In response to calls to diversify the mainly white live-music industry, concert giant Live Nation launched the Black Tour Directory Tuesday, October 13th, a new online resource for tour organizers that the company hopes will create more work for black live-industry workers.
The directory lists hundreds of black-owned companies and workers in the live sector, from tour and production managers to caterers, lighting specialists, sound engineers, and travel agents.
Live Nation Urban spearheaded the new directory’s creation, and Live Nation Urban president Shawn Gee discussed the new initiative with several black promoter executives in a roundtable discussion released in tandem with the directory’s announcement. “Why we don’t see [black industry members] on some of those other tours is because the team that’s behind them are not looking for us to fill those voids and those positions,” Global Event Production Network CEO Victor Reed Sr. told Gee in the discussion.
Michael “Huggy” Carter, founder and CEO of concert promoter MCG Productions, pointed out that many artists aren’t thinking about who’s hired for their tours and that there needs to be more awareness from them to improve diversity. “Most artists don’t pay attention, all they know is when they walk in that it works, they don’t know who put it together,” Carter said. “Black artists should look at who’s on their team.”
In the announcement, Gee acknowledged other diversity-focused industry coalitions like the Black Promoters Collective, which several black promoters launched earlier this year to raise awareness about their exclusion in the industry. The largest concert giants have long been accused of excluding the smaller black live businesses, critics have said.
In a Q&A with Rolling Stone, the Black Promoters Collective called on Live Nation, AEG, artists, managers, labels, and booking agents to be more inclusive of black promoters. G-Squared Events CEO and founding collective member Gary Guidry, in particular, said the concert giants aren’t offering substantial partnerships with black regional promoters.
“It’s not that we are bitter that they offer a better deal. It’s the exclusion of us from the party,” Guidry said in September. “There are still regional promoters who work these tours with the Live Nations and AEGs — they’ll collaborate and form partnerships — and we’re often not included in those types of projects. When we are invited, it may be allowing us to place the advertisement or commission on an advertisement. It’s not a real partnership.” Guidry’s company is now listed on the directory site.
Gee said that with the directory now available, companies — including his own — have no excuse not to be more inclusive. “Once that resource is created — I can only speak for the company I’m partnered with — I’m going to hold them accountable. Now you can no longer say, ‘I don’t know any [black workers],'” Gee said in the discussion. “If we all do that, take some of these coalitions that are being formed, these labels, artists, agencies and say, ‘Look, here’s the resource, here’s thousands,’ now you have to. There’s no choice.”