Why the Show Must Be Paused: A Letter From Billboard

The racism and police brutality we’ve seen across the country in recent weeks has been devastating — and even more punishing in what was already a terrifying time of health and economic crisis. Yet the violence has been all too familiar for the Black community, to whom we owe so much of our greatest music.

Two young music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, decided that business couldn’t go on as usual without both music companies and consumers placing as high a value on the lives of Black creators as they do on their art, sagely declaring that “the show must be paused.” On the website for what’s been dubbed “Black Out Tuesday,” they’ve encouraged the music sector to use June 2 “for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community,” noting that the music industry “has profited predominantly from Black art,” and seeking “to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable.”

Remarkably, the world’s biggest record labels quickly heeded these women’s call to action, canceling their normal operations. Our company — from our publications to our equally music-dependent film and TV production units — is participating in solidarity. At Billboard today, we will use our platforms to cover this movement’s mission, amplifying the voices that need to be heard. Please let us know if you’d like to share your personal messages, struggles, or solutions with the Billboard community this week by emailing biz@billboard.com, and join us in taking time to recognize the pain and anguish behind the music that supports us all. We hope the bold initiative these executives took will inspire our colleagues throughout the business to do the same — and find ways to use their own power to fight injustice.

In solidarity,

Hannah Karp, editorial director
Deanna Brown, president

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