The music industry will halt business operations on Tuesday so employees can pause to respond to issues of racial injustice.
The initiative, called Black Out Tuesday, quickly gathered steam online after founders Jamila Thomas of Atlantic Records and Brianna Agyemang of the creative services company Platoon issued a call to action on Friday in response to protests in Minneapolis over police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.
Using the hashtag, #TheShowMustBePaused, the initial post urged: “Please join us as we take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change … As gatekeepers of the culture it is our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during a loss. Join us on Tuesday June 2 as a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community.”
On the movement’s website, theshowmustbepaused.com, Thomas and Agyemang have compiled a recommended list of links where music business professionals and others can help Floyd’s family, donate to community bail funds to support protesters, and otherwise take action.
They also share some self-care words of wisdom: “If you have been impacted by recent events, take a break — there’s a lot going on and sometimes we need a minute. Take that minute.”
By Monday, major record labels had joined in with the Black Out concept. Columbia records, the label home to Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, and John Legend, said in a statement: “This is not a day off. Instead, this is a day to move forward in solidarity.”
“It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life," legendary producer Quincy Jones said on Twitter. "That said, it’s rearing its ugly head right now & by God it’s time to deal with it once & for all. My team & I stand for justice. Convos will be had & action will be taken.”
On Monday, Derek Corbett of iHeartMedia Philadelphia, which owns the Power 99 hip-hop and R&B station WUSL-FM (98.9) and the old-school R&B WDAS-FM (105.3), said that the company “is an advocate of the Black Out Tuesday movement, but because this falls on Pa.’s primary election day our core mission for both WDAS and WUSL is getting people out to the polls to let their voices be heard.
"Tomorrow we will inform and educate our audience with information throughout the day as to how they can make a difference for our city and their respective communities by exercising their constitutional right to vote,” Corbett said.
It is not clear what the industry “blackout” will mean in practice nationally, beyond record label corporate shutdowns.
Tuesday used to be the day new music was released, but for years now, singles and albums come out on Friday. Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M imprint, known as IGA, did announce that it will be postponing all releases that were due to come out this week. Noteworthy albums that have been postponed include releases from MGK, 6lack, and Jessie Ware.
With real-life concerts on indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there aren’t any tour dates to cancel. But some virtual shows are being postponed.
Guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas of Philadelphia hip-hop band The Roots was scheduled to play Lets Stay [In] Together, a benefit for Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater on Tuesday night, along with Keb Mo, Gary Clark Jr., Michael McDonald, Dionne Warwick, and others.
They’ll be posting updates at @pausetheshow on Twitter and @theshowmustbepaused on Instagram.