◎音樂界“Black Out Tuesday”期間提出的建議正在迅速發展。(Rolling Stone)雜誌之前報導，（Kelis），（Erykah Badu）和（John Legend）的經紀人（Ty Stiklorius）都分享了作家（Josh Kun）的訊息，內容是：“如果音樂產業想支持黑人生活，唱片公司和平台可以從修改合約、版稅分潤、擴大董事會席位、追溯性地償還所有建立帝國般地位的黑人藝術家及其家人開始。”
◎2017年初，（Bertelsmann）擁有的BMG進行了迄今為止最大的唱片音樂收購，當時以超過1億美元的價格收購了位於納什維爾的「Broken Bow Music Group（BBMG）」。BMG現正致力於審查這些收購相關的所有歷史合約。
A suggestion made last week during the music industry’s ‘Black Out Tuesday’ is gathering momentum.
As reported on Rolling Stone earlier this week, the likes of Kelis, Erykah Badu and John Legend manager Ty Stiklorius have all shared a message from author and professor Josh Kun, which reads: “If the music industry wants to support black lives, labels and platforms can start with amending contracts, distributing royalties, diversifying boardrooms, and retroactively paying back all the black artists, and their families, they have built their empires on.”
The three major music companies, of course, have this month donated some $225m between them to anti-racist and social justice causes in keeping with the Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier today (June 11), YouTube announced its own $100m fund “dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists”.
Now another major player in the modern music business, BMG, appears to be meeting Kun’s call even more directly.
A forthright message from BMG’s CEO Hartwig Masuch, on the topic of anti-racism and the treatment of black artists, landed in the inbox of performers and their managers via BMG’s my-BMG app on Tuesday (June 9).
In it, Masuch said: “Mindful of the music industry’s record of shameful treatment of black artists, we have begun a review of all historic record contracts. While BMG only began operations in 2008, we have acquired many older catalogues. If there are any inequities or anomalies, we will create a plan to address them. Within 30 days.”
“MINDFUL OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY’S RECORD OF SHAMEFUL TREATMENT OF BLACK ARTISTS, WE HAVE BEGUN A REVIEW OF ALL HISTORIC RECORD CONTRACTS.”
HARTWIG MASUCH, BMG (PICTURED)
Before coming on to Masuch’s other points in the letter, it’s worth digging into this promise for a second.
Although BMG is now, for strategic reasons, not as acquisitive as it once was, the company has bought a raft of indie labels/label catalogs over the past decade, including the likes of Union Square, Mute, Sanctuary, Vagrant, S-Curve, Rise and, more recently, hip-hop specialist RBC.
In early 2017, Bertelsmann-owned BMG made its largest recorded music acquisition to date, when it bought Nashville-based Broken Bow Music Group (BBMG) for just over $100m.
BMG is now committing to reviewing “all historic contracts” tied to these label buyouts.
Elsewhere in his letter, obtained by MBW and which you can read in full below, Masuch makes a pledge to ensure that black people are better represented amongst BMG’s executive staff.
“We are not as diverse as we could be,” he says. “Despite numerous initiatives over the years, we have not made sufficient progress. We pledge to do so and will produce a plan to do so. Within 30 days.”
As you’ve probably already worked out “Within 30 days” is something of a theme throughout the missive from Masuch, who opens his letter with the words: “We are determined that last week’s action is more than a black square in a social media post or a series of slogans…”
BLACKOUT TUESDAY: ONE WEEK ON
We are determined that last week’s action is more than a black square in a social media post or a series of slogans.
We need to play our part in addressing historical injustices inflicted on black people.
Last Wednesday we embarked on a journey designed to make lasting change.
We know we cannot change the world by ourselves, but we are determined to change our part of it. For the better.
Mindful of the music industry’s record of shameful treatment of black artists, we have begun a review of all historic record contracts. While BMG only began operations in 2008, we have acquired many older catalogues. If there are any inequities or anomalies, we will create a plan to address them. Within 30 days.
In common with many music companies, at BMG the reality is that black people are not as well represented as they are in the populations in which we operate. We are not as diverse as we could be. Despite numerous initiatives over the years, we have not made sufficient progress. We pledge to do so and will produce a plan to do so. Within 30 days.
Racism and social injustice exists in all 12 countries in which we operate. We need to play our part in tackling it. Each BMG office will create a plan to do so. Within 30 days.
Blackout Tuesday was an important moment of reflection. The real test for us all is now to come up with a credible plan for change.
We are committed to do so.