Bandcamp ceo and founder Ethan Diamond today (Feb. 1) authored a post on his company's blog in which he expressed his opposition to the Trump administration's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries from entering the U.S. and pledged to donate all of the online music platform's proceeds on Friday (Feb. 3) to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Calling Trump's policy "immoral" and violating "the very spirit and foundation of America" in a post titled "This Friday, Stand with Bandcamp in Support of Immigrants/Basic Human Values," the chief executive described his own family's immigration experience as one that a vast majority of Americans share. He cited politicians, religious leaders and the U.S. Constitution itself in arguing why the policy won't make us safer, is unethical and goes against America's shared values.
Towards helping to rectify the perceived injustice, Diamond pledged to donate all of Bandcamp's proceeds this Friday to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is fighting against what is perceived as Trump's discriminatory and unconstitutional actions.
Diamond tells Billboard that his decision to stump for this cause came after he saw the impact of Trump's executive order and, in particular, one immigrant's story. "How can you not stand up for these people," he asks. "When I saw what was going on at the airports and read about the detainment of Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi immigrant who risked his life to serve in the U.S. Army as an interpreter. He had been handcuffed, and when he was released after 19 hours a reporter asked him what he thought of America. He immediately said 'America is the greatest nation. The greatest people in the world.' There were loads of stories like that."
Diamond says he spoke with editorial director Joe Edward Keyes who had already begun working on a story highlighting music from the seven banned countries. "Our statement, and the ACLU donation piece, grew naturally out of that," he says. And so far the feedback on the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive with other labels also wanting to donate their proceeds.
"We've been contacted by hundreds of bands and labels who are also supporting the ACLU," Bandcamp's chief curator Andrew Jervis tells Billboard. "Some of those include labels like Merge Records, Kill Rock Stars, Barsuk, Epitaph and ANTI-. Plus all manner of bands have been in touch, including Speedy Ortiz, and also the guys from Son Lux who are donating from their various projects."
Over the last few days in what seems like unprecedented political activism, many in the music industry have come out against the Trump administration's anti-immigration policies. Yesterday, for example, Billboard obtained a memo from Pandora CEO Tim Westergren who voiced his opposition to Trump's immigration. Other company heads have reportedly taken similar action including Live Nation's Michael Rapino, Apple's Tim Cook, Netflix's Reed Hastings and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Spotify reportedly offered to match its employees contributions to organization that included ACLU, the International Rescue Committee and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
One silver lining to the Trump administration's controversial policies, depending on your political views, is that the spirit of giving has reached new heights. Earlier this week the ACLU announced it had received some $24 million in donations last weekend—a vastly larger sum than the $4 million a year the organization regularly raises.
Another benefit: Diamond's post concludes with a playlist of artists from the seven banned countries and Mexico (where the new administration intends to build a border wall) as a way of showing solidarity with the victims of these policies and which you can revel in here.