'The Show Must Be Paused' Continues Its Efforts With List of Demands for Music Companies: Exclusive

Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang
Flo Ngala

Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang photographed on June 7, 2020 at
Ode to Babel in Brooklyn.

On June 2, Jamila Thomas of Atlantic Records and Brianna Agyemang of Platoon made the multibillion-dollar music industry pause. And since it's resumed, the two Black female executives have officially set a plan for how to keep their initiative moving forward.

They launched #TheShowMustBePaused following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, just a week prior to their industry-wide hiatus and social media shutdown (their website was launched on May 31). On Aug. 23, another Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police in Wisconsin while entering his SUV, where his three sons were.

Much like the video capturing Floyd being suffocated as a white Minnesota police officer kneeled on his neck, the documented shooting of Blake stoked the fires that have kept the Black Lives Matter movement going. Thomas and Agyemang have also continued burning the midnight oil while working on their master plan for the music business at large.

Since making their plea for accountability loud and clear on Instagram 90 days ago, where the official hashtag was shared more than 700,000 times, Thomas and Agyemang have outlined a list demands for music companies to respond to within 30 days in an op-ed exclusively published on Billboard Tuesday (Sept. 2).

In a Billboard cover story from June, Thomas hinted at how phase two involves "restructuring the organization within music industry companies to gain more room for growth opportunities for Black people." And that level of restructuring whittles down to transparency; action and accountability; recruitment, professional development and growth; civic engagement; and alignment and partnership."

Read through the op-ed and all of the demands outlined by #TheShowMustBePaused below.

Demands.

#TheShowMustBePaused

It has been 90 days since the black out. In the last three months, we have witnessed Black leaders promoted; financial support committed and in many cases distributed; a historic moment of solidarity in the March on Washington; and the list of companies, idealists, and collectives vowing to no longer tolerate racial injustice and inequity grow exponentially.

However, the work does not stop there.

#TheShowMustBePaused

Equally noteworthy, is the brutal attempted murder of Jacob Blake, the killing of non-violent protestors, and the loss of many beloved leaders. Although painful, these events confirm the urgency in our continued action.

The list of those whose action -- or inaction -- give way to legacies of oppression can no longer be ignored.

From public demonstrations of unity, to the literal burning of institutions that devalue Black lives, we are witnessing a global response to injustice.

#TheShowMustBePaused

For the last three months, we have not stopped fighting. Rather, we’ve applied a focus that solely prioritizes our destination: Progress due to radical activism.

We spent this time galvanizing our membership, navigating difficult conversations, formalizing a plan, and now once again …

#TheShowMustBePaused

We are not pausing now solely to stop, breathe, and think about our role in this fight.

This is a call to action.

A call to actualize the ideals we claim to uphold as people and to advocate for change through the music industry.

Let this serve as a proclamation to those organizations worldwide whose cornerstone is laid and foundation sustained by the potency of Black culture. Now we are making demands.

#TheShowMustBePaused

The following list of demands reflect the collective takeaways of a braintrust composed of the current and future leaders of our field.

We make this first round of demands to ALL organizations operating in the world of Black music.

If you are a company that conducts business in the world of Black music we ask that you respond in 30 days.

# TheShowMustBePaused

Transparency 

  1. Public Diversity Reporting, Audit and Analysis
    • Provide a third-party public-facing audit and analysis of diversity statistics reflecting both the macro and micro setting of each business parallel for full visibility
      • Diversity as a function of current employees, new hires, upward mobility, cross-departmental movement, and retention of Black employees.
  2. Executive Leadership Rationale
    • Give an account of your C-Suite by publicly addressing the following:
      • What percentage of your executive leadership is Black?
      • What is the process by which an individual is selected to be a member of the team/board?
      • What is the timeline to diversify the group?
  3. Fair Pay for ALL
    • Annually evaluate and report pay disparities that exist as it relates to race and gender. When discrepancies are found, adjustments should be made immediately.
    • Provide equal pay and added transparency for the selection process surrounding independent Black publicists, agencies, and freelance contributors.
    • Eliminate long-term temporary positions. We demand transparency in process and timeline for a professional to transition from temporary to full-time roles.
  4. Demonstration of Fiscal Stewardship
    • We demand a quarterly public report of resources donated (noting monetary donations separately from product donations). This report should include:
      • The period of time over which the monetary donations will be allocated
      • Short-term and long-term plans for social justice funding with specific dollar amounts for each organization
      • Transparency of funds allocated internally to support DEI initiatives complete with a list of internal goals, details on organizational restructuring to accomplish said goals, and plans to hold the internal employees responsible and accountable for results

Action & Accountability

  1. Employee Reporting & Protection
    • Provide a system enabling any employee to report and track accountability for executives, assistants, artists or otherwise who are racist or perform unjust acts without retaliation.
  2. Health Resources & Benefits
    • Identify and engage free assistance programs for temps and employees (counseling, therapy, coaching), as well as temp PTO and sick days across all labels.
    • Require that full benefits be offered to all employees after 90 days.
    • Provide resources for health and retirement benefits for crews in touring – including access to mental health resources for workers while they are on the road.
    • Contribute to health insurance packages for artists to receive medical, dental, vision, cognitive therapy, substance abuse programs, counseling etc.
  3. Touring Interventions
    • Add anti-racism and anti-sexism clauses to live performance contracts to hold both purchaser and venues accountable.
    • Demand that staffing criteria for venue protection and security includes implicit bias training, and a thorough vetting of off duty officers’ records of excessive force, professional misconduct, and brutality.
    • Increase diversity and equal opportunity in union membership and leadership so that Black touring professionals are provided consistent competitive opportunities.
  4. Student Loan Repayment & Tuition Reimbursement
    • Within the next 60 days, build a plan to incorporate a repayment program into benefits programs for all people employed for at least six months.

Recruitment, Professional Development, & Growth 

  1. Responsive Recruitment Programming
    • Create a recruitment program for young Black future music professionals with a presence at ALL HBCU's, available for Black students at PWI's and community colleges.
  2. Talent Pipeline
    • Create pipelines for Black talent to enter the music business as interns or entry level professionals - including opportunities that DO NOT require college credit.
      • Many leadership roles at music companies do not require college degrees so internships should not be limited to college students.
  3. Black Senior Executives Across All Departments
    • Create career development opportunities allocating budget to support Black executive and professional representation in music departments other than just “urban” or “Black music.”
    • Guarantee safe spaces in all working environments for Black women and WOC.
  4. Annual Performance Reviews & Growth Opportunities
    • Institute annual reviews aimed at providing professional growth and development.
    • If already in existence, clearly outline accessibility to Black staff and ensure criteria to participate is inclusive of factors affecting marginalized communities.
    • Anti-Racism Training
      • Fund and mandate that employees at all levels participate in anti-racist, implicit bias and culture sensitivity training taught by third-party, Black-owned consultant firms.

Civic Engagement

  1. Time Off for Civic Engagement
    • Give all employees a paid day off to participate in the civic process by voting in national elections.
    • Give all employees paid time to invest their human capital into community-facing programming. (i.e. student-facing partnerships, mentorships, after school programs etc.)
  2. Non-Partisan Civic Empowerment
    • Contribute financial and social capital to organizations working to counteract systemic discrimination in the civic process (i.e. organizations advocating for voting rights, against voter suppression, and educating on the legislative process)
  3. Local State and National Organizational Support
    • Support (financially and otherwise) those organizations and individuals providing support to Black communities i.e. fund urban arts programs (private and public), or invest in artists’ social outreach initiatives
  4. Fund Advocacy Groups
    • Give to and partner with Black initiatives and campaigns by lending your organization’s notoriety, access to cultural influence and financial resources

Alignment & Partnership

  1. Participate in TSMBP
    • Companies who have formed a Diversity and Inclusion Council should have a designated leader (President, task force leader, task force liaison, etc.) who participates in the TSMBP committee to ensure we are aligning efforts across our groups
  2.  Support Autonomy and Ownership
    • Increase the number of joint venture deals with Black people, specifically women
    • Provide equity options for Black professionals in key roles in smaller companies and startups
  3.  Actively Participate in Corrective Action
    • Provide grants and/or investment funds offering growth/seed capital to artist-owned for-profit and nonprofit community-facing businesses and organizations

#TheShowMustBePaused
Copywriting: Adam McFarland

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