Earlier this week, dozens of music-related companies around the world took part in Blackout Tuesday, demonstrating support for the protests against racial inequality and police brutality that erupted following the May 25th killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. While many musicians played their part in speaking up and/or donating to funds of their choice, they also called out organizations that hadn’t done the same.
Emphasizing the music industry’s history of exploiting minorities’ talent, artists such as The Weeknd and Kenny Beats voiced their opinions, demanding that music-related companies take action beyond the social media timeline, starting with their own pocketbooks. Demonstrating his commitment, the “Blinding Lights” singer has already put $500,000 toward the cause, tweeting “To my fellow respected industry partners and execs- no one profits off of black music more than the labels and streaming services. I gave yesterday and I urge you to go big and public with yours this week.”
“No releases should come out for the week shit maybe for the month,” Kehlani wrote in a since-deleted tweet on June 2nd. “And if they do, these companies need to pledge to giving the Black artists who release ALL THE MONEY MADE FROM IT.” Many more musicians have joined in on the call to action, reposting a message originally shared by University of Southern California professor Josh Kun, calling for record companies to start by “retroactively paying back all the Black artists, and their families, they have built their empires on.”
Since the barrage of musician support, the three biggest labels (Warner Music, Universal Music and Sony Music) have created initiatives and contributed over $100,000,000 towards social reform programs. While several businesses have already stepped up, it’s expected that more will join in. Watch this space for updates on how the music industry reacts to this public outcry for change.