How to Support Creators of Color in the Music Industry

Are you a music lover or creator in the music industry looking for ways to be a proper ally to musicians of color?

Many of us have protested in our city, along side the black community. Some of us have signed petition after petition and contacted our local officials to voice our opinions and demand change. We’ve flooded our feeds with support for the Black Lives Matter movement and maybe even donated money to a bail fund or another worthy cause to fight racism and police brutality. If you are a music lover or creator involved in the industry and you’re looking for more ways to educate yourself or dedicate your energy to this necessary crusade, keep reading!

5 Ways You Can Make a Difference

  1. Educate Yourself on Music History
    Educate Yourself on Music History: If you’ve read up properly on modern music history, there is no denying the influence that African and African American music has had on popular music around the globe. Most, if not all of the music you’ll hear on the charts has roots in blues, jazz, rock, country, spirituals, and chants, just to name a few. All of those music genres were created, spread, and popularized by black people. If you want to learn more about how your favorite music stems from brilliant musicians of color in history, click any of the following links and read up.
    a. Smithsonian Year of Music—Musical Crossroads: “African American Influence on American Music” 
    b. The Hoya— “Songs of Struggle and Spirit
    c. Pandora Blog— “30 Times Black Music Changed the World
    d. “What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture” by Marc Anthony Neal
    e. “Black Popular Music in America: From the Spirituals, Minstrels, and Ragtime to Soul, Disco, and Hip-Hop” by Arnold Shaw 
  2. Harbor Inclusivity within ALL…
    Genres, Audiences, and Spaces: That being said, just because creators of color historically influenced these popular genres, doesn’t NOT mean it’s acceptable for us as a musical community to put them in these boxes. When seeking, organizing, or showcasing collaboration within all genres, but especially those less inclined to include people of color, it is your duty as artists, producers, writers, engineers, label execs., music curators, bloggers, venue owners, or event coordinators to be inclusive. It is also your duty to credit and compensate said creators properly and fairly…and quite possibly the most important thing we can do is speak out against unfair treatment or racism in the creative workplace when witnessed.
  3. Support Music Education in Communities of Color
    The defunding of education, and specifically arts education in lower income communities is no new issue. Luckily there are a number of easy things that we can do as individuals to provide assistance and advocate for music education for all. First and foremost, talk with your local congress people regarding funding in public schools. Send an email, make a phone call, or set up a meeting. Communicate the importance of music education in your neighborhood and tell your story! Secondly, if you can, donate to a local music education charity or non-profit. I googled “music education non-profit near me” and a long list of options came up. Lastly, spread the word about these organizations and donate your time to them. Many are seeking partnerships with local schools, businesses, and volunteers.
  4. Follow, Stream, and Share Their Music
    This may come as a no brainer to many, but don’t take these simple forms of support for granted. Follow local creators of color, stream their music, and share it on social media with people outside of your community. If you want to take it a step further, request their music at your local radio station and demand the station play a diverse host of creators. While rotating hits and popular artists within their demographic, radio stations are still always looking for new music and most hosts will keep on open mind to all suggestions from frequent listeners. 
  5. Use Your Platform for Positive Change and Education:
    As creators, our followers often look to us for influence and inspiration in good times and in bad. This means we have an undeniable responsibility to spread peace, love, music, and fight hate on a global scale. Whether that means sharing information, boycotting racist venues/companies, or putting our money where our mouth is, there is a part everyone can play at every level of success or celebrity to be actively anti-racist. Find your strengths as an advocate and put them to use. Stand with your fellow creators and live each day to make the world a better place. We all know music makes the world go round, but the world will never turn in peace if the oppression and neglect of black communities continues. Do your part.
“Protest is not the end of progress, it is the beginning.” – Lizzo
Article contributions by OC based artists Rocky Kuner @rok_lobsta97 
Adrian Watkins “Complexions” @complexionsmusic
Article by Caitlin Murphy “Annábla”
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