Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 July 2020

What is Blackout Tuesday? 'Perhaps with the music off, we can truly listen'

Massive Attack, Quincy Jones, Billie Eilish, Eminem and Ariana Grande are among the artists that have voiced their support for the initiative.

 People participate in a protest after curfew near the arrest site of George Floyd, who later died in police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. EPA/TANNEN MAURY
 People participate in a protest after curfew near the arrest site of George Floyd, who later died in police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

The music industry is taking a stand against racial injustice.

A number of notable musicians and high-profile music labels have rallied to turn June 2 into “Blackout Tuesday,” a day to pause the music to show unity against racial injustice and social discrimination.

The initiative comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer suffocated him with his knee. Floyd’s death has sparked protests around the world.

Blackout Tuesday was put into motion with the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, and was organised by Jamila Thomas – senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records – and Brianna Agyemang – a former Atlantic executive who now works at Platoon.

The pair said in a statement that #TheShowMustBePaused is “an initiative created by two Black women in music in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard,” adding, “We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives.”

Blackout Tuesday will not be “just a 24-hour initiative,” Thomas and Agyemang said: “We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced.”

Massive Attack, Quincy Jones, Billie Eilish, Eminem and Ariana Grande are among the artists that have voiced their support for the initiative.

Record companies have taken a varied approach to observing Blackout Tuesday. Interscope Geffen A&M Records have pledged to financially contribute to bail organisations, aid lawyers and charities working to help economic empowerment in the Black community.

Capitol Records said they will not be conducting any business on Tuesday, May 2, and have made an unspecified donation to the civil rights advocacy organisation Colour of Change.

“This is not a day off,” Columbia Records tweeted. “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. Perhaps with the music off, we can truly listen.”

Meanwhile, Spotify will be adding silent tracks to a number of its popular playlists on Blackout Tuesday. "Select participating playlists and podcasts will include an 8-minute, 46-second track of silence as a solemn acknowledgement for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated," the company said in a statement.

Updated: June 4, 2020 09:55 AM

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