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The Music Industry: Vows, Pledges, Reflection, and Action

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It feels odd writing about music when our nation is grappling with the systemic racism that it’s built upon. Right now, we should all turn off the music and reflect. Sit in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to think about the eternity of foundational cruelty, the countless lives stolen that weren’t captured on film, and the families that live in communities “protected” by their oppressors.

Through our dismantled society, the music industry has stepped up to show their support for the movement. Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two black women working in music marketing, originally proposed Tuesday as #TheShowMustBePaused a day of reflection for the music industry. Their efforts quickly spread to become #BlackOutTuesday. Musicians, creatives, and everyday humans posted a black box on Instagram and other social media platforms as a display of solidarity. Although the message became convoluted when the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag used under some of the posts muffled important information, the visual was jarring and the posts well-intentioned.

“Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.” Thomas and Agyemang issued in their statement.

Apple Music responds in their tweet

But the industry didn’t stop with a post. IGA, a group of record companies, has announced they will cancel all releases for the week to reflect and implement change. Apple music removed all of its online content. The Apollo Theater rescheduled its fundraiser, while Warner Music Group also used the day for reflection and donation. Spotify matched employee donations to social justice campaigns, and Universal Music Group created a task force to improve equality within the company.

While some labels are reflecting, others in the music industry are demanding action. Bandcamp vowed to donate its full cut of sales to the NAACP on every Juneteenth, an annual commemoration of the end of slavery. Jon Platt, CEO of Sony/ATV and the only black leader of a major global music company, wrote an op-ed pushing the industry to follow their promise with action.

Jon Platt, CEO of Sony/ATV

“My dream is for our companies to be an orchestra of races, creeds and colors.” Platt wrote. So once you reflect, remember to turn the music back on and sing out against injustice.

Julia Colasanti
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