Like many people around the world, we’ve been watching the events of the past week in the US with shock and concern: the death of George Floyd on 25 May; the subsequent protests; clashes with police across the country; the (un)presidential tweets; and powerful video testimonies like Killer Mike’s speech at an Atlanta press conference. He’s one of many artists to speak out in recent days.
The music industry’s response is coalescing around a ‘Black Out Tuesday‘ event tomorrow, which is being described as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”. Several labels have already backed the plan. “In solidarity with our Black colleagues, artists and loved ones across the country who are reeling from the senseless taking of another innocent Black life, Capitol Music Group will not be conducting any business on Tuesday, June 2 in observance of ‘Black Out Tuesday’,” announced Capitol, for example.
“We will support our employees, artists and global community on this day. The music business at WMG will not go on as usual. While this is only one day, we are committed to continuing the fight for real change. We will be using this day to collectively reflect on what we as a company can do to put action towards change and we will be taking steps in the coming weeks and months,” announced Atlantic Records, too. Columbia Records expressed a similar sentiment in its post. “This is not a day off. Instead, this is a day to reflect and figure out ways to move forward in solidarity.”
Interscope Geffen A&M is pulling all its planned releases for this week, and will instead “contribute to organizations that help to bail out protestors exercising their right to peaceably assemble, aid lawyers working for systematic change, and provide assistance to charities focused on creating economic empowerment in the Black community”.
The ‘this is not day off’ message resounds clearly: it’s a chance to step back from regular duties (well, as regular as they can be during a pandemic lockdown), to think not just about what’s happening in the US, but inequalities elsewhere in the world, and to take action. To do something.
Some of those social posts from our industry offer immediate pointers if you’re looking to do something. Change·org’s Justice for George Floyd petition is closing in on 10m signatures as we write this, while the official George Floyd Memorial Fund has passed $6.7m in donations. Other US organisations taking donations who’ve been highlighted as making a difference include the Minnesota Freedom Fund; Black Visions Collective; Reclaim the Block; Color of Change; and the Equal Justice Initiative.