What Music’s Tech Companies Are Doing on Blackout Tuesday
In response to the killing of George Floyd and other black victims of police brutality, record labels, artists, and executives across the music industry pledged their participation in Blackout Tuesday — a day meant to invoke reflection and honest conversation — over the last few days. The event has spread more ubiquitously online as a day of acknowledgment and activism to combat racism, and some of the most prominent tech companies in the music business have all announced their participation, with initiatives ranging from content restrictions and rebranding to donating to various funds focused on assisting the black community.
TikTok announced Monday that it would remove all playlists and campaigns from its sound page on Tuesday as it observes Blackout Tuesday, and it would be donating $3 million from its Community Relief Fund to non-profits that support black communities along with another $1 million to combat racial injustice and inequality.
“We also fully acknowledge our responsibility to not simply wish for and talk about the importance of diversity on our platform, but to actively promote and protect it,” TikTok wrote in its statement. “We share in the pain our country is in, and it is palpable across our TikTok communities. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Black community and, as we write this, our teams are working on ways to elevate and support Black voices and causes.”
Music streaming giants are taking part too. Spotify announced Monday that it would black out the artwork on many of its most popular podcasts including Today’s Top Hits and RapCaviar, and that several of its podcasts and playlists would also include 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to acknowledge the duration of George Floyd’s suffocation. Spotify also said it will be matching donations from its employees toward organizations focused on fighting racism.
Save for a post on social media Monday that it would be taking part in Blackout Tuesday, Apple Music gave no specifics about its initiatives for the day. But Apple Music users who open the app Tuesday are finding that the streamer has blocked its For You, Browse and Radio functions with a prompt acknowledging “steadfast support of the Black voices that define music, creativity and culture.” The three functions have been replaced with a Beats 1 stream playing music from black artists.
Apple Music also published a playlist called For Us, By Us, a reference to the song “F.U.B.U.” by Solange, featuring tracks from black artists including Solange, Kendrick Lamar and N.W.A. among many others. Amazon Music and YouTube Music both announced on social media they’d participate in Blackout Tuesday as well.
SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer sent an internal memo to employees Monday saying that all of its channels would be muted for three minutes at 3 p.m. EST Tuesday. “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,” Meyer said.
Amazon Music wrote on Twitter that it will “observe” the day of protest, but did not give specifics on any plans; YouTube Music similarly wrote that it will “stand in solidarity against racism and violence” but did not specify actions.
Music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two black women, started the Blackout Tuesday movement late last week through their initiative The Show Must Be Paused. All of the major three record companies announced their participation in Blackout Tuesday over the weekend along with their labels, though the movement appears to have spread beyond the music industry and the words “Blackout Tuesday” are being referenced as a calling card for online protests across social media.