The Music Industry's Pledge for #BLM and Blackout Tuesday Failures

Good intentions, at best. An ad campaign, at worst.

Elly Zulaikha
June 26, 2020

At the beginning of the month, after the wake of George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, thousands took to the streets to protest and demanded a change in the law and order system. Online platforms then seemingly were covered in black squares on June 2, which quickly failed the Black Lives Matter hashtags containing important information relating to the movement. Let’s briefly observe how it all started, the effects it left behind, and what’s next for the initiative?

Standing in solidarity

Atlantic Records (started by marketing executive Jamila Thomas and Platoon's Artist Campaign Manager, Brianna Agyemang), recently started an initiative on June 2 for the whole music industry to stop their business activities and instead, observe and stand in solidarity with black activists in the wake of George Floyd's passing. 

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Say my name.

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Labels pressured to speak up?

After the Weeknd criticized labels and streaming services for benefitting and profiting off of black artists and no returns to the causes that affect them, Warner Music Group finally donated $100 million for "social justice and campaigns against violence and racism". 

The label's move was merely the tip of the iceberg, in an industry where its history was built on the historical biases against black talents, speaking up in what seems like a scripted and monotonous way, but not necessarily advocating to said causes, is questionable.

Perhaps long after the protests go quiet, as seen in previous uprisings after police killings of innocent black people, the "pledges" will fall mute and no feasible action/change will help this movement. It has happened countless times. 

Read our latest article about how black artists' continued their fight in music history here 

Check out another article that talks about this here

Celebrity tag chain

So what's the deal with Blackout Tuesday then? #TheShowMustBePaused initial aim to pressure labels for change and dissemination like sharing useful resources and public donations quickly turned south because of Blackout Tuesday. Almost every (not all) celebrities and influencers instead posted black squares "in solidarity" and then 'logged off'. This move promptly signaled the fans to drop a black square on their post and that's pretty much it.

It wasn't long until black posts literally drowned important posts related to Black Lives Matter hashtag on Instagram.

Some artists like Kehlani and Lil Nas X spoke out about the blackout's flaws. 

As for other celebrities like Ariana Grande, J Cole, Tinashe, Nick Cannon, Yungblud, Camila Cabello, and Shawn Mendes, they took it a step further by joining protests across the US on the weekend.

Nevertheless, as labels and (some) celebrities struggled to get this right and being more than just participating "allies", there's still more that needs to be done to bring real change to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Want to help out? Check out the resources list down below: