Music industry developments amid Black Lives Matter movement

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Colston Hall

There have been many developments over the past few weeks and it’s likely that these will continue, Getintothis’ Emilie Clark has collated the most recent happenings in the music world.

This is such an important time in our history, an important time for music and the industry as a whole.

Conversations are still ongoing, opinions are being voiced and people are demanding to be heard.

While some coverage of discourse may have died down in mainstream media, protests are still taking place across the world and change is happening.

Recent events across the globe have led to the growing support and acknowledgement of the Black Lives Matter movement; which has forced British people to educate themselves on their country’s history, as it is not something that is widely discussed.

There have been several changes throughout the music industry.

Venues and bands are shunning their links to the slave-traders and rebranding; musicians are pledging money to help fight for the cause; terms are being updated to accommodate a more respectful and educated tone.

These may seem like small steps in an overwhelmingly large movement, but these small steps need to occur to help to make the world a more tolerant, equal place.

Stormzy

Stormzy has always been vocal in what he believes in, both through his music and in other aspects of his career. In 2018, the Stormzy Scholarship was launched, to provide support to disadvantaged BAME students while at university.

Now, Stormzy and his #Merky brand have pledged £10 million over the next ten years to “organisations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK”.

In a statement, the artist says, The uncomfortable truth that our country continuously fails to recognise and admit, is that black people in the UK have been at a constant disadvantage in every aspect of life – simply due to the colour of our skin.

Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it”

More details of where the money will be used will be disclosed in forthcoming days.

 

Colston Hall

Bristol’s Colston Hall has been a site of contention for many years now, with many artists feeling uncomfortable performing in a venue which honours a slave trader, and some outright refusing to.

During a demonstration in the city, a statue of Colston was taken down by protestors and thrown into the harbour. There are plans to display it in a museum amongst BLM protest signs, to mark the event and educate future generations.

As a result of this, Colston Hall are revisiting their rebranding plans which had previously been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation that owns the hall, The Bristol Music Trust, have stated that, even with no direct link to Colston, “The current name does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation – we want it to be representative of the city, a beacon of its values of hope, diversity and inclusion”.

They also added, “We aim to announce a new name that is right for both the Hall and the city in autumn 2020. There are a number of steps we need to take between now and then, but as a demonstration of our commitment, one of these will be removing the external signage from the building”.

Gladstone Hall

Similarly, The University of Liverpool has agreed to rename a building named after William Gladstone due to his links with the slave trade.

Gladstone Hall had recently been rebuilt, but the name remained.

Students wrote an open letter to the university requesting the name change, suggesting it “would show solidarity in the rejection of Black oppression”.

They have stated that they will “work with students and staff to agree on an appropriate alternative name“.

Gladstone is one of many historical British figures to be commemorated, with many ignoring his links to the slave trade and anti-abolition views.

 

Lady Antebellum

On the topic of rebranding, Lady Antebellum have announced that they are changing their name to Lady A, a name that fans had coined years prior.

The band took the inspiration for their original name from the southern ‘antebellum’ style house that they took their first photos in, not thinking further into connotations attached to the word.

The word was originally attached to an aesthetic and style of architecture, but its definition is now linked to the painful period in which slave labour was rife in America.

Lady A posted an open letter on their social media, apologising for the use of the word, stating, “We are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the [American] Civil War, which includes slavery”.

“We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued”

 “Causing pain was never our hearts’ intention, but it doesn’t change the fact that indeed, it did just that. So today, we speak up and make a change. We hope you will dig in and join us”.

The group have also vowed to make a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative, made through their organisation LadyAID.

 

One Little Independent Records

Record label, One Little Indian have also chosen to rebrand and change their name, due to the “harmful stereotyping and exploitation of indigenous people’s culture”. The label, which was founded in 1985, will henceforth be called One Little Independent Records.

Owner and founder, Derek Birkett, has said that the name was intended to reflect respect and appreciation of the culture of indigenous people, however he acknowledged in his statement that this was naïve and inappropriate.

He also went on to apologise for the branding, and stated that he does, and will continue to make, donations to a number of organisations including the Honouring Indigenous Peoples Charitable Corporation and The Association on American Indian Affairs.

The Grammys

Back in 2018, we wrote about ‘urban’ as a genre, or rather it not being one. Music of black origin tends to be collated together under the term, when it doesn’t have any real meaning, and the music does not have anything further in common.

The US Recording Academy is now addressing this, removing the term ‘urban’ from several categories at the Grammy awards ceremony.

Among the changes announced by the Academy yesterday were the rebranding of the Best Urban Contemporary Album category to Best Progressive R&B Album. Best Rap/Sung Performance is becoming Best Melodic Rap Performance. Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album becomes Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album.

However, the term is being added to one category, with Best Latin Pop Album becoming Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.

This change aims to “migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres.”

Organisers have announced that they plan for the event to go ahead in January 2021.

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