As protests sparked by the death of 46-year-old Minneapolis resident George Floyd heated up this weekend, music companies began making statements in support of the movement to end police brutality against black Americans. On Friday, a number of companies and artists began sharing a statement posted under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, which calls for “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”
Started by Atlantic Records marketing executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, who are both black, the call for a day of action — which is now being called “Black Out Tuesday” — sparked other companies to post their own messages of support. One of these companies was Spotify, which on Saturday posted an official statement to its social channels that read in part, “We stand with the Black community – our employees, our partners, artists and creators – in the fight against racism, injustice and inequity.”
That statement preceded a larger announcement by Spotify today (June 1), in which the streaming giant revealed that beginning at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, the service will insert a “black logo and headline image” on more than a dozen of its flagship playlists and podcasts; pause social publication as a symbol of solidarity; and add an eight minute, 46 second track of silence in select playlists and podcasts to acknowledge the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer. In addition, the streaming platform will be “leveraging” its long-standing Black History Is Now Hub, which features podcasts including Code Switch, You Had Me at Black and Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay and playlists including Black History Salute, We Shall Overcome and Black Lives Matter, which was recently updated for Black Music Month in June.
Spotify will also engage in the “special curation” of select songs on each of the “blacked out” playlists to reflect the current moment, including tracks by Kendrick Lamar, Gary Clark Jr. and Rhiannon Giddens; place a “targeted shelf” prominently on the Spotify mobile and desktop homepages that will drive users to “Black Out” playlists; and run related ads globally on the Spotify Free tier. Later in June, the service will launch a second season of its podcast The Window focusing on the experiences of the black community.
Lastly, Spotify notes it has encouraged all employees globally to observe Black Out Tuesday and that it has shared resources with staff on what it means to be an effective ally to the black community. Tomorrow it will also provide access to trained mental health providers for its employees and match financial donations made they make to organizations that are “focused on the fight against racism, injustice, inequity, and driving meaningful change.”
Spotify isn’t the only streaming service taking actionable steps to address the crisis. On Monday (June 1), Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced that the company will donate 100% of its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on June 19, honoring the Juneteenth holiday holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. He said the company plans to carry this on for every future Juneteenth as well. Additionally, the company will allocate an additional $30,000 per year to partner with organizations that “fight for racial justice and create opportunities for people of color.”
Elsewhere, in an internal note sent to SiriusXM/Pandora employees that was obtained by Billboard, CEO Jim Meyer noted that SiriusXM’s music channels will go silent for three minutes Tuesday beginning at 3 p.m. EST — “one minute to reflect on the terrible history of racism, one minute in observance of this tragic moment in time and one minute to hope for and demand a better future” — in tribute to George Floyd and other “countless victims of racism.” Meyer additionally stated that the company will understand if employees “need to take tomorrow as a day to disconnect, reflect and connect with the community.”
Qobuz, meanwhile, sent an official statement to Billboard noting that the company “supports the day to disconnect from work and reconnect with community.” Qobuz managing director Dan Mackta added, “We at Qobuz stand against racism, violence and oppression in all its forms. We join those who mourn the senseless lives lost and who work to build a more equitable society.”
SoundCloud will also be taking part in Black Out Tuesday, the company confirmed to Billboard. To mark the day, it will “pause all commercial marketing and promotional activities” and dedicate the service’s promotional channels to “amplifying black voices and facilitating dialogue,” including a dedicated takeover on SoundCloud’s landing page and social channels. It will also encourage employees to take the day off to “reflect, take time to care for themselves and loved ones, and to support their communities and colleagues that are deeply hurting.”
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.