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George Floyd: Music industry calls for ‘blackout’ over death

Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ariana GrandeImage copyright Getty / Beyonce / Twitter
Image caption Rihanna and Beyoncé called for justice for George Floyd, while Ariana Grande joined protests in LA

The music industry is to observe a day-long “blackout” on Tuesday, in response to George Floyd’s death last week.

All three major record labels have shared a message on social media promising “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”.

Employees have been given Tuesday off as “a day of action,” intended to “provoke accountability and change”.

Interscope vowed not to release new music this week, while Apple Music’s Ebro Darden cancelled his radio shows.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin has been sacked and charged with third-degree murder. He is due to appear in court on Monday, amid ongoing protests in the US and UK.

Many of music’s biggest stars have spoken out about the father-of-two’s death.

Taking to Instagram on Sunday, Rihanna spoke of the “devastation, anger [and] sadness” she has experienced over the last week.

“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart,” she wrote.

Beyoncé filmed an Instagram video urging fans to sing a petition seeking “justice for George Floyd”.

“We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight…We’re broken and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalise this pain”.

Dr Dre also called for action, saying his “heart is still aching”.

“It felt like that cop had his knee on all of our necks, meaning black men,” he said on Apple Music’s Young Money Radio.

“It’s extremely painful because it keeps going on. It continues to go on and it’s like, ‘What can we do? Or what do we need to do to make this thing stop?'”

Other pop stars, including Ariana Grande, J Cole, Tinashe, Nick Cannon, Yungblud, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, joined protestors across the US over the weekend.

Halsey, who took to the streets in Los Angeles, told fans that she and other protestors had been fired upon by police.

“We were peaceful, hands up, not moving, not breaching the line,” she captioned a photograph of police in protective gear.

“They opened fire of rubber bullets and tear gas multiple times on us. citizens who were not provoking them.”

As anger spread through the music community, a message spread on social media calling on the industry to “take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change”.

“As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during loss,” reads the statement, which circulated under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused.

Among those reposting the message were Warner Music Group, Sony/ATV, Universal Music, Motown, Capitol Records, British label Dirty Hit, Eminem’s Shady Records and legendary producer Quincy Jones.

“All of my shows are cancelled,” wrote Apple’s Ebro Darden on his Instagram feed. “I will air replays of conversations with community activists, politicians and revolutionary music.”

Task force

“We stand together with the black community against all forms of racism, bigotry, and violence,” said Columbia Records, which is home to Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Lil Nas X, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Adele.

“Now, more than ever, we must use our voices to speak up and challenge the injustices all around us.”

“In the words of Dr King, ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’ When you have a responsibility to raise your voice for change. That time has come,” added Universal Music Group on social media.

Universal’s chairman, Sir Lucian Grainge, also issued a memo to staff laying out plans for a task force, headed by chief counsel Jeff Harleston, to “accelerate our efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice”.

“We must do more and now is the time to do it – and to do it with an unprecedented sense of urgency,” he wrote.

“Even more importantly, we must commit ourselves not merely for this week, but we must continue that commitment – without let-up – in the months and years ahead.”

The British record industry’s trade body, the BPI, also confirmed it would participate in the “Blackout Tuesday”.

“Like many of our members, we will suspend normal business tomorrow,” it said in a statement.

“Our staff will share in this moment to reflect on the recent tragic events, stand in solidarity with all those who suffer discrimination and encourage our leaders across the world to act.

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