— ATC Live (@ATCLive) June 3, 2020
Universal Music Group
Recorded music giant UMG, which also owns a number of festivals through its U-Live division, has announced plans for a ‘taskforce for meaningful change’ that will increase the company’s “efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice”.
In a letter to employees, the group’s co-chairs, UMG chief counsel Jeff Harleston and Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam, explain that the $25m ‘change fund’ will focus on six main areas: ‘aid/charitable giving’; ‘global’ (initiatives to increase equality and inclusion across UMG worldwide); ‘internal/institutional change’; ‘legislative/public policy’ (ie lobbying for political change); ‘partners’ (working with); and ‘programming/curation’ celebrating the achievements of black creators.
“We know our community, colleagues, artists and partners are suffering. We feel it and we’re living it, but we’re also energized [sic] to fight for change,” say Harleston and Habtemariam. “We’re asking for you to lock arms with us – we want to hear your voice. Now is the time to be heard!”
Creative Artists Agency has made a new appointment to its company board, in a move it says – along with its participation in Black Out Tuesday and the return this year of its Amplify leadership summit, which “inspires and connects multicultural leaders” – underscores its “commitment to diversity and inclusion”.
Lisa Joseph Metelus, CAA Sports’ head of basketball marketing and servicing, is the latest addition to the agency’s new leadership structure, the CAA Board, which was established earlier this year.
“It is critical that our board better reflects the real world,” says CAA president Richard Lovett. “Lisa is a force. Beyond being a proven leader in one of the most successful divisions of CAA Sports, she is among the most accomplished and respected executives in the industry. She has a powerful voice, both smart and visionary, and we look forward to further amplifying her insights and perspective across the agency.”
“It is critical that our board better reflects the real world”
In addition to its symbolic actions on Black Out Tuesday, music streaming service Spotify says it is matching all financial donations made by its employees to organisations “focused on the fight against racism, injustice, inequity, and [for] driving meaningful change.”
This 19 June (or Juneteenth, the holiday marking the end of slavery in the US), direct-to-fan music and merch platform Bandcamp will donate 100% of its cut of sales to civil rights organisation the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
The company will also provide a further $30,000 annually to organisations campaigning for racial justice and creating opportunities for people of colour.
“The current moment is part of a long-standing, widespread and entrenched system of structural oppression of people of color [sic], and real progress requires a sustained and sincere commitment to political, social, and economic racial justice and change,” reads a blog post announcing the measures. “We’ll continue to promote diversity and opportunity through our mission to support artists, the products we build to empower them, […] how we operate as a team, and who and how we hire.”
Google’s YouTube says it has made a $1 million donation to the Center for Policing Equity, a think tank that works with police forces across the US to address discriminatory behaviour.
“We stand in solidarity against racism and injustice and are pledging $1m in support of efforts to stop it,” says the company.
Live music community rallies for Covid-19 relief
High-profile acts from around the world are taking part in a number of upcoming virtual events to raise money and awareness for Covid-19 relief funds, as the live music community continues to pull its weight in the fight against the disease.
Virtual benefit events have been a feature of lockdown from the very beginning, with the Lady Gaga-curated, Global Citizen-organised One World: Together at Home an early pioneer of the space. The mammoth livestreamed benefit event raised almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund, setting a new a record for the most money generated by a remote music festival.
Now Global Citizen is teaming up with the European Commission for Global Goal: Unite for our Future, a campaign seeking to raise funds for the development and distribution of Covid-19 testing, treatments and vaccines.
On 27 June, high-profile artists including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Coldplay and J Balvin will join philanthropists and world leaders in an international pledging summit to call on governments to commit to the funding needed to ensure fair access to Covid-19 treatment.
Music industry giants including Live Nation, Scooter Braun and SB Projects, Adam Leber (Maverick), Jay Brown (Roc Nation) and Michele Anthony (Universal Music Group) are involved in producing the event.
Exclusive experiences, including a virtual happy hour with Adam Lambert and virtual concerts from Chloe X Halle and Fher Olvera, lead singer of Mexican rock band Maná, also form part of the campaign.
Global Citizen is teaming up with the European Commission for Global Goal: Unite for our Future
Independent LA-based electronic music companies Brownies & Lemonade and Proximity yesterday (28 May) announced the second edition of their Digital Mirage festival, set to take place from 5 to 7 June.
The first outing of the event, which saw performances from Alsion Wonderland, Tokimonsta and Sofi Tukker, raised over $300,000 for the Sweet Musicians Relief Fund. Digital Mirage 2 will feature acts including A Trak, Baauer, Boys Noize and Hot Chip, with all proceeds going to Plus1’s fund for Covid-19 relief.
Fans can register for the event here.
Eschewing the virtual world for the real thing, French DJ David Guetta is set to make his second rooftop performance in New York on Saturday, following on from a similarly distanced performance in Miami last month. The Miami show raised $750,000 for Feeding South Florida, Feeding America, World Health Organisation and Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris.
The New York concert will raise money for the Mayor’s fund to advance New York city, as well as the international organisations that benefited from Guetta’s first show.
Elsewhere in the US, acts including Pearl Jam, Macklemore and Dave Matthews are participating in the virtual All in WA event on 10 June to raise money for Covid-19 relief efforts across Washington state. The concert, which will air on the local NBC affiliates, can be streamed on Amazon’s Twitch channel, and will be available on Amazon Prime after it airs.