The music industry is turning off the music on Tuesday and suspending business as usual to reflect and implement change in response to the death of George Floyd and the killings of other Black people.
Several top record labels organised Black Out Tuesday as violent protests erupted around the world, sparked by Floyd’s death as well as the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. MTV and BET went dark for eight minutes and 46 seconds (the amount of time a white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck before he died) in support of Black Lives Matter and racial injustice. Music-based companies Live Nation, as well as the Recording Academy, posted to social media that they planned to support and stand with the Black community.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
“On Tuesday June 2nd, Columbia Records will observe ‘Black Out Tuesday,'” the Sony label home to Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Adele and John Legend said in a statement. “This is not a day off. Instead, this is a day to reflect and figure out ways to move forward in solidarity.”
“We continue to stand with the Black community, our staff, artists, and peers in the music industry,” the company continued. “Perhaps with the music off, we can truly listen.”
Others that have joined Black Out Tuesday – also known as Blackout Tuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused – include the Sony imprints RCA Records Epic Records; the Universal Music Group divisions Republic Records, Def Jam, UMG Nashville, Capitol Records and Island Records; and the Warner Music Group imprints Atlantic and Warner Records. Smaller, independent labels as well as music publishing companies and management firms have also signed on.
UMG’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records said that in addition to joining Black Out Tuesday, the label home to Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Billie Eilish would not release music this week – the first label to do so.
“Instead, IGA will contribute to organizations that help to bail out protesters exercising their right to peacefully assemble, aid lawyers working for systemic change and provide assistance to charities focused on creating economic empowerment in the Black community,” its statement read.
IGA postponed new music releases MGK, 6lack, Dylan, Jessie Ware, Smokepurp, Lil Mosey, Billy Raffoul, Max Leone and more in coordination with their partners Alamo, LVRN, The Darkroom, Bad Boy and more.
Musicians including Rihanna, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Demi Lovato, Post Malone and Harry Styles have spoken out on social media following Floyd’s death and the worldwide riots. Some musicians were spotted alongside crowds of protesters over the weekend, including Ariana Grande, J Cole, Jamie Foxx, Chance the Rapper, Kehlani, Miguel, Tinashe, Lil Yachty and Halsey, who said she was hit with a pellet and a shrapnel shell in Los Angeles.
LL Cool J turned to music to show his outrage and passion, posting a lengthy rap to social media. “For 400 years you had your knees on our necks, a garden of evil with no seeds of respect,” he rapped. “In America’s mirror all she sees is regret, instead of letting blood live they begging for blood let.”
Jay-Z released a statement late Sunday calling for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to prosecute those responsible for killing Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.
“I, along with an entire country in pain, call upon AG Ellison to do the right thing and prosecute all those responsible for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent of the law. This is just a first step. I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have,” Jay-Z said. “I prevail on every politician, prosecutor and officer in the country to have the courage to do what is right. Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, sisters and mothers in pain and look at yourselves.”
Racial tensions were also running high after two white men were arrested in May in the February shooting death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and after Louisville, Kentucky, police shot Breonna Taylor to death in her home in March.
The R&B duo Chloe x Halle was originally set to release their sophomore album, Ungodly Hour, on Friday. They told the Associated Press on Monday that they will release the album at other time. The singers also posted a cover of a classic civil rights anthem and protest song, We Shall Overcome, to Instagram, hoping to offer the world some positive energy.
“This week has been very heavy for all of us. We’ve been trying to, not understand, because there’s no way to understand the terrible killings – we just have heavy hearts this week and are just trying to do everything we can to pray and lift each other up with our voices,” Halle said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
“With everything going on, we felt like music can be very healing, because it’s been that way for us in kind of keeping us sane during this time,” Chloe added. As much as we could, we just wanted to share our gift of song to even just lift spirits for even a few seconds.”