More than a month after Blackout Tuesday, the social media blackout that occurred on June 2nd with the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement continues to make waves through the music industry. Spurred by the nationwide success of Blackout Tuesday’s efforts and more than 14 million users utilizing the hashtag, the Black Music Action coalition took shape.
The organization coming to be known as BMAC was formed by some of the industry’s most prominent Black executives, artist managers, lawyers, and agents, and has already received words of support from more than a hundred notable acts like Travis Scott, Pharrell, and Lil Nas X. Founding members have made it clear that they are hoping to seize the momentum of this moment beyond a fleeting act of solidarity on social media and use this time to build a foundation for long-term change.
Despite the countless contributions from Black artists and the teams surrounding them, inequities persist in business. BMAC, over the past month, has been working to institute corrections by arranging meetings with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, Apple, YouTube, and BMG. There is a particular focus on inequities in studio treatment of Black artists, alongside concerns over processes for recruiting people of color to work at and advance with equal opportunity within these organizations. BMAC is hopeful that addressing these efforts will be a start towards balancing the scales that have long tipped in the opposite direction, and results are already hopeful — YouTube began by pledging $100 million to support Black creators and artists, showing that this kind of direct action can have demonstrable results.
Throughout 2020, social media has bloomed into one of the most important ways to disseminate news and share critical information, and the Black Lives Matter movement has only underscored some of the ways that platforms formerly deemed “just for fun” have begun to play an important role in social justice. TikTok reported 12 billion views for the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Twitter recently set the record at 677k for most app downloads in a single day, as people have returned to the app in droves or decided to dive into the digital conversation for the first time.
The power of social media has not been lost on those affiliated with BMAC, with many seizing the opportunity to jump into the #ShareTheMic campaign, a trend in which prominent white artists, actors, and activists hand over the keys to their accounts to black industry counterparts for the day. The hashtag alone has reached over 300 million people on Instagram.
The questions remain: how are major industry players fighting racism? What sort of tangible action are those in power at these organizations taking? Even if folks in the industry are unable to answer these concerns now, BMAC is making sure they are at least a point of consideration. Having a seat at the table is the first step to making sure that as the show goes on, it does so with a wider and brighter spotlight for everyone.
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