Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group have both announced USD100m (€88.7m) funds to support social justice and anti-racist causes.
Record labels, particularly in the US and UK, have long been critcised for profiting from the work of Black artists without advocating for the Black community. The #BlackoutTuesday action last week, originating from Atlantic Records (part of Warner Music Group), was the start of an effort to change that.
In a statement, Sony said that: “Racial injustice is a global issue that affects our artists, songwriters, our people and of course society at large…We stand against discrimination and we will take action accordingly with our community fully involved in effectively using these funds.”
Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said: “This fund will support the extraordinary, dedicated organisations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice, and that help those in need across the music industry.”
In addition, Sony/ATV Music Publishing chair and CEO Jon Platt has written an open letter calling for change in the business. Platt is the only Black CEO at a major international music company.
“For many of my colleagues, in our business dealings, we are targets for unfounded assumptions by people whose unspoken questioning of whether we belong is written on their faces,” he wrote. “As a music community, we are anchored at the heart of Black culture, and our industry has an unrivalled role and responsibility to help lead society out of crisis and onto the path of true justice and equality.”
He continued: “Music companies have rushed to pledge solidarity with the Black community since the atrocity committed against Mr. Floyd…But I often remind my team of a fact that might seem odd for a music man to point out: “People see better than they hear.” Timely action must follow the industry’s lyrics. Otherwise, words are ultimately empty.”